Kraken Bulletins 2021-22: McCann, Tanev and Beniers
Hello, Seattle Kraken nation, I’m back with another edition of Kraken Report Cards! Today’s edition will look at a trio of forwards that fans should be very excited about this upcoming season. One of those players had a breakout year for the team last season, while another just got his feet wet in the NHL. The third player is someone who, if you’ve followed my cover and listened to the THW What’s Kraken podcast, you know I’m a huge fan.
Before we begin, let’s break down the scoring system. This is the basic AF system where an A is great and a C- means they have a lot to work with. The minimum qualifications for inclusion are to have played 10 games and completed the season with the Kraken. One of these players has just qualified, and I’m sure you know who it is, given the rather obvious teasing. Alright, I’m just gonna make you wait a little longer – let’s get started.
Raise your hand, no cheating, if you listed Jared McCann not only as the team’s all-time leading scorer, but also as having scored 25+ goals in the team’s inaugural season. My hand is down. McCann scored 27 goals and 50 points in 74 games with the Kraken, including eight power play goals and one shorthanded goal. That really should have been anticipated given that his goals-per-game numbers have increased over the past three seasons, and I think it’s safe to expect at least 20 goals from him next season.
It’s promising to see that he achieved this on a team that struggled powerfully in most facets of the game. They had an inefficient power play and generally struggled to get the puck in the net. He came from a Pittsburgh Penguins team that, while it didn’t go far, was at least a playoff team the previous two seasons.
The Kraken have made a few additions that should allow McCann to flourish. They added players who could facilitate and score themselves in Andre Burakovsky and Oliver Bjorkstrand. McCann played center plenty of times last season, finishing with a 45.5% faceoff percentage (FO), but should definitely be kept on the wing. Even considering the additions, it would shock me if he wasn’t in the top six to start the year.
Player Grade: A-
He’s coming back, and it should be with a vengeance. A player I dubbed the emotional leader of the Kraken, Brandon “Turbo” Tanev. He started well last season. We knew he was competing for the most prolific hitter on the team, and he definitely set the tone with 98 hits in 30 games, which is averaging just over three hits per game. It’s a respectable number. Offensively, he brought more than some might have expected.
He scored nine goals and 15 points, the goals ranking him eighth on the team at the end of the season despite the time he missed. In an 82-game season, he was expected to score 25 goals and 41 points. It would have been both his first 20 goals and 40 point season. His cut short season saw him reach his career high in goals per game and it was the first time he had passed a goal every 60 minutes.
The Kraken will greatly benefit from returning to training. While he can certainly find his spunky third line role which can provide some offense – including in both special teams units – extra personnel could force him down to the fourth line. Either way, the boost he brings to the team and the fans will be greeted with open tentacles for the team this season.
Player Rating: B+
Here’s that youngster you’ve all been waiting for, Matty Beniers, second overall pick in 2021. He had a small sample size, but he definitely created a buzz for fans and pundits alike. After 20 goals and 43 points for the University of Michigan, he joined the Kraken and scored a point in all but one game. He finished his 10-game stint with three goals and nine points. Plus, he’s yet to take his first NHL penalty, and given his 16 penalty minutes (PIM) in two college seasons, he might not take one for a while.
He made the limping of the team exciting until the end of the season and showed his potential, which maybe even increased due to the team additions. He will have wingers who appear to be entering their prime and bursting, one with Stanley Cup rings under his belt, as well as Shane Wright to work with. Wright is important because, given the controversy surrounding his fall to fourth overall Kraken, more eyes may be on him than Beniers heading into the season. That’s not to say Beniers will be overlooked, but it should take the pressure off him a bit.
Remember, Beniers and Wright are young and entering their first full NHL seasons (assuming Wright makes the team). Don’t set those expectations too high, just let them in and fix the growing pains. Even though there are some growing pains, Beniers has positioned himself to start well with the Kraken.
Player Rating: B+
Naturally, each of these players will be impacted by the team around them. The Kraken still needs work, and especially goalkeeper performance to bounce back. With these factors in mind, McCann, Tanev and Beniers all come into the year after successful 2021-22 seasons. Momentum is on their side, so let’s see how long they can ride it.