Hakstol shares insight into Kraken players Gourde, Burakovsky and Wright

May 24, 2023, 10:27 AM | Updated: 10:47 am

Seattle Kraken Yanni Gourde...

Joel Hanley of the Stars and Yanni Gourde of the Kraken chase the puck in Game 4. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

During his Tuesday interview with Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy, Seattle Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol shared some insight into three Kraken players who all enter this offseason in very different situations.

Hakstol talks Year 2 growth, what’s next for Seattle Kraken

Here’s what the head coach had to say:

Yanni Gourde the real MVP

The Kraken may be the NHL’s newest franchise, but they have plenty of postseason experience on their roster.

Center Yanni Gourde is among those with a ton of playoff ice time, as he won two Stanley Cups during his time with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Gourde stepped up his game in the postseason for Seattle, scoring 13 points in 14 games, including an overtime winner in Game 1 against the Dallas Stars.

“In my estimation, Gourdo was our playoff MVP. He ended up being our leading scorer, but just everything that he brings to the table in terms of effort, energy, absolute intensity, that passion that he brings,” Hakstol said.

Additionally, Gourde anchored a line alongside wingers Oliver Bjorkstrand and Eeli Tolvanen that was regularly tasked with going head-to-head with the top lines of the Colorado Avalanche and the Stars.

“The key thing that he’ll bring on top of all that is he’s one of the guys – and we had several – but he’s one of the individuals that had the ability to raise his level and understands what that means at playoff time. He’s been through it, he’s done it, he’s won it … and he has the ability to raise that level from the regular season to what it takes to win in the playoffs,” Hakstol said. “He meant a (heck) of a lot to us.”

Missing Andre Burakovsky

The Kraken were relatively healthy this past season, but they did miss their key offseason addition.

Winger Andre Burakovsky, who signed with the Kraken after winning the Cup with the Avs last year, was Seattle’s leading scorer in the first half of the season, but he suffered a groin injury in his first shift after the All-Star break and missed the rest of the season, including the playoffs.

“The way we were built, it was really by committee, you know? And you mentioned losing Burakovsky coming out of the the All-Star break and hoping you’re gonna get him back somewhere along the way all the way along, but just the nature of the injury, we weren’t able to have him come back into the lineup. That’s a big loss,” Hakstol said. “… We missed Burky. We missed him a lot, but the guys did a good job filling in.”

In the playoffs, the Kraken’s depth was tested further when winger Jared McCann, a 40-goal scorer in the regular season, went out after taking a late hit from Avs defenseman Cale Makar, who was suspended for one game as a result. That meant Seattle had to turn to Tye Kartye, who was recalled from the team’s AHL affiliate, the Coachella Valley Firebirds. He wound up being a key player for the Kraken despite having never played an NHL game before.

“With Jared going out early in the Colorado series, that was a real key point for us. Obviously, Kartye coming up from the American league speaks to the job that (Coachella Valley head coach) Danny Bylsma and the group down there has done developing players,” Hakstol said. “But Karts was able to come up and step into that spot with the support of a lot of really good veterans around him. I think that’s the key that helped Karts be successful stepping into Jared’s spot there.”

Seattle Kraken expectations for Shane Wright

The Kraken selected center Shane Wright fourth overall in the 2022 NHL Draft after many thought he would be the first overall pick. Though he wound up making the Kraken’s roster to start the regular season, he soon became a regular healthy scratch and played just eight games for the Kraken, scoring two points. He then spent most of the season either with Team Canada in the World Juniors or in the OHL for the Windsor Spitfires.

Morosi: ‘The big question’ with Seattle Kraken focuses on Shane Wright

So will Wright be part of the Kraken’s core next year?

“First of all, for next year, that’s gonna have to be determined as he comes to camp. The most important part for him is going to be how he’s able to put together his summer, a great, hard-working summer getting himself prepared, growing as an athlete,” Hakstol said. “Coming out of the Ontario Hockey League, I think he went in and had a great impact, yet everybody would have hoped for a longer playoff run for him and his team – that would have been valuable. But that’s not the case, so he’s in Coachella Valley now … You’re gonna see continued growth through his experiences down there. And then as I said, coming into next year, he’s going to have to come in and be ready to earn a spot in training camp. We believe that he’s going to be able to do that, but he ultimately has to be the guy that individually is ready to do that and shows us that at training camp.”

Listen to the full interview with Hakstol at this link or in the player below.

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Hakstol shares insight into Kraken players Gourde, Burakovsky and Wright