June 3, 2023

As 2022 comes to a close, the Seattle Kraken, like the rest of the population, are hoping that 2023 brings happiness and success. One way that can happen is if the Kraken play as they have from October to December rather than how they played from January to April. In order to do this, Seattle needs to hope these three items on its wish list come true before the end of the season.

Stronger Goaltending

The Seattle Kraken’s goaltending has been up and down this year but needs to find a way to stabilize itself if the Kraken want to not just make the playoffs but go on a run. As a team, only the Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings have a lower team save percentage (SV%) than Seattle. While the Kraken have proven they can outscore their problems during stretches this season, they will have a hard time relying on this tactic as the games get tighter later on in the season.

Martin Jones Seattle Kraken
Martin Jones, Seattle Kraken (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

One reason the Kraken have such a poor team SV% is that both Martin Jones (.888%) and Philipp Grubauer (.882%) are near the bottom of the league. In fact, when it comes to goaltenders who have played 10 games or more, they rank 47th and 50th in the NHL. Looking back at the last nine Stanley Cup winners, you can argue that only one was able to win with average goaltending. This means that if Seattle does see themselves as Stanely Cup contenders, they need to hope their goaltending department bounces back in a major way.

A Rejuvenated Alex Wennberg

After a decent 2021-22 season where he recorded 37 points in 80 games for the Kraken, Alex Wennberg has seen a dramatic dip in his play this season. Despite being given ample opportunity as the most-played forward on the team, he is struggling offensively, with just five goals and 13 points this season. It is fair to say he is not living up to his $4.5 million cap hit, as he is one of the few forwards on this team not producing.

Related: 3 Things Kraken Fans Should Be Thankful For

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One way Wennberg could change his fortunes in 2023 is by shooting the puck. So far this season, he has been credited with 39 total shots. That ranks 14th on the team and is less than players like Ryan Donato and Daniel Sprong, who both average under 11 minutes of ice per game. If he can start contributing consistently, he will help a Kraken offence which some already consider one of the best in the league, become that much more dangerous.

Continued Success for the Firebirds

The Coachella Valley Firebirds are off to a hot start with 15 wins in their first 23 games. They have had this success despite playing 18 of their games on the road as they were waiting for Acrisure Arena in Palm Springs to get ready. A team that has no issues putting the puck in the net, having scored eight in a game twice during the month of December, they are having a historic inaugural season in the American Hockey League (AHL).

The Kraken and Firebirds have been able to construct a roster with a good mix of AHL veterans and prospects. Andrew Poturalski, Jesper Frödén and Max McCormick have brought a strong veteran presence, while Kole Lind, Ryker Evans and Alexander True are showing that they deserve an NHL call-up. Led by Stanley Cup champion coach Dan Bylsma, they are not just bringing exciting hockey to the desert but building a winning culture that should help younger players in the organization.

A World Junior Gold For Shane Wright

After a dramatic few months to start his NHL career, which included being benched consistently and playing in the AHL, Shane Wright will captain Canada at the 2023 World Juniors. Despite playing on a stacked Canadian team that features high-end prospects like Conor Bedard, Dylan Guenther, Olen Zellweger and Brandt Clarke, he will be expected to lead the charge as Canada looks for their 20th Gold Medal. A strong tournament capped off with a victory could be exactly the confidence boost he needs after a tough start to his season.

Related: 3 Kraken Prospects to Watch at 2023 World Juniors

This tournament will provide a great distraction for Wright from everything going on behind the scenes. The general thought is he will be sent down to the Ontario Hockey League, then traded after the tournament, so having something else to focus on over the next few weeks could be beneficial to the 2022 fourth-overall pick. If he wins gold, he would also become the first Kraken ever to win at the World Juniors, which would be a special honour no one can take away. While Seattle will most likely be cheering for Team USA, they are probably hoping that Canada has a strong event with their future star having a tournament to remember.

Kraken Hoping For A Strong 2023

While the Kraken have started the season hot, a lot can change over the next four months. They need to keep up their strong play and get ready for a tough challenge to start 2023. If these wishes come true, however, it will benefit every level of the organization and make them a strong example of how to build an expansion team the right way.

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