Though Sunday was a scheduled day off for Seattle Kraken players, there was some big roster news announced. On the last day teams were allowed to place players on waivers before the regular season, Seattle made what appeared to be its final cuts before opening night Wednesday. Defenseman Michal Kempny and forward John Hayden were waived with intent of assigning them to the AHL’s Coachella Valley Firebirds. We think this means Cale Fleury and Daniel Sprong have made the team (at least for now).
There’s still some murkiness, as the roster is still over the 23-man limit, but more on that in a bit.
Meanwhile, goalie Joey Daccord and forward Alex True cleared waivers and were assigned to Coachella Valley. Daccord staying in the organization meant Kraken fans could breathe a sigh of relief, as there was plenty of speculation the popular backstop could get snatched up. That would have made the Kraken organization very thin in the goal crease. Remember, Magnus Hellberg got claimed by Ottawa on Monday, so the Kraken were down to Philipp Grubauer, Martin Jones, Daccord, and Callum Booth as viable netminding options for their NHL and AHL teams. Keeping Daccord makes things much easier on that front.
Kraken roster down to 24
There’s still at least one roster move left to come, as Seattle needs to get down to 23 players on its roster before taking on the Ducks on Wednesday. Two remaining players have been banged up in camp, though, so it is our assumption that this piece has already worked itself out. Joonas Donskoi left Seattle’s Sept. 29 preseason game in Vancouver after colliding with Kole Lind in the second period and hasn’t been seen on the ice since. Coach Dave Hakstol has maintained Donskoi is day to day.
Additionally, Jaden Schwartz left Friday’s preseason finale in Edmonton and is also day to day, according to Hakstol. Before going down the tunnel that night, Schwartz was seen holding his upper thigh or groin area. He did not practice on Saturday.
Our guess is that one of these two players will hit injured reserve, which brings the roster to 23.
Daniel Sprong earned this opportunity
Worth noting, Sprong’s inclusion on the opening night roster has not officially been announced by the team. He also did not participate in practice on Saturday, but Hakstol called it a personal day off the ice. Again, there’s some murkiness, but the fact he didn’t get placed on waivers Sunday tells us Seattle intends to keep him.
It is remarkable to see Sprong still on the roster, considering what has happened with him since last season’s trade deadline. Acquired in the deal that sent Marcus Johansson to Washington, Sprong was not tendered a qualifying offer at the end of the season and became an unrestricted free agent. Without a contract, he entered Kraken camp on a professional try-out and impressed every step of the way.
Sprong scored two goals in the preseason and earned praise from Hakstol for his play in all three zones, a consistent knock on Sprong’s game throughout his NHL career. The improved 200-foot play resulted in Sprong signing a two-way contract worth $750,000 at the NHL level or $325,000 at the AHL level.
Now, it does appear he’ll break camp with the Kraken, and assuming that is the case, it is a well-earned opportunity and a good example of why players accept PTO deals.
Cale Fleury beats out Michal Kempny
We always knew there would be a battle for the seventh and final spot on Seattle’s blue line. From the jump, it was plain to see that Kempny and Fleury were the two combatants trying to beat out one another, and Fleury ended up as the last man standing.
The 23-year-old, right-shot defenseman played 41 games as a rookie for Montreal in 2019-20, but didn’t see NHL action again until February of last season with Seattle. In all, he played nine games with the Kraken in 2021-22 and did not record a point.
Kempny, who has had several major injury issues in recent years, faced an uphill battle after he too got banged up in the Sept. 29 game. He missed several days of camp and spent time in a red non-contact jersey before getting back as a full participant in the last week.
We haven’t confirmed Schwartz or Donskoi will be on IR, but we are guessing at least one will be there, as discussed above. So, with that in mind, here’s how things look for Seattle’s depth chart. Based on how long it has been since Donskoi participated in practice, we predict he will land on IR, opening the spot for Sprong. Lines are, as always, very much subject to change.
Jared McCann // Matty Beniers // Andre Burakovsky
Jaden Schwartz // Alex Wennberg // Oliver Bjorkstrand
Yanni Gourde // Shane Wright // Jordan Eberle
Ryan Donato // Morgan Geekie // Brandon Tanev
Joonas Donskoi (potential IR)
Vince Dunn // Adam Larsson
Jamie Oleksiak // Justin Schultz
Carson Soucy // Will Borgen
Chris Driedger (will be on IR, maybe LTIR)
Glad Sprong looks like he will stay up with the team. Sad about John Hayden because he is a good guy to have around to protect Matty. I think Donskoi is a weak link.
I like the looks of those lines. Am hoping the D pairings work out and give Gru a little more support… I don’t think goal scoring will be as much an issue this year.
Seeing Hellberg claimed and Daccord not tells me who the Kraken should have kept.
That’s not how waivers works.