Defenseman Adam Larsson remembers when he was a rookie on the New Jersey Devils, and the surreal moment he’s reached today – where if he were told he was due for 700 games in the NHL, it wouldn’t be believable.
But here he is, the iron man who hasn’t missed a game in Seattle Kraken history and set to become the sixth player from his 2011 NHL Draft class to play in 700 career games. He will reach the benchmark tonight when the Kraken host the Minnesota Wild, 7pm (93.3 KJR-FM / Kraken Audio Network) at Climate Pledge Arena.
“I’m fortunate to stay in the league for so long,” said Larsson.
He nearly won the Stanley Cup when the Devils lost in his rookie season to the Los Angeles Kings in six games. He hasn’t been back to the Stanley Cup Final ever since and shared one important lesson that’s been put in the memory bank.
“Take nothing for granted,” said Larsson. “It’s a league where you can be out really quick if you slip your focus and determination. It’s a league of opportunities if you see it that way.”
Larsson, a line of continuity and consistency with defensive partner Vince Dunn, will face a Wild team that is determined to provide the Kraken more of a sweat after a 4-0 victory for Seattle, at Minnesota eight days ago.
He and Dunn managed heavy lifting that game, each pushing nearly 24 minutes of ice time while Larsson blocked three shots. Just call it another day at the office for the alternate captain, who brings a rugged approach.
“He’s a little bit of old school in the way he plays,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “He’s a guy from game one of his careers to game 700, he’s continued to evolve. He’s a guy who’s comfortable in who he is, and what he is.”
“He’s very set and very driven in bringing that element. That makes him a really good leader for us.”
With the Kraken surging early this season with five straight wins and an 8-4-2 record, that pairing will likely be asked to do more heavy lifting against a Wild team fighting to get healthier, still with leading goal scorer Kirill Kaprizov (who has ten in 13 games) and has just installed Marcus Foligno back into the lineup. Minnesota beat Anaheim, 4-1 two nights ago but has struggled to score in their recent losses, logging just one goal over the last three defeats.
Tonight will be the only time Minnesota visits Seattle this season, and head coach Dean Evason knows what he’s up against.
“They’re as aggressive as any team as we’ve seen, offensively and defensively,” said Evason.
“We’ve talked about it – this isn’t the team from last year. I think teams who feel that, get surprised.”
Martin Jones, with a .940 save percentage since October 25 and between the pipes for eight of the last nine games which includes a shutout of the Wild last week, will start in net against the Wild’s Marc-Andre Fleury.
Cale Fleury will make his season debut in place of Jamie Oleksiak on the Kraken blueline, who was placed on injured reserve on Thursday. Jared McCann, who has missed the last three games but skated in a primary five-on-five spot with power play time at practice on Thursday, has been ruled a “game time decision” to play.
KRAKEN PROJECTED LINEUP*, 11/10:
* Based on practice group, Thursday at Kraken Community Iceplex