The Seattle Kraken rookies took to the ice on Monday for the first of two days worth of on-ice scrimmaging and drills. The session ran for a full 75 minutes and included 3-on-3 hockey on a shortened rink, full ice drills and battle efforts in the corners.
“It’s good to be back, it’s good to get a few practices in before training camp too,” Kartye said Monday. “I came a bit early, I was skating with the guys a little bit earlier this week. It’s nice to get in a competitive practice before getting into the real thing.”
Kartye refers to the Kraken “captain’s skates”; the informal gatherings that often include feisty scrimmages with veterans. He came in from his home in Ontario to catch the final week.
((Note: The video at bottom includes iso’s of Kartye during an informal practice (52 in black) and also from day one (in white) of Kraken rookie camp))
A Kraken Rookie Headliner
Kartye will also be at big Kraken camp when it starts on Thursday, coming off a Stanley Cup playoff run that included three goals and two assists in ten games. That was followed by a run to the Calder Cup Final with the Coachella Valley Firebirds.
Two events led up to the Kraken opportunity.
It obviously helped that top-6 left winger Andre Burakovsky was out of the Kraken line-up, lost for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs after suffering a groin injury in early February. Jared McCann was then injured in Game-4 of the opening round against the Colorado Avalanche on a late hit by Cale Makar.
In stepped the rookie.
Kartye took advantage of the opportunities in the postseason after tallying 57 points in 72 American Hockey League regular season games with the Firebirds. The 22-year-old stood up well to the pressure and physicality of the Stanley Cup postseason.
“It was a great opportunity for me and obviously playing with Matty (Beniers) and “Ebs” (Jordan Eberle) was an incredible opportunity, and I feel like I did everything I could with that opportunity, so that part is out of my hands now. I’m just trying to have a good camp and do it again,” Kartye said.
In his very first game, Game-5, he scored a goal in 8:41 of ice time in a 3-2 Kraken victory over the Avalanche. The team awarded him the ‘Davey Jones Hat’ as the MVP following the game.
“That was pretty special,” he said. “I realized just how hard it is to win those games and how prepared you have to be throughout the whole year and the whole summer to be ready to perform in those scenarios, so I just try to lock it in year round. Really preparing well is huge,”
Playing the game the right way rubbed off on him as the entire Kraken team took him under his wing.
“The whole team was really welcoming and I think that’s part of the reason I was able to play so well, because I felt so comfortable there and all the guys helped me if I had any questions and stuff like that,” he said.
Kartye then rejoined the Firebirds for their trek to the Calder Cup Final, a series they lost to the Hershey Bears in seven games. He comes off that busy spring and a serious summer of training to seek a full-time job in the big show. It would mean beating out a veteran NHL’er.
“That’s how it always is and how it will always be,” he said. “You have to earn your spot and that’s how it should be, it shouldn’t be given to anyone, so that’s what I’m going to try and do, I’m going to try and earn it. I think I earned it in the playoffs and I’ll need to in training camp. You just have to try and earn it every day.
“I think that the most important thing is just being as competitive as I can.”
We joked that although he’s scored three postseason goals, Kartye technically hasn’t scored his first NHL goal, with the regular season and the chase for Lord Stanley considered related but separate statistical entities.
“Hopefully I have a good camp here and we can change that,” Kartye said.
— Simmer’s Sunday 9: Kraken Camp, Bedard, Dogs, And Howe