KRAKEN

3 Seattle Kraken players who will set the tone for their style of play

Sep 24, 2021, 1:09 PM
Seattle Kraken Brandon Tanev...
Brandon Tanev is interviewed after being drafted by the Seattle Kraken during the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft at Gas Works Park on July 21, 2021 in Seattle. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

We get to watch the Seattle Kraken play an actual hockey game this Sunday as they begin their first NHL preseason against the Vancouver Canucks at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena. I am excited for so many things as this inaugural season gets underway, but most of all I’m excited to see what kind of team this will be.

Time to get Kraken: Seattle Kraken opens first NHL training camp

Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol gave 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy his vision of the type of team he wants when he joined the show in June.

“This is going to be a hard working team that shows up and goes to work every day,” Hakstol said. “The game of hockey is an instinctual game. There’s a ton of passion and emotion involved and we’ll have a team that shows up and plays that way every day.”

We obviously still have a lot to learn about the Kraken, but here are a few names to know that embody everything Hakstol mentioned and can help set the tone for the Kraken.

Left winger Brandon Tanev

You may remember Tanev as the player with the wide-eyed, stunned-looking headshot shown during Seattle’s expansion draft. He won fans over when he offered the explanation that he saw a ghost during that photoshoot, and his new headshot the Kraken released Wednesday only adds to that legacy.

The pictures are just a glimpse into the personality of a player that has been consistently referred to as a heart-and-soul type player for his teams.

Tanev is a bit undersized at 6-feet and 180 pounds, but he has never let that stop him from being physical, leading the Penguins in hits last year with 139. He excels on the penalty kill, showcases his speed on the forecheck and is a great leader by example with the work ethic he displays every game.

“Tans is a great guy to have in our lineup,” his Penguins teammate Jason Zucker told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. “He’s huge for us. He’s a maniac out there in so many good ways. He brings a lot of energy to our team.”

Despite missing 24 games due to injury in 2020, Tanev had seven goals and nine assists in addition to all his hits, so he should be immensely helpful to the Kraken if he stays healthy this season.

Defenseman Jamie Oleksiak

At 6-7 and 255 pounds, you might expect Oleksiak to be the enforcer of the team, but that’s not exactly his wheelhouse. Don’t get me wrong, he’s very physical. Oleksiask was near the top of the NHL leaderboard in hits last year with 148 and was credited with 88 blocked shots, but he’s thoughtful when it comes to throwing gloves.

“I don’t think you just chip it off the glass and go try to hit someone or get in a fight the way you used to,” Oleksiak said via Mike Heika of NHL.com. “It’s important in our game for a defenseman to move the puck, to be a part of the transition game.”

Oleksiak helps in transition by being freakishly fast for his size – think DK Metcalf-level, “How is someone that big that fast?” athleticism.

With the five-year, $23 million deal Oleksiak signed with Seattle, he is a player the Kraken are hoping to build around into the future.

Center Yanni Gourde

Gourde was one of the Kraken’s biggest acquisitions in the expansion draft and is one of their top options at center, but unfortunately he had shoulder surgery after helping the Tampa Bay Lightning win a second straight Stanley Cup in July and is expected to miss the first couple of months of this season. The good news is that he is already at training camp skating with his teammates, and Kraken general manager Ron Francis told reporters Thursday that he is ahead of schedule.

Gourde is only 5-9 and 173 pounds, but he’s not afraid to mix it up if need be.

“The one thing about Yanni in this league is if he’s picking a fight, he’s going to be the smallest guy in it,” said his former coach Jon Cooper, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “But he’ll have the biggest heart.”

Gourde is also a scorer, compiling 17 goals and 36 points last season while playing on the Lightning’s third line. He brings an impeccable work ethic and veteran leadership to the Kraken fresh off of the back-to-back Stanley Cup championships.

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