Seattle Kraken, Joey Daccord

Kraken Goalie Competition Leads The Camp Battles

Kraken Masked Men

There could be a surprise or two in Seattle Kraken training camp, particularly in the bottom six forwards, but the featured battle of the month will be for back-up goalie.

Martin Jones, who filled in so admirably last season in the win column, particularly when inked starter Philipp Grubauer was injured, is off to the Toronto Maple Leafs

That leaves us last season’s incumbent Chris Driedger, replaced by Jones last summer after suffering a season ending torn ACL in the final game of the 2022 World Championships, and 2023 Coachella Valley Firebirds playoff hero Joey Daccord.

Let the competition begin. The money is a wash because if Driedger gets waived and sent down to the American Hockey League, the salary cap savings are almost equal to the amount it’ll cost to employ Daccord. Whichever one wins out, the Kraken will be spending about $3.5-million on their back-up, unless another NHL team were to pluck Driedger off waivers.

It’s more likely one of the other 31 clubs would nab Daccord is he got the waive. He’s younger and cheaper with likely more upside. Hard to say really since Driedger has played a grand total of 65 NHL games, Daccord 19.

Driedger is 29-years-old, two years and a bit older than Daccord. He’s also two inches taller and ten pounds heavier than the younger netminder.

Just for fun, toss in Czech native and recent import Ales Stezka, who’s been practising informally with the Kraken throughout this month. The 26-year-old had a 2.14 goals against average and a .924 save percentage in the top Czech league last season. He hasn’t played pro hockey in North America. He was a 4th round NHL Draft pick of the Minnesota Wild in 2015 who signed with the Kraken this past May.

Have we mentioned the Kraken’s Director of (Amateur) Scouting is Czech native and former NHLer Robert Kron. He’s a wee bit dialed in over there.

Stezka will make $875,000 pro-rated if he hops up to the big show this season, $82,500 when playing in the AHL.

Toss Up

Perfect scenario for Kraken management: the one where Daccord wins out, Driedger gets waived and picked up by another NHL club. Outside of the wishful thinking or another deal being pulled off, Kraken GM Ron Francis can wait around and watch how it plays out just like the rest of us.

Then again, having both these guys in the organization isn’t a bad idea considering the Kraken goalie depth charts are loaded with non-AHL bound youngsters. 19-year-old prospect Niklas Kokko will play for Karpat in his native Finland this season. countryman Visa Vedenpรครค just got drafted in the 6th-round and Russian Semyon Vayazovoi is somewhere.

Actually, the Daccord/Driedger combo is not a bad problem to have. Although the cash outlay is a bit more than the Kraken would like to pay for a back-up these days, the competition is good, so should be the goalie who comes out the front runner. The other will potentially provide an insurance policy while entertaining fans in Palm Desert.

ECHL affiliate Kansas City Mavericks goalie Shane Starrett played one AHL game last season while part-time sidekick Callum Booth hopped to Germany for a bit and played just nine games in KC. That roster this season is somewhat TBD, as is most often the case at this point at the “double-A” level of pro hockey. They do have a handful of their popular 2022-’23 roster coming back.

Kraken training camp on-ice opens in eight days on September 21st and is open to the public.

Recent:

— Kraken Tuesday: Fiesty SEA Practice, 2 NHL Captains

— Simmer’s Sunday 9: Kraken Radio? Retirees, HHOF’ers

Goalie drills for Kraken on 9/13.

Rob Simpson

Rob Simpson has covered the NHL in five different decades. Heโ€™s authored 4 books on hockey and is a veteran TV and radio play-by-play man and reporter.
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Bane
Bane
9 days ago

No, the perfect scenario is not Driedger getting waved and picked up by another team. The perfect scenario is Driedger getting waved and then absolutely balling out in Coachella Valley where he leads the Firebirds to a Calder Cup Championship and then gets signed to a huge deal by a (preferably Wales Conference) team for several years.

Also, I can’t allow a mention of Callum Booth to pass without talking about THAT game. If you were in the stands to watch THAT game, you know the one that I am talking about. It was early last year, and the Abbotsfords Canucks were visiting the Coachella Valley Firebirds at their home-away-from-home: Seattle Center Coliseum (it’s just a better name, and it belongs to us). The first period was a complete mess, and the Seattle crowd was getting an unflattering first impression of AHL hockey. Neither team was playing defense. Fights kept breaking out. Both goalies were getting lit up, but Gibson for the Firebirds was just having an awful night, letting in four goals on, I think, seven shots. Coach Bylsma, seeing that the game was in danger of getting out of hand, pulled Gibson and sent in backup Callum Booth.

Abbotsford kept piling on the shots as they muscled around Firebirds defensemen, but, as the new netminder snapped them out of the air one after the other with a quick glove, the crowd took notice. After a particularly Hasek-like stop, a few fans in the stands started to chant “Booooooth!” in a manner similar to the “Gruuuuu!” chant that they would always rain down on the Kraken netminder. As Booth made awesome save after awesome save, more and more of the crowd took up the chant until “Booooooth!” became a roar every time he made a save.

The effect on both the Firebirds and the Canucks was obvious from the stands. The shots that the Canucks fired on-net, instead of flustering and confusing the Firebirds skaters, began to instead give them swagger. Booth himself was definitely feeling the swagger. He parried and grabbed every puck that came his way with a 90s-like flourish and did not neglect any opportunity to play to the crowd, who were only too happy to cheer their new hero on.

The Firebirds skaters began just pouring it on, and guys who would go on to become Coachella Valley stars like Jesper Froden and Kole Lind potted enough goals to take the lead. Once they had that lead, it was clear that they were never going to give it up. The big drama of the third period was whether or not Callum Booth could get that 1.00 save percentage. He could, and he did. The Seattle crowd went home that night in love with the Firebirds.