Seattle Kraken, Coachella Valley Firebirds

Kraken Daily: Farm Team Cranks Up, Team USA Top Seed

While the Kraken hold scouting meetings and prepare for the early June NHL Draft Combine* in Buffalo and the NHL Draft itself in Nashville at the end of next month, this hockey season just keeps on cranking, including for the Kraken’s top farm team in Coachella Valley.

The Firebirds begin the best-of-seven western conference final of the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup Playoffs against the Milwaukee Admirals on Thursday night. Out east, the Rochester Americans take on the Hershey Bears in Game-2 of the league’s other semi-final. The “Amerks” beat the Bears 5-1 in Game-1 of the eastern conference final on Tuesday night.

The Kraken’s AHL affiliate is the highest seeded club remaining in the playoffs, having finished the season with 106 points. They finished eliminating the 109-point Calgary Wranglers in the pacific division final last Friday night.

* The NHL Draft Combine takes place the week of June 5th and is where prospects gather to be interviewed extensively by NHL clubs and also tested for a variety of physical attributes including endurance, speed, and strength. The NHL Draft takes place three weeks later.

Kraken Prospects To Watch

There are draft prospects and then there are prospects to whom the Kraken franchise already own rights. A few of them will be on display in Game-1 along with a hearty group of AHL veterans, led by 31-year-old captain and 93-game NHL’er Max McCormick (pictured).

22-year-old winger Ty Kartye jumps to the forefront, having already performed admirably in ten Stanley Cup Playoff games with the Kraken. He finished the effort with three goals, two assists and a whole lot of confidence. He’s tallied two goals and a helper thus far in five Calder Cup playoff games.

Left-shot defenseman Ryker Evans, who turned 21 in the middle of this past season, is one to watch. He put up 44 points from the blueline in his first full season against men rather than teenagers. He was coming off a four-year, 131-point junior career with the Regina Pats in the Western League that spanned the Covid pandemic.

David Goyette, a fellow 2nd-round draft pick (2022) taken a year after Evans, has earned some ice time in seven playoff games after joining the Firebirds following his junior career as a center for the Sudbury Wolves in the Ontario League. He’s looking for his first professional goal to go with two postseason assists.

He might not pop up in Game-1. Seeing spot duty, Goyette hasn’t played since Game-2 of the division final.

Last summer’s top pick for the Kraken, 4th-overall Shane Wright remains a bit of a mystery, having been scratched from the last two playoff games. That’s a story on to itself and it’s coming just a wee bit later.

Puck drop tonight is a little after 7 pm at the Acrisure Arena for the home team Firebirds.

Team USA

For the first time in history Team USA went undefeated (7-and-0) in the preliminary round of a IIHF World Championship to finish as the top seed in Group A. Their games were played in Riga, Latvia.

That’s all fine and dandy, but of course it means nothing now that the do-or-die quarterfinal cross-over round begins.

The Americans will take on the 4th seed from Group B, Czechia on Thursday. The Czechs finished the prelim’s with four regulation wins, two regulation losses, and an overtime loss. Group B, the semi’s and the medal games are played in Tampere, Finland.

AHL’er T.J. Tynan of the Ontario Reign is tied for second in tournament scoring with ten points, nine of them assists. Veteran winger Rocco Grimaldi is right behind him with nine points.

Maybe there’s some magic to be made for Team USA. A decade ago, Grimaldi scored what turned out to be the game winning goal in the Gold Medal match against Sweden in the 2013 World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia.

The Dallas Stars will look to avoid being swept tonight as they host the Vegas Golden Knights in Game-4 of the Western Conference Final of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Stars beat the Kraken in 7 games in round-2.

The Florida Panthers finished off a sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes with a 4-3 victory in Game-4 of the Eastern Conference Final on Wednesday night.

Enjoy the Hockey Action !!

Rob Simpson

Rob Simpson has covered the NHL in five different decades. He’s authored 4 books on hockey and is a veteran TV and radio play-by-play man and reporter.