With Jaden Schwartz being activated from long-term injured reserve, the Seattle Kraken presently have 14 forwards on their active roster and just six defensemen. That will change shortly. The team leaves Sunday to start their six-game road trip.
While massaging their way around the salary cap the last few days, they’ve also made some changes with their on-ice pecking order, if Saturday’s practice is any indication.
Our cohort Alyson Ballard reported some of the comings, goings and changes for us at practice. She stated Kailer Yamamoto and Devin Shore were the odd men out, rotating through drills.
Shore would be the likely eventual waivee.
Here’s what the lines and pairings looked like:
Tomas Tatar – Matty Beniers – Jordan Eberle
Jaden Schwartz – Alex Wennberg – Brandon Tanev
Eeli Tolvanen – Yanni Gourde – Oliver Bjorkstrand
Andre Burakovsky – Tye Kartye – Jared McCann
Vince Dunn – Adam Larsson
Jamie Oleksiak – Will Borgen
Brian Dumoulin – Justin Schultz
Notable is the balance in the line-up. Just look at the “fourth line”. That’s one helluva fourth line. Yes, McCann has struggled finding the back of the net lately — no goals in seven games and just one in his last ten — and Burakovsky is just three games back off a lengthy injury, but we’re talking about two of the club’s more talented forwards.
Kartye is interesting in that he hasn’t played center since he was a kid. His presence in the middle is necessitated by Pierre-Edouard Bellemare being on injured reserve, and we won’t see the Frenchman back soon.
With that line arrangement, the other thing that jumps out is the team’s balance offensively, particularly with Gourde finally regaining his touch. The veteran center went 17 games without lighting the lamp before potting a goal in each of the last two games. Nevertheless, his game is complete, indicated by the consistency of his linemates Bjorkstrand and Tolvanen, especially “Ollie” offensively.
Tatar has been a refreshing addition with five points in eight games since being acquired from the Avalanche. He and Beniers and Eberle need to get things going on a consistent basis. If they do, the Kraken’s balanced attack will become downright scary.
With Schwartz healthy, we’ll wait and see regarding the chemistry on the “2nd line”. Wennberg in particular has drawn some difficult defensive match-ups throughout the season.
— Daccord and Driedger remain the active goalies. Philipp Grubauer (lower body) didn’t practice Saturday. No indication if he skated/drilled on his own.
— The team leaves Sunday on their six-game roadie. They’re scheduled to practice Monday in Buffalo ahead of Tuesday night’s game against the Sabres.
— Kraken fans might enjoy and find enlightening this NHL conversation with Canadian national radio host for Sportsnet, Jeff Marek …