Friday’s Kraken preseason finale against the Edmonton Oilers felt mostly celebratory. At least, it felt celebratory until the last few minutes, when things went sideways… then not… and then sideways again. Philipp Grubauer had a great game, until he tried to clear the puck out of Seattle’s zone late in the third period. The Seattle netminder partially whiffed on the clearing attempt, and the puck caromed off Leon Draisaitl and right into the net with just 4:33 left in the game. Oopsy daisy.
To Seattle’s credit, Jared McCann leveled the score temporarily with a power-play blast at 17:42, but Evander Kane got the game winner just 19 seconds later and sent the Kraken home sad.
Here are our Three Takeaways from the final Kraken preseason game.
Takeaway #1: Daniel Sprong makes his final statement
Daniel Sprong has easily been the most interesting storyline of Kraken training camp. After coming in without a contract, he turned his professional try-out into a one-year, two-way deal worth $750K at the NHL level and $325K at the AHL level.
He would need to clear waivers if the Kraken try to sneak him through to the Coachella Valley Firebirds, so if that’s the play, there’s a chance he gets claimed by another team. Waivers or not, the Dutch forward has put himself in a great position to remain an NHL player this season, something that felt like the opposite of a sure thing a month ago.
In his final opportunity to prove that he belonged, Sprong wasted no time in getting himself on the scoresheet. Will Borgen ripped a slapshot from the right point about 12:45 into the game. Sprong whiffed on the rebound, but he stayed with it, found the puck bouncing around, and popped it over the outstretched pad of Jack Campbell to give the Kraken a 1-0 lead.
“If you want to score in this league, you have to find some of those on the inside,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “[Sprong] was able to do that on that first goal, so working to get inside and be around for some of those second [opportunities], to get them back on net is important, so it was a good goal by him.”
The Kraken had just two power plays in the game, and guess who showed up in the left circle to start the first one. Yes, Sprong was floating in the “Alex Ovechkin office,” waiting for a chance to blast away, but the puck never came to him. Even so, he has surely given this coaching staff a very difficult decision to make.
If Sprong does stay, who goes?
Takeaway #2: Did Jaden Schwartz get injured?
One of the refreshing sights to see in this training camp has been Jaden Schwartz seemingly at full strength. The top-six forward missed significant time last season with an undisclosed upper-body injury, but has spoken positively about his health status during camp.
He left Friday’s game in the second period and did not return. With just over 12 minutes left in the frame, Schwartz took a light tap on the left hand, then went to the bench and appeared to be holding his upper thigh area.
It is hard to say from the video above what happened to him, but a healthy Jaden Schwartz is hugely important for Seattle’s chances this season. Here’s hoping it’s nothing serious.
Takeaway #3: Plenty of positives
A 5-3 loss wasn’t the outcome Kraken fans would have wanted, but 4-2-0 is a fine preseason record. And frankly, Seattle had every chance to win that game on Friday, save for an ugly miscue late in the game and a lack of focus seconds after scoring to make up for said miscue.
Things we liked were Sprong showing up again, Grubauer’s game through two and a half periods (until the late mishandle), McCann getting on the board for the first time this preseason, and Matty Beniers scoring his fourth goal in four outings.
“There were a lot of good pieces,” Hakstol said. “Tonight was more complete than we’ve been in the first four.”
This team looks much better than it did last preseason, from the goal crease out. As we head to the regular season, there is a lot to like about this roster, regardless of who the last few cuts end up being.
“You don’t get second chances now, we start next week,” added Hakstol. “We’ve had a hard-working camp. You know, we have a lot of guys that have had good camps, now we have a couple of days to get a little bit of rest, and then it’s for real, and we’ll get going in four or five days.”