The gaze of the sports world will turn toward Seattle on Saturday night, as the Kraken are set to open their new barn, Climate Pledge Arena. For their first home game, they'll host the geographic rival Vancouver Canucks, live on ESPN+ and Hulu at 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET.
To help get you ready for the matchup, we've put together a guide on the key players to watch for both teams, in-depth statistical insights on the teams from ESPN Stats & Information, and more.
This season, ESPN+ will broadcast 75 exclusive regular-season games, with ABC and ESPN airing a combined 28 exclusive regular-season contests for a total of 103 games. The complete broadcast schedule can be found here.
Leading scorer: Jared McCann (5 points)
Among the 64 expansion teams across the NHL/NFL/NBA/MLB since 1960, only the Vegas Golden Knights finished their inaugural season with a winning record and were one of two to reach the championship round in their first season of existence; the other team was the 1967-68 St. Louis Blues. However, an expansion team was guaranteed to reach the Stanley Cup Final that season because the West Division had eight members that were all expansion franchises.
Seattle is returning home from a five-game road trip and a 1-3-1 start to open the season under coach Dave Hakstol. Points of emphasis during the past couple of practices have to be generating more offense and getting off to better starts. Seattle has been outscored 8-2 in first periods this season, the second-worst goal differential in the opening period by any team; the Chicago Blackhawks are worse, at minus-7.
Meanwhile, Wayne Gretzky famously said "you miss 100% of the shots you don't take." The Kraken average a league-low 26.0 shots per game, and according to Stathletes, have a league-worst 1.98 expected goals so far this season. Only the Blackhawks -- who have yet to have a lead -- have spent more time trailing than Seattle has.
Defenseman Vince Dunn returned to the lineup on Tuesday against the Devils after a two-game absence and picked up an assist. In his four prior NHL seasons, all spent in St. Louis, Dunn scored 32 goals, 11 of which came on the power play. Both marks trailed only Alex Pietrangelo's for best among Blues defensemen.
Among players to log at least three games this season, Dunn's 10.14 shot attempts per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 is tops on the Kraken, and sixth among NHL defensemen.
Seattle GM Ron Francis shares the process for drafting and building the Kraken.
Vancouver snapped its two-game losing streak on Thursday with a 4-1 win over Chicago. This game is the last of a season-long six-game road trip for the Canucks, who have their home opener on Tuesday against the Wild -- the start of a seven-game homestand.
The Canucks have made just one playoff appearance in the past six seasons, and that was in the COVID-shortened 2019-20 season. Their 28 playoff appearances without a Stanley Cup title are second most all-time behind the Buffalo Sabres (29).
Conor Garland agreed to a five-year, $24.74 million contract this offseason with the Canucks and has paid immediate dividends. On Thursday against the Blackhawks, an assist extended his point streak to five games as he joined Elias Pettersson (2018-19) and Don Tannahill (1972-73) as the third player in franchise history to register a season-opening point streak of five or more games in his first campaign with the franchise.
Quinn Hughes also etched his name in Canucks history in Thursday's win by recording his 100th career point. Among players to debut with the franchise, Hughes required the fewest games (133) by a defenseman to reach the milestone, topping the previous mark established by Dale Tallon (146). Furthermore, Hughes needed the fewest games among active defensemen to reach the 100-point milestone, and got there faster than any defenseman in the past 25 seasons.