The Seattle Kraken will open their 2023-24 pre-season schedule on Sept. 25, ending a stretch of over four months of rest from game action after a captivating season that put them to within a win of the Western Conference Final in their second season.
Prospects, draft picks, and free agent invitees will get their chance to shine, in addition to their first look in Kraken colors at the team’s development camp, announced for July 1-5 at Kraken Community Iceplex. Sessions open to the public and media will be held July 2 (with on ice sessions between 9:45am until 12:30pm) and July 5.
A three-on-three scrimmage involving development camp participants will wrap up the July 5 session, starting at Noon.
A split squad matchup, for the first time in Kraken pre-season history, against Calgary will open the schedule. Half of the Kraken roster will host the Flames, 7pm PT at Climate Pledge Arena with the other two halves of both squads will battle the same night at Scotiabank Saddledome, 6pm PT.
There will be no deviating from the pre-season formula of the past two years, with the Kraken set to battle Pacific Division opponents in Calgary, Vancouver, and Edmonton, and hosting three pre-season games at Climate Pledge Arena.
The Kraken and Canucks will square off in a home game hosted by Vancouver on Oct. 4, but played at Abbotsford Centre, home of the Canucks AHL affiliate. The pre-season schedule wraps up Friday, Oct. 6 at Rogers Place against Edmonton, likely the final test for “bubble” candidates to make the Kraken roster.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
The six-game pre-season slate will operate as the ultimate litmus test for roster spots, at least for rookies and emerging prospects out of AHL Coachella Valley. Last season’s exhibition slate opened the door for Daniel Sprong to upgrade a “no guarantees” professional tryout deal to a full blown one-year contract, where he delivered a 21-goal campaign. It was also the first look at blue chip prospect Shane Wright, who made the Kraken roster at age 18 out of training camp – though further seasoning on his part would be needed, where he scored 19 goals in 28 combined games between AHL Coachella Valley and OHL Windsor and captained Canada to a gold medal at the World Junior Championship.
The emerging roster stories include defenseman Ryker Evans, who exploded with prodigious numbers this year, including a 26 point blast in 26 Calder Cup Playoff games - all part of a run that fell a win shy of a league championship. Forward Tye Kartye, the league's rookie of the year in a 28-goal AHL season and whose jersey is already being sold in Kraken team stores, seamlessly fit into the Kraken lineup during a recall in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a physical approach and scored three goals in ten games.
Oh yeah, then there's Wright - at age 19 whose background is prolific, whose talent is off the chart, but whose spot on the roster is no guarantee, based on the difficulty to fit him on a roster that eventually gelled together and formed a Stanley Cup Playoff berth. He'll be given a shot, after a summer that general manager Ron Francis said will need to be "big." As of now with the CHL agreement rules in place, he'll either play with the Kraken or be destined for the major junior ranks, presumably for one last season.
WHY THE SPLIT SQUAD GAME?
For a pretty simple reason: the Kraken pipeline is growing and more prospects need playing time. Split squad games are a time-honored tradition in the NHL for pre-season play, a suitable environment to give everyone a good look, versus stashing half of the pre-season roster in the press box. There just weren’t enough players to go around the last two seasons to participate in split squad games, only because the Kraken had been through two NHL Drafts.
HOW DO WE KNOW WHO WILL PLAY IN EACH GAME?
We won’t today, and probably not until the leaves outside turn brown. Pre-season game rosters are a conversation between Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol and general manager Ron Francis that will likely happen well down the road, and the routine usually delivers the game roster on the morning of each game day.
Free agency for the NHL teams and players will open July 1.