The Kraken returned to the ice on Wednesday after a highly condensed preseason schedule of six games in 10 days for the final week of training camp before kicking off the regular season in Las Vegas on October 12th. That means I’m back with my Kraken training camp notes. There have been some interesting developments in a week that Mark Giordano described as “probably the most important part of camp for us.”
Below are some of my observations from today’s Kraken practice and subsequent media availability:
Gourde Getting Closer
One of the biggest stories of camp continues to be Yanni Gourde, whose timeline for return from shoulder surgery seems to be moving up every day. It’s now been five practices since Gourde has shed the red “no contact” practice jersey and Gourde said on Monday that he needed “more bumps” and he’s certainly gotten them. Gourde took as much contact as anyone in practice today and showed no signs of being bothered by it.
It was reported at the start of training camp that Gourde’s original timeline for return was sometime in December, but he was “ahead of schedule.” Initially, it looked like that meant November, but now it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Gourde back in the Kraken lineup before Halloween. Dave Hakstol is already working Gourde back into regular lines at practice. Gourde played left wing with Morgan Geekie and Mason Appleton yesterday before moving to center today on the top line between Jaden Schwartz and Jordan Eberle. Hakstol called the move a “natural progression”, given the increased amount of work and responsibility that comes with playing center, as opposed to left wing. Hakstol also added that Gourde is likely to travel with the team on their upcoming road trip to start the season. While Gourde likely won’t play on the road trip, his return might not come too long after that.
Jarnkrok Has COVID-19
Yesterday, coach Hakstol mentioned that Calle Jarnkrok, who was missing from practice, was out with “an illness.” Today, with Jarnkrok again missing, Hakstol provided the update that Jarnkrok is currently in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol. As a fully vaccinated player, Jarnkrok is eligible to return after a negative COVID test. That said, we don’t know if Jarnkrok has any COVID symptoms or what the severity of any symptoms might be. What we do know is that his status for the season opener in four days is now in doubt.
Overtime is an important part of any NHL team’s season, especially so for a team like the Kraken who figure to be in many close games. Since 2015, NHL overtime has been played 3-on-3. For the first time in training camp, the Kraken worked on their 3-on-3 play today. The team split into two groups and played a mock overtime period, as each team rolled out trios of players onto the ice, making line changes both on the fly and after whistles. The 3 on 3 trios are listed here:
The team didn’t go through any systems at 3-on-3 today, as Hakstol said that today’s 3-on-3 work was just to “start a little bit of chemistry, to try to build toward that game action when it does come.”
McCann to Wing
With Yanni Gourde taking on the role of top line center in practice today, Jared McCann was moved to right wing, playing with Ryan Donato and Morgan Geekie. McCann looked okay in the new spot, although the chemistry with Geekie and Donato was understandably less than what he had shown with Schwartz and Eberle. While the situation will certainly be flexible, this may give us a hint at what McCann’s usage might be like when Gourde does return. McCann has played both center and wing over the course of his career and has had success in both roles. The Kraken may feel that moving McCann to wing is the best course of action, since it allows them to play Geekie higher in the lineup at center. We’ll see where McCann lines up in practice on Sunday.
- Kole Lind, who cleared waivers on Thursday, was back on the ice with the Kraken today, likely as a result of Jarnkrok’s absence.
- Philipp Grubauer and Alex True were both named to their respective national teams today for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. We looked at which other Kraken players could join them here.
- Still no update on the injury status of Colin Blackwell, who hasn’t been on the ice all of training camp. He’s not going to be ready in time for the season opener.