Seattle Kraken’s exit from the 2022/23 NHL play-offs should not detract from the significant progress made by the club this season.
Kraken did not pull up any trees in their debut season, finishing some way adrift at the bottom of the Pacific Division after winning just 27 of their 82 games.
They were inevitably unfancied in the online betting to reach the post-season this time around, but deservedly secured a Wild Card berth in the Western Conference.
Kraken were then tipped to struggle against Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the play-offs, but upset the odds by securing a 4-3 series victory.
They produced some stellar performances against Dallas Stars in round two, but were eventually knocked out after losing 2-1 in Game 7.
The rapid progress they have made took a few people by surprise, but two-time Stanley Cup winner Brett Hull does not fall into that category.
In a recent interview with Betway, the 58-year-old was full of praise for the way Kraken have gone about their business in just their second season on the ice.
“They didn’t make the play-offs in their first year, but what they’ve done to create the chemistry they have in their second year, with a number of expansion players and some draft picks, has been very impressive,” said Hull.
“They have done a phenomenal job. When you see what it takes to do that, you really have to tip your hat to their scouting staff to be able to go out and understand what type of players these guys are.
“Some were run-of-the-mill players on the franchises they were with, but Seattle knew if they got a chance, a little more playing time, playing with some better players, what kind of players they would become.
“They’ve obviously made some great choices, like Vegas did a few years ago. To do that, and find a good coach to put them together and be patient, it’s quite a feat.”
While Kraken have silenced quite a few doubters this season, it is imperative for them to build on the foundations they have laid.
Head coach Dave Hakstol has implemented a system that has got the best out of the players at his disposal, particularly at the younger end of the scale.
They include Matty Beniers, who weighed in with 66 points in 90 appearances to prove he could handle the responsibility of playing on the top line.
The 20-year-old undoubtedly has more improvement to come and will be expected to continue his rapid progression during the 2023/24 campaign.
Oliver Bjorkstrand, Eeli Tolvanen and Andre Burakovsky were other excellent additions to a roster that also has plenty of veteran talent.
The key for Kraken moving forward will be to fully capitalise on the ten picks they have in the upcoming NHL Draft, especially their pair of second round selections.
Having shown they are a welcome addition to the sporting landscape in Seattle, they can ill-afford to take a backwards step next term.
Reaching the Western Conference Finals should be the minimum aim for a franchise that could even emerge as Stanley Cup contenders if they make the right moves.