Kraken hockey is so back. Seattle won its preseason opener 3-0 against the “Oilers,” with the opposing team name in quotes because Edmonton didn’t exactly trot out a superstar-laden lineup. Still, it was a fun night back at Climate Pledge Arena for the first time since spring, and there were a lot of positives shown from a home squad that looks to be significantly improved this season.
The game featured some stellar offensive plays from guys like Matty Beniers, Ryan Donato, and… netminder Joey Daccord?! Plus, Game Ops played a blockbuster of a mascot-related teaser video that also implied with some certainty that the Sonics would one day return. So, that was something.
Here are our Three Takeaways from a Kraken win over the “Oilers.”
Takeaway #1: Matty Beniers picks up right where he left off
Most of the first period was expectedly sloppy at both ends of the ice, but Matty Beniers seemed to pick up right where he left off last season. The 19-year-old rookie, who scored nine points in his 10-game stint with the Kraken at the end of 2020-21, nearly scored just a few minutes into the game. The first shift of his line with Donato and Oliver Bjorkstrand had two Grade-A opportunities in a row, including one where the puck just eluded Beniers’s swinging stick off a rush.
In the second period, Beniers got the scoring started with a dazzling snipe over the shoulder of Olivier Rodrigue from a bad angle. A pass from Peetro Seppala got deflected, but Beniers still managed to corral it on what looked to be a broken play. The rookie gathered himself and fired a laser-guided missile up top where mama keeps the cookies.
Coach Dave Hakstol has been encouraged by Beniers’s play through the early parts of training camp. “Right from Day 1 of camp, he’s been skating well, been really confident with the puck, and you know he’s seeing the ice really well,” Hakstol said. “So yeah, real positive things that he’s doing. Just the way that he’s working, skating, and competing.”
Takeaway #2: Offensive star Joey Daccord
Both netminders, Martin Jones and Daccord, played well Monday, splitting a 29-save shutout. One puck did get past Jones in the first period, but it was negated due to incidental contact with former Seattle Thunderbird Noah Philp.
When Daccord came in, he immediately made an impact on the game in a way we may not have expected, hitting Donato with a perfect stretch pass to the far blue line. Donato raced in, delayed with a “tomahawk” move, using his body to protect the puck, then swung behind the net and scored a beautiful diving wraparound goal. The tally extended Seattle’s lead to 2-0 at 14:15 of the second period.
The crowd erupted when Daccord’s name was announced for the lone assist on the play, comically bringing him into a tie for the team’s preseason scoring lead.
“What’s funny is I didn’t have one point all last season,” Daccord told Sound Of Hockey. “I’m obviously pretty active with my stick, so it was kind of a running joke that I was snake bitten last year. So, it feels nice to end that first game tonight… That was an unreal finish [by Donato]. He earned me that apple.”
That wasn’t the only time Daccord was active with his goal stick in Monday’s game, as he also broke up a third period breakaway with a gutsy poke check. “I sold out for that one,” Daccord said with a laugh. He wasn’t too worried about missing the puck, though. “[The Edmonton player] had his head buried.”
Jones and Daccord are competing for a Kraken roster spot, though Jones is the favorite to make the team out of camp, simply because of his experience and $2 million contract. For now, Daccord is thrilled to be back playing in the NHL. “It’s just so fun to be back,” he said. “Any chance you get to play in the NHL is unreal, so yeah, it was just super fun being out there.”
Takeaway #3: Turbo is BACK
Brandon Tanev’s excessively fast mini-sprints were a sight for sore eyes when the Kraken took the ice for warmups against the Oilers.
Early in the third period, Turbo reminded Kraken fans what they were missing last season after he tore his ACL against these same Oilers in December. With Seattle killing a five-minute major against Jacob Melanson for an illegal check to the head on James Hamblin, Tanev won a race to the neutral zone and poked the puck ahead to create a two-on-one. He slid the puck across to Morgan Geekie, who deposited it into a yawning cage.
Bonus Takeaway: Mascot coming Oct. 1, Sonics… coming… back?
In the second period, a video played on the twin Jumbotrons at Climate Pledge Arena, teasing the introduction of the team’s mascot—which will not be former Sonics mascot Squatch—at the Oct. 1 preseason game against the Vancouver Canucks.
The video also included an interesting line by Sonics legend Detlef Schrempf, in which he emphatically agreed with the children performing the mascot search that an NBA team would one day return to Seattle. “Yes, the Sonics will come back,” Schrempf said, a statement that got a massive roar from the home crowd.
It is no secret the Kraken ownership group hopes to also bring the NBA to Climate Pledge Arena. Could that quote from Schrempf be hinting at something bigger than a mascot reveal?