Actually, there are no Kraken to chase. Everyone is signed, management takes a holiday and fans have a good idea of what their team will look like come October.
There will be some excellent competition at training camp, particularly in the bottom-six forward group, but for now Seattle fans have their Kraken roster, while General Manager Ron Francis has a little less than $1-million in projected salary cap space.
That includes Andre Burakovsky and his $5.5-million coming off injured reserve and rejoining the group, and of course the $7.35-million just added with the signing of defenseman Vince Dunn.
One Kraken change will occur. One of the NHL contracts out of the hypothetical 23-man roster presently belongs to an extra goalie. Once it’s determined whether Chris Driedger or Joey Daccord will be backing up Philipp Grubauer with the big club, that Kraken roster/salary spot will go to a 13th forward.
Pearls of Wisdom?
In honor of the great Gordie Howe — can never go wrong there — here’s 9 more tantalizing tidbits:
1) There are two sides to son Max Domi joining the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team with which his father Tie Domi played for ten-plus seasons.
Yes, it’s neat that this generational double-dip occurs for the two of them and for fans of the elder Domi, who battled for the blue-and-white through some exciting times in Toronto for a decade. He retired after the 2005-’06 season.
Let’s just say dude could take a punch. He’d usually take a bunch of them, before brushing it all off and then unloading on his opponent. He was a fireplug enforcer with a very hard head at a time when that job still held a prominent position within the game.
After being drafted by the Maple Leafs in the 2nd-round of the NHL Draft in 1988, Domi was soon traded to the New York Rangers, where he played for two-and-a-half seasons, mostly as an extra forward. After a trade to the Winnipeg Jets where he spent two-and-a-half seasons in Manitoba, Domi was sent back to Toronto where he’d play out his career.
The first ever game I attended at Madison Square Garden in New York was as a patron, not media, in December of 1992. It just happened to be the night of “Domi – Probert II” (video below), the rematch of a fight that occurred ten months earlier at the Garden between he and Detroit’s Bob Probert, the league’s scariest and most accomplished fighter.
Domi, a brash 2nd-year pro at the time, won the first fight in February and celebrated by skating through the neutral zone while pretending to put on a championship belt.
Probert kicked his butt in the epic re-match. They dropped the mitts just 37-seconds into the game, much to our delight.
After that tilt, Detroit captain Steve Yzerman stood on the bench mocking Domi with an ‘adorning of the championship belt’ motion of his own.
Fast forward a few decades. I had written about Domi on a couple of occasions and heard about him through a few friends and acquaintances we had in common along the way, but I’d never met him.
That changed when we chatted and laughed for awhile at an NHL New Year’s Eve party in Toronto in 2017. Great guy, fun conversation, all good.
The flip side.
So it comes with absolutely no ill will that I remind people of an on-ice moment involving Domi for which some Maple Leafs fans can never forgive him. It was one of the more selfish plays in NHL playoff history, which Domi admits.
He refers to it in his autobiography as “the dumbest thing I did in my career”.
With the plucky 7th-seeded Leafs playing their best hockey of the season/postseason and Domi probably playing the best hockey of his career, the dumb play occurred in the closing seconds of a Leafs victory in Game-4 of the 2001 2nd-round against the New Jersey Devils. Apparently in retaliation for an earlier high stick, Domi knocked out Devils all-world defenseman Scott Niedermayer with a cheap-shop elbow to the head, completely away from the play.
Domi earned a suspension and missed the rest of the series and the first eight games of the following season. The Devils lost Game-5, but with a fire lit under them and with the Leafs playing with an altered line-up, New Jersey ended up winning the final two games of the series.
The Leafs missed a chance to take on an over-matched Pittsburgh Penguins team in the Conference Final and a crack at their first Stanley Cup Final since 1967.
Twenty-two years later, that legendary drought continues.
2) Condolences to the family, friends and associates of Brian O’Neill, a former decades-long hockey operations executive of the National Hockey League who passed away Friday at the age of 94.
“On behalf of the NHL family, I extend our deepest sympathies to his wife, Jean, his children Sean, Darcy, Nancy, Patrick and Sandy and their spouses and his 11 grandchildren,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said via NHL.com. “The NHL mourns the loss of a man who served our game with distinction.”
O’Neill began his career with the league in 1966.
3) While the Kraken and Dunn were able to avoid an arbitration hearing, a couple of other restricted free agents recently completed the process.
Maple Leafs goalie Ilya Samsonov received a one-year contract worth $3.55-million on Sunday. The hearing took place Friday. It seems like a reasonable number for the 26-year-old who went 27-10-and-5 with a 2.33 goals against average last season. The former 1st-round NHL Draft pick (2015) of the Washington Capitals signed as a free agent in Toronto last summer and earned $1.8-million this past year.
Another arbitrator must see the potential in Philipp Kurashev, the 23-year-old Chicago Blackhawks forward who tallied 25-points last season. The German-born center, a 4th-round pick of the club in 2018, has 62 points in 191 NHL games and earned a two-year deal worth $2.25-million per season.
4) Still no takers for Norris Trophy winning defenseman Erik Karlsson, who remains on the trading block with the San Jose Sharks. Closer to the NHL Draft in late-June, there was a rumor that the Kraken had some interest in the 33-year-old who racked up 101 points from the blueline last season. That report didn’t last long and even though it doesn’t really matter now, we’ll nose around about it down the road a wee bit.
For now, it’s not so much about NHL teams not wanting Karlsson, it’s about not wanting the bulk of his $11.5-million annual salary. How much of it Sharks General Manager Mike Grier is willing to retain is the big question. The Pittsburgh Penguins were rumored to have a strong interest.
5) One of the more active Seattle Kraken Instagrammers this month has been goalie Grubauer, having made his first ever trip to “the Last Frontier”.
“Grooby” wrapped up his fishing, bear watching, float planing journey to Alaska with a series of scenic shots.
6) We are 64 days away from the Kraken’s preseason opener at Climate Pledge Arena on September 25th and 79 days away from the Kraken regular season opener in Vegas against the Golden Knights on October 10th.
It’ll be here in no time.
7) It’s time to climb another mountain, so to speak. I have embarked on the deliriously busy, challenging, and sometimes frustrating process of writing a fifth hockey/media-related book. The stories are flowing as I’ll speak to 50 or 60 current and former NHL types, including a Kraken or two, about a specific topic.
As it moves along and it gets closer, we’ll hit you with more deets on what to look for and what it’s about. Hoping for a late 2024 release date. Can’t wait to get to the top of that mountain, but without a doubt, patience is a virtue. “Po-lé po-lé” as they say on Kilimanjaro.
8) I can guarantee you I won’t be seeing “Barbie”, as much as I like Margot Robbie, but there’s a decent chance I’ll invest three hours to see “Oppenheimer”. Oddly enough, I still recall doing a school report on the guy in about the 9th-grade.
Any recommendations regarding the film, please hit the comment section in here or via twitter.
9) Wayne Gretzky’s hero: Gordie Howe.
“I remember one of the first times I walked through an airport with him and I was just amazed at how everyone knew Gordie Howe,” Gretzky told NHL.com after Howe’s death in 2016. “It seemed like every single person stopped and talked to him and he would stop and talk to everybody. I was like, ‘Oh my God, is there anybody in this world that doesn’t know Gordie Howe?”
Reminded he gets similar treatment now, Gretzky responded, “Oh, not like him. He was pretty special. He was everything.”
Catch Up On Recents:
— Kraken Head Coach Hakstol Gets 2-Year Extension
— Zany Kraken Social Media; Jones Floats
— Seattle Kraken of the Future: Oscar Fisker-Mølgaard
— Kraken Sign 1st-rounder Eduard Sale
— Seattle Kraken of the Future: Ryan Winterton