Members of the Hockey Writers’ Seattle Kraken team collaborated to project the team’s attacking lines on opening night. Since its publication, general manager Ron Francis has thrown another hat in the ring by signing striker Riley Sheahan. Here’s the consensus THW’s Kraken team projected ahead of Sheahan’s signing:
|Blackwell / Geekie / Bastian / True||Blackwell / Geek||Geek / Bastian / Lind|
The first nine are set, but there is plenty of room for movement on the fourth row. Colin Blackwell is expected to get the green light for one of those spots after a year of his career with the New York Rangers while playing throughout roster and on special teams. Likewise, Morgan Geekie should be in the starting lineup as he should have the opportunity to pull off a season if he has a few more chances to play than less than 10 minutes per game.
Nathan Bastian, Alexander True, Kole Lind and Sheahan will fight for a final spot on the list. Whoever doesn’t get it can end up 13th forward or spend some time in the American Hockey League (AHL) early in the season.
How the 12th candidates at the front of the Kraken are formed
Sheahan has the best chance of breaking through the Kraken formation as the 12th striker. They can use the 29-year-old on the wing or center, and he would be a great addition to the penalty kill. He’s spent at least 126 minutes killing penalties in five of the past six seasons and has a career faceoff percentage of 50.4%.
One of the reasons he’s able to kill so many penalties is because he’s serving hardly any. He got just 91 penalty minutes in 566 games, never eclipsing 17 in a season. He also took more penalties than he committed in four of the past five seasons. He could combine with Jamie Oleksiak, Yanni Gourde (once back), Brandon Tanev and Adam Larsson, among others, to form this penalty team.
Sheahan brings some offensive advantage despite his evolution into a deep attacker and penalty killer. The power forward has 70 goals and 177 career points, and is only three seasons out of an 11-goal, 32-point season with the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was the last season where he exceeded 15 minutes on the ice per game. If he can find the chemistry with his teammates, Blackwell, and Geekie, he might be more valuable than just being another penalty killer.
Bastian likes to throw the body away. If he is part of the starting lineup outside of training camp, his size will be a fat factor. The 6-foot-4 forward led the New Jersey Devils in hitting last season despite missing time due to injury. He can camp in front of the net to protect the goalie on power play or kill penalties, which he’s done a lot for the Devils.
“… When he played 7:09 on the penalty kill last season against Alex Ovechkin, not only did he limit the Big Eight to four shots on goal, he even generated one shorthanded shot. Sidney Crosby, Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and now teammate Jared McCann are other players he kept from scoring while he was in favor of the men. from “Meet the Kraken: Winger Nathan Bastian” by Adam Kierszenblat from writer The Hockey
Bastian has a lot of potential in the bottom six, and that helps him be positionally flexible. While he won’t turn out to be a prolific goalscorer, he will be good at adding size and penalty ability to the roster. Pursuing his reliable punishments will be the key to him becoming a regular NHL player.
This is not the first time that True has sought to relocate to Seattle. From 2014 to 2017, he played for the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League (WHL). He was a regular scorer who got better every year, finishing with 12 goals and 22 playoff points in his last season of junior hockey. The Thunderbirds won the WHL Championship that year, where he scored the series-winning goal in overtime.
True was not drafted but produced decently for the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda before joining the San Jose Sharks for 19 games, where he totaled five assists. The 24-year-old has attacking potential that could eventually lead to a place in the squad. However, it may be better to give him frontline minutes in the AHL instead of limiting him to a fourth-line role. The Kraken does not need to rush its development, and they can still use it if injured.
Lind was one of the Vancouver Canucks’ top prospects before the Kraken selected him in the expansion draft. He had just seen his first NHL game and hadn’t scored a point in seven games. He’s scored 19 goals and scored 52 points in his last 69 AHL games, so he’s found his scoring touch as a professional after a solid offensive years with the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL.
The 22-year-old has time for himself. Considering the Kraken have a deep surplus of players, and unless they have an exceptional training camp, chances are Lind will start the season in the AHL. It would be better for his development to play the best minutes in the AHL, and he could still find time in the NHL if the Kraken were hit with the injury bug.
Riley Sheahan to be Kraken’s 12th attacker
The 12th forward will be Sheahan’s to lose before training camp. He is the longest-serving NHL player among those examined in this article, having played exclusively in the NHL since the 2014-15 season. Head coach Dave Hakstol can expect to capitalize on his veteran locker room experience, positional versatility and strong power-disadvantage ability.
Being such a long established player who has mastered his skills, Sheahan has the advantage over Bastian, True and Lind. The trio are just starting to assert themselves as NHL-caliber players. Unless one of them has an outstanding training camp, Sheahan should get the green light.
Bastian is reportedly in the 13th forward role after being seen as a fourth-line center in a previous post on The Hockey Writers before Sheahan’s signing. He should be able to intervene if another player struggles or is injured; he will have even more opportunities for that because he can play center and wing.
Lind and True could be called up if injured, but would benefit greatly from increased AHL ice time until they gave Hakstol no choice but to play them. With Sheahan securing that final spot on the roster, the Kraken will have a strong tandem of last six and penalties that could prove vital to a successful inaugural season.