On September 26th, the Seattle Kraken had their first game in franchise history. They opened their preseason in Spokane, Washington, as a part of their initiative to bring Kraken hockey around the state before the Climate Pledge arena is finished. Of course, the first game in franchise history would be against no one other than the Vancouver Canucks, Seattle’s built-in location rival. Both teams iced very different rosters. The Kraken looked to show off their veteran leadership and talent, while the Canucks went with a much younger and less experienced build. After three periods of play, the Kraken walked away victorious with a 5-3 win. Of course, while this was only a preseason game, there were some significant takeaways to notice from the team’s efforts during their first team performance.
One of the most questionable choices coming out of the Kraken’s expansion draft was their selection from Carolina. The Hurricanes had many notable players left exposed during the draft. The overall consensus seemed to suggest that either Jake Bean or Nino Niederreiter would join the new franchise. Ron Francis decided to go a different direction, however, when he selected Morgan Geekie. Geekie had just nine points through 36 games with the Hurricanes during the 2020-21 season. While this was by no means a bad selection, it was still quite puzzling. However, Geekie was ready to prove all the doubters wrong during his first preseason game with the Kraken.
Geekie had a two-point game during the game against the Canucks, and they were both goals. Not only did Geekie have two goals in the very first game, but both of them were massive. His first goal came 50 seconds into the third period, breaking a 3-3 tie. While he was given credit for this goal, it was scored by the Canucks themselves as they knocked it into their net off the faceoff. However, his second goal was a beautiful snipe to tie a bow on the game 14 minutes and 37 seconds into the third period. Both of these goals were scored as the third-line center as well.
Obviously, while it is unrealistic to assume Geekie will continue to score at a two goals-per-game pace, he still had a massive showing in his first game. There is a very good chance that he is given some top-six ice time during the preseason to feel what he is capable of accomplishing. He has been on the verge of a breakout for multiple years now. However, considering he is still young, maybe a refresh with a brand new NHL team is needed to get his career kick-started.
The Kraken’s goaltending tandem has been one of the most talked-about aspects of the team during the offseason. On top of taking Chris Driedger from the Florida Panthers, the Kraken were also able to sign free-agent goalie Phillip Grubauer. After two very successful seasons for both goalies, the newest franchise hoped that a strong goaltending duo could be the backbone of success. The game against Vancouver gave the first taste of the new tandem, and to be honest, the results were neither astounding nor terrible.
Grubauer started the game for the Kraken. He looked decent at the start of the game, but the tides began to turn pretty quickly when he let in a soft goal 10 minutes and 28 seconds into the first period. Granted, it was a breakaway that the defense should have covered, but Grubauer had the initial shot read and was unable to get the full save made. He let another goal in a little over a minute later while the Canucks were on the power play. A weird bounce redirected a one-timer to a position where he could not recover quickly enough to make the save. Both goals were situations where Grubauer could have potentially made the save had there been more defensive coverage. Halfway through the game, he was pulled to give Driedger a shot in the net.
Driedger had a relatively similar performance to Grubauer. He let in a single goal 12 minutes and 30 seconds into the second period, and the goal was interesting. A shot was taken from the point that redirected downward. Driedger most likely would have made the initial save, but the redirection caught him off guard, and he could not recover. After the second-period goal, Driedger was lights out for the remainder of the game. However, despite Driedger and Grubauer having decent performances, an important question is raised when the game’s overall quality is brought into question.
Heading Towards A Shipwreck?
The game between the Kraken and the Canucks was undoubtedly a fun hockey game to watch. There were plenty of goals and lots of action throughout all 60 minutes. However, while the Kraken won, there were quite a few drawbacks that could normally be ignored. A brand new NHL team is going to need time to build chemistry. Many of these players had never played together before last night in a professional game setting. In the case of this game, though, what could be considered scary to Kraken fans is that the Canucks more or less iced their AHL team last night.
Many of the Canucks skaters and both of their goalies are not typically playing in the NHL. It was a very young team. This makes the flaws the Kraken presented even more glaring. Yes, the Kraken were able to win their first-ever preseason game, but it was against a team that they should have decimated. The defense especially had holes that needed addressing, and the defense was supposed to be one of their most vital aspects this year. The offense, which projected to be less than stellar, ended up performing pretty decently. There will definitely be an adjusting curve for the first few games of the season, but the Kraken have to prove that they can beat an NHL team. Their next game against the Edmonton Oilers should provide a better insight into what the team can do during the regular season. With one win under their belt, the next few games will be critical to proving that the Kraken can keep up with the teams in the NHL.