Welcome back to the first annual Seattle Kraken Report Cards. Although the 2021-22 season did not go as hoped, there were many moments and players who stepped up during the campaign. Now, it is time to review the season that was and determine which letter grade each player deserves from the past season. To qualify for a grade, players must have played a minimum of 10 games and finished the season within the Seattle organization.
Just like the grading system in the U.S. and Canada, we will be using letter grades to determine how well each player did. For example, if a player gets an A grade, they were excellent all season, while if a player receives a C-, they have a lot to work on going into next season. This article will focus on Joonas Donskoi, Adam Larsson and Jaden Schwartz
Before coming to Seattle, Donskoi was a consistent 30-35 point per season player who would score double-digit goals every year. He was coming off a career-high 17 goals in 51 games with the Colorado Avalanche and was expected to play a big role as a net-front presence for the Kraken. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
Donskoi ended up finishing the season with a career-low two goals and his 20 points were his lowest in a season since the 2016-17 campaign. He only managed 89 shots on goal and arguably had the worst offensive season of his career. Lastly, he had a Wins Above Replacement (WAR) rate of .01 indicating he was just barely better than a replacement-level player this season. It is safe to say he had a frustrating year in the offensive zone.
The saving grace of Donskoi’s season was his defensive play, as he posted a 50% Corsi at even strength and tied a career-high with 36 hits. He had a takeaway rate of plus-3 and blocked 31 shots. Entering his pending unrestricted free agent (UFA) campaign in 2022-23, the Kraken will need to decide if they want to keep him around or trade him at the deadline for additional assets. Hopefully, he can rediscover his form so that not only he can capitalize with a big free-agent deal, but Seattle can use him as a trade piece next season.
Player Grade: C
Mr. Reliable on the back end, Larsson was arguably the Kraken’s best player all season, as he was the only one to play all 82 games in 2021-22 and put up a career-high eight goals and 25 points. Whether it was at even strength or shorthanded, he stepped up big time for this young Kraken team.
As mentioned, this was Larsson’s best offensive season. He managed 119 shots on goal, which was also a career-high and beat his career average with a 6.7 shooting percentage. As for some of his defensive statistics, he led all Kraken players with 140 blocks and 183 hits. He provided Seattle with everything they were hoping for when they signed him in the offseason from leadership to on-ice production.
However, there are some areas of concern in Larsson’s game that he needs to tidy up before next season. The first is, that he recorded more turnovers than takeaways with a rate of minus-12. The good news is, that he only turned over the puck 35 times which is low considering how much ice-time he accumulated per game. The bad news is, that he isn’t causing enough takeaways which have been a problem his entire career. He is the leader of this Seattle Kraken blue line and the team will need him to replicate his 2021-22 season if they have eyes on making the playoffs in 2022-23.
Player Grade: A
The 2022-23 campaign was a challenging one for Schwartz as he spent over half the year injured. In 37 games, he finished with eight goals and 23 points. Despite the low point total, it was actually an improvement on the previous season where he recorded just 20 points in 40 games. A player who has had injury trouble almost his entire career, this past year should have the Kraken concerned for his long-term health.
Breaking down the games he played in, Schwartz had a good season for the Kraken. He finished tied for ninth in points and goals while providing Seattle with effective top-line minutes at even strength and on the power play when he was in the lineup. It was also evident that he had developed some chemistry with Jordan Eberle, which if he can stay healthy next season should form a strong first line with Matty Beniers as the third member.
Schwartz was also great on defence. He had a takeaway ratio of plus-12, blocked 13 shots and played a physical game with 42 hits. Despite the injuries, he had one of the stronger seasons for this Kraken forward group and will be a major part of their 2022-23 team.
Player Grade: B-
All three of these players are expected to be major contributors during the 2022-23 campaign. Whether it is Larsson’s defensive game or Schwartz and Donskoi up front, Seattle needs all three to play starring roles in order to make the playoffs. If not, it could be another long season.
Make sure to stay tuned for more player report cards coming out throughout the summer and let us know if you agree with our grades in the comments below.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at area51sportsnet.com where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.
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