A strong penalty kill is a key to success in the NHL. The Seattle Kraken has an opportunity to build one of the strongest penalty kills in the league as some penalty kill specialists will be available through free agency. Here are five players Seattle should target during the offseason.
Wennberg ranked third in penalty kill time on ice this season among forwards. The Panthers center was on the ice for 14 goals in 142 minutes, equating to a goal every 10 minutes. Despite the Panthers ranking 18th in penalty kill around the league, Wennberg was a bright spot. He managed seven shots on net while shorthanded and was on the ice for 31 chances for and even scored a goal. He will be 27 this offseason and should get a raise from the $2.25 million he made this year. Due to the Panthers’ cap crunch, Wennberg should be available for the Kraken this offseason.
Wennberg is not just great on the penalty kill, but he can be a top-six winger who plays on the second powerplay. He is responsible in his own zone and can get you anywhere between 35-40 points. He does need to work on his faceoff ability as he was 40.3% on draws while on the penalty kill, but if you partner him with a partner who can win faceoffs more frequently, that should not be an issue. Don’t expect Wennberg to have another season where his shooting percentage is 20.7%, but he can be a valuable asset Seattle should consider.
Forbort is a defenseman who is big, strong and can shut down the opposition powerplay. His 151 minutes of penalty kill time ranked 15th in the league and helped Winnipeg finish with the 13th ranked penalty kill. He was on the ice for 15 goals against which equates to a goal every 10 minutes. In Winnipeg’s first-round sweep of Edmonton, Forbort helped contain the best powerplay in the regular season and kept them to two goals on 11 opportunities. Despite not being a flashy player, Forbort gets the job done and is a player you need to build a successful team.
Forbort’s $1 million AAV this season made him one of the best bargains in the league this season. He played over 20 minutes a game and has developed a great partnership with Neal Pionk playing against the other team’s top lines. This season he did have a Corsi of 48% at even strength, but that was related to playing harder matchups throughout the season. Forbort is a lot like Chris Tanev. A player who can block a lot of shots, play physical and be strong in their defensive end. Last offseason, Tanev was given a four-year $18 million contract by Calgary. This means that Forbort should expect a raise this season. If Seattle is willing to give out $3-3.5 million a year, they may land themselves a strong, right-shot defensive defenseman who can get you between 10-15 points a season.
Ever since coming to Tampa Bay, Barclay Goodrow has been a staple on a Lighting penalty kill that ranked fourth in the league this season. He played 133 minutes this season on the penalty kill, which ranked fifth among all forwards in the NHL. He was on the ice for 12 goals against, which equals a goal every 11 minutes. Goodrow is a fast player that is strong along the boards and has been one of the most efficient penalty-killing forwards since the 2018-19 season. Last season, he played 185 minutes on the penalty kill while only being on the ice for 13 goals against. Goodrow is a fantastic addition that will be available this offseason.
Tampa Bay is currently $5 million over the cap for next season and Goodrow will become a free agent this offseason. When looking at Goodrow’s overall play, he can be summed up as a good third-line forward who can get you 20-25 points a season while playing 15 minutes a game. He has a good career Corsi for percentage at 51.5% while at even strength and knows how to get shots through and on net. This season, he had a 69.2% shots through percentage, which means he is making the most of his shots and forcing the goaltender to make saves. He will get a raise from the $925,000 he made this season and cash in with a long-term deal during free agency.
Martinez was part of the best penalty kill in the league this season with the Golden Knights. He played 131 minutes shorthanded and was only on the ice for nine goals against. That is a goal against every 14 minutes of time on ice. The big question surrounding Martinez is age. He will be 34 next season, so a long-term contract may be a dangerous proposition. Despite the age, Martinez is a name worth exploring as he has been a solid penalty killer his whole career and seems to be getting better with age.
In Martinez, you get a top-pairing defenseman capable of putting up 35 points in the correct system. His current cap hit is $4 million, so unless he takes a major discount or Vegas moves out a lot of cap space, Martinez will be available. If Seattle does sign Martinez, they are getting a top pair defenceman who can control play in the offensive zone and is not afraid to block shots. His 168 blocks led the league this season despite missing three games. Martinez is a good investment for Seattle as long as the deal is only two or three years.
Cizikas played 96 minutes shorthanded on the sixth-ranked Islanders penalty kill this season. He was on the ice for 12 goals against this season, equating to a goal every eight minutes. In Cizikas, you get a strong player along the boards that does not take unnecessary risks. The Islanders do not allow a lot of shots on the penalty kill because of their suffocating style that forces other teams to make mistakes. Cizikas is a big part of that style and could bring that tenacity and aggressiveness to Seattle next season.
Cizikas is currently making $3.35 million while playing on the best fourth line in hockey with Cal Clutterbuck and Matt Martin. This shutdown line was extremely effective versus Pittsburgh in the first round of the playoffs as they held the line of Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust to seven points in six games. Despite the limited ice time and mostly playing on the penalty kill, Cizikas can get you 15-20 points a season. He will probably be taking a pay cut this season but with the Islanders’ cap problems, the odds are he won’t be back on Long Island. If Seattle can pick him up on a three-year, $9 million contract, Cizikas could be an important piece in the Emerald City.
A Strong Penalty Kill Is Key
Having a strong penalty kill is very important and these five players can all help make it one of the tops in the league. Seattle will be facing teams like Edmonton and Vegas, who have players that can cash in on the power play. A strong system and players who understand how to kill penalties could be the difference between making the playoffs and missing them in year one.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken team. His work can also be found at dubnetwork.ca where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League. Adam is excited to be part of the Kraken’s inaugural season and ready to bring you in depth coverage of the NHL’s 32nd team.