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COVID-19 Depletes Seattle Kraken Roster By 5 Going Into Tuesday’s Historic NHL Opener At The Vegas Golden Knights


You just can’t get a break in this COVID-19 world.

An amazing upstart hockey team in the Pacific Northwest, the Seattle Kraken, got the shaft from the coronavirus. The Kraken will play their first-ever NHL game tomorrow night despite having placed five players on the league’s COVID-19 protocol list recently.

Amazingly horrendous timing. Dumb virus.

The team, which went 4-2 in the preseason, was trying to put together its very best possible roster for opening night in Las Vegas against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Those  five players were not only all highly likely to be on the 23-man opening roster, but also probably among the 20 the team is allowed to suit up.

Seattle Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol.

The five are:

>> Center Jared McCann
>> Right wing Joonas Donskoi
>> Defenseman Jamie Oleksiak
>> Left wing Calle Jarnkrok
>> Left wing Marcus Johansson

“Things happen quickly and sometimes at inopportune times,” Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said during a Monday news conference. “This is a challenge for us early on. We have decisions to make and we’ll do that today and be ready to play as we get into Vegas tonight.”

It’s unclear as to the reason why, but Johansson is on the 23-man list and also on the COVID list. The educated guess here, and it probably goes without saying, is that he will not suit up against Vegas.

McCann, who scored an overtime goal to beat Edmonton in the preseason, had been skating on the team’s first line with Jaden Schwartz and Jordan Eberle. Donskoi, Jarnkrok and Johansson were getting top-six forward minutes, and Oleksiak was likely going to be penciled in as a top-4 defenseman.

To beef up on manpower, Seattle picked up center Alexander True and right wing Kole Lind from its AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers, and grabbed center Alex Barre-Boulet on waivers from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Barre-Boulet was the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s MVP in 2018.

Hakstol has said he won’t talk about how he’s going to set the lines moving forward.

“I don’t want to be difficult with you guys,” he told media personnel Sunday. “But I’m not going to comment a lot on exactly the makeup of our lines. I’ll work with you as well as I can on all the different things, but when it comes to setting a lineup and things like that, I won’t be able to give you direct answers there.”

So, looking at the 22 Kraken men slated to be available on Tuesday, according to the NHL media website, here’s Bedrock Sports’ guess at who will be in the lineup and where.

First line

>> LW Jaden Schwartz
>> C Alex Wennberg
>> RW Jordan Eberle
Second (or third) line
>> LW Ryan Donato
>> C Morgan Geekie
>> RW Mason Appleton
Third (or second) line
>> LW Brandon Tanev
>> C Riley Sheahan
>> RW Nathan Bastian
Fourth line
>> LW Alexander True
>> C Alex Barre-Boulet
>> RW Kole Lind

First defensive pair
>> Mark Giordano
>> Adam Larsson
Second defensive pair
>> Vince Dunn
>> Jaremy Lauzon
Third defensive pair
>> Carson Soucy
>> Haydn Fleury

>> Philipp Grubauer
>> Chris Driedger

>> Will Borgen
>> Dennis Cholowski
>> Marcus Johansson

When they exit the COVID protocol list, look for McCann, Donskoi, Jarnkrok and Oleksiak to be placed on the above working roster. Expect True and Lind to be sent back down to Charlotte. Plans for Barre-Boulet are less clear.

Also, the Kraken will eventually also be making room for Yanni Gourde (shoulder), who is day-to-day and nearly ready to return from injured reserve, and Colin Blackwell, who is out with a lower body injury.

So plan on seeing more cuts in the near future as the Kraken get to the 23-man limit.

Unfortunately, for the Kraken, that whittling job, which they thought would be taken care of for the most part before the opener, will take much longer to do because of the COVID-19 uncertainties.|

Before playing its home opener at Climate Pledge Arena on Oct. 23 against the Vancouver Canucks, Seattle will be on the road for five games

“A five-game road trip is a tough first swing,” Hakstol said. “Those are going to be challenging buildings and games, but there’s also opportunity there to go out and continue to build as a new group. And it’s kind of the old adage, get out on the road and you get more together and there’s truth to that.”

Hakstol also said that the now-finished training camp was very productive.

“I think we accomplished a lot of good work, good detail,” he said. “We wanted to build our systems and the foundation of that and we also most importantly wanted to set the foundation of our work ethic and come together as a hockey team and we’ve been able to accomplish those things. Now the real work starts as you get into the regular season and start competing for points.”

Mark Giordano Is The Captain

Giordano, a 15-year NHL veteran, will wear the captain’s ‘C’ on his jersey. Four players, Eberle, Larsson, Scwartz and Gourde, will rotate as alternate captains, Hakstol said.

“There’s no more important position than the captaincy,” the coach added. “They’re the group that we’ll look to for leadership. Outstanding human beings, great teammates.”

Seattle Kraken captain Mark Giordano.

Added Schwartz, “No surprise to see Gio as the captain. Just an awesome guy. Super happy for him and the perfect choice for us.”

To Kraken fans, Schwartz added: “Everyone who gets to watch their (the Golden Knights’) home opener and our first game is going to be lucky.”

New Coachella Valley Team Will Be The Kraken’s AHL Affiliate Starting In 2022

For the 2021-22 season, the Kraken and the Florida Panthers share the Charlotte Checkers as their AHL affiliate. Starting in 2022-23, a new franchise will start in the AHL as Seattle’s affiliate. The site of a new arena and home for the team was originally planned for Palm Springs, Calif., but plans changed for a Coachella Valley arena in Palm Desert, Calif.

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