Seattle Kraken Roll Call is assessing every player who held a significant place in the fortunes of the 2022-23 Kraken season. We’ll be looking at the highs and lows they experienced during the last campaign, as well as what the future may hold for them in Seattle. Today we feature veteran center Yanni Gourde.
Position: Left shot center.
2022-’23 Kraken totals (GP-G-A-P): 81-14-34-48, 76 PIM
Contract Status: Two seasons remaining at $5,166,666 per.
Seattle Kraken Season Synopsis
Sometimes player reviews are simple. Seattle Kraken center and alternate captain Yanni Gourde fits the bill. His intangibles are just as valuable as his skills, if not more so.
He’s a leader, he’s a worker, and he’s the Kraken’s preeminent “shift” disturber, although in his case, the more appropriate four-letter version of that term definitely applies. He will mix things up with anyone, anywhere, anytime, and he does so effectively. He drew as many penalty minutes from opponents as he took himself.
Every team needs an agitator, an energy creator, and Gourde is the consummate professional. For long time hockey watchers, his behavior is a refreshing throwback, often times laugh-out loud amusing. And that’s not to take anything away from or make light of the impact. It’s just downright entertaining and it’s sincere.
If necessary, Gourde is capable of playing any forward position, but he’s a fixture for the Kraken at the 3rd-line center spot. He’s capable of sliding higher in the line-up if needed in important situations.
Gourde stole pucks from opponents 65 times last season, while giving it away just 27 times. He was one of only two Kraken forwards with more than one hundred hits delivered. Brandon Tanev 190, Gourde 118. That, at 5-foot-9 and 175-pounds.
He was third among forwards with 54 blocked shots.
Gourde steps up and is typically readily available to speak with the media, even at times of personal or team discomfort. If he messes up, he openly takes responsibility.
HIghs And Lows
After going pointless in the first six games of last season, Gourde posted nine over his next nine matches. His longest other pointless streak was seven games. Otherwise he consistently appeared on the scoresheet.
Gourde apparently has something against Pennsylvania. His only three point efforts last season came against teams from the commonwealth, November 5th while visiting the Pittsburgh Penguins and February 16th while hosting the Philadelphia Flyers.
Gourde was slightly below what the analytics people call “expected goals” for last season. That number was 17.8. He had 14. He finished with 34 assists and 48 points, just four of them on the power play. He’s not, and won’t be a regular there.
Based on informal conversations and polling over the years, NHL players generally admit that during the course of the grinding 82 game schedule, most skaters will go full bore in about 20 to 25% of games, give it a solid effort about 60% of the time, and slog it the other 20%. That’s reality. Gourde appears to more tenacious more often, but as a savvy veteran, he’s also very aware of when things matter most.
Gourde led the Kraken in playoff scoring over 14 games with 13 points, four of them goals. He tallied two game winners, including one in overtime against the Dallas Stars. That equalled the two game winners he had during the entire 81-game regular season schedule. Gourde also tallied a shorthanded goal and assist in the postseason.
It should come as no surprise that the top four playoff scorers for the Kraken were all 30-something veterans, including three former Stanley Cup champions. Gourde, followed by Jordan Eberle, Jaden Schwartz, and Justin Schultz.
What the future holds
The Saint-Narcisse, Quebec native will turn 33 in December of 2024 prior to his current contract expiring in the summer of 2025. One would hope and expect at that age he’ll get another deal done with the Kraken, something in the three to four year range being realistic. Until then, he’ll just keep plugging along as the club’s consummate catalyst.
— Seattle Kraken Roll Call: Will Borgen
— Seattle Kraken Roll Call: Eeli Tolvanen