Kraken vs. Golden Knights Odds & Pick: Seattle Makes NHL Debut in Vegas (Oct. 12)
Derek Cain/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Morgan Geekie
- The Seattle Kraken make their NHL debut on Tuesday night against the Vegas Golden Knights.
- Seattle is a big underdog and dealing with five players in the league's COVID protocol.
- Michael Leboff breaks down the matchup below.
Kraken vs. Golden Knights Odds
|Golden Knights Odds||-235|
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
A brand new NHL season kicks off on Tuesday night with a pair of blockbuster games on the league’s new home, ESPN.
With all due respect to the Lightning on their banner night, the eyes of the hockey world will be fixed on the late game in Vegas, where the Golden Knights will roll out the red carpet for the expansion Seattle Kraken.
Expectations for both of these teams are pretty high, relatively speaking. The Golden Knights are once again expected to compete for the Western Conference crown and come in as joint second-favorites to win the Stanley Cup at +700, while the Kraken are -130 to make the postseason in their inaugural campaign.
Despite their lofty expectations, the Kraken are still big underdogs at The Fortress on Tuesday night. Is there reason to believe Seattle can get off on the right foot against the juggernaut Knights?
The Kraken’s strategy in the expansion draft and during free agency seemed pretty obvious. Ron Francis wanted to build his team from the back to the front, and this should give his team a little more margin for error as they try to gel as a group.
The team may struggle to create scoring chances at five-on-five, but they should suppress scoring chances well enough to keep them in most games. Even when they do allow scoring chances, the team has two reliable goaltenders who can back up what figures to be a decent defense.
The Kraken look like they will roll with a top pairing featuring Mark Giordano and Adam Larsson, with Jamie Oleksiak and Vince Dunn as the second pair. Giordano and Larsson are both veterans with shutdown-pair experience and embody the ethos of this team. While Giordano certainly has some offensive upside, this blueline’s biggest strength is its ability to prevent scoring chances at five-on-five.
That is even true up front as the Kraken have plenty of forwards who have played very well in limited roles. The question will be whether or not that success can translate as more is asked of players like Jared McCann, Jordan Eberle, Jaden Schwartz and Joonas Donskoi.
It’s easy to look at this forward group, which is headlined by Eberle, Schwartz and McCann, and come away unimpressed, but I am not — at least right now — all that concerned about the lack of firepower. Seattle’s defense and goaltending should alleviate the pressure on this offense to post crooked numbers. This is a team built to win 3-2 games.
There’s also the elephant in the room. While most folks are wondering whether or not this team can score enough, my biggest question mark is how well the team will be able to gel in their first season together.
Update (3 p.m. ET): The Seattle Kraken will be without Joonas Donskoi, Jared McCann, Calle Jarnkrok and Jamie Oleksiak due to COVID protocol.
Vegas Golden Knights
The Vegas Golden Knights made one major alteration to their lineup, but it was a move that carries more narrative weight than actual on-ice impact. Marc-Andre Fleury was traded to Chicago just a few weeks after winning the Vezina Trophy, but the team already had Robin Lehner — one of the league’s best goaltenders the past three seasons — on the roster and Laurent Brossoit is a capable deputy, so until the goaltending presents itself to be an issue, I wouldn’t worry.
The main knock against Vegas is its depth down the middle. None of Chandler Stephenson, William Karlsson, Nolan Patrick and Nicolas Roy will jump off the page at you, but Vegas has so much talent on the wings that it doesn’t need its centers to produce at an elite level.
Perhaps in the playoffs when the Knights are going up against elite teams every night this will be a problem, but for now there’s more than enough talent on this roster to get the job done. Last season, with a very similar set of centers, the Knights finished second in five-on-five scoring, second in expected goals for per 60 minutes (xGF/60) and third in High-Danger Chances For (HDCF/60) per 60 minutes.
The Knights don’t grade out nearly as well defensively, however. Even with a deep blueline headlined by Shea Theodore, Alex Pietrangelo and Alec Martinez, Vegas is looking to beat you with its offense rather than to suffocate the game.
Kraken-Golden Knights Pick
This figures to be a strength vs. strength matchup. The Knights will present a tough first test for Seattle’s defense, while the Kraken’s offense should have a fighting chance against a Knights’ defense that allowed 2.29 xGA/60 (22nd overall) and 10.29 HDCA/60 (20th) at five-on-five last season. Whether or not Seattle’s forwards can finish their chances against Robin Lehner is another issue entirely.
I like backing good defensive teams as underdogs in the NHL. If you are able to suppress scoring chances successfully, you will be able to hang with better, more talented teams and turn games into coin flips. And when you’re betting a team at +190 (34.5% implied probability), that is all you’re hoping for.
Not only do I think this is a fun bet, but I think there’s a lot of value backing Seattle at the listed price. The Kraken are an unknown commodity for now, but plenty of modelers and pundits are bullish on Seattle’s chances and I, too, think this team is better than this number suggests. I doubt we’ll see the Kraken at this kind of price as the season wears on, so get in while you can.
Pick: Seattle Kraken +190 (down to +170)
Update (3 p.m. ET): With the Kraken announcing that McCann, Oleksiak, Jarnkrok and Donskoi are out this number could continue to tick up before puck drop, so definitely shop around. Losing three forwards from a team already short on scoring talent is far from ideal, but I think Seattle’s defense and goaltending still makes it an intriguing bet at this price. It’s not a particularly fun way to spend an evening, betting on an expansion team missing four players, but hey, this is hockey after all.
Update (Noon ET): With five players in COVID protocol for Seattle, it would not be surprising to see this number stay above +200 until we have clarity on the situation. I still think the Kraken are worthy of play at the current prices (+215 at DraftKings), but you may want to see how this shakes out before getting down.