Tonight the two youngest franchises will face each other for their 2022-23 regular season finale. Both opponents have qualified and have begun planning for the postseason. While many believed the Kraken were miles behind the Golden Knights in immediate success, the 32nd franchise caught up in their second season. However, the expectations for Seattle are far less demanding than Vegas’ first playoff appearance.
The biggest thing for us to be able to show improvement from where we were last year as a new franchise in a new market, trying to show our fan base that, hey, we’re getting better, we’re moving in the right direction was what we were trying to accomplish. All you have to do is get into the playoffs. Every team that gets into the playoffs has a chance, right? You want an invitation to the dance and then you go from there. -Ron Francis, Kraken GM
After 81 games the Kraken are locked into the Western Conference’s first wild card spot. Sure, there are seeding implications that could occur during tonight’s game but chances are Seattle will be the #7 seed in the west. Whereas, Vegas entered the playoffs in their first season as the Pacific Division’s number one contender.
1st Franchise Playoff Appearance
Vegas: 2017-18 (First Season)
- 1st in Pacific Division
- 109 Points
- 272 Goals Scored
- 228 Goals Allowed
- 21.37% Power Play
- +44 Goal Differential
- 40 Goal Scorer – William Karlsson (43)
Seattle: 2022-23 (Second Season)
- 1st Wild Card
- 100 Points
- 288 Goals Scored
- 249 Goals Allowed
- 20.08% Power Play
- +35 Goal Differential
- 40 Goal Scorer – Jared McCann (40)
Vegas had an obvious leg up in their first postseason go-around. The Golden Knights held home-ice advantage throughout the opening two rounds (and Stanley Cup Finals) while the Kraken will have to win several road games to advance. In 2017-18, Vegas frustrated opposing offenses much more than the 2022-23 Seattle team, but both had no problems creating goals. The biggest question for the 32nd franchise is; can their offense push them over the edge like Vegas’ balance did in 2018? It’s a tall order but the Kraken have the explosive weapons to make life difficult for any opponent.
Another big difference between the two was the Kraken’s inactivity around this season’s trade deadline. Seattle’s front office was hesitant to giveaway draft capital in order to enhance a bubble team’s chances in the playoffs. In 2018, VGK’s FO aggressively added and for superstar Erik Karlsson. While they missed out on Karlsson, to his credit, George McPhee gladly risked assets to assist a first-place, expansion team make history.
A lot of people questioned, we didn’t do anything at the deadline… You look at what’s out there, you look at where we are as a franchise. We’re still trying to build where other teams have four or five, eight, 10 years of drafting under their belt and we don’t have that. This is the best and maybe the deepest draft that we’re going to be a part of in our three years. So having a first-round pick and three seconds we thought was pretty important. We looked at things. We kicked the tires on things. At the end of the day you’ve got to make decisions based on a lot of things. That’s the route we chose, and we’ll see if we’re right or not. -Francis, Kraken GM
Realistically, the expectations on Vegas to win the Stanley Cup in their inaugural season were unfair. The 2017-18 Golden Knights were a unique team built on chemistry, emotions, and speed. However, they weren’t the most complete or talented roster. What made that team so successful was its makeup. The first season’s locker room was full of castaways who were dedicated to winning for each other. Although it took them a year longer, Seattle has some of the same components as the VGK team that reached the finals. However, don’t expect a Stanley Cup run for the Kraken. Unlike Seattle, the 2017-18 Golden Knights didn’t have to face a reigning Stanley Cup winner in the opening round, they don’t have Marc-Andre Fleury either.