The Seattle Kraken named Dave Hakstol as their first-ever head coach on Thursday, an announcement that surprised many in the hockey world after the team chose to pass up on more well-known, reputable candidates such as Bruce Boudreau and Rick Tocchet. The hiring creates an interesting potential scenario as Washington Capitals forward and Washington state native T.J. Oshie could possibly be available to the Kraken at the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft. Now 34 years old with four years remaining on his contract at a $5.75 million cap hit, Oshie played under Hakstol at the University of North Dakota from 2005 to 2008, making him an even more appealing option for Seattle if he is exposed by the Capitals next month.
Oshie Averages More Than a Point per Game Under Hakstol
In each of Oshie’s three seasons with the North Dakota Fighting Hawks, he averaged more than a point per game, ultimately landing him in the first round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, 24th overall to the St. Louis Blues. In 129 games under Hakstol, he put up an impressive 142 points (59 goals, 83 assists). The Fighting Hawks won their conference championship in Oshie’s first season with the team before falling in the championship game and finishing third place in the following two years, respectively. The team also made it to the national semifinal in all three seasons the coach and the forward were together.
Oshie’s time at the University of North Dakota helped prepare him for an incredible NHL career, currently sitting at 610 points (260 goals, 350 assists) in 856 games played between the Blues and Capitals. He played a crucial role in Washington’s Stanley Cup run in 2018, tallying 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) in 24 games en route to the first championship in franchise history. As a Kraken fan, it’s exciting to think there’s a possibility Oshie could reunite with the coach who helped him reach his goal of playing in the NHL more than a decade ago.
Hakstol is a Historic Coach for the North Dakota Fighting Hawks
Hakstol began coaching the Fighting Hawks in 2004, one year prior to Oshie enrolling at the University of North Dakota and remained with the team for 11 years until 2015. Over that span, he led his team to 11 NCAA tournaments and seven Final Fours. Known for his ability to connect and communicate with his players, more than 30 of his former Fighting Hawks have made it to the NHL and played nearly 8,500 games. In 2015, he became just the third head coach in history to go straight from the NCAA to an NHL head coaching job, leading the Philadelphia Flyers to the playoffs in his first and third of three full seasons with the organization.
His tenure in Philadelphia lasted 277 games in total, putting together a respectable record of 134-101-42. Heading into his second NHL head coaching job now with the Kraken, Hakstol will want to prove that he is a viable long-term bench boss at the professional level. If he gets the opportunity to reunite with one of the best players he’s ever coached in Oshie, it would likely help him settle into his new role in Seattle and hopefully replicate the success the coach-player tandem had with the Fighting Hawks.
NHL teams must submit their protection lists on July 17, ahead of the Expansion Draft on July 21. All clubs in the league, with the exception of the Vegas Golden Knights, will participate. If the Capitals leave Oshie exposed, it would be a mistake for the Kraken to pass up on him. In just over two weeks, we will find out the first roster in Seattle franchise history. If Oshie’s name makes the cut, it may be a sign of great things to come.
Tom Pepper is a Seattle Kraken superfan and daily columnist at The Hockey Writers. He joined THW in June 2020 and has been writing about the Kraken since June 2021. In addition, he hosts the weekly THW What’s Kraken show on iHeartRadio, YouTube and more. Outside of THW, he studies at the Ryerson School of Journalism and covers U Sports hockey at the Eyeopener student newspaper. For more Kraken content, follow him on Instagram at @KrakenSuperfan. For interview requests or inquiries, please email Tom directly at email@example.com.