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Seattle Kraken Season Chatter 22/23 (Season # 2)


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Inside look at Seattle Kraken

Bjorkstrand, Burakovsky, Schultz added to help franchise continue to grow in second season

by Jackie Spiegel @jackiespiegel93 / NHL.com Staff Writer
 September 1, 2022
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NHL.com is providing in-depth roster, prospect and fantasy analysis for each of its 32 teams from Aug. 8-Sept. 8. Today, the Seattle Kraken.

 

The Seattle Kraken are focused on putting their inaugural season behind them.

 

The Kraken (27-49-6) finished with the third-worst record in the NHL last season. They also were tied for 28th in goals per game (2.60), 29th on the power play (14.6 percent) and tied for 30th on the penalty kill (74.9 percent).

 

"It's a results-based league, so our job is to show improvement in everything that we did," Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said. "At the end of the day, everybody's extremely competitive and you want to compete, to be playing at meaningful times and playing meaningful games at the key time of the regular season and compete to be in a playoff spot and have that opportunity."

 

In order to take a step closer to that, the Kraken brought in new faces this offseason, including forwards Oliver Bjorkstrand (acquired in trade with Columbus Blue Jackets on July 22) and Andre Burakovsky (signed five-year contract July 13), defenseman Justin Schultz (signed two-year contract July 13) and goalie Martin Jones (signed two-year contract July 13).

 

[Kraken 32 in 32: 3 Questions | Top prospects | Fantasy breakdown]

 

"I could imagine, after what Vegas [had] done (advancing to the Stanley Cup Final in 2018) and then coming into the League, I'm sure they were [having] high expectations of them doing well," Bjorkstrand said of the Kraken. "Unfortunately for them, it didn't go that way. So I would say that this year expectations are different. But as a group, you've got to go in and prove people wrong now and prove to them that you have a good team."

 

Also hoping to make an impact this season is center Matty Beniers. The No. 2 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft had nine points (three goals, six assists) in 10 games, and Seattle's offense improved when the 19-year-old arrived after agreeing to a three-year, entry-level contract April 10. The Kraken averaged 2.90 goals per game and converted at 17.2 percent on the power play with Beniers, up from 2.56 goals per game and 14.1 percent on the power play in their first 72 games.

 

Beniers could be joined in Seattle this season by forward Shane Wright, the No. 4 pick in the 2022 NHL Draft.

 

"He's an outstanding fit for us," Hakstol said of the 18-year-old. " … I've been really impressed with the way his summer has gone right from the days after the draft through our development camp (in July) and now on looking forward to training camp. Just getting a real focus as to the job at hand every day … and feel really good about where he is and really confident in what he's doing."

 

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Kraken sign Burakovsky

 

  • 00:53 • July 13th, 2022

It's a lot to ask of two teenagers to help the Kraken improve their scoring, especially at 5-on-5, where Seattle was 28th with 152 goals. At 5-on-5, Burakovsky scored 18 of his 22 goals and Bjorkstrand scored 16 of his 28, and the healthy returns of forwards Jaden Schwartz and Brandon Tanev also should provide a boost.

 

More offense, and more time in the offensive zone in general, should take pressure off the goalies. 

 

Philipp Grubauer is expected to be the No. 1, with Jones serving as the backup while Chris Driedger recovers from having surgery June 6 to repair a torn ACL in his right knee; with recovery expected to take 7-9 months, he's likely to miss at least the first three months of the season.

 

Grubauer was 18-31-5 in 55 games last season, and his .889 save percentage was the worst of his 10 NHL seasons.

 

"A lot of the focus lands on a goaltender's numbers, and our goaltenders' numbers need to be better … [but] also, we want to empower our goaltenders by giving them a little bit more margin for error as well," Hakstol said.

 

Helping with that could be Schultz, with Hakstol calling him "an extremely good puck-mover who gets you out of the zone."

 

The 32-year-old won the Stanley Cup twice with the Pittsburgh Penguins (2016, 2017) and will provide another veteran voice in the dressing room.

 

"When I look at the lineup, I feel like it's definitely a team that could be competitive," Bjorkstrand said. "But just because you look at the roster and the guys on the team, you think it'll be competitive, you've still got to go out and do it. ... You've got to have the attitude that you're good enough to make it (to the Stanley Cup Playoffs) and that should be your goal. And again, looking at the roster, I think that we're allowed to have that type of thought process."

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Kraken Rookies on Ice

Seattle's second season starts this week with Rookie Camp, featuring top draft choices Matty Beniers, Shane Wright and Ryker Evans among an impressive group of players

by Bob Condor / @ByBobCondor / nhl.com/kraken
 September 19, 2022
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The Kraken prospects pool gets a head start on team veterans Monday with the beginning of Rookie Camp. The first pucks spilled from bench walls to the ice during the eleven o'clock morning hour at Kraken Community Iceplex.

 

The drills and workouts will run two days, Monday and Tuesday, before Thursday's first entry of Kraken Training Camp Presented by Starbucks. Kraken veterans will undergo physicals Wednesday. Centers Matty Beniers and Shane Wright are headliners at rookie camp, both top-four picks in the past two NHL drafts and Beniers bringing his nine points-in-10-NHL-games gravitas to the group.

 

The rookie training days are open to the public. Among other prospects, fans will be able to size up 2021 second-round pick and defenseman Ryker Evans, who is coming off a career-high Western Hockey League 61-point season (14 goals, 47 assists). He ranked seventh among all WHL defenders. Via public comments by Seattle GM Ron Francis, Evans will be given every opportunity to make the 23-man opening day active roster.

 


2022 Rookie and Training Camp Roster


 

While Evans will play for American Hockey League affiliate Coachella Valley if he doesn't stick with the big club to start the season, most of the team's 2021 and 2022 draft choices will return to their respective juniors or European teams if they don't make the Kraken roster. The NHL and Canadian Hockey League (comprised of the WHL, Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) have an agreement that players on CHL teams must be 20 or have played four junior seasons before they progress to the AHL. 

 

Drafted players can in fact make the opening night roster - Wright is perhaps the most likely under-20 candidate in rookie camp to make the possible leap straight to the NHL. But if that is not the case, players return to the CHL for more seasoning and dominant time-on-ice for their teams. 

 

Around the league, some 18-year-olds make opening NHL rosters who can then play up to nine NHL games and still be reassigned to their juniors teams. If an 18-year-old CHL player appears in 10 NHL games or more, it counts as a year of three-year entry level contract. If an 18-year-old CHL players appears in more than 40 NHL games as a rookie, it accrues as a year toward free agency.  

 

While Evans is the lone second-rounder from the 2021 draft, fans attending rookie camp and upcoming days of training camp open to the public can watch four 2021 second-round draft choices in action: CHL forwards Jagger Firkus and David Goyette and two Finnish countrymen, 6-4, 217-pound wing Jani Nyman (played for Finland pro team last season) and goaltender Niklas Kokko (Finnish juniors in 2022-23).

 

Fans are likely to notice Firkus' offensive prowess, both his playmaking moves and above-average range of shots. Nyman is coming off a six-point performance (3G, 3A) in six games for silver-medal Finland in the 2022 World Junior Championship.

 

During this summer's development camp, Wright signed his three-year entry-level contract with a ceremonial signing at center ice to cap off the camp's final-day intrasquad games. Fellow prospects and forwards Ryan Winterton and Jacob Melanson signed their entry-level agreements too.

 

Winterton, 2021 third-rounder, scored 20 goals and 26 assists in half a regular season (he missed the first half recovering from a shoulder injury) before notching seven more goals and 12 assists in his Ontario Hockey League team's run to the championship game of the coveted elite juniors Memorial Cup this past summer.

 

For his part, Melanson scored 35 goals in the Quebec Major Junior league (plus four goals in eight playoff games) in a comeback season from breaking his collarbone not once but twice in the previous two seasons. The Kraken fifth-rounder plays a skilled and physical game, which fans at Kraken Community Iceplex will no doubt observe first-hand this month.

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Final Buzzer: Off to Fun Start

Yes, preseason is less about the score and more focused on preparing for when games count. But, hey, Monday's 3-0 Kraken win featured highlight-reel goals and clutch saves

by Bob Condor / @ByBobCondor / nhl.com/kraken
 September 26, 2022
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The 2022 portion of the Kraken's second season started with a whole lot of 22. The entire Seattle squad dressed for Monday's preseason opener skating out wearing the No. 22 on their jerseys, not to be mysterious but to raise money for the One Roof Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Kraken and Climate Pledge Arena.

 

Fitting enough - and why not consider it a good omen? - that trade acquisition Oliver Bjorkstrand will be wearing the jersey number all season and throughout his Kraken career. He wore No. 28 in Columbus, but switched to No. 22 in part because new teammate Carson Soucy dons the digits plus the more sentimental part due to his father.

 

"Growing up, I used 22 a lot," said Bjorkstrand. "My dad played [professional] hockey in Denmark. He was number 22. It stuck with me ... I thought 22 was a good fit."

 

The 22 sightings continued early in Monday's game. Bjorkstrand set up linemate Matty Beniers with a crisp net-front pass for a scoring chance that just missed. Seconds later, Bjorkstrand moved the puck to Ryan Donato for a quick shot on goal.

 

+ Picking up where he finished last season (9 points in his 10-game NHL debut), rookie center Matty Beniers scored the game's and Kraken preseaon's first goal. Young Finnish defenseman Peetro Seppala, signed as a free agent this summer, notched a takeaway in the neutral zone and quickly found Beniers.

 

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Beniers rips in opening goal

 

  • 00:45 • September 26th, 2022

The former University of Michigan and Team USA star took it from there, reaching gracefully behind him for the pass, gathering the puck and releasing a shot that rocketed past Edmonton goalie going far corner high.

 

+ Beniers' linemate and summer workout partner Donato made it 2-0 later second period, taking a stretch pass from goalie Joey Daccord (just subbed in for Martin Jones) and motoring into the Oilers zone. Though steered to the outside by an Edmonton defender, Donato stayed with it, falling to the ice but keeping his stick blade on the puck. Donato, signed late in the summer after not receiving a qualifying offer from the Kraken, finished a highlight-reel play by hooking stick and puck for a wraparound goal.

 

"It was a little disappointing at the beginning [of the summer]," said Donato in an exclusive interview before training camp. "But I always knew there was a chance I would be back here. I wanted to be back here and that was my gut feeling no matter [qualifying offer or not]. Management gave me the benefit of the doubt [last season], giving me an opportunity coming here the first time. I love the team, my teammates here, the staff, everybody from the top down."

 

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Donato's wrap-around beauty

 

  • 00:44 • September 26th, 2022

Fans were loving Donato right back Monday night after the goal. Showing his appreciation for Daccord, who made a glove save then quickly dropped the puck to pass the puck to Donato at the red line, Donato did the usual hand-bumping at the bench before skating back to Daccord for a one-on-one glove bump. Daccord finished the night with 16 saves of his own to make it two outstanding nights and one shutout for SEA goaltenders.

 

+ NEWS FLASH for kids, little and big: The Kraken is saving the planned new elements for the game-presentation and entertainment show for the home opener against Vegas Oct. 15. But the preseason will unveil much-anticipated news about the Kraken mascot. A first of two teaser videos (with another due Tuesday) gave clues and in-arena announcers promised a major announcement at the Oct. 1 preseason home game versus Vancouver.  

Late second period during a TV timeout, the crowd here at Climate Pledge Arena roared when a light-hearted video about three kids embarking on a mascot hunt turned revelatory when former Sonics great Detlef Schrempf "pitched" the idea of the Kraken mascot to be a kindred spirit (and/or kindred character or creature or who knows?) to Sonics beloved mascot "Squatch." In his remarks, Schrempf referenced the NBA and Sonics coming back to Seattle. The crowd roared. Check out the full video here.

 

+ Free agent signee Martin Jones finished the night with 14 saves and a clean sheet. He made a big-time save late first period and another early middle period with Edmonton on the power play. After the Beniers goal, Jones kept the lead with several point-blank saves flashing reflexes and executing perfect positioning. It's early, but Jones has been clear in early interviews he wants to play his share of games. GM Ron Francis, coach Dave Hakstol and even fellow goaltender Philipp Grubauer wouldn't expect other from a veteran who has played nearly 400 NHL games and led San Jose to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

 

+ While young centers and top draft choices Matty Beniers and Shane Wright (who debuts Tuesday against Calgary) have been getting the most media attention, Morgan Geekie has quietly put together his second straight high-flying performance during training camp. Hakstol and the coaching staff have connected fan-fave Geekie with another fan favorite, the returning Brandon Tanev, and Boston free-agent wing Jesper Froden. Geekie and Tanev have worked together on the penalty-kill too, which paid dividends in Monday's third period. Tanev started a 2-on-1 break during a five-minute major on Kraken prospect Jacob Melanson, stayed patient to draw the defense, then passed cross-ice to Geekie for a one-timer too fast for a fully-stretched Oilers goalie.  

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Final Buzzer: A Whale of a Game

In a match that started with chippy play, a persistent effort brought the Kraken back from a two-goal deficit to earn an overtime win

by Alison Lukan / @AlisonL
 12:26 AM
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The Kraken headed out on the road for the first time this preseason to line up against a veteran-heavy Vancouver squad. While most of the Seattle players had seen some preseason action it was the first outing for Tye Kartye, Cameron Hughes, Austin Poganski and Matt Tennyson. And there were many lessons to learn about the levels of competition in the NHL. But that is the point of preseason play.

 

The Kraken fell down on the scoreboard early with the Canucks scoring two goals in the first ten minutes of play, but they were able to steady themselves and maintain play in the second period before building a comeback in the final twenty minutes of regulation to force overtime. In extra time, back-and-forth play filled the majority of the bonus minutes before Ryan Donato got off on the breakaway and beat Arturs Silvo for the game winner with forty seconds remaining on the clock.

 

An impressive comeback all around for the young Kraken squad.

  • After giving up two goals to the Canucks in the first period, the Kraken did get on the board thanks to Tye Kartye who was playing in his first preseason game.
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  • Seattle was playing with an extra skater after Andrei Kuzmenko (who had scored the two aforementioned goals) tripped Morgan Geekie. Shane Wright fired a shot from the right flank - where he's been practicing on the power play in training camp. That shot was stopped by Thatcher Demko but Kartye jumped on the rebound and his second attempt found the back of the net.

 

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Kartye scores goal

 

  • 00:36 • September 29th, 2022
  • The first period was a chaotic and chippy one with Seattle getting dinged for six infractions and Vancouver earning five penalty calls. And arguably specialty teams became the difference maker. The Canucks would convert two of their three opportunities on the power play while Seattle had only two chances, converting one.
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  • However, play settled down in the second with only one two-minute call (outside fisticuffs between John Hayden and Dakota Joshua after Joshua laid a hit on Michal Kempny that resulted in the veteran defenseman leaving the game). With more time at even strength, the Kraken were able to find a bit of a groove and generated a few more scoring chances for themselves. There were a few calls in the third but play remained fairly steady.
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  • As Seattle settled down, the Kraken were able to find more of a scoring touch. The third frame saw two goals go in. First, Kole Lind was able to tuck the rebound of a Will Borgen shot behind Silvos. And then, tone setter John Hayden - who brought the physicality and had two fights - added a tying point off a pass from Cameron Hughes. Donato - who's known for his offensive contributions - then added the final goal of the night.

 

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Lind pokes in a loose puck

 

  • 00:41 • September 29th, 2022
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  • Forward Joonas Donskoi collided with Kole Lind along the boards and left the bench shortly after. He, along with Kempny did not return to play.
  • Shane Wright continues to look more and more comfortable. He notched his first preseason point with the helper on Kartye's goal and contributed in all three zones. The 2022 draftee was strong on the puck, generated quality scoring chances, and was noticeable for his back check as much as his offensive drive. It's all in the details and Wright is showing his attention to so many.
  • Joey Daccord turned away 18 of the 21 pucks he faced. In relief (the game was once again intentionally split between both goaltenders) Martin Jones stopped all 15 pucks he faced.
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Pre-Season

 

Final Buzzer: Kraken Blank Canucks In Fun-Filled Night

Kraken continue to perform in preseason with strong performances from Grubauer, Gourde, and Wennberg. Plus fans meet Buoy

by Andy Eide / @AndyEide / nhl.com/kraken
 12:07 AM
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SEATTLE - Buoyed by 17 Philipp Grubauer saves and some Matty Beniers magic the Seattle Kraken remained unbeaten in preseason play with a 4-0 win against the Vancouver Canucks at Climate Pledge Arena on Saturday.

Beniers scored his second goal in as many preseason games, Alex Wennberg scored a goal and added two assists, and Yanni Gourde scored twice. Grubauer has yet to allow a goal in the preseason. Vancouver goalie Thatcher Demko played well in the loss and allowed three goals on 25 shots.

 

"I think the closer we get to the end of camp, I think there's a lot of excitement," Oliver Bjorkstrand, who had an assist, said. "I feel like a lot of guys have gotten a few games done at least. So, you start feeling better and chemistry starts developing. Now you just start getting ready for that first game."

 

Grubauer previously stopped 10 shots in a 3-0 win against the Calgary Flames in a Sep. 10 game. As a team, the Kraken have not allowed a preseason goal at home this year. After allowing a pair of power-play goals to the Canucks on Thursday, Seattle held the Canucks to 0-for-2 Saturday.

 

"Tonight is a difficult game for a goaltender to play," Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said. "Grubi had two real good saves that for me, that's a goaltender doing his job and doing it well." 

The Kraken improved their preseason record to 4-0. Saturday was the last preseason home game with the club finishing the preseason on the road starting Monday, Oct. 3 in Calgary against the Flames.

 

Winning preseason games is of course important but the real key is that the team starts to gel and to do that, coach Dave Hakstol deployed a lineup filled with most of his NHL regulars. Those veterans were mixed in with two promising rookies in Beniers and Shane Wright.

 

"We've got work to do," Hakstol said. "We're positive with a lot of things that we're doing but tonight we didn't play a complete game. I wouldn't expect that at this point in time. Of the lines out there tonight we were four for four in terms of new combinations. That's gonna take some time and we've still got some competition. We're gonna have some difficult decisions to make as we move through the next week." 

 

How the goals were scored

After the two teams played a scoreless first period, Matty Beniers opened the scoring at 6:42 of the second period when he fired a wrist shot from the slot that beat Demko in the top corner of the goal. Andre Burakovsky and Adam Larsson each picked up assists on the play. It was the second goal for Beniers in as many games this preseason.

 

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Beniers strikes first

 

  • 00:50 • October 1st, 2022

The Kraken extended the lead to 2-0, 58 seconds into the third when Oliver Bjorkstrand took the puck behind the net and slid it to Wennberg who was parked in front. He beat Demko with a quick one-time shot.

 

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Wennberg scores goal

 

  • 00:28 • October 1st, 2022

Gourde made it 3-0 at 7:15 when he took a pass from Wennberg and broke in alone to beat Demko for his first of the preseason.

 

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Gourde buries breakaway

 

  • 00:13 • October 1st, 2022

Gourde scored on an empty net at 17:15 to finish the scoring. 

 

Matty Beiers continues to shine

He still has yet to turn 20 years old but the 2021 first-round pick of the Kraken continues to impress and excite. The shot that he scored his goal on was elite and made a good goalie like Demko freeze in his crease.

Beniers played on a line with free agent signee Andre Burakovsky and last season's leading scorer Jared McCann and were pushing the pace for most of the night. The rookie keeps taking a step and plays older than his age suggests.

 

Shane Wright strides forward

Playing in his third straight game, Seattle's first pick in the 2022 NHL Draft was active all night. He played on the power play with Vince Dunn, Yanni Gourde, Jared McCann. They had two great looks in the first period but were turned away by Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko.

Wright ended with two shots in a game that may have been his best yet to date in the preseason despite not getting on the scoresheet. He played with Brandon Tanev on one wing and Daniel Sprong on the other.

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Pre-Season

 

Final Buzzer: Kraken Fall Short

Icing a close-to-regular lineup, the defending Pacific Division champion Calgary Flames extinguished the Seattle Kraken 4-1 Monday at the Scotiabank Saddledome

by Andy Eide / @AndyEide / nhl.com/kraken
 October 3, 2022
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The Flames were the stingiest NHL team last season in terms of goals allowed and the Kraken learned why Monday. Calgary started strong, absorbed a pushback from the Kraken and that was enough for goaltender Jakob Markstrom who made 21 saves and allowed one power-play goal.

 

Christopher Tanev, Michael Stone, and Noah Hanifin each scored to build a lead and provided all the offense that Markstrom needed. 

 

Matty Beniers scored a goal and Martin Jones made 21 saves for the Kraken who lost for the first time in the preseason.

 

Seattle had its chances prior to the Beniers goal. The Kraken had a glorious chance on a give-and-go between Shane Wright and Jordan Eberle. The rookie Wright slid a pass to Eberle whose shot from in close hit the crossbar and out of play.

 

How the goals were scored 

Tanev opened the scoring to give Calgary a 1-0 lead at 7:44 of the first period after his initial shot was blocked by Beniers. The rebound came back to Tanev and he flung a wrist shot past Jones.

The Flames doubled the score 2-0 at 5:33 of the second period with a power-play goal from Stone who blasted a shot from the point.

 

Hanifin made it 3-0 Flames at 15:49 with a point shot that beat a screened Jones. The Seattle goalie was unable to see the shot until it was past him. 

 

Beniers scored on the power-play to cut the lead to 3-1 at 2:22 of the third period.

 

Blake Coleman would make it 4-1 at 9:32 to reestablish a three-goal lead when he got in low and threw the puck on net where it squeezed through Jones.

 

Jaden Schwartz 

Schwartz was back in the lineup Monday after sitting out the previous two preseason games. He played on a line with Beniers and Andre Burakovsky. Earlier in training camp, coach Dave Hakstol said that Schwartz was the type of player who improved any line he was on. He was good Monday, despite being held off the scoreboard. Schwartz was strong on the forecheck freeing up pucks and extending possession. He goes to the so-called 'dirty' areas and plays a tough, hard game. All in all he played over 15 minutes and was credited with two shots on goal. When he was on the ice, the Kraken had their most dangerous chances.

 

Injury concerns

The Kraken were already playing without Michael Kempny and Joonas Donskoi, each of whom are out day-to-day with upper body injuries, but they were also missing Yanni Gourde who Hakstol said was out with a non-Covid illness. Morgan Geekie and Matty Beniers had scares on Monday. Beniers blocked Tanev's shot and was temporarily hobbled in the first period but did not miss a shift. Geekie was hit skate to skate in the second period and had to go to the dressing room to be looked at. He missed the rest of the period but was back to start the third period.

 

Beniers scores again

Beniers scored his third goal of the preseason and he's never not scored a goal in a preseason game. After being selected by the Kraken with the second overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, Beniers chose to return to the University of Michigan for one final year, which meant he did not play in the preseason and joined the Kraken for the last 10 games of the season. He tallied 9 points in those games and is off to an equally hot start in the preseason.

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