After the Kraken’s initial roster was announced following the NHL expansion draft, many asked where the goals were going to come from.

Even without the team’s marquee forward, Yanni Gourde, throughout training camp, there has been at least one answer.

The Kraken forecheck — the pressure created by forwards to regain puck possession in the offensive zone — has created some scoring opportunities in the preseason. Especially coming from the line centered by Jared McCann with Jordan Eberle and Jaden Schwartz, the Kraken has proven to be tough to play against in its offensive zone.

For a team without headlining star power on the offensive side, it’s the best bet to put goals on the board.

So far it has worked.

“I’ve tried to instill it into my game; you want to be good defensively and good on the forecheck, stealing pucks and just get your stick on it,” Eberle said. “That’s how you create a lot of good chances. (Schwartz) is the same way — he’s going out and getting on it; him and I play similar games. We like to play give-and-go, we like to get on pucks and steal pucks.”

Eberle had a few plays in the preseason in which he swiped the puck from opposing defenders to set up Schwartz and others to put Kraken goals on the board.


McCann, who centers that line, also has been involved in stealing pucks and finding linemates and defensemen who get themselves in position to shoot.

It’s no accident. Coach Dave Hakstol and his staff have worked to instill the forechecking game as an instrumental part of the Kraken’s identity.

“There’s different pieces,” Hakstol said. “We worked on a lot of the fundamentals (on Thursday). It’s big to have good, strong fundamentals with (forward) one and (forward) two doing their job, then you’re looking for the payoff off that forecheck — that’s part of forechecking is getting the puck back in an opportunity to score.”

Hakstol has said throughout camp that systems are fluid and it takes into the early part of the season to develop them. The forechecking element especially from the top forward group has seemed established from the first moment.

That’ll be vital for a group that, out of all its forwards, didn’t see any of the current players on the roster score more than 17 goals last — albeit, shortened — season.

“It’s from the details,” Eberle said. “You usually are going to play to your strengths. Some guys are really big, some guys are fast; myself I just try to have a good stick and interrupt plays. Schwartz is the same way.”


The forechecking to regain possession also gives a breather to the defensemen, who instead of rushing back to defend a potential rush from the opponent, can trust their forwards to keep the puck up ice for a little bit.

“Anytime you can just keep the puck down there (in the offensive end), it makes it easier,” Kraken defenseman Carson Soucy said. “It also makes it easier on us the way they’ve been reloading, kind of over the top, we can jump down the wall and have faith they’re going to be behind us.”

That’s one unique aspect of coaching a new team for Hakstol; whatever system he implements, there’s not a relearning period from a group of players who have already played together. It’s new for everyone, so their on-ice identity and systems start from scratch at the same time as the players.

The defensive system has offered opportunities for defenders to jump into offensive plays, but that starts down ice in the offensive end when forwards are contributing to not only keeping the puck, but creating genuine opportunities.

That should answer at least some of the, “Where are the goals going to come from” question.

“There’s different aspects (of the forecheck),” Eberle said. “It comes down to you have to use what your strengths are, and we’ve done that.”