Kraken have boost of confidence after no moves were made at deadline
The lead-up to the NHL Trade Deadline last week was busy. Like in all sports, trade deadlines are the season where everyone can play general manager. It’s fun. Media members speculate and hunt for sources and fans daydream about the elite players their team will bring in, no matter how unrealistic it might be. But what about for the players?
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What is it like for players? Being traded can be stressful and result in uprooting your entire life, with little to no notice.
“I don’t think many guys in here were that worried about it,” Kraken defenseman Vince Dunn said prior to Seattle’s 5-2 win against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday. “We kind of knew we were going to be keeping the same group from the start of the season so maybe for a few guys, they’re a little nervous. I’m not sure, I don’t really ask those things or take part in their business side of things, but I’m sure if they were then these last couple of weeks of hockey are gonna be a lot easier to play. It’s easier without the outside noise.”
Dunn was most likely never in trade talks.
He had an assist on Tuesday to extend a point streak to seven straight games as the Kraken won their fifth in a row.
But his fellow Kraken defenseman, Carson Soucy, 28, did see reports from national reporters that his name was out there in potential trades that Seattle general manager Ron Francis was pursuing.
“You see your name, but you still just play for the team,” he said. “If something happens, you adjust to it then. I don’t think too much about it when nothing just kind of happened. You know? There are trade rumors every year. So, if something happens, I’ll just deal with it after it happens. But before then, I just keep playing.”
Soucy’s name out there made some sense.
The 6-foot-5 defenseman is one of the few players on the roster whose contract expires at the season’s end, making him an unrestricted free agent this summer. The thought was “why not trade him now over risking him signing somewhere else this summer?” – a scenario that would see the Kraken get nothing in return.
“I’m not sure where a lot of (the rumors) come from,” Soucy said. “A lot of it comes from, still, the Edmonton media, I think. But yeah, like I said, I don’t look too much into it. If something happens then you gotta adjust. I mean, Ron told me we talked last year and stuff, I don’t know, might have been a little different this year with the position we’re in.”
Rumors about Soucy continued right up until this last Friday’s deadlines with reports that the Kraken were taking calls on him. During Francis’ press conference, he said that many of the rumors about what the Kraken were doing were not true.
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Soucy would conceivably bring back some assets.
He’s a third-pairing defenseman who has some game to him.
In his second season with the Kraken, he’s appeared in 63 games so far and is a positive possession player. When he’s on the ice at 5-on-5 the Kraken take 51 percent of all shot attempts which indicates that Seattle has the puck more. He’s scored twice but when he’s on the ice at even strength, Seattle has scored 40 goals and only allowed 28.
It would be hard to find much better, especially for a third-pairing guy. Obviously, he was not moved.
“I was happy to still be here,” Soucy said about not being traded. “Obviously, I love the position we’re in, kind of in a playoff hunt. So it would have been sad to go to a different team and miss out on these last couple of weeks here.”
Boost of confidence from the Kraken boss
In the days leading up to the deadline, Francis talked a lot about how much he liked the group he had. He repeated that sentiment during his post-deadline media availability on Friday.
Hearing from the boss that he likes what he sees to the point that he doesn’t feel the need to make changes has to be a motivating statement.
“(It) just shows the confidence that the management has in us,” Soucy said. “Obviously, we have confidence ourselves and we just got to continue to kind of do what we’ve done this past week.”
The Kraken are riding a five-game winning streak and are 3-0 since the trade deadline.
“Everyone’s comfortable with where they are and they know what their role is on this team,” Dunn said. “It’s just a matter of getting to work and showing up and doing your job every day to your fullest ability. I think everyone in here is more than capable of contributing and pushing into the playoffs. It’s our goal so I think there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind, from the locker room to management, ownership, and especially the fans, everyone’s behind us and we’re really, really having a positive outlook and hopefully we can get in there.”
Having confidence and a comfort level is key down the stretch.
The playoff race can be stressful and a patch of games where losses are perhaps over-magnified and wins are over-celebrated. Now that the Kraken know who their team is, it’s just a matter of grinding out the games.
“Now, it’s guys being able to come in and provide some depth to our group, when we’ve needed has been very important,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “Just at the core of the group, to make sure that through thick and thin we continue to push towards the right things and do it in the right way has been a real credit, I believe, to our to our leadership group.”
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