Welcome to week 5 of our weekly series called “Scouting Spotlight”! Every week, we’ll highlight three players around the NHL who are potential picks for the Kraken in this July’s Expansion Draft. We’ll provide a bit of background on the players and why they’re worth watching this week.
Each Scouting Spotlight will finish with a “Game of the Week” which will showcase some potential Kraken players in an exciting matchup.
Here’s our picks for Week 5 of Scouting Spotlight:
Schedule this week: Tues. 2/16 @ NYR 4PM PT – Thurs. 2/18 @ BOS 4PM PT – Sat. 2/20 vs. BUF 9:30AM PT
In our first edition of Scouting Spotlight, we highlighted Devils winger Yegor Sharangovich. This caught the attention of Devils’ FanSided site Pucks and Pitchforks who insisted that the Devils would protect Sharangovich and gave their take on who the Kraken would eventually select from the Devils.
“Either way, y’all are getting Miles Wood and you’ll like it.”
So, are we getting Miles Wood? Will we like it? If his play so far is any indication, we’ll love it. Wood went on a tear in the Devils’ first nine games, scoring five goals and adding three assists. He’s tied for the team lead in points despite having only the 7th most ice time among Devils forwards with 14:14 per game. He’s had his share of highlight reel plays too, including this buzzer beater against the Sabres:
Wood is already a quarter of the way to his career-best season point total through only nine games. That raises the question, is it sustainable? Wood’s 50-point pace definitely won’t continue and his current 20.8% shooting percentage will likely regress closer to his 8.8% career average. But while Wood’s goal and point totals may be inflated for now, there are some reassuring signs beneath the scoring numbers. For example, according to Evolving Hockey’s RAPM model, Wood has driven play at an elite level so far this season.
Nine games is a small sample size but there’s some pretty good company on that list. Impressively, Wood has generated all this offense despite being utilized in a largely defensive role. To explain this usage, it’s time to learn another advanced statistic: offensive zone starts. Offensive zone starts, or oZS%, is a metric, expressed as a percentage, that shows how a player is being used by his team. A high oZS% means that a player starts most of his shifts with faceoffs in the offensive zone and is therefore being used in an offensive role. A low oZS% means that a player starts most of his shifts with faceoffs in the defensive zone (oZS% ignores neutral zone faceoffs) and is therefore being used in a defensive role. This season, Wood has a miniscule 31.6% oZS%. That’s 2nd lowest on the Devils and 33rd lowest in the NHL among players who’ve played at least 9 games. That kind of deployment makes his offensive numbers all the more remarkable.
When you’re on a hot streak like Wood’s, the last thing you want is to have to take a couple weeks off. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened. Due to an extensive COVID-19 outbreak that saw most of the roster contract the virus, the Devils haven’t played a game since January 31st. Wood, who had COVID-19 before training camp this year, had no choice but to wait as his teammates recovered and Devils games were postponed.
As the Devils return to play tonight against the Rangers, watch to see if Wood picks up where he left off or if his stellar play in January was a mirage.
Schedule this week: Wed. 2/17 vs. FLA 2PM PT – Fri. 2/19 vs. CHI 4PM PT – Sat. 2/20 vs. CHI 4PM PT – Mon. 2/22 vs. TB 4PM PT
When looking at Jake Bean and the Hurricanes’ expansion draft predicament, it’s hard not to think of a similar situation from the NHL’s most recent expansion draft: Shea Theodore and the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks had four established NHL defensemen they wanted to protect, plus another with a no-move clause who had to be protected. Expansion draft rules meant the Ducks could only protect three of the five players. The Ducks, who had just won their division and intended to stay competitive right away, felt that protecting their established defensemen was most important. So the Ducks opted to make a side deal with Vegas that saw Theodore head to the Golden Knights. Theodore was a highly-regarded prospect at the time, but had only played 53 NHL games. Losing Theodore was disastrous for the Ducks, as he turned out to be far better than any of the players the Ducks feared they would lose and became the cornerstone of Vegas’ blueline in their opening season.
If the Kraken are going to find their own Shea Theodore, Jake Bean might be their best bet. The Hurricanes are in a similar situation to that of the 2017 Ducks. They have five top-4 level defensemen and can only protect three. Losing any of them could be a big hit to their goals of winning a Stanley Cup while their competitive window is still open. They might decide to expose the 22-year-old Bean instead of their more established blueliners.
There are numerous parallels between Bean and Theodore as players. Both Bean and Theodore were point-per-game offensive defensemen in the WHL whose success in junior led them to be selected in the first round of the NHL Draft. Both continued to put up impressive scoring numbers in the AHL but were kept out of the NHL because their teams boasted a surplus of talented NHL-ready defensemen. Theodore found his opportunity with the Golden Knights and has become an elite NHL defenseman. Will Bean follow suit with the Kraken?
He’s struggled to stay in the lineup this season, although that’s more a result of Carolina’s depth on the blueline than a reflection of Bean’s play. He found himself back in the rotation against the Blue Jackets last night and may have earned a chance to stay there for good. Bean showed the offensive skill he had flashed in the AHL, scoring his first NHL point with some nice skating and stickhandling to set up a Jordan Staal goal.
Bean added another assist in the 3rd period on this point shot:
The Hurricanes have four games on the schedule this week, which will give Bean plenty of opportunity to show what he can do. Keep a close eye on him. He might be the Kraken’s best defenseman in a few years.
Schedule this week: Sat. 2/20 vs. TOR 4PM PT – Sun. 2/21 @ OTT 4PM PT
We have our first goalie on Scouting Spotlight! Jake Allen has played his way onto the list with six games of stellar goaltending for the Canadiens. His .933 save percentage ranks 3rd in the NHL among goalies who have played more than five games. While he’s technically been serving as a backup for the last two seasons, it appears as though Allen has settled into a role that works well for him. As the secondary goalie in a two-man tandem (this season with Carey Price and last season with Jordan Binnington), Allen has shown that he can excel in limited starts. If the Kraken are planning to go with a similar rotation in net, Allen would be a great fit to play 35 or so games a year.
Unlike with other players such as Wood and Bean, the Kraken won’t have to worry about Allen playing his way into being protected. Unless the Habs move him, Allen will be exposed in the expansion draft since Montreal’s goalie protection spot will be filled by Carey Price due to his no-move clause.
You may have noticed that the Canadiens only have two games on the schedule this week. While that’s less than most teams, the games are on back-to-back nights, which means Allen is very likely to get the start in one of the two. I would bet he gets the second game against Ottawa. He had an impressive 34-save victory over the Senators a couple weeks ago.
Scouting Spotlight Game of the Week: Florida Panthers @ Carolina Hurricanes, Wednesday 2/17, 2:00PM PT on NHL NetworkEmbed from Getty Images
Our Game of the Week is a matchup of the top two teams in the Central Division (by points %) with the winner taking over the division’s top spot.
On the Hurricanes side, Jake Bean will try to follow up on his 2-point game and earn a permanent spot in Carolina’s lineup. Also continue to watch Canes winger Nino Niederreiter, who has scored another two goals in the three games since we highlighted in last week’s Scouting Spotlight.
For the Panthers, watch Anthony Duclair. In last week’s Scouting Spotlight I pointed out that Duclair had yet to score a goal this season but his possession numbers suggested it wouldn’t be long before that changed. Well, Duclair scored this beautiful wraparound goal against the Lightning yesterday: