The Seattle Kraken began the first training camp in franchise history today at the Kraken Community Iceplex in front of fans and media. The team was split into two groups, white and blue, who each split their practice time between Rink 1 and Rink 2. Here are the rosters for each group:
Below are some of my observations from covering both groups’ practices today. Every note here comes with the caveat that it is still the first day of training camp and a lot will change between now and the start of the season. But what’s the fun of following training camp if you can’t overreact to every line combination, D pair, and bit of news? So let’s get started:
Is McCann the 1C?
With Yanni Gourde injured to start the season, the Kraken’s biggest lineup question is who will fill the top line center role until he returns. If today is any indication, Jared McCann will have the first opportunity to show what he can do playing between the Kraken’s two best wingers in Jaden Schwartz and Jordan Eberle. McCann played in that spot for the entire practice and looked like he belonged. Alex Wennberg, the other likely contender for the 1C spot, was in the blue group on an all Swedish line with Calle Jarnkrok and Marcus Johansson.
Schwartz – Eberle Chemistry
It’s very early, but I have a hard time seeing a scenario where Jaden Schwartz and Jordan Eberle aren’t on the same line to start the season. The pair of wingers looked like they had been teammates for years as they fed passes to each other off the rush with ease. It’s good to see that our projected 1st line wing pair looks as good on the ice as it does on paper. Here’s a quick line rush of Schwartz, Eberle, and McCann:
Giordano – Oleksiak Top D Pair?
One should always take training camp defense pairs with a generously sized grain of salt, especially since the D pairs today rotated through many of the drills. But one pairing that came up a lot was Mark Giordano and Jamie Oleksiak. They started most of the drills together and seemed to be communicating with each other more than any other pair of defensemen. This could just be a case of the team sticking two reliable, veteran players together, but Giordano and Oleksiak would make a lot of sense as the top D pairing for the Kraken. We’ve had them in that spot in our Projected Kraken Lineup since the expansion draft.
Giordano a Clear Leader
While the Kraken haven’t named any captain or alternate captains yet, defenseman Mark Giordano took on a role very similar to the one he had wearing the captain’s “C” for the Calgary Flames last season. He was the first player on the ice, the first player to speak to the media, and a clear leader among the players on the ice. I still don’t expect Seattle to name a captain this season, but it looks like even without a letter on his chest, Giordano is the de facto captain at this point.
Gourde on the Ice and “Ahead of Schedule”
Defending two-time Stanley Cup Champion Yanni Gourde will miss the start of the regular season recovering from a shoulder injury, but he was on the ice today for the Kraken in a red no-contact jersey. Gourde’s skating hasn’t been adversely affected by the injury, as he was the fastest player on the ice to my eye. His injured shoulder didn’t seem in too bad a shape either, as he was handling the puck and shooting with ease. That said, there’s obviously a big difference between a non-contact practice skate and playing in an NHL game. Kraken GM Ron Francis did provide some good news when he said Gourde was “ahead of schedule” and could return before December. It’s clear that adding Gourde mid-season will be a huge boost for the Kraken.
Kraken 100% Vaccinated
In his media availability, Ron Francis confirmed that the Kraken are 100% vaccinated. With the tight NHL rules and restrictions for unvaccinated players, this is very good news for the Kraken.
Connor Carrick Gives Impressive Effort
One player whose effort jumped out at me was defenseman Connor Carrick. He consistently won puck battles, skated the hardest in the end-of-practice bag skate, and gave a full effort throughout practice. His highlight of the day was in a 1-on-1 drill where he stole the puck from Brandon Tanev and made a beautiful deke around Joey Daccord before scoring top shelf, which earned an audible “woah!” from Everett Fitzhugh and JT Brown. Given the Kraken’s overcrowded blueline, it’s a near certainty that Carrick will start the year in the AHL with the Charlotte Checkers. But if Carrick keeps putting in this kind of effort, Ron Francis and Dave Hakstol will have him in mind if they need to call up a defenseman mid-season.
- After the final practice, three players stayed behind to put the pucks in the bag: Alex Wennberg, Alex True, and Jacob Melanson.
- Morgan Geekie had a couple impressive deflections on shots from the point. I’d like to see what he could do net-front on the powerplay, especially with his 6’3 size.
- The 32 Bar & Grill still has a good amount of work left before it’s finished. Here’s a photo of the inside: