As the Seattle Kraken prepared for the arrival of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday, they did so with a half dozen players missing from practice on Saturday.
“We’ll see where they’re at tomorrow,” was Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol’s response to a query about the absence of forwards Kailer Yamamoto, Jaden Schwartz and Jordan Eberle. There was no indication of whether illness or injury played a part.
Last season Schwartz was known to miss a majority of skates during the regular season due to ‘maintenance days’, with the 31-year-old gradually recovering from lingering injury. Eberle has earned a right to sit out as well, but with an apparent flu bug floating around the team, their absence raised that speculation.
Matty Beniers is already on injured reserve, the result of getting banged up in the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets last weekend. Vince Dunn skated ahead of practice, as did center Pierre-Eduoard Bellemare. Dunn, apparently dealing with an illness, has missed three games while Bellemare, he of an acute lower body injury, has missed twelve.
Toss in Yanni Gourde’s two-game suspension for a major charging infraction in Edmonton and Seattle’s in deep.
Winger Andre Burakovsky looked to be at 100%. He’s played in six of the eight games in 2024 thus far, including Thursday night’s 4-2 Kraken loss in Edmonton.
Goalie Philipp Grubauer was back on the ice with the full squad today, dressed along with fellow netminders Joey Daccord and Chris Driedger.
The Kraken will try to take advantage of a Maple Leafs squad that will be playing its third game in four nights when it arrives at Climate Pledge Arena. They beat the Flames in Calgary on Thursday night and play a late afternoon matinee against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday.
After that, starting Wednesday, based on wins and losses, the Kraken have the softest part of their home schedule over the following two weeks, with the Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, Columbus Blue Jackets and San Jose Sharks heading to town.
Seattle would love to be over whatever it is that ails them by midweek to take advantage of the opportunity. Their playoffs hopes likely rely on it.
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