Seven days ago, the Seattle Kraken roster was turned over with movement unlike anyone this season had ever seen before.
The trade deadline demanded that action, with a haul of draft picks coming in for expiring contracts to accelerate the building process to pick up again this summer.
New roles are being defined, and another shot for advancement comes tonight when the Kraken face a rematch against the Los Angeles Kings, 7:30pm PT (93.3 KJR / Kraken Audio Network) at Crypto.com Arena.
With Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol hinting earlier at a desire to keep the lineup consistent, that objective will carry out again tonight. No changes will be made to the forward group or defensive pairs, while Chris Driedger – making his first start since Mar. 10 at Ottawa – will start in net.
“We’ve had a lot of change,” said Hakstol. “Rather than continue to mix things, leaving guys together for a couple games in a row, it gives them an opportunity to build some of that chemistry.”
One of those players benefiting potentially long term from more exposure is forward Kole Lind, expected to stay with the Kraken for the remainder of the season with nine assists in four games while at one point emerging as the Charlotte Checkers leading scorer at the AHL level with 35 points in 46 games, along with 106 penalty minutes.
“I’m playing with two really good players with (Morgan Geekie) and (Jared McCann),” said Lind. “It’s great getting an opportunity to play with guys like that, and guys who think the game the same way as me.”
The Kraken are facing the Kings in a rare two-game series – they’ll have another one this week at home with the Vegas Golden Knights. Hakstol, like many others, experienced the unique scheduling circumstances last season, when he was on the Toronto Maple Leafs bench as an assistant coach during the pandemic shortened campaign.
“We got used to it a little bit last year,” said Hakstol. “It’s a little different feel, not there’s much hidden at this time of year anyway. But just that your familiarity is coming from 36 hours ago, a little different approach.”
They’ll face the Kings who will wrap up a four-game homestand tonight and have stayed within seven points of the first place Calgary Flames in the Pacific Division. Their head coach, Todd McLellan, will be behind the bench in the 1,000th game of his NHL coaching career, looking to guide the Kings to their first Stanley Cup Playoff berth in four years.
The Kings, who employ a 1-3-1 forecheck and lead the NHL with 28.4 shots allowed per game, jumped out to a 2-0 lead before Daniel Sprong scored for the Kraken on Saturday night. Anze Kopitar, who had a goal and an assist in the game, leads the Kings with 57 points while Adrian Kempe, who had two assists on Saturday, leads with 28 goals.
“We came out on the wrong end the other night, that should be a motivating factor for us,” said Hakstol.
PROJECTED KRAKEN LINEUP AT LOS ANGELES, 3/28: