It’s not often the Seattle Kraken will have back-to-back practices to fine-tune habits and routine, but Tuesday and Wednesday at Kraken Community Iceplex might as well have value worth its weight in gold.
Starting Thursday, the Kraken will continue their homestand hosting the Winnipeg Jets, then have one more two-day block of days off, until next month. With the exception of the Christmas and holiday break (Dec. 24-26), the Kraken will have 12 games in the next 23 days.
“It was good,” said forward Mason Appleton. “A lot more mellow than yesterday, but we were able to get some things done that we needed to and get chemistry with new lines.”
Tuesday’s intense compete day practice, one where Mark Giordano called perfect, “to get my lungs and my legs where they need to be,” was followed up with a Wednesday session slightly dialed down on physical intensity, but still retaining energy, pace, and a few vocal expressions heard from the ice.
Giordano’s second day back on the ice is an impact felt among multiple areas.
“It’s his presence; that strong, steady leadership he continually provides,” said Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol. “Then as a player, on the ice, he’s very important for us. It’ll be nice to get him back into our lineup as soon as possible."
The Kraken weaved Calle Jarnkrok back into the mix, who’s been missing on injured reserve and hasn’t played since Nov. 24 against Carolina, on a modified line with Brandon Tanev and Yanni Gourde. Jared McCann moved over to a trio with Mason Appleton and Marcus Johansson, while Morgan Geekie found new linemates, Ryan Donato and Joonas Donskoi.
Alex Wennberg centered the top two scorers, Jaden Schwartz and Jordan Eberle.
Jarnkrok missed Monday’s practice with what he said to “take a day off” after repeat skating sessions, and looks to finally gain health on his side, missing 11 games with injuries and COVID-19 protocol. Hakstol said the goal to return, for Jarnkrok is “100 percent healthy.”
“He’s never really had a chance to hit his stride here,” said Hakstol. “We’ve had an idea of the positives and the things he can bring to the table. But in reality he’s never really been able to get into a rhythm and get a great string of games. Hopefully that’ll happen. I think there’s a good chance he’ll be ready to go tomorrow, and that run can start tomorrow.”
Jarnkrok, who needed 12 games to finally score his first goal (Nov. 21 vs. Washington) after missing the first five games of the year with COVID-19 protocol, last season had 13 goals and 28 points in 49 games during the shortened NHL season with Nashville.
The Kraken proceeded on Wednesday without Colin Blackwell, the latest to enter COVID-19 protocol and forward Kole Lind, “on reassignment” according to Hakstol.
One roster spot is available with the Kraken affiliate Charlotte Checkers (AHL), who recently reassigned forward Luke Henman to the Allen Americans (ECHL).
VILLE OTTAVAINEN TO THE WORLD JUNIORS
Another player from the original Kraken draft class is headed to the global stage – defenseman Ville Ottavainen has been named to Finland’s roster for the upcoming 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship in Edmonton, starting Dec. 26 (NHL Network).
Ottavainen, selected by the Kraken in the fourth round in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, brings size at 6-foot-5 where at 19 years of age, is already competing in the Finnish Elite League, the Liiga which represents the top professional league in the country. He has six points in 28 games for JYP Jyväskylä.
Second overall pick Matty Beniers, currently competing at the NCAA level for the Michigan Wolverines, is a strong prospect to make Team USA’s roster again for the tournament as a part of last year’s gold medal squad and has been invited to the program’s selection camp, Dec. 13-15.
KRAKEN LINE COMBINATIONS AND DEFENSIVE PAIRS