The third day of on ice sessions at Kraken Community Iceplex on Sunday perhaps gave a greater glimpse into the dynamic of chemistry, continuing to develop in training camp.
For the Seattle Kraken, like other teams, chemistry is earned, not assumed.
The tape-to-tape passes have been more frequent. There is more decisive movement with the puck. More often than not, it’s getting on net. Lines have been assembled with consistency. There’s an assertive tone in the progress of development.
And quite simply, a lot of teammates have removed the figurative “hello, my name is” sticker. It’s left quite the impression on many.
“Everything’s not new,” said Jordan Eberle. “That’s the biggest thing.”
“You know your teammates; you know your coaches. We had some groundwork we did last year. Just trying to pick up and evolve and pick up from what we did there.”
Alex Wennberg, who skated in the morning session, did this a year ago, but has felt a strong contrast in team building this year.
“Every day,” said Alex Wennberg. “You can see right now, there’s been a lot of hard work. I feel like the skates we’ve had, have been tough. Lot of sore bodies, but this is how the team works.”
The Kraken didn’t veer too far from a majority of the practice lineup on Sunday, save the exception of eight players assigned to separate “red jersey” squad: Carsen Twarynski, Luke Henman, Tucker Robertson, Tristan Mullin, David Cotton, Kyle Jackson, David Goyette, and goaltender Callum Booth.
In the morning session, Matty Beniers stayed put as a pivot for Ryan Donato and Oliver Bjorkstrand, the third straight day the trio have been assembled, and perhaps an indication of a possible line combination as roster decisions are made closer to game time.
“They’re both great players,” said Donato, who trained in the offseason with Beniers in the Boston area.
“I played with Matty a little bit last year, so I’m used to playing with him. With Bjorky, you find him in good spots, he’s going to convert ninety to ninety five percent of the time.”
Andre Burakovsky, gaining attention from head coach Dave Hakstol for his shot and puck possession ability as advertised, stayed with Wennberg and right winger Joonas Donskoi. Martin Jones and Joey Daccord were the featured goaltenders in the morning.
“I’ve played with Burakovsky before, so I know what kind of player he is,” said Wennberg. “Great guy, great teammate, he’s a hell of a player so to play with him, it’s great.”
“I feel we can make some plays. Tomorrow’s a big test so we’re excited about that.”
Karson Kuhlman was a highlight in the afternoon session with Jared McCann and center Yanni Gourde, while Eberle moved to new linemates, Jaden Schwartz and rookie hopeful Shane Wright.
Philipp Grubauer and Magnus Hellberg each teamed in the afternoon session in net.
POWER PLAY TIME
Assistant coach Paul MacFarland, who runs the Kraken power play, has more weapons to play with this year. After they finished 29th in the league with a special teams unit that checked in at a 14.6 percent rate, all secrets were removed with respects to offseason needs.
Oliver Bjorkstrand, coming off a 28-goal campaign, was netted in a trade with Columbus. Andre Burakovsky, who won a Stanley Cup last season on a 22-goal season, came over in free agency. Wright, with star potential, was nabbed at fourth overall in the draft.
All saw showcased power play time in drills on Sunday.
“With Matty coming in, you saw last year how great he was on the half wall,” said Wennberg, stationed front of the net for screens and deflections during special teams drills.
“You see him more and more reading off him. It’s going to be great.”
Maybe it’s progress for Shane Wright? Vying to make the opening night roster at age 18, he was already on a featured unit with Eberle, McCann, Jaden Schwartz and Vince Dunn.
“Wrighter’s a threat,” said McCann. “He’s obviously got a great shot, and he can make plays too. Add another guy like that on the wall there, it’s going to help a lot.”
Four goaltenders, including Grubauer, Jones, Daccord, and Hellberg, tended pipes for the primary units on Sunday which perhaps opens the door for appearances over the next several days, including home games on back-to-back nights against Edmonton on Monday and Calgary on Tuesday.
Hakstol said a firm schedule is in place not just for the first two games, but also the third leg of preseason play when the Kraken visit the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday. He declined to reveal which goaltenders will be assigned any of the three games but said potentially more information could be coming Monday morning.
“We’ve got a good plan in place to give some minutes for everybody,” said Hakstol. “We’ll make decisions beyond that.”
KRAKEN PRE-SEASON SCHEDULE, all times PT (radio coverage)
- Monday, Sept. 25: vs. Edmonton, 7pm, Climate Pledge Arena – 950 AM KJR
- Tuesday, Sept. 26: vs. Calgary, 7pm, Climate Pledge Arena – 950 AM KJR
- Thursday, Sept. 29: at Vancouver, 6:30pm, Rogers Arena – 950 AM KJR
- Saturday, Oct. 1: vs. Vancouver, 6:30pm, Climate Pledge Arena – 950 AM KJR
- Monday, Oct. 3: at Calgary, 6pm, Scotiabank Saddledome – 950 AM KJR
- Friday, Oct. 7: at Edmonton, 6pm, Rogers Place – 93.3 KJR-FM
KRAKEN LINEUP, TRAINING CAMP, SEPT. 25: