Kraken call up Poturalski from AHL Coachella Valley, and the meaning

Andrew Poturalski of the Coachella Valley Firebirds skates with the puck in AHL game action during the 2023-24 season against the San Diego Gulls at Acrisure Arena. Photo: Coachella Valley Firebirds

The Seattle Kraken have called up forward Andrew Poturalski from the AHL’s Coachella Valley Firebirds, a little over 24 hours before the Kraken visit the Edmonton Oilers during a busy stretch of four games in six days.

Shane Wright and Ryan Winterton, who have spent the last six days up at the NHL level, have each been re-assigned to the Firebirds. 

Instant analysis from 93.3 KJR-FM: 

·      What this move means for Poturalski: The 29-year old veteran forward, an AHL mainstay for his prolific playing ability that’s led to a pair of league scoring titles along with two Calder Cup championships, gets his next shot at the NHL level, where the pace is dialed up and the reaction timing is more demanding. He signed a two-year, one-way deal with the Kraken two summers ago. It's time he deserves his shot in Seattle.

His limited time at the NHL level has yet been somewhat productive. Poturalski’s last trip up was two years ago when he was in the Carolina Hurricanes system, dishing a pair of assists while the Hurricanes navigated COVID-19 protocol issues. In each game, Poturalski earned an assist on his first shift.  

Scoring just two goals in the last two games with 37 shots over the last 120 minutes, the Kraken are in desperate need of an offensive jolt, dipping into the “next man up” pool within the AHL ranks. Poturalski can be creative and beneficial, but by no means is this a move to anoint an instant offensive savior. Where he slots in will be a question mark, presumably with Jordan Eberle set to return any day and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare marked as “available” by Dave Hakstol, but still sitting out of Monday night’s loss to Colorado after recovering from injury last week at Arizona. 

·      What this move means for Wright and Winterton: Both players got in three games and earned high praise from Dave Hakstol for their immediate impact in a win at Colorado last Thursday. Wright earned a great scoring chance in the first period on Ivan Prosvetov, his line helped draw a penalty, and earned power play time. He has been terrific in the face-off circle, winning 72 percent of his draws in limited ice time. 

Same goes for Winterton, who managed a shot on goal in three games, averaging 8:12 of time on ice per game. But in his first period of action last Thursday, during his NHL debut, he threaded a long outlet pass onto the tape of Devin Shore, who nearly scored on a breakaway. 

The moments were limited but meaningful - signs of two players who are growing into potential foundation pieces of the Kraken in the future. However, they are young, green, and still learning about the multi-layered blueprint of sticking in the NHL. The easiest way to distort future plans is to rush prospects. Wright has four goals in his first seven AHL games this year. Winterton is just one goal behind. They are in their ideal spot in Coachella Valley, where they have been prolific in their first month, and will benefit from rockstar minutes in a development situation. 

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