We are officially one week away from opening night between the Vegas Golden Knights and your SEATTLE KRAKEN. That being said, tonight is the final preseason game for the Kraken. There’s been a lot to take away from the pre-season games this far. Captaincy debate, Style of play, Roster surprises, Depth at the goalie position, Special teams, and more. A week off also gives an important break to give the players to rest, practice, gain some chemistry, and have a strong possibility to have a full healthy roster on opening night.
There is no need for the Kraken to start the season with a Captain, however we will most likely see some A’s on at least three jerseys. In preseason, we have seen a bit of a trend in the “A” moving around. When playing, the constants have been ex-Calgary Flames captain, Mark Giordano and ex-St. Louis Assistant Captain Jaden Schwartz. The biggest question revolves around the 3rd “A”. It appears to be shared between Jordan Eberle, Adam Larsson, and Jamie Oleksiak. I personally believe it should go to Jordan Eberle out of three listed. Others who should be in the “A” conversation include Brandon Tanev, Jared McCann, and Vince Dunn. Time will tell. Perhaps, the Kraken will take a unique approach and start the season with two teams of Captains, an away and home team, to add on to the friendly competition between the teams.
Style of Play:
It was an exciting first game for the Kraken, ending in a 5-3 come from behind VICTORY! If you read my previous article, they made me look like a genius. The 4th line came to play. Riley Sheahan scored the first ever goal in the Kraken organization. If they want to have success in this league they are going to need contributions from each line. The 4th line certainly set the tone and energized the boys as they rallied from behind to win after the first goal.
Another takeaway from the preseason has been the first line of Jared McCann centering Jaden Schwartz and Jordan Eberle. This line has a point in each of the 5 preseason games, so far. These guys showed up in the biggest moments, an OT win against the Edmonton Oilers being the only line to produce points and a SO win in Calgary where once again the line got all 3 regulation goals before McCann and Eberle both notch a shootout goal for the win.
All this being said, I like what I see so far. We’re playing a fast, gritty, physical game. If we can make sure to play a full 60 minutes we will do a lot of damage. I appreciate how Hakstol has coached this team so far. He’s allowed each player to continue to play their strengths while playing within his system. I suppose credit is also due to Ron Francis who has been able to put this group of complementing depth players into the limelight to shine. Exciting stuff when your 4th and 1st line are rolling. The Kraken need to solidify the middle six. I certainly see it coming in time.
There is still work to be done. They have yet to compete with a fully healthy roster. They need to solidify the Power Play units and tighten up special teams in general. As the preseason has progressed, the coaching staff has made changes to solidify each player’s role. Again, as the season progresses and the roster gets healthy all of this will take shape soon enough.
One major surprise for me is the level of play from Dennis Cholowski. I didn’t know too much about it before coming to the Kraken but he has really impressed me in the preseason. So much so, that I wouldn’t be surprised to see him be on the opening night roster.
I also liked seeing the Fleury brothers playing together. It’s not every day a set of brothers make it in to the NHL let alone the same team. Hakstol did a really cool thing in allowing them be each other’s Defensive partners. The two did really well together and obviously had strong chemistry. Hope to see more of Hadyn and Cale Fleury playing together.
Hakstol seems to be high on Ryan Donato, rightfully so. The young-skilled forward has had an impressive camp. He’s notched only one goal in four games and has been playing on the top PP unit. He’s still young and needs to continue to develop, but keep an eye on him because he could certainly breakout this year. He could be an X-Factor for the Kraken.
Speaking of X-Factor, 1st line center McCann looks to be a legit 1C. If this is the case, the Kraken are sitting pretty at center depth with Yanni Gourde eyeing a return. McCann needs to keep doing what he does best, firing the puck. If he can do that he can be a key player on this team. When he is on, he makes a team so much better. Prime example when he played for the Pittsburgh Penguins last year. He’ll look to do the same in Seattle.
Depth at the Goalie Position:
The Kraken have done a great job in giving their goalies some playing time throughout the preseason. Obviously Grubauer has stood out and will be the starter, but one could argue the backup position is up for grabs. Chris Driedger has not impressed in his short time with the Kraken. Joey Daccord on the other hand has made the most of his opportunities in net and has played extremely well. Daccord has actually led the team in save percentage. I still think the one-two punch is Grub and Driedger, but having that extra security at the goalie position is huge in this league.
|Philipp Grubauer G||3||44:41||2.24||—||.886||5||44||1||0||0||0||0-0|
|Chris Driedger G||3||42:59||4.65||—||.773||10||44||1||2||0||0||0-0|
|Joey Daccord G||2||22:30||2.67||—||.905||2||21||1||0||0||0||1-3|
That’s all for now as I go to watch the final preseason game of the Kraken versus the Vancouver Canucks. In exactly one week, the regular season begins. Our first test comes against the Vegas Golden Knights. It’ll certainly be one to watch, as it will also be TNTs regular season debut. Important to note: Yanni Gourde is already skating and has just been able to take limited contact. Could we see Yanni Gourde on opening night?