The Kraken Recap: 2023-2024 Season

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The Seattle Kraken’s 2023–24 season came to an end on April 18 as they defeated the Minnesota Wild with a score of 4 to 3. They ended their season with a record of 34-35-13 and were just one point away from hitting .500. The season has been a bit of a setback for the team after last year’s successful season, where they went 46-28-8 and reached the second round of the playoffs. Compared to last season, the team only placed 25th in league rankings, and placed 6th in the Western Division. Their performance this season has led to the question that many have been asking: Will the Kraken bounce back again next season?

After last season’s performance, the Kraken and their fans wondered if they could carry that same level of success into this season. Some of that success may have translated over during the preseason because they managed to do quite well, as they finished off with a solid record of 3-3. However, once the official season started, the Kraken was plagued with difficulties and obstacles, as they lost or drawed their first 4 games in a row. But they did slightly bounce back from this losing spell as they managed to achieve a record of 8–5–4 over their next 17 games up until Thanksgiving and temporarily reached playoff position.

It should be noted that Thanksgiving is an important time of the season for teams. In previous years, teams that managed to achieve a playoff position by Thanksgiving were more likely to reach the playoffs at the end of the season. For Kraken fans, holding on to a playoff spot gave them high hopes for the rest of the season.

Unfortunately for Kraken fans, this level of excitement would die off quickly as the team continued after the break with 8 losses in a row — yikes!

After this temporary losing stretch, the Kraken would make a huge comeback within the next several games by setting two significant franchise records. The first record they achieved by completing a 13-game point streak, as they outscored their opponents 48–20 over that stretch. The second record achieved was 9 consecutive wins, spanning from Dec. 20, 2023 to Jan. 13, 2024. To add to their list of accomplishments, on New Year’s Day, the team also managed to beat the reigning NHL champs, the Las Vegas Golden Knights, during the 2024 Winter Classic with a score of 2–0. During the game, defenseman Will Borgen achieved his first goal as a Kraken by scoring over Vegas goalie, Logan Thompson, which would bring their lead up to 2.

During the team’s success, the team moved away from their offensive-oriented style of play and opted for a more defensive one. The Kraken’s Left Wing, Jaden Schwartz, returned from an upper-torso injury he sustained on Nov. 28 against the Blackhawks. Additionally, Andre Burakovsky, who also suffered an upper-body injury on Dec. 7 against New Jersey, would return, but sustained another injury in the lower-body region shortly after on Jan. 13 in the Kraken’s win against the Blue Jackets. The Krakens also managed to acquire Tomas Tatar from Colorado, and with the return of Schwartz and Burakovsky, this gave Coach Hakstol the ability to improve the team’s 4th line, which previously faced issues due to injuries and poor team chemistry.

Coming off of the team’s historic records, they would embark on a disappointing rest of the season. Starting on Jan. 15 and lasting until April 18, the team would go 15–25. By March, it was evident that the season was over for the team. Regardless of the lackluster performance, the team and its players did achieve several accomplishments through this stretch. Their victory over Calgary on March 4 marked the team’s 100th win in franchise history. This came after Coach Hakstol played his 500th career game as head coach in the previous week, in which he and the Kraken won against Pittsburgh 2–0. Additionally, on March 12, against Las Vegas, Jordan Eberle became the fifth skater from the 2008 class and the 391st player in NHL history to play in 1,000 regular-season games. Big congratulations to Eberle and Hakstol on the accomplishments!

Now, what went wrong with the Kraken this year? According to Darren Brown from Sound Of Hockey, the disappointing performance of the Kraken can be attributed to two main things: injuries and a lack of players. The lack of key players due to injuries, such as the absence of Schwartz and Burakovsky, affected the team’s overall performance. However, aside from injuries, the lack of players who could cover and replace them is also an aspect that should not be ignored. The lack of player depth from the Kraken should serve as a cautionary reminder for next season to ensure that their team has players who can fill in the roles of injured skaters.

Aside from injuries and a lack of player depth, Dave Hakstol’s coaching may have played a role in the team’s disappointing performance, as evidenced by the team’s disapproval of his coaching. On April 29, Hakstol was officially fired by the Krakens. General Manager Ron Francs would formally address the removal of Hakstol the same day. 

“We let a guy who’s a good coach and a really good person go,” Francis said, “…We were looking at our organization, and just looking at the season, I thought we were a little more inconsistent than we had been, a few too many losing streaks, and losing streaks of significant numbers. And so, we just felt it was time to try a new voice here.”

Along with the removal of Hakstol, assistant coach Paul McFarland would be relieved of his duties. However, assistant coaches Dave Lowry and Jay Leach, as well as goalie coach Stevie Briere, have kept their positions.

The Kraken’s season had its fair share of positive moments, but the performance this season makes it evident that the team has a lot of revamping to do during the off-season to ensure success for next season.