Los Angeles Kings: B
I picked the Kings to get to playoffs and win a couple of rounds, so I’ve been pleased by what I’ve seen so far. Some inconsistencies in their performance make it difficult to fully know what Los Angeles brings to the table, but the potential has been visible at times, and its place in the standings is positive.
For the Kings, I do think there is work to be done at the trade deadline. Scoring has typically come secondary to defense in LA, so adding another player that can produce offense would be nice to see. I also worry about special teams in Los Angeles, as the penalty kill in particular ranks near the bottom of the NHL.
This grade is based more on standing than on statistics, which could be dangerous. While the Kings have some things to clean up, the mix of experience and youth makes me as excited about this team now as I was at the beginning of the season.
San Jose Sharks: B-
I still cannot figure out whether the Sharks should be taken seriously. The team offense isn’t lethal, and the team defense isn’t stout. The power play unit is average at best, but the penalty kill has had some success this season.
On an individual level, there are very few players in the league this season that have been a bigger surprise than Timo Meier. He has never recorded a point-per-game season in his NHL career, but so far this season, he’s got 46 points in 37 games.
In addition, defensemen Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson have bounced back in a big way this season, as both are already at or approaching their point totals from last season. I thought last year’s output would be the new normal for veterans like these two, but they just won’t go away.
I’m not sure if it will last, but the Sharks have definitely exceeded my expectations in the first half of the season.
Seattle Kraken: C-
The expectations placed on the Seattle Kraken after the immediate success of the Golden Knights were unreasonable. Vegas struck gold in its inaugural season, and the odds of Seattle replicating a feat that no expansion team before the Golden Knights had accomplished was extremely slim.
However, I felt at the time of the expansion draft that there was talent available that the Kraken passed on, and even with the players that were selected/signed, I thought this team would be in a wild card position by the end of the year. Instead, the Kraken have one of the lowest point percentages in the league.
The biggest disappointment has been Philipp Grubauer in goal. Seattle was expected to play a defense-first style, and Grubauer was a Vezina Trophy finalist last season, but those two things have not gelled in a productive way in the state of Washington.
I won’t be too harsh on the Kraken, as they are indeed an expansion team, but with that said, this season has been a bit of a letdown for the NHL’s 32nd franchise.