Seattle Kraken Approaching First NHL Playoff Berth

Seattle Kraken right wing Eeli Tolvanen (20) celebrates with defenseman Vince Dunn (29) after scoring a goal against the Nashville Predators during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, March 25, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

Don’t look now, but the Seattle Kraken, in their second season of existence, are on the verge of clinching the franchise’s first-ever playoff berth. With just a handful of games remaining in the 2022-23 regular season, the Kraken are in a strong position and hold the fate of their postseason hopes in their own hands. 

Let’s take a look at how they got here and what their chances are of making it to the postseason with less than a month to go until the final day of the regular season (April 14th).

Kraken Enjoying Significant Year-over-Year Improvement

In their inaugural season, the Kraken fell short of the playoffs despite the hype surrounding Seattle’s return to the NHL fraternity. A 27-49-6 record condemned the Kraken to 30th overall, leaving the organization more concerned with last year’s crop of draft-eligible prospects than contending for a playoff spot.

 However, that experience put pressure on the Kraken’s management group to build a stronger, more versatile team heading into year two. General Manager Ron Francis made some savvy offseason moves, including acquiring veteran forwards Andre Burakovsky and Oliver Bjorkstrand, while also elevating Calder Trophy favorite Matty Beniers into a starring role.

Those adjustments, along with breakout performances from in-season waiver pickup Eeli Tolvanen, fourth-line dynamo Daniel Sprong, and perennial breakout candidate Vince Dunn have catapulted the Kraken into a favorable position in the Western Conference playoff race heading into April.

Related: Seattle Kraken Have A Clear Path To The 2023 NHL Playoffs

The Kraken started the 2022-23 season on a high note, winning 15 of their first 23 games, and built the kind of cushion that eluded them in 2021-22. That initial sprint out of the gates, coupled with the fourth-best road record in the league, have given the Kraken an edge over teams chasing them for the wildcard places.

With 88 points in 73 games on the season (with a record of 40-25-8), the Kraken have locked in at least a 28-point improvement over last season’s dismal showing, already the best second-season improvement for NHL expansion teams since 1991.

Judging by their upcoming schedule, a 40-point swing is not out of the question. If the Kraken want it, a postseason spot is there for the taking.

Kraken’s Playoff Destiny In their own Hands

As the season has progressed, the Kraken have continued to fight for a playoff spot in a tight Western Conference race. They’ve struggled at times, but they’ve remained in contention thanks to their consistent play overall, winning 25 of 50 games since that initial 23-game stretch. 

As of this writing, the Kraken sit fourth in the Pacific Division and seventh in the Western Conference. They trail the Edmonton Oilers in the division by seven points with two games in hand for the third and final automatic playoff berth in the Pacific. 

Fortunately, they have opened up three- and five-point leads on the Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames, respectively, giving them some leeway in the wildcard race while also carrying a pair of games in hand on each team.

Related: 3 Seattle Kraken Storylines To Watch Post-Deadline

Of course, there are still several games left to play, and the playoff race is far from over, even if the Jets and Flames have both hovered around .500 since March 1st. The Kraken will need to continue playing well and avoid any major slumps if they want to secure a playoff spot. 

Though, there are several reasons to be optimistic about the Kraken’s chances. First, they have a favorable schedule down the stretch, with several games against weaker opponents. 

According to Tankathon, Seattle owns the third-easiest remaining schedule in the league. Five of their final nine games coming against teams ranked 27th or lower by points percentage (PTS%), including three against the Arizona Coyotes, although the rebuilding Coyotes have been about a top-third team in the NHL by PTS% since February 1st.

Finally, the Kraken have a sense of momentum heading into the playoffs. They’ve won several key games recently and boast a record of 7-4-2 over March. There is something to be said about peaking at the right time, and the Kraken have definitely taken that message to heart.

As of this writing, the Flames and the Nashville Predators are the teams standing on the outskirts of the Western Conference playoff picture. Assuming both win the rest of their games in regulation, the Flames would finish the season with 97 points and the Predators with 100. 

That gives the Kraken a magic number of 13 points needed to mathematically clinch a playoff spot. The Predators are involved in that formula, with any points they drop reducing the Kraken’s magic number. 

Of course, the Kraken could collect 13 out of 18 possible points to end the season and do the work themselves, but that’s the worst-case scenario. Crucially, the Flames and Predators play each other again this season, setting up an opportunity for one team to take points directly off the other.

For what it’s worth, several NHL prognosticators have all but locked the Kraken in as a participant in the 2023 Playoffs.

According to playoff probabilities put forth by statistical models from The Athletic’s Dom LuszczyszynMoneyPuckFiveThirtyEight, and Hockey Reference, the Kraken have a greater than 98% chance of qualifying for the postseason. 

It’s not quite a full guarantee, but it’s about as close as you can get as long as the potential to miss remains a mathematical possibility. After last season, the Kraken should (and will) take that in a heartbeat.

Kraken On Verge of NHL Playoff Debut

By the numbers, the Kraken are very close to clinching their first-ever playoff appearance, which would be a historically notable achievement for a second-year expansion team.

While there are still several games left to play, and fans won’t want to get ahead of themselves, the Kraken’s recent momentum has all but guaranteed at least a wildcard berth.

After a poor debut effort, the Kraken have flashed their resilience and can also point to a bright future ahead of them while being competitive now. A burgeoning farm system poised to gain more intriguing prospects via four early picks in the 2023 NHL Draft means missing the playoffs this season wouldn’t be a death knell. 

Still, it would sting to miss after getting this close, and ending the season strong would send a clear message to the rest of the NHL – the Kraken are here to stay.

Data courtesy of Hockey Reference and the NHL.

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About Marko Zlomislic 91 Articles
Marko is an aspiring sportswriter with a passion for crafting stories while using a combination of the eye-test and (shudder) analytics, which is complemented by an academic background in criminology and political science. When not covering the Seattle Kraken for Oregon Sports News, Marko can also be found pouring countless hours into various sports video games franchises, indulging in science fiction novels, and taking long runs around his neighbourhood. You can yell at him by following him on Twitter or via email at He also regularly produces content for The Hockey Writers.