The next time the Kraken gets in uniform, it’ll be for a game.
Saturday’s scrimmage offered some insights as to where the players are following the first two practice sessions as training camp opened this week, but it was mostly used to adjust to the systems head coach Dave Hakstol is instilling.
Unlike other teams in camps across the league, the Kraken is starting at square one. Before facing other squads, having a structure has been the priority for Hakstol and the staff, which is what they were looking to accomplish Saturday.
“There’s going to be some bumps in the road, but for me it’s about pulling out the positives from today,” said Hakstol. “We saw a little bit of chemistry out there that continued from practices within certain groups. Also little pieces of system areas that we worked on that I felt were solid.”
They don’t have much time to have those systems in place for when the games count beginning Oct. 12; the six preseason games will carry more urgency than most.
Sunday in Spokane, when they play the Canucks at 6 p.m., will be the first look at special-teams units. The Kraken hasn’t shown its hand during the training-camp sessions of what the power play or penalty kill units may look like.
“I’m not going to be too concerned about special teams yet, because we haven’t had a chance to work on them,” said Hakstol. “We’ll build some small elements; we’ll touch on special teams (Sunday) morning. We’ll get a couple of touches on it.”
If they stick with the top units for the power play, it’s likely Jaden Schwarz and Jordan Eberle will see minutes there, along with defenseman Vince Dunn, who is projected to be a power-play quarterback.
As much as the scrimmage showed more line consistency, none of it matters much until applied into game situations.
It makes Sunday’s game one of the most important days in the young franchise’s history.
“Games are the best practice,” forward Joonas Donskoi said. “We can watch video and look at that stuff, it’s always easier when you get to play games and work that way.”
- Carson Soucy and Haydn Fleury are a possible third pairing in the regular season while some of the others battle for the seventh defenseman spot. It’ll be worth watching if they stick together throughout the preseason, or if someone else breaks through. Lines on Saturday were as follows:
Jaden Schwartz-Jared McCann-Jordan Eberle
Ryan Donato-Morgan Geekie-Joonas Donskoi
Scott Wilson-Luke Henman-Kole Lind
Brent Gates-Tye Kartye
Jamie Oleksiak-Mark Giordano
Jeremy Lauzon-Will Borgen
Cale Fleury-Gustav Olofsso
Marcus Johansson-Calle Jarnkrok-Alex Mason Appleton
Brandon Tanev-Nathan Bastian-Riley Sheahan
Jacob Melanson-Alexander True-Carsen Twarynski
Cole MacKay-Ryan Lohin
Vince Dunn-Adam Larsson
Haydn Fleury-Carson Soucy
Connor Carrick-Dennis Cholowski
- Hakstol didn’t have a lineup set in stone for Sunday after Saturday’s scrimmage, but with only so much time to get chemistry together, it would be a good bet a lot of players projected to make the roster will see some ice time together as they continue to work on line combinations.
- Forward Alexander Wennberg was missing from Saturday’s skate, and Hakstol called it a personal day. His fiancé posted on Instagram she was having their baby today. Mason Appleton skated in Wennberg’s spot with his camp linemates of Calle Jarnkrok and Marcus Johansson. Jarnkrok centered the line, and took the opening faceoff of the scrimmage.
- Colin Blackwell was once again missing and Yanni Gourde didn’t play in the scrimmage, though he did take a shootout attempt while wearing the red noncontact jersey, and he skated on his own a bit before the session.