Anticipation continues to build as the Seattle Kraken head into their inaugural season.
Training camp began on Sept. 23. Seattle will then play six preseason games, beginning against the Vancouver Canucks on Sept. 26.
Their season will officially commence on Oct. 12 against the Vegas Golden Knights; however, they’ll have some tough roster decisions to make ahead of that date.
A total of 39 players (26 forwards/13 defensemen) along with five goalies will participate in this year’s camp. Among them, three former first-round picks are hoping to solidify a spot. What are their chances of making the Kraken?
— Seattle Kraken (@SeattleKraken) September 22, 2021
It’s been a rough road for Riley Sheahan, who was originally selected by the Detroit Red Wings in the first round (21st overall) of the 2010 NHL Draft.
The St. Catharines, Ont. native only racked up 25 goals and 56 points over 114 games with Notre Dame (CCHA), but the Wings clearly saw something they liked and went for it.
Things seemed fine at first, especially since he helped the Grand Rapids Griffins win the Calder Cup during his first full AHL season (2012-13). The following year, Sheahan posted nine goals and 24 points in 42 games with Detroit. The 2014-15 season was even better as he set NHL career highs in goals (13), assists (23), and points (36).
Unfortunately, his development stagnated from there, and he was eventually shipped off to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2017-18. Since then, Sheahan’s been a bit of a suitcase and hasn’t managed to register more than 15 points in each of his last three seasons.
“We’re excited to add an experienced veteran like Riley to our organization,” said Seattle Kraken General Manager Ron Francis. “His versatility, strong penalty-killing ability and skill in the faceoff circle make him a valuable addition to our forward group.”
Perhaps he can carve out a place for himself on the wing. Seattle does need to shore up their center depth, but a career face-off percentage of 48.7 may not be enough to keep Sheahan in the middle.
The fact of the matter is, he’s about to turn 30 in December. Regardless of position, this could very well be his last chance to make a meaningful impact on an NHL roster.
Love the feed.
Love the shot.
Love the sound.
— NHL (@NHL) February 26, 2021
There’s still time for Dennis Cholowski, who is just 23 years old. He was selected in the first round (20th overall) by Detroit in the 2016 NHL Draft, and the potential to live up to where he was taken may be there.
The development curve for defensemen is notoriously fickle, and his progress has likely been hindered by the fact that he’s only played for terrible Red Wings teams.
Cholowski’s story is not unlike many other up-and-coming defensemen. His offensive game is solid (although far from complete) and his defensive tools are a work-in-progress. The combination of size (6’2), skating proficiency, and hockey IQ is tantalizing and he could be a real force if he’s able to put it all together.
“Dennis is a young defenseman with offensive upside that we were excited to add to our group,” said Francis. “We like his strong skating and puck moving ability and are looking forward to working with him.”
Moving on from Detroit could be the best thing for him, seeing as some former first-round picks don’t find their footing until they’re shipped to a new team.
The Kraken blue line is stacked with options, and Cholowski is on a one-year (two-way) contract. If he doesn’t crack the opening night lineup, he could certainly be first in line in the event of an injury.
His pedigree won’t count for much, meaning he’ll have to earn a roster spot fair and square.
— Ryan Hana (@RyanHanaWWP) April 24, 2021
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Competing for a spot with the Kraken is an interesting opportunity for Haydn Fleury. His chances of sticking on an NHL roster were probably better in Anaheim, given the current state of that franchise.
One thing working in his favor, however, is his connection to GM Francis. Fleury clearly hasn’t lived up to the hype that saw him taken in the first round (seventh overall) of the 2014 NHL Draft, but it was Francis who picked him there.
At 25 years old, Fleury’s prospect label status is running out. He’s an arbitration-eligible RFA next offseason, so this would naturally be the perfect time to have a career year.
The tools are certainly there, and some would argue that he never got a fair shake in Carolina. After all, their defensive depth is among the best in the league. With that being said, past circumstances should never manifest themselves into present-day excuses.
In 179 career NHL games, the Carlyle, Sask. native has recorded just seven goals and 27 points. His possession numbers are too average for him to be considered a defensive specialist, and he clearly isn’t getting it done on the offensive side of things either.
Last season was encouraging, as he posted a 52.2 per cent CF percentage while starting less than 50 per cent of his shifts in the offensive zone. At minimum, he should be able to function as a serviceable bottom-pairing defenseman.
Cale & Haydn Fleury pic.twitter.com/NL1dLppwj1
— NHL (@NHL) July 26, 2021
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