At the start of the 2021-2022 NHL season, the Seattle Kraken will join the Pacific Division as the 32nd NHL team. Just four seasons prior to the start of 2021-2022, the NHL witnessed a shocker. In their first season as a franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights got to the Stanley Cup Finals. They exceeded expectations by a long shot and set a high bar for future expansion franchises. The Seattle Kraken will most likely not match that season, but the franchise could succeed and possibly make the playoffs in their first year with some help from a very hopeful Seattle Kraken goalie situation.
The Seattle Kraken Goalie Situation is a Good Sign
The Goalie Situation
The Seattle Kraken could be put into the perfect situation when it comes to goalies. They’re going to have a plethora of good options and it all starts with the situation in Pittsburgh.
In a previous article on the future of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the situation going on with the goalies in Pittsburgh was discussed. The Kraken could have the option in the expansion draft to select Matt Murray. Murray is a restricted free agent this offseason and he could be getting a one-year deal in Pittsburgh or somewhere else. The Penguins do not want to keep him long term and his play has definitely regressed in the last couple years. What Murray needs is a fresh start. He has been treated poorly by fans considering he was the backbone of two Cup runs for the Penguins. He could be the number one option in Seattle, but there’s a chance he’s in a split role in his first year.
This one could come as a shock, but when one looks at the Vancouver Canucks goalie situation, it makes sense for Jacob Markstrom to be unprotected. The first thing with the Canucks, is their backup, Thatcher Demko, is only 24 years old. Markstrom is 30 years old, so Demko is the future of the franchise. Demko’s numbers weren’t anything special this year, but then again, he’s only 24. Markstrom is also an unrestricted free agent in this upcoming offseason and at 30 years old, a long term deal seems unlikely. However, it makes sense for the Canucks to keep him for one more season as he was a borderline Vezina finalist this season. A short term contract and then leaving him unprotected for the draft with a young team seems totally reasonable. The Kraken would be getting a steal with Markstrom as their starting goaltender.
This could be a stretch, but Braden Holtby has had a bad year with the Washington Capitals, and at his age, it is unlikely the Capitals keep him. Due to his performance this year, a long term deal might not be in the cards for the former Stanley Cup winner. A team desperate for goaltending could be saved by Holtby’s talents and immediately turned into a contender. He can bring leadership and experience to a Seattle team that will have a ton of guys playing with each other for the first time. He can bring a team together sort of like how Marc-Andre Fleury did in his first year with the Vegas Golden Knights. Many people believe Holtby had a bad season and will bounce back next year. If that is the case, Holtby puts the Kraken in a great position.
One thing an expansion draft should guarantee for a team is that they will have a lot of depth. Take the Golden Knights for example. All four of their forward lines are constant threats, so opposing teams can’t lose focus on the ice. Seattle will have that benefit in their first season. You could see the Kraken draft forwards like J.T. Compher of the Colorado Avalanche who would be a good depth piece for the team. What the Kraken will have to capitalize on is making the right selection from the deep teams. Teams like the St. Louis Blues and Tampa Bay Lightning who have really deep rosters won’t be able to protect some really good players. If Seattle can take advantage of that while also working in some trades for players, they could be in a really good spot.
What To Expect
Vegas’s first-year success will be hard to match. But Seattle’s goal shouldn’t be to shoot for the Stanley Cup Finals; simply making the playoffs will be something to be proud of. And with the goalie tandem Seattle is likely to have, they should have no trouble getting there. The mix of veteran leadership and hopeful youth will give Seattle a duo to be scared of and one that could take them far.