New day, and a new setting for three new members of the Seattle Kraken.
Derrick Pouliot – a former Vegas Golden Knight – along with Daniel Sprong and Victor Rask are all expected to make their home debuts in Seattle tonight, when the Kraken host the Vegas Golden Knights at 7pm (KJR / Kraken Audio Network) from Climate Pledge Arena.
How long has Pouliot, a defenseman and waiver claim from Vegas, been looking forward to this one?
“Since I looked at the schedule after I got picked up off waivers,” said Pouliot. “You knew it’s coming.”
All three players joined the Kraken roster – Rask and Sprong via trades – while the Kraken were on the road to take two wins from the Arizona Coyotes and Los Angeles Kings.
“It wasn’t raining, that’s a plus,” said Pouliot, who is back in the Pacific Northwest after a decorated major junior career with the Portland Winterhawks. “We had yesterday to get some groceries and stuff, settle into the hotel, so it’s been good.”
Rask scored his first goal with the Kraken on Monday, a 6-1 win at Los Angeles. Sprong has been lights out for immediate production expectations, scoring goals in three straight games which matches his career high.
There’s more to cover though with Sprong, according to the Kraken bench boss.
“This is a new opportunity for him,” said head coach Dave Hakstol. “For me it’s an opportunity to show exactly who he is – a 200 foot player, to prove he can be a grinding player in all the right spots. We know he can score. You don’t have to look too long through a practice or morning skate to know he has a weapon to score in this league.”
“It’s what he’s going to be here. There’s 16 games to do that every day.”
Chris Driedger, coming off a 36 save victory at Los Angeles, will start again tonight against Vegas. The Kraken line rushes at morning skate suggested a similar lineup with no changes to the defensive pairings or forward line combinations.
The Kraken will face the Golden Knights who are entering a hyper-critical period of the playoff stretch drive. One point out of the wild card spot, Vegas has six of the next eight games on the road and will visit the Kraken twice in the next three days, a rare two-game series between the two teams.
Vegas is led by Jonathan Marchessault, one of a few holdovers from the 2017-18 expansion Cup Finals squad. The visit will also bring a major junior homecoming for forward Keegan Kolesar and defenseman Shea Theodore, both suiting up for the Seattle Thunderbirds for eight combined seasons.
Kolesar won the Ed Chynoweth Cup with Mat Barzal and Ethan Bear in 2016-17 and makes his first return to Seattle since Game 5 of the 2017 WHL Championship Series.
"I spent a long time of my life here,” said Kolesar. “Loved the city, loved the people who are very passionate about sports in general and they grew to love hockey during my time here. It’s exciting to be here.”
PROJECTED KRAKEN LINEUP VS. VEGAS, 3/30: