Kraken hopes the addition of Matty Beniers will be just the start of a much-needed offensive infusion
One period in the Kraken’s Thursday night win over Chicago and it became clear why they can use top draft pick Matty Beniers and any good buddy help he brings with him.
I joke about the last game, because it will be the second overall pick, Beniers, who will soon join the Kraken fresh off his University of Michigan team, eliminated in the semifinals of the NCAA “Frozen Four” championship. Kraken general manager Ron Francis was in Boston to watch the Michigan game and spoke to the center on Friday in hopes of a deal, although Beniers could choose to recover a few days before making his debut in the NHL.
The Kraken watching Beniers in the NHL gives them a leg up in determining how many more offenses next season’s team will need. And judging by Thursday’s win over Chicago, they’re going to need a lot.
The Kraken, showing great effort throughout their two-game trip, completely outplayed the Blackhawks in the first period – outscoring them 17-3 – but failed to put a single puck in the net. .
And although they eventually scored twice for a 2-0 victory, they had lost 4-1 the night before to a better St. Louis team after wasting several chances to tie what had been a 2- 1. The Kraken have scored two or fewer goals in four of their last five games and are still looking for wins, even as they get the still solid goalies in Chris Driedger and Philipp Grubauer that they’ve been waiting for all season.
So if the goal next season is to avoid another cellar experience, it stands to reason that it will take more than just improved monitoring. Grubauer said it well after his second shutout of the season Thursday when asked about the team’s progress.
“There were good games and there were still bad games,” Grubauer said. “And then there are still good games. So we have to find that consistency.
Grubauer was asked to comment on a tough season for him, both personally and as a team, after a Vezina Trophy finalist campaign with a Presidents’ Trophy-winning Colorado Avalanche.
“That’s not how I wanted it to go this season,” he said. “Obviously, it’s a little more difficult than the other years. I think everyone, if you cross the room and ask everyone, we had to find each other’s chemistry.
“And like I said, there have been good games, bad games and it’s also been a learning curve for everyone. The team has to stick together and get to know each other. And sometimes it happens a little fast and sometimes it takes a little longer.
The Kraken have looked more like a tight-knit team since the trade deadline, playing about as well as they can from an effort standpoint going 4-4 in eight games after knocking out six regulars. If they had played a 4-4 clip all season, no one would have had any issues with their first campaign, and they would be fighting for a playoff spot.
Unfortunately, the Kraken showed that same high level of energy in periodic bursts throughout the season, but it proved unsustainable over a full 82-game schedule. So extrapolating that the last nine games automatically equates to a .500 record next season as long as Grubauer and Driedger both show up could be another serious miscalculation.
The Kraken have already bet and lost big that they could rack up a long-term salary cap while putting a capable team on the ice this season that could at least contend for the playoffs through March.
Now, even with their goalie finally approaching the level they’ve expected all along, the rest of the team’s offensive skills are still barely enough to go 4-4 on an eight-game streak after the deadline. (they count 5-4 the game before the deadline) in which the overall effort approaches playoff-level hockey. Seriously, the Kraken’s level of effort has done the city proud for over two weeks, but he’s barely been good enough to take more than one penalty a game from referees seemingly unimpressed with the team’s offensive ability. And that was almost not enough to pass a poor Chicago team on the downhill that was heavily outplayed, but still came within a late tie goal post.
So the 19-year-old Beniers should help start that climb to .500 semi-respectability. More, we suppose, to follow in terms of summer reinforcements.
Usually, a teenage draft selection can’t be expected to transform a franchise overnight and Beniers probably won’t, which is why the Kraken must also keep adding experienced pieces from the NHL. But Beniers is gifted with natural offensive talents that will inevitably boost a Kraken team that took the ice in St. Louis with just 20 goals in Jared McCann to seven for a Blues team that isn’t even guaranteed to play. home. advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
It’s the talent gap that separates the Kraken from playoff contenders. Playoff teams not guaranteed, beware. Just suitors. But for a Kraken team whose season effectively ended in November, struggling this deep into the schedule next year with a roster infused with Beniers and other additions would no doubt mark a nice turnaround.