Things haven’t been so good for the latest NHL expansion franchise. In their first 18 games, they posted a meager 5-12-1 record that put them at the bottom of the Pacific Division.
They struggled from the start and while a lot of their underlying numbers look great, Seattle hasn’t been able to put together many games.
And there is one place that it falls on: the goalkeepers. The Seattle squad’s save percentage in all situations so far this year is 0.858 sv% the lowest in the league – a far cry from the 31st overall Montreal Canadiens, who still have a brutal .889 sv %.
The Kraken took a risk while riding with Philipp Grubauer and Chris Driedger and it didn’t pay off. As we all know goalkeepers are voodoo and this is a prime example.
Grubauer was one of the best goalies in the league last year, with the Colorado Avalance placing third in Vézina’s vote with the eighth-best save percentage in the league. Driedger, meanwhile, posted the league’s fifth-best save percentage in what was a breakout campaign for the journeyman.
Despite that, Seattle has good numbers behind their game. They rank at the top of the league at Corsi against per hour allowing just 48.12 shooting attempts for 60. While their against goal rate per hour is 3.77 , a league low, their expected goals against per hour is 2.54, ranked eighth in the league.
Their offensive numbers were average for the league. They generate the 20th highest number of shooting attempts per hour with 54.39, while their 2.88 goals per hour.
The Krakens are a far cry from what the Vegas Golden Knights were in their first year.
In 2018, Vegas took the NHL by storm with an incredibly impressive 51-24-7 record in the Pacific Division. They reached the Stanley Cup before losing in five games to the Washington Capitals.
In 18 games, Vegas posted an 11-6-1 record and has already looked at every part of a team that was going to make noise and boy, have they ever done that.
But the truth is, expansion teams are more like the Seattle Kraken than the Vegas Golden Knights. This Vegas club was something special, a huge aberration if you mean.
So today we’re going to take a look at nine other teams that have joined the NHL since the early 1990s and see how they fared.
The 91-92 season saw only one expansion team: the San Jose Sharks.
Oh, the sharks of San José. They had a tough year as the 22nd NHL franchise. At the end of the year, Pat Falloon and Brian Mullen led the way offensively, but the goalkeeper was a big deal for the club. They had five goaltenders who played games and they posted a .879 team save percentage at the end of the year.
San Jose struggled even more in their first 18 games than the Kraken. The Sharks have won three of their first 18 games and were outscored 93-48. At the end of the year, they posted a league-worst result of 17-58-5.
The following year two teams joined the NHL: the Ottawa Senators and the Tampa Bay Lightning and damn it, it stank.
Ottawa, however, was the worse of the two. They won their first game, but went on to go winless in their next 17 games, starting 1-16-1 while being dominated 96-38. At the end of the year, they finished the worst in the league 10-70-4. Defenseman Norm Maciver was their leading scorer with 63 points in 80 games.
Tampa Bay is doing a little better. At the end of the season, they were only the third worst team in the league behind San Jose and the aforementioned Senators at 23-54-7. Their first 18 games, however, were solid. They posted an 8-8-2 record outscoring their opponents 68-59. Brian Bradley led the club in scoring.
The early ’90s expansion continued as the league played host to the Florida Panthers and Anaheim Mighty Ducks. These two teams were not like the others.
In Florida, the Panthers had a strong start to the year, going 7-8-3, outscored 55-52 and maintained at a similar pace all year. They ended their first season with a 33-34-17 record and allowed the fourth fewest goals against. Scott Mellanby led the way by scoring 60 points in 80 games as the team had .919 goalies.
The Mighty Ducks, meanwhile, looked good too, but struggled mightily early on. They fell to 4-12-2 in their first 18 games, scoring 46 goals and allowing 67. At the end of the year, Terry Yake led the team in scoring while the Mighty Ducks were 33-46-5.
The expansion was on hold for the NHL for a number of years until the Nashville Predators joined the league, kicking off another trio of years where clubs joined. their.
They did, however, finish fourth among the worst teams in the league. Nashville finished the year 28-47-3 with Cliff Ronning leading the team in scoring. Nashville was under 0.500 at the start of the year with a 7-10-1 record in its first 18 games.
More expansion came when the Atlanta Thrashers joined the league in 1999-2000 and… well…
Atlanta was bad. The Thrashers posted a league-worst 14-57-7 record and were led by Andrew Brunette, who registered 50 points in 81 games. After 18 games, the Thrashers fought hard, posting a 4-12-2 record while being outscored 68-40.
The last teams to join the NHL before Vegas were the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Minnesota Wild. And to be fair, they weren’t great despite being in the league’s bottom 10.
Columbus was 28-39-9-6 with Geoff Sanderson leading offensively with 56 points in 68 games. In their first 18? They posted a 6-11-1 record.
Minnesota, meanwhile, were 25-39-15-5 with Scott Pellerin leading the offense with 39 points in 58 games. In their first 18 games, they posted a 4-11-3 record.
So what can we remember?
There is a lot of season left for the Seattle Kraken. While Vegas is the only team since the 90s to qualify for the playoffs in their first season.
Despite a slow start to the season, the Kraken still has a lot going for them. They did a good job producing offense, but they were the least fortunate team in the league when it comes to their goalie. There’s reason to believe he can bounce back as Grubauer and Driedger are strong NHL goalies.
Jaden Schwartz, Jordan Eberle, Jared McCann, Alexander Wennberg, Brandon Tanev and Yanni Gourde all have over 10 points.
It will be interesting to see what happens for the rest of the 32nd NHL franchise.
Zach Laing is Chief News Officer and Senior Columnist for the Nation Network. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or contactable by email at [email protected]