NHL playoffs: Kraken's multi-layered attack challenging conventional wisdom

The Seattle Kraken don't have much star power, but their overwhelming depth has helped drive impressive postseason success.

The Seattle Kraken have been the best story of the NHL playoffs so far thanks to their first-round upset of the Colorado Avalanche, but they may not be done yet.

A 7-2 win over the Dallas Stars on Sunday gave Seattle a 2-1 series lead and showed off the team's greatest strength — its scoring depth.

Despite the fact the Kraken scored seven goals in Game 3, no individual player produced more than two points and 12 of the team's 18 skaters found the scoresheet.

The common refrain about Seattle is that it lacks a top line full of elite talent, but all four of its lines are second-line calibre. That might be a slight exaggeration, but it's not too far from the truth.

The Kraken have excelled in the playoffs despite a dearth of elite offensive talent. (Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports)
The Kraken have excelled in the playoffs despite a dearth of elite offensive talent. (Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports)

In these playoffs, the Kraken don't have a point-per-game producer, but 16 different players have scored the team's 32 goals and 10 have multiple tallies. For a frame of reference, the Stars have 12 total scorers and seven players with at least two goals.

The playoff results are in line with Seattle's output during the regular season, too. The Kraken's top point scorer, Jared McCann, put 70 on the board. That ranked 59th in the NHL. Five different Dallas players would have been Seattle's top producer.

While the team lacked a dominant offensive focal point, it had 13 double-digit goal scorers and 13 skaters with 30-plus points. If we look at Seattle's lines, their regular season and playoff point production are all relatively similar to one another.

Via Hockey-Reference
Via Hockey-Reference

This chart undersells the top line a bit, as Tye Kartye is a recent addition to the lineup who didn't play in the regular season. If McCann was playing there would be a clearly delineated first line, but the fact the team has three units below it that present similar offensive threat levels is still rare.

It's easy to understand the positives associated with strong depth and never letting your opponent off the hook for a shift, but this kind of roster construction is not associated with deep playoff runs.

The conventional wisdom states that star power is what wins in the playoffs, and based on recent results it's tough to disagree. Recent winners like the Colorado Avalanche, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks all had Hall-of-Fame contributors at the top of their lineups. The 2018-19 St. Louis Blues were an exception, but winning it all tends to take a handful of special talents.

Winning a Stanley Cup isn't a fair expectation for this Kraken group, but they have performed extremely well against two of the toughest teams in the Western Conference.

Even if they shock the world, it's not like Seattle has an easily replicable team-building model considering much of its roster was acquired via the expansion draft. That said, this team has the NHL's attention.

If the Kraken continue to have success in this postseason, it may have some GMs reconsidering the value of avoiding weak links as opposed to top-loading their rosters.