When we were touting candidates earlier this summer for the Kraken’s vacant captaincy, naturally 13-year NHL pro’ Jordan Eberle’s name drifted to the top.
He’s a respected leader in the dressing room and seems to be in lockstep with head coach Dave Hakstol‘s demeanor and approach. He finished last season with 20 goals and 43 assists, third on the Kraken in overall scoring behind Jared McCann and Vince Dunn.
There are more important matters for the Kraken aside from actually naming a captain, like making the playoffs for a second consecutive season, and for a club with five or six legitimate leaders and captain options, it might amount to a bit of window dressing: Tradition trumping practicality.
Why rock the leadership-by-committee boat.
As for Eberle being 33-years-of age entering this season; not a problem. The Boston Bruins just named 35-year-old Brad Marchand their captain, the Winnipeg Jets 30-year-old workhorse forward Adam Lowry. Traditionally, older veterans were often the choice to lead hockey clubs, long before the more recent trend of giving the honor to the highest paid, most talented early-20 something.
The deluxe issue or catch for Eberle, and this goes beyond the delightful topic of naming a captain; he’s entering the final season of his contract that carries a salary cap hit of $5.5-million.
“We haven’t spoken much,” Eberle said of negotiating a new deal with the Kraken. “I think (Seattle General Manager) Ron (Francis) knows my stance as far as my family and I, my wife and kids, we love it here, one of the more favorite places that I’ve played. The city from day one has accepted this team and we’ve kind of made it our home. I want to be the part of a winning team and have a chance to win a Cup, and I know this team, like many teams in the NHL, we have a chance here. We have a great group. I know I want to be a part of it.”
Between The Lines?
Is it unfair to read between the lines? Probably. But it’s not unfair to apply logic.
If he stays healthy and makes it through a majority of the season, Eberle will pass the 1,000 NHL game mark three-quarters of a way through. That’s a feather in the cap for some, a goal met for others.
In Eberle’s case, that would leave the elusive Lord Stanley. It’s quite possible it makes more sense to wait and see where this Kraken season goes before deciding on where his best opportunity potentially lies. Here, or somewhere else.
The other catch, “that somewhere else” has to want you.
Should this season go south and the Kraken want to move the pending unrestricted free agent (UFA), Eberle’s modified no-trade clause allows him to submit a 16-team no-trade list.
If actions indeed speak louder than words, Eberle has shown he plans on being around the NHL for quite a bit longer. Notably, Seattle Hockey Insider (S.H.I.) has video (below) of the veteran doing end-to-end “bag” (conditioning) skates with much younger players following the conclusion of an informal scrimmage two weeks ago.
No subliminal messaging there; he appears to be showing the dedication and desire to win with this Kraken club here and now. An effort worthy of contract talks.
“I’m sure once the season goes, we’ll have a better understanding of where things will be at,” Eberle stated.
“So you’re not opposed to in-season discussions, talks?” S.H.I. followed up.
“No, not at all, I know Ron’s got a busy job with getting guys done, but I’ve made my stance clear, I love it here, I want to be here, I want to be part of winning group and I think we have that here.”
Yes, there are other Kraken who need contracts, but Eberle’s situation is unique given his age and his cap hit.
20-year-old star center Matty Beniers needs a deal; it’ll get done.
24-year-old winger Eeli Tolvanen needs a deal and if the first day of training camp is any indication, he’s willing to work hard to get one.
28-year-old center Alexander Wennberg needs a deal; one might think the Kraken will be upgrading or changing that spot at some point.
33-year-old defenseman Justin Schultz needs a deal; check back with us later.
There are four other less urgent contract matters to resolve, or not to resolve.
Let’s see where it goes. That seems to be the approach at the moment for Eberle and the Kraken.
((Eberle’s agent Craig Oster hasn’t yet returned today’s phone call.))
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