Seattle Kraken Wennberg, Maurice Richard

Simmer’s Sunday: Kraken Rookie Tourney, Big $$, The Rocket

Kraken Weekender

While the Kraken will be holding a brief rookie camp starting on or about September 16th, prospects of the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets will be taking part in what’s called the “Young Stars Classic” in Penticton, British Columbia. Although interrupted a few times due to planning hiccups and Covid, it’s the 10th “annual” version of the event and takes place over that weekend in Okanagan wine and lake country.

The Kraken aren’t quite there yet in terms of organizational depth. With only three NHL Drafts under their belt and entering just their 3rd season, the club is still a wee bit away from exercising thoughts of hosting or participating in one of these rookie shindigs.

Is it a thought for down the road? Absolutely. Think of the cool Pacific Northwest possibilities of hosting a weekend for a couple of clubs from California. Or maybe the Colorado Avalanche. Or maybe crash the Okanagan party if the site and hosts could handle it.

Definitely something to think about.

The Simmer List:

1) Speaking of the Canucks, the Kraken’s closest division rivals pulled off a rare August transaction, signing free agent bottom-six forward Pius Suter to a two-year contract. The Swiss center, who’s quite capable of playing either wing, can help the club with some depth scoring and on the penalty kill. He spent the last two seasons with the Detroit Red Wings after originally signing as an undrafted free agent and playing a season with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Suter had 24 points in 79 games last season and has played a total of 216 NHL games.

2) The Kraken open the preseason with their split squad games against the Calgary Flames on September 25th. That is now 43 days away. The Kraken season opener in Vegas against the Golden Knights: 58 days.

3) I didn’t get into covering the whole Tik Tok social media controversy, or whatever that was, with Kraken forward Alexander Wennberg. For off-ice, off-season matters of that ilk I’m more than happy to allow others to handle the coverage. Plus I’m all too familiar with toxic social media run amok.

That said, the man who summarized it best is Glenn Dreyfuss. He writes full-time for THN and for us on occasion and he ties up the matter openly and candidly, while unabashedly including the adult subject matter and foul language. Since I had pretty much avoided the topic, I tuned into his video for the succinct synopsis. One-stop shopping.

It’s about time I’m able to plug some of his fine work, as he’s often very generous “pumping my tires” as they say in hockey, right down to recommending me for a Kraken radio gig. However, this suggestion isn’t to return a favor or because he’s a pal, it’s for the truly right reason … his content nails it.

4) Carolina Hurricanes GM Don Waddell told NHL Tonight this past week that star winger Andrei Svechnikov could participate in training camp and should be ready for the start of the season. The 23-year-old former 2nd-overall NHL Draft pick (2018) tore the ACL in his right knee back on March 11th against the Vegas Golden Knights and underwent surgery.

Svechnikov has 264 points, including 112 goals, in 347 NHL games and 25 points in 40 Stanley Cup Playoff games. The Canes committed eight years and $62-million to the Russian back in 2021.

Waddell also locked up top-line center Sebastian Aho with a whopper eight-year deal at the end of last month.

5) Gratuitous August plug: We post a lot of informative and some would suggest entertaining material via our youtube channel that’s heavy in Pacific Northwest hockey. You can subscribe effortlessly and for free by clicking ‘subscribe’ on the lower corner of this featured Matty Beniers video from the NHL Awards and Draft in Nashville.

I love his line about giving his acceptance speech: “My heart was racing before, during and after.”

Simmer and Matty Beniers at the NHL Awards.

6) Jared McCann led the Kraken in scoring during the inaugural season with how many points? A) 50 B) 60 C) 70 D) 80

Answer at the bottom of the page.

7) Ever heard of blind hockey? Yes, that’s right, as in blind hockey players.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time around these blind athletes in Canada and the United States over the last decade, for four years producing and co-hosting a weekly TV show with one of Canada’s star players Mark Demontis. It’s a fast growing sport thanks to him, his pals at Canadian Blind Hockey, and because of USA Hockey’s expanded efforts.

Goalies are fully blind and guard a net that’s two-thirds the height of a standard hockey goal and do so by listening for the over-sized puck that’s full of ball bearings. It rattles as it’s passed around, allowing the netminders and defenders the ability to make plays. There are other modified hockey rules obviously, but the game is surprisingly quick and remarkably entertaining.

On a broader scale, if you ever get a chance to attend a USA Hockey Disabled Hockey Festival, do it. Started in 2005, the annual event features blind, deaf, para-hockey, and wounded warrior athletes, among others, and is truly an inspiring experience. Just walking in the door of the rink you’ll see wheelchairs, crutches, prosthetics, guide dogs and canes all over the place.

The goal for blind hockey is to eventually make it on the list of official Paralympic sports. They’re getting closer with burgeoning programs in Finland, Sweden and elsewhere.

8) How about both Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane sitting as unrestricted free agents (UFA). The stars of the Chicago Blackhawks run to three Stanley Cup championships (2010, 2013, 2015) find themselves looking for work, both coming off contracts that paid them $10.5-million per season. They also share the same agent, Pat Brisson at CAA.

Kane was traded to the New York Rangers as a playoff “rental” ahead of the March deadline while captain Toews played out his final season in the Windy City. We’re all curious to see how little they’re willing to play for, which team can afford whatever that amount might be, and where one or both of them end up. Toews’s future is more of a question mark given recent health issues.

I hadn’t planned on this, but at the very bottom of this page you can check out two more youtube videos, one with Toews in Seattle just four games before his last match as a Blackhawk. He did me a solid following a morning skate prior to a game against the Kraken. During that conversation, we refer to the other video, shot at the announcement of the 2009 NHL Winter Classic at Wrigley Field when the two of them were both youngsters.

That 14 years went pretty quick.

9) Before Gordie Howe took the next step in making number-9 the most relished and famous number in hockey (future Hockey Hall of Famers Johnny Bucyk of the Bruins and Bobby Hull of the Blackhawks both wore it because Howe was their idol), Maurice Richard of the Montreal Canadiens set the trend.

“The Rocket” was the first player to score 50 goals in an NHL season and he did it in 50 games in 1944-’45. He was also the first to 500 career goals. Richard (pronounced “ra-shard” for newbies) was also a savage competitor who helped the Habs win eight Stanley Cups.

The annual trophy awarded to the NHL player with the most goals in a season is named after him. Richard held the career record of 544 until Howe passed him during the 1963-’64 season.

Multiple choice answer:

  • A) Jared McCann led the inaugural Kraken with 50 points.

Recent Hockey Joy Joy:

— Seattle Kraken Roll Call: Jamie Oleksiak

— Seattle Kraken Roll Call: Matty Beniers

— Kraken Wednesday: Jonesy Lands, Firebirds Fun

“Simmer’s Morning Skate” with Jonathan Toews

Simmer with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, Winter Classic announcement 2009

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.