Kraken make large round of roster cuts with preseason schedule dwindling

Colorado Avalanche v Seattle Kraken - Game Six

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - APRIL 28: Tye Kartye #52 of the Seattle Kraken skates against the Colorado Avalanche during the second period in Game Six of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Climate Pledge Arena on April 28, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)Photo: Steph Chambers / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

On Thursday, the Seattle Kraken trimmed their pre-season roster by 14 players, all sent to the American Hockey League affiliate Coachella Valley Firebirds. 

What you need to know: 

·      This was actually a move split into two groups. A hoard of ten players first have to go through waivers and sit there, eligible for claim for 24 hours, before they’re sent to Coachella Valley: Connor Carrick, Cameron Hughes, Kole Lind, Max McCormick, Gustav Olofsson, Andrew Poturalski, Mitch Reinke, Jimmy Schuldt, Devin Shore, and Marian Studenic. 

·      Four players were directly sent to the Firebirds, exempt from waivers: Luke Henman, Ville Petman, Peetro Seppala, and goaltender Ales Stezka. 

What this means for the Firebirds: 

The Kraken farm system is in solid shape. They’re loading up again. But they’ll have to wait and hold their breath a bit. Technically speaking, extremely talented players are now available for the taking. Andrew Poturalski is a proven 100-point player and two-time leading scorer in the AHL. Shore has been an NHL regular, save five AHL games last year (where he was a point-per-game player) on a conditioning stint, over the last seven years. Lind hit a career-high 30 goals last season for the Firebirds. McCormick, last season’s captain, led the team in scoring. Studenic broke the 20-goal barrier in the Stars system last year. Dan Bylsma’s defending Western Conference champs, who open the preseason Friday against Ontario, will have many pieces in place for another deep run. But first, it depends on any possible takers. 

Stezka, a goaltender with a lanky and large frame at 6-foot-4, is likely to assume a backup role for whatever extra goaltender is sent to the AHL. 

What this means for the Kraken:

We’ve now hit the “it just got real” phase. There’s one pre-season game to go at Edmonton on Friday, when typically the last game of the slate is reserved for a dry-run type of game for the opening night lineup. 

However, there’s still questions surrounding who stays because the Kraken have 27 players in camp, and need to get their roster down to 23 in total. Three goaltenders remain in camp – starter Philipp Grubauer, Joey Daccord, and Chris Driedger – with realistically, only two spots to speak for. Daccord has a lights out .937 save percentage in the preseason. Driedger is a tick behind, but still carrying a solid .923 mark in two games. Both Driedger and Daccord will have to pass through waivers if sent down, with Driedger also carrying a $3.5 million contract that has a year remaining (Daccord’s new deal is only costing the Kraken $1.2 million annually). 

Then of course, we get to the forwards – where Shane Wright, Tye Kartye, and John Hayden are still here. Unless someone is hurt, those 3 are essentially battling for a spot across the fourth line, where Brandon Tanev and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare are projected to play. 

Nine defensemen – including Ryker Evans and Cale Fleury – are still here. Evans has played at “lights out” level in the pre-season at both five-on-five and power play situations, but right now will still be contending for playing time across an extremely experience defensive corps that also onboarded veteran Brian Dumoulin, a free agent signee, in the off-season. 

Difficult decisions are coming by deadline day, with the regular season now five days away. Players who arguably have proven satisfactory for an NHL roster spot will get sent down. When teams have this kind of a dilemma, it’s a credit to signs pointing in the right direction with depth. 

Who's left?

FORWARDS: (15) Matty Beniers, Yanni Gourde, John Hayden, Jaden Schwartz, Alex Wennberg, Shane Wright, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Andre Burakovsky, Tye Kartye, Jared McCann, Brandon Tanev, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Jordan Eberle, Eeli Tolvanen, Kailer Yamamoto
DEFENSEMEN: (9) Will Borgen, Brian Dumoulin, Vince Dunn, Ryker Evans, Cale Fleury, Adam Larsson, Jaycob Megna, Jamie Oleksiak, Justin Schultz
GOATLENDERS: (3) Joey Daccord, Chris Driedger, Philipp Grubauer

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