‘It’s been a really good fit for me’: Vince Dunn thriving with Seattle Kraken
Feb 17, 2022, 12:00 PM
(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Seattle Kraken defenseman Vince Dunn knows a thing or two about winning.
In 2019, his second season playing in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues, Dunn played a big role in the team’s first Stanley Cup Championship in franchise history. In 2020, he won off the ice, winning a Fortnite competition in a charity event. Life brings about change on a regular basis and for Dunn, he’s experienced change in where he’s playing hockey, and what he plays at home.
“I’m playing Call of Duty a little bit more now. The Fortnite died on me a little bit,” he said. “But yeah, I do enjoy playing video games.”
Bigger change came in July when the Seattle Kraken selected Dunn from the Blues in the NHL Expansion Draft, meaning he would move to another organization for the first time in his career. After 267 games with the Blues, Dunn put on a different jersey.
“I was really excited,” he said. “I heard so many good things about the city and the organization and just how much effort they’re putting into making this as perfect as it could be. Now that I’m here I really notice all the attention to detail that they’ve had.”
It’s been a good fit for the Seattle Kraken as well and Dunn is third on the team in time on ice and one point behind veteran Mark Giordano for points by a defenseman. At 25 years old and under contract for another season after this one, Dunn makes a case as Seattle’s best defenseman and might end up a key cornerstone piece for the club moving forward.
“He’s got a big role on our team,” Seattle Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said. “We need him to be good, to be sharp night in and night out. To be hard to play against defensively, get us out of our zone efficiently and then to add offense for us.”
Dunn’s numbers are good
With six goals and 19 points his counting statistics are solid, and he’ll forever be remembered as the first Kraken player to score a goal at Climate Pledge Arena.
He’s playing in Seattle’s top two defensive pairings and averaging over a minute of ice time more than he did in St. Louis. Dunn has always been a puck-moving offensively minded defenseman but he’s being asked to do more with the Kraken.
“Overall, I didn’t try to change my game,” Dunn said. “I’ve gotten a lot more opportunity in Seattle and when more opportunity comes there’s more responsibility. I’ve played in a lot more defensive situations, and I take pride in that. The offensive stuff comes naturally but if I can take pride in the defensive end, that will be help.”
With Dunn on the ice, the Kraken get more of the unblocked shot attempts and the percentage of all quality shots is up from what it was for Dunn and the Blues last season. Still a young player, Dunn is learning to balance the offence with his defensive responsibilities.
It’s not an individual endeavor.
“I think the way that most teams play you want to be pressuring guys that are coming into your own zone especially if you have defensive guys to support you,” Dunn said. “I think we try to deflect guys to the outside. I think you notice that a lot about our team, whether it’s the neutral zone or the defensive zone. So, for me it’s about supporting my partner and supporting the forwards so we’re putting pressure defensively and what opportunities there are to try to confront guys and slow them down.”
More defensive opportunities and responsibilities haven’t tempered Dunn’s offensive contributions. He has six goals, which matches his output from last season in St. Louis, and he’s a big part of the team’s second power-play unit.
Dunn has come up with big goals during the Kraken’s past two road games that showed off his skill and timing. Against the New York Islanders on Feb. 2, Dunn skated the puck in from the blue line, made a great fake, and then scored on a backhand.
In last Friday’s win at Anaheim, Dunn scored again when he jumped into an open area in the zone and made himself available for a pass from Yanni Gourde.
“I think now our forwards are starting to find the defenseman a lot more than maybe at the start of the year,” Dunn said. “I think that’s kind of how the season progresses, you start to be a little bit more dynamic as a team and the forwards are finding different ways to produce and score goals. So for us D-men, it’s just about getting open for them and a lot of our goals need to come from the top… We just need to find ways to get open for the forwards and give them chances to score goals. I think for me personally, it’s just finding those holes where the forwards are able to find me jumping up into the play offensively.”
Dunn and the Seattle Kraken moving forward
Having a puck moving defenseman is key to any team’s success. With the likelihood of Giordano moving on either via the trade deadline or free agency, Dunn’s importance to the team grows in the years to come.
He is under contract for one more season after this one and will be a restricted free agent meaning that the Kraken will have the opportunity to sign him if they wish. Based on his play this season there should be such a wish. And it sounds like the feeling is mutual.
“I love it here,” Dunn said. “I’m very fortunate for the opportunity that they’ve given me. I have a good relationship with everyone in the organization, my teammates, so I’m very comfortable here in the city and within the organization. I think it’s been a really good fit for me.”