That was a strange way to kick off the preseason, with half(ish) of the Kraken playing half(ish) of the Flames in Calgary, and the other halves facing off in Seattle. The north-of-the-border portion of the evening ended with a 5-3 Kraken win, led by Kailer Yamamoto scoring twice. But at Climate Pledge Arena, the Kraken fell 3-2 in a shootout.
Since there was effectively no way to watch the game that was played in Calgary, we will focus these Three Takeaways on the game played in Seattle. Matty Beniers looked awesome on his usual line with Jordan Eberle and Jared McCann, and we got some nice flashes from a few of the prospects, which we will talk about here.
Before we get into it, one programming note; Three Takeaways will be more of a group effort moving forward, compiled by myself (Darren), John, and Curtis each contributing a takeaway.
Let’s do it! Here are our Three Takeaways from Monday’s 3-2 Kraken shootout loss to the Flames.
Takeaway #1 (Curtis): A glimpse of the future
Early in camp, Seattle fans have been treated to a live look at a group of young players that could form the next Kraken core. As I mentioned on the Sound Of Hockey Podcast, one of the players I’ve been most excited to see is Tucker Robertson. A right shot, intelligent, and instinctive center, he made countless winning plays in driving his OHL team, the Peterborough Petes, to the Memorial Cup tournament last spring. He’s not as flashy as some of Seattle’s other prospects, but he was consistently finding the right play across all 200 feet of ice in my viewings last year.
On the other hand, if flash is what you want, David Goyette can deliver. Consistently undervalued by scouts and fan perception relative to the scoring he has posted at the major junior level, it felt like all he needed was a big enough stage to show his skill and win over those that doubt him based on small frame.
In their biggest Kraken opportunity yet, Goyette and Robertson combined for a highlight-reel goal in the first period Monday night. Goyette made two skilled plays, first defeating pressure at the zone entry and then recovering the puck and saucering it over a defender’s stick across ice. On the other end of the pass was Robertson, who got himself in precisely the right position. The result was a relatively easy one-timer into a yawning cage.
That play was tremendous, but Goyette and Robertson didn’t stop there. Joined by “first Kraken” Luke Henman, the line pushed the pace and created chances all night.
“It’s awesome,” Robertson said of playing with Goyette and Henman. “They’re both really fast players and think the game really well. So it’s easy for me.”
Coachella Valley Firebirds assistant coach Jess Campbell (more on her in a moment) offered pointed praise for the line after the game. “They did a lot of great things,” Campbell said. “A young line, just fast, fearless, they’re going after the puck [and] their pursuit was [on] all night long …” Later, when asked if any players stood out to her from the game, Campbell returned to specifically mention Robertson and Goyette. It’s easy to dream of the future on a night like this.
Takeaway #2 (John): Pierre-Edouard Bellemare was solid
We all knew when the Kraken signed Pierre-Edouard Bellemare this offseason that he would not be expected to replace the goals of a Daniel Sprong. But the Kraken were getting a steady two-way fourth-line center that can kill penalties. He did all of that and more in his preseason debut for the Kraken. He is not flashy but could be one of the most defensively responsible centers the Kraken have ever had on their team.
It was just a preseason game, and the strength of the competition was lower than what we should expect in regular-season games, but Bellemare looked like one of the all-around best players on the ice. I isolated on watching Bellemare for several shifts, and he was constantly disrupting Calgary’s puck possession by getting in their faces and forcing turnovers, and away from the puck he was taking away shooting lanes.
He will not be flashy, and we should not expect a ton of goals from him this season, but Bellemare’s defensive responsibility and penalty killing skills might contribute more to the team’s success than we are expecting.
Takeaway #3 (Darren): Jess Campbell continues to be awesome
Jessica Campbell kinda sorta made history Monday by joining a very small group of women who have been on an NHL bench for a game in a coaching capacity. It’s a little confusing, because Kori Cheverie was on the bench in Pittsburgh Sunday as a guest coach, and it’s hard to say for sure if they are the only two women to have done that. But… What Campbell continues to do in the Kraken and Coachella Valley organization is pretty damn cool.
You can tell the players really appreciate what she brings to the table, too. We asked Andrew Poturalski about Campbell’s impact on Coachella Valley last season. “She deserves being in the spotlight,” Poturalski said. “She brings such a different side of things, and she’s really creative and just [brings] a totally different perspective than what I’ve been used to.”
It was also an obviously special night for Campbell, who said she is “humbled” to be a part of the organization. Although she tried to focus entirely on the task at hand, she admitted after the game that she did find moments here and there where she was able to take it all in. “It was a pretty unbelievable experience,” she said.
Andy and I interviewed Campbell on the Sound Of Hockey Podcast last year, and she told us then that she had grown up wanting to play in the NHL because that was all she knew; girls hockey wasn’t a thing where she grew up. Now she has—at least briefly—reached the world’s best league as a coach.
Will she get there full-time one day?