Quick thoughts from media availability –
Inevitably, the questions about the pressure brought on by the amazing start the Vegas Golden Knights franchise had, have to roll around. Former Florida Panthers goaltender Chris Driedger is taking a unique approach to the lofty expectations. “If anything, that’s just a positive for us to build off of…seeing what they did and knowing it’s possible for us.” Taking what Vegas did as anything other than a challenge or a bar to be passed is certainly going to raise some eyebrows. But in the grand scheme of things, we knew at the time what Vegas was doing was one of those unique moments in sports history and the fact that GMs were going to enter this expansion process differently in hopes of not falling victim to the new kid on the block yet again.
A returning face to the NHL’s westernmost division is Jordan Eberle, a winger joining the Kraken from the New York Islanders who originally began his NHL career in Edmonton. He isn’t viewing the Vegas expectations as something to worry about either. “Everyone knows how they did, they set the bar pretty high, but for us, it’s just about getting the team together and building chemistry…it all starts in training camp.” This is something that the players know is going to be critical for a team full of players, some of whom haven’t ever met, much less played together. He continued when asked about the construction of the roster, “…[we’ve got a] lot of character, it’s going to be a competitive training camp.” It should indeed…
For other new members of the Kraken, there is more to the move to the west coast than just joining a new team. Former Penguins winger Brandon Tanev will be joining his brother, Calgary Flames defenseman Chris Tanev, in the Pacific Northwest as a rival. When asked about what it’ll be like to face off against his brother, Brandon said, “Excited to play against him a little more often than you would in a normal season…family should be excited and it’s gonna be a great time.”
Roster makeup has been something we’ve wondered about for a long time; just what kind of team is Ron Francis looking to build? With deals still left to be done, both with trades and free agency, we don’t have our answer quite yet. However, one thing we know is that the defensive core of the team is one that will give opposing forwards nightmares. Names like Mark Giordano, Jeremy Lauzon and Jamie Oleksiak will see to that. From Oleksiak, “I think the D core, we got some big boys, we got some size and physicality…when you get to those [playoff] games, you need that to wear teams down.” We’ve seen this from many former Stanley Cup winning teams, but as the league gets faster and defensemen like Cale Makar light the lamp as frequently as some forwards, it will be interesting to see if the age-old strategy of having towering defensemen becomes more of a burden than a boon.