Commentary: The Kraken’s method to earning playoff spot is as impressive as the accomplishment itself

We’ve got about a week to build up the Kraken’s first playoff appearance in franchise history, and just under two weeks to build up their first playoff game at home – and won’t that be a sight!

For now though, we can’t gloss over the accomplishment itself, given the way it was done.

Not only did the Kraken earn a spot in the postseason in just their second season, but they did so without sacrificing their future at any step of the way. They rarely overreached or overpaid, sticking to a long-term plan that didn’t necessarily guarantee success so quickly, but prevented against future suffering in exchange for short-term gain.

No team in the modern era of the NHL has improved this much – in terms of wins and points – from Year One to Year Two than the Seattle Kraken. 

They’ve won 19 more games than last year and still have two games left, shattering the previous record of 14 games improved set all the way back in 1969.

And the improvement is a direct result of smart moves along the way, which you can attribute to general manager Ron Francis and his entire staff. Apparently analytics work! Eeli Tolvanen scored a career high in goals this season after being added off of waivers. Re-signing Daniel Sprong worked out incredibly, thanks to his 21 goals and 25 assists – both career highs. Justin Schultz now has his second-highest point total in his 12-year career. And Jared McCann reached the 40-goal milestone last night, clearly earning the five-year deal he signed last year.

The only time the Kraken traded significant draft stock – a third and fourth-round pick in this year’s draft – they received Oliver Bjorkstrand in return. He has 20 goals and 24 assists this season.

By the way, they *still* have a third and fourth round draft pick this year, by virtue of trading away Mason Appleton and Calle Jarnkrok last year! 

The Kraken were also able to batten down the hatches down the stretch without their most significant free agent signing last offseason, Andre Burakovsky, who’s been out the last two months with a lower body injury. Burakovsky was the team’s leading scorer when he went on injured reserve, and you can imagine what he might bring just in time for the postseason. 

Did I mention that the Kraken still have three draft picks in the second round this year, an extra pick in the third round next year, and their AHL Affiliate Coachella Valley had the second-highest point total in the league?

It’s fair to expect that whatever happens in the playoffs this year is only the start of what could be a stretch of sustained success over the next decade. By no means is that to downplay the excitement of what will be some historic games starting next week – you never forget your first. But the feat of getting there for the first time, and how they got there, was very apparent Thursday night. 

t’s a payoff that will be paying off, I believe, for many years to come.