Will Kraken offseason moves change system that led them to playoffs?

Jul 5, 2023, 9:06 AM

Seattle Kraken Ryan Donato Daniel Sprong...

Ryan Donato and Daniel Sprong have both departed the Seattle Kraken this offseason. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The NHL offseason is in full swing, and the Seattle Kraken roster has already undergone some big changes.

2023 NHL Draft Recap: Every pick the Seattle Kraken made

Gone are familiar names and key contributors like Ryan Donato, Daniel Sprong and Morgan Geekie. Coming in are two-time Stanley Cup champion Brian Dumoulin and Spokane native Kailer Yamamoto.

Will these changes result in a different system than the one that led the Kraken to their first appearance in the playoffs this year? Not exactly, as Seattle head coach Dave Hakstol said last week when he joined Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk.

“I believe the system adapts a little bit, but it grows, as well,” Hakstol said. “I believe the way that we play as we continue to improve, as our roster continues to grow and improve, we can continue to be successful within this system and play this way.”

And perhaps just as important is this.

“I believe it’s a system that our players will continue to enjoy playing,” Hakstol continued. “That usually leads to success. I believe as our roster grows and strengthens, which it will continue to do over the coming years, we can continue to be successful within this and just improve what we’re doing within the basic system.”

What is the Seattle Kraken system?

The Kraken don’t have a true superstar on their roster, but something that became evident as they made their push for the postseason and as they won one playoff series and took a second to seven games is that they’re about as deep as a team can get.

“This time last year, we sat down, we looked at our team and said, ‘We can win through depth. Our top players have to do a good job but our depth is what’s going to separate us,'” Hakstol shared. “So we tried to really add in a few details to the things that we were doing that helped us do that.”

At the top of the list of those details is a relentless amount of speed, quickness and pressure.

“So if you look at our game, everything we do is about being quick, about being fast, about using the depth of our roster,” he said. “And in a nutshell, without getting, I guess, too detailed on it, every piece of our system and all the parts of our game and the way we play are based on doing things with pressure and doing things quickly. And our guys really enjoyed playing within that system. First of all, they did a great job buying in and understanding the basic concepts, and they were really committed to doing it, and we did that throughout our lineup and that’s what led to some of the success that we were able to have.”

The players buying into the system is something else Hakstol highlighted as a key to last season.

“What we saw our team do this year was really grow in terms of belief in what we had. We saw a pretty motivated team and a pretty motivated group show up in training camp. The group knew that we were better on paper from the previous year and they were hungry to go out and prove that on a nightly basis. Our guys did a really good job of doing that throughout the year.

“We went from a team early in the year that probably not a lot of people gave a lot of chance to have success, to a team that became well respected as we went throughout the regular season. And as you earn that playoff spot, now it’s all about trying to take advantage of that.”

The postseason experience should only help the Kraken as they continue to build belief in their system.

“What we learned about our guys in the playoffs is that they had the ability to elevate their game to the playoffs and to the intensity level of the playoffs. We had a few key guys that were leaders in that, but ultimately our entire group stepped up and stepped forward,” Hakstol said. “Those are things you never know until you’re in that situation and have the opportunity to prove that you belong and prove that you can elevate your game at the important time of the year.”

Listen to the full Brock and Salk conversation with Dave Hakstol in the podcast at this link or in the audio player near the top of this post.

More on the Kraken

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