OK, not gonna lie to ya … this is a look ahead to the Kraken’s elongated bye week and some of the very big topics we will be discussing within these pages. Topics you may see others address, but ones we will break down in here with diligence and experience. This is a partial list.
Plus some trivia and fun.
Simmer’s Kraken 9:
1) What happens to veteran forward Jordan Eberle ahead of the NHL trade deadline on March 8th? Obviously it all depends on if Kraken GM Ron Francis is a “seller”, or a “buyer”, or does another “stand pat” ahead of the deadline. Meaning; is Seattle out of the playoffs, probably in the playoffs, or we’re not sure.
Eberle, a 33-year-old, unrestricted free agent (UFA) making $5.5-million this season and looking for his first ever Stanley Cup, would likely make a nice “rental” pick-up for a Cup contender. A trade would also eliminate Francis’s decision on re-signing the veteran, or postpone it, if for some reason he wanted to bring “Ebs” back after he plays out the season somewhere else. Seattle would hope to get a 2nd-rounder in return.
Center Alex Wennberg is another UFA this summer coming off a $4.5-million season. He’s one we could see the Kraken wanting to re-sign, although I wouldn’t have said that in September.
UFA defenseman Justin Schultz will likely walk this summer after making $3-million this season, if he’s not moved as a depth D-man ahead of the deadline. The Kraken would gun to get a 2nd or 3rd round draft pick for him.
2) Who’s the Kraken’s number-one goalie come, let’s say, March 1st? Joey Daccord has been dominate with Philipp Grubauer out of the line-up due to injury, but Grubi (“Grooby”) is back. Last year Martin Jones went on a run as the back-up, but eventually relinquished the top job to Grubauer, who ended up starting all of the playoff games.
If the club had its druthers, it would prefer the much more expensive investment Grubauer taking command, but this decision is purely performance and health based and will be interesting to watch unfold.
3) Will the Kraken be in playoff contention come March 1st? Again, performance based. We’ve already done the simple math for you.
4) Will the Edmonton Oilers tie the NHL record with their 17th consecutive victory when they take on the Vegas Golden Knights coming out of the bye week and what impact will their win streak have on the Pacific Division and Western Conference standings? Right now Connor McDavid and company is at 16 straight wins.
5) What happens with the Kraken up the middle when center Pierre Edouard Bellemare returns from injury coming out of the break? He was the regular 4th-line pivot before his lower body injury. Does Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol put him back in and slide everyone else up the line-up by moving current top-line center Jared McCann back to the wing? Why do that (??) a fan might ask. The current top line has some chemistry.
Stand pat and it means Bellemare sits, unless he plays instead of Matty Beniers. Can’t see the latter happening.
6) Trivia Time: Simple. How many playoff games did the Kraken play last spring? (Answer at the bottom of the page above the video)
7) Will rookie D-man Ryker Evans be a regular starter come mid-March? If the club is out of the playoff picture; absolutely. And obviously, yes again, if Schultz is moved ahead of the deadline.
8) Who’s gonna win the Stanley Cup? We’ll start to dabble in some prognostication as things get closer. Much depends on overall health, goaltending, and health of goaltenders.
9) One tradition I can’t break in this slot is my focus on the NHL’s number-9’s, past and present. No other number has had a greater concentration of great players. Gordie Howe, Maurice “Rocket” Richard, Bobby Hull, Johnny Bucyk, Andy Bathgate and Dick Duff all wore the number for Original Six teams with great distinction. To say the least.
Part of this; Howe is my hero and always will be.
My thought this week: who is the next Seattle Kraken to wear it, following the departure of Ryan Donato? For me, and many in the game, it takes some big “you-know-whats” to wear the number, or at least it should. As much as I like Donato, he’s not the calibre were talking about. It needs to be someone who could and/or will become a franchise star.
The jury is out on 2022 4th-overall draft pick Shane Wright. If he turns out developing into the big-time, real deal that many expected, I’d advise him to make the change from 51. If that’s not the projection … we wait.
— Trivia Answer: The Kraken played 14 playoff games last spring. A 7-game series against the Colorado Avalanche and a 7-game series against the Dallas Stars.
— Last Week’s Podcast With “Hey Hey Whatayasay,” John Forslund …