Just 12 hours removed after the Seattle Kraken hit the finish line with a respectable pre-season, but maybe a forgettable third period in Edmonton, not much residue was visibly evident on Saturday for a brief morning practice at Kraken Community Iceplex after a 5-3 defeat at Rogers Place.
It is pre-season, after all. There is no carryover with results to the matters at hand for the next day.
The Kraken had six games to come out with a defined approach with their roster. They managed four wins out of the deal. Heading into the third period Friday night, it could easily have been five.
Again, it is pre-season, after all.
“I haven’t really thought about the win/loss piece of it,” Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol said. “We’ve made progress over the last two games. As you get closer to the NHL regular season, things get real, so you get a little more accurate information and feedback where you’re at as a team, and where players are at individually.”
“We’ve got a nice day off coming tomorrow.”
That day off will be the last before the Kraken head into the place where many say “the real stuff” happens – the regular season – Wednesday against the Anaheim Ducks. The Kraken must get their roster numbers down to 23 players. Two more moves were made on Saturday.
TRUE, DACCORD SENT TO WAIVERS
Then, there were 26.
Goaltender Joey Daccord and forward Alexander True were both sent to the American Hockey League where spots on the Coachella Valley Firebirds await them. First, they must clear waivers, a 24-hour period where any NHL team can place a claim.
Every Kraken player sent to the Firebirds through waivers has cleared, with the exception of Magnus Hellberg, who went to Ottawa by waiver claim the instant Cam Talbot was injured, reportedly with a fractured rib.
The demotion for Daccord, who was part of a split shutout vs. Calgary on Sept. 27 then made 18 saves before Martin Jones took over in a scheduled “relief” appearance on Sept. 29, wasn’t so much performance based as it was a numbers game. The Kraken have two veteran goaltenders, Philipp Grubauer and Martin Jones, who will push each other for playing time. Both are healthy, and both had a .925 save percentage or higher each in three games.
Daccord, who has 34-19-1 with a .918 save percentage for career AHL numbers and was lights out last season in Charlotte, should be among the final pieces to what the Firebirds believe is a lineup that can do substantial damage in the league’s Pacific Division.
“Joey’s camp (included) a good, strong beginning of camp,” Hakstol said. “His outing in Vancouver didn’t go as well as he wanted, but he’s got to continue building his game.”
True, one of the final preseason roster cuts who signed a one-year extension for the league minimum this past off-season, is expected to take a stacked 6-foot-5 frame with a long reach into his sixth pro season, where he commands defensive attention at the AHL level. He led the Charlotte Checkers last season with 42 points in 60 games.
“He is a reliable player for us,” said Hakstol. “He had a good camp, and we wanted to reward him with being here up until today.”
Though the Kraken have 26 players left who suited up in camp, two more have been held off ice with injuries which could affect the last number of cuts before Monday’s deadline. Jaden Schwartz left the game at Edmonton due to injury, termed a lower body ailment by Hakstol, and is considered day-to-day.
Joonas Donskoi, who hasn’t seen the ice since leaving early in the win at Vancouver on Sept. 29, is still day to day with an upper body injury. Michal Kempny, who has been monitored on a day-to-day basis, graduated from a red non-contact jersey back to regular colors on Saturday.
Daniel Sprong was given the day off for personal reasons, completing a pre-season with two goals in three games after upgrading his tryout offer to a one-year extension.
GRUBAUER, JONES WITH “REALLY GOOD” CAMPS
It’s evident the Kraken were well on their way to a first star effort in net by Philipp Grubauer before the Oilers broke the levee with four goals in the third period, and three in the final 4:33.
That accounts for an empty netter, but also some misfortune on Grubauer’s side, when he misplayed a puck and put it right into the leg of Leon Draisaitl for a ricocheted goal and 3-2 Oilers lead.
Nonetheless, Grubauer, who is hungry as anybody for a bounce-back year, exited pre-season with a .939 save percentage in three games, along with a shutout of the Canucks last Saturday.
“You want to get those chances and those opportunities against from a goalie standpoint, in order to get ready for the season,” Grubauer said. “It was perfect yesterday.”
In this case, “perfect” meant not so much the final score but becoming familiar with what he could see on a night-to-night basis from some of the league’s established powers. His workload became busier as the pre-season went by, from a ten-save split shutout against the Flames on Sept. 27, to 39 shots against Connor McDavid, Draisaitl, Evander Kane and company on Friday.
His running mate, Martin Jones, had a 2-1 pre-season with a .925 save percentage.
“There’s a competition at play,” Hakstol said.
“Those two guys have had really good, consistent camps. Their workdays have been good. Some of the things you don’t notice, you don’t see, those pieces have been in place. They’ve done the work. Their games have been sharper.”