If you want to read an impressive long-form article on Seattle Kraken rookie Matty Beniers, his background, and why he’s the favorite to win the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie-of-the-year, check out Kraken team reporter Bob Condor’s piece on Seattle’s number-one center.
Beniers is a finalist for the award on Monday at the NHL Awards in Nashville against fellow finalists Stuart Skinner, goalie for the Edmonton Oilers, and Owen Power, D-man for the Buffalo Sabres.
We’ve already run through the how’s and why’s as to the competition for Beniers and also for Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol in his bid for the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach-of-the-year.
Hakstol is up against Lindy Ruff of the New Jersey Devils and Jim Montgomery of the Boston Bruins.
Remember when Colorado Avalanche star defenseman Cale Makar injured Kraken forward Jared McCann with a late hit in the corner in Game-4 of the 1st-round of the playoffs? Of course you do. It’s what led to Makar being booed every time he touched the puck at Climate Pledge Arena.
Fair enough and the fans’ right.
But it didn’t stop the reigning Norris Trophy winner as the NHL’s best defenseman from being nominated for the award again. In fact, by the time of that incident, the voting had already been conducted.
It’s Makar vs. San Jose veteran and scoring machine Erik Karlsson and 2021 winner Adam Fox of the New York Rangers.
Previous two-time winner Karlsson (2012 and 2015) would be the favorite considering he posted 25 goals and a whopping 101 points this past season, the first time that latter total has been reached in more than 30 years.
By the way, McCann did return two-and-a-half weeks after his injury and played in four games in round-2 against the Dallas Stars. Not that it makes the hit excusable, but that’s playoff hockey.
As legendary forward Derek “Turk” Sanderson, formerly of the Stanley Cup winning Bruins of the 1970’s once told us: “It’s a violent game played by violent people. If you don’t like it, watch tennis.”
Obviously it’s not what it used to be in that regard, but playoff hockey is without a doubt still extremely tough and remains the greatest sport in the world.
UFA Buyer Beware
Luke Fox of Sportsnet in Canada ranked his top-12 available NHL unrestricted free agents (UFA) for this July 1st, a list that includes two members of the Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights.
While the party continues for the Kraken’s Pacific Division rivals, goalie Adin Hill and forward Ivan Barbashev will be looking for new deals, very likely in new homes. Hill is the only goalie on the list.
Although it’s not considered a very strong UFA market, the Kraken might have an interest in a name or two, including right-shot defenseman Matt Dumba of the Minnesota Wild. The 7th-overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft has played nine-plus seasons in the NHL after breaking in as a 19-year-old at the end of the 2013-’14 season. He’s a Western Hockey League alum’ who played juniors for the Red Deer (Alberta) Rebels and the Portland Winterhawks.
One odd name on the list is Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins. The club’s captain has made it clear, as has his fellow Bruins center David Krejci, if the 30-somethings return to the NHL for one more season, it’ll only be with the Bruins. “Bergie” broke into the league with the B’s and played a full NHL season as an 18-year-old back in 2003-’04.
Those two won a Stanley Cup in 2011 against the Vancouver Canucks and twice lost in the Final, 2013 (Chicago Blackhawks) and 2019 (St. Louis Blues).