Sports Kraken look to write own story during inaugural campaign
NHL offseason recap: Everything you need to know for 2021-22
A lot has changed in the NHL this offseason. Unless you're Jack Eichel. Then nothing has changed. Around the rest of the league, however, a number of announcements, signings, transactions, and news stories have altered how the NHL will look during the 2021-22 season. While you were enjoying your summer, here's what you missed. Despite his wishes, Jack Eichel is still on the Buffalo Sabres The NHL offseason has essentially come and gone, yet disgruntled Buffalo Sabres forward Jack Eichel remains with the team. A lot has happened between him and the franchise this summer, but nothing has been resolved with regards to Eichel's wishes to be traded.
SEATTLE (AP) — The question will hang over the Seattle Kraken throughout their inaugural season, even if it’s probably unfair.
Can they come close to matching what Vegas did in its first season in 2017-18?
It seems preposterous to think Seattle is going to find the same combination of talent, skill, luck and a little magic to make the kind of run the Golden Knights did four years ago, getting to the Stanley Cup Final in their first year.
“Yeah, everyone wants to get there. So that’s obviously everyone’s goal at the start of the season,” Seattle defenseman Mark Giordano said. “Obviously, they set a high, high bar.”
Time to Get Kraken: Seattle Opens First NHL Training Camp
The Kraken hit the ice for the first time as a team with the start of training camp Thursday. It was the first step toward Seattle’s debut on Oct. 12 at Vegas and came exactly a month before the Kraken open their home arena against Vancouver. © Provided by Hockey News on Sports Illustrated Seattle Kraken By Tim Booth SEATTLE (AP) — It didn’t take long for Mark Giordano to get years of seeing red out of his system. The former longtime Calgary Flames defenseman didn’t even flinch Thursday while pulling on the jersey of a different team for the first time in his career.
Whatever Seattle accomplishes in its first season, there is genuine excitement and buzz about the release of the Kraken. From the tentacle logo with the menacing red eye to the brand new arena, the Kraken should give the NHL a winner off the ice with the foundation that’s been laid heading in Seattle's first game on Oct. 12.
It’s exceedingly unlikely Seattle’s first season will end with a trip to the Stanley Cup Final, nor should that be the expectation. What the Golden Knights accomplished in Year 1 may never be matched by an expansion team in any professional sport.
But Seattle has lofty aspirations and the belief that the Kraken can be a playoff contender in their first season.
“If you look at the makeup of our team, I mean, I think we’re going to be a hard-working, blue collar team,” forward Jordan Eberle said. “A lot of guys who are going to play good on both sides of the puck, and then we want to play with some speed and play with some grit.”
Kraken released: Seattle opens preseason topping Vancouver
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — The concourses of the Spokane Arena were jammed. The merchandise lines snaked through the crowds, causing bottlenecks as fans filed in for their first glimpse of the Seattle Kraken. There seems to be little doubt about the popularity and reach of the NHL’s newest franchise, even when playing 300 miles away from home. Seattle made its debut on Sunday night with a 5-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks in the preseason opener for both teams. With Seattle’s home arena putting the finishes touches on its construction, the Kraken have taken their first preseason on the road to three junior hockey venues in the state.
BETWEEN THE PIPES
When Seattle brought Chris Driedger on stage at the expansion draft, it believed it was showing off its No. 1 goalie.
A week later, Colorado star Philipp Grubauer was signed in free agency and suddenly the Kraken went from having a good goaltender situation to one of the best duos in the league.
Grubauer is the No. 1 but openly acknowledges it’s untenable to play 70% of the games like he did last season with the Avalanche. Even with playing that much, Grubauer had a career-best 1.95 goals against average and seven shutouts.
Driedger played 23 games for Florida and had a 2.07 goals against last season.
“You can’t have one guy playing 80 games and be ready for the playoffs,” Grubauer said.
The biggest unknown is where Seattle's scoring will come from. With Yanni Gourde out early in the season following shoulder surgery, Seattle’s lineup will not feature a forward who scored more than 33 points last season. Alexander Wennberg and Joonas Donskoi both had 17 goals last season but Seattle lacks a player who has proven he can carry the scoring load.
Roster decisions loom for Seattle Kraken
CapFriendly currently projects forwards Morgan Geekie and Kole Lind and defensemen Dennis Cholowski and Cale Fleury as being among those sent down to the AHL. The odds of any of those players clearing waivers, nevertheless all five, seem slim. Geekie especially would be a can’t-miss waiver claim (and as such won’t be waived). Lind and Fleury are each only 22 and were highly regarded prospects in the 2017 NHL Draft, while Cholowski was a 2016 first-rounder and already has 100+ NHL games under his belt. Yet, the trade-off is obvious.
MAKE A NAME
What made Vegas so successful initially was players who had breakout seasons after going underappreciated or underutilized with their previous teams.
Seattle will need a few of those players to emerge if it wants to be competitive, and two candidates could be center Jared McCann and defenseman Vince Dunn.
McCann has never had more than 35 points in a season but he seems likely to land on the top line with Jordan Eberle and Jaden Schwartz, at least until Gourde returns. While Gourde likely slots into the top line when he’s healthy, McCann is clearly a top-six forward and will see a lot of ice time.
Dunn played a career-high 19 minutes per game last season with St. Louis, but the offensive punch he provided during the Blues’ run to the Stanley Cup in 2019 has been fleeting in the regular season.
“I’ve been given a great opportunity by Ron Francis and the coaching staff here to kind of show I can be that guy for them and I’m gonna take full advantage of it,” McCann said.
WELCOME TO THE WEST
Seattle will get an immediate introduction to the Pacific Division when it visits Vegas on opening night and faces Vancouver in the home opener on Oct. 23. Seattle’s first visit to its closest rival, Vancouver, comes on Dec. 27.
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Tim Booth, The Associated Press
Before Playing a Game, the Seattle Kraken Are Winners .
When the first puck is dropped on the Seattle Kraken during their first regular-season game tonight, fans will be hoping for a win. But the truth is, it doesn’t matter what side of the win/loss column they wind up on. The truth is, they’ve already won. © Provided by Hockey News on Sports Illustrated Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports When the first puck is dropped on the Seattle Kraken during their first regular-season game tonight (against the Vegas Golden Knights), many fans will hope for a Kraken victory to underscore their bright future. But the truth is, it doesn’t matter what side of the win/loss column they wind up on.