A little over two months ago, I wrote about the backup goalie battle that the Seattle Kraken were going to see in training camp due to Chris Driedger missing the start of the season on injured reserve. My pick was Martin Jones, who now holds the starting role due to Philipp Grubauer’s injury.
I felt that Joey Daccord needed the consistency of a starting role in the American Hockey League (AHL) to further develop to be able to one day have a claim at the starting job for the Kraken. Since things rarely go as planned, he’s back with the Kraken as a backup.
Assuming he sees more playing time than he did in a similar situation last season, this is a massive opportunity for him. I’ve argued this for a year, now he really has the chance to earn that consistent playing time that I feel he desperately needs to grow. The Kraken’s goaltending pipeline is pretty thin right now. Christopher Gibson is their last available goalie under contract, and he’s off to a rough start in the AHL with the Coachella Valley Firebirds. In addition, their two goaltending prospects are still years away from being factors within the organization.
Court is being called to session as I make my case for head coach Dave Hakstol to give Daccord more ice time… again. Let’s get to it.
Daccord’s Numbers Aren’t Pretty, but He’s Won Games
Much of the impetus behind my pushing for Daccord’s ice time is due to his performance down the stretch last season for the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers. While the postseason didn’t go as well, he was named the AHL’s Goaltender of the Month for his performance last March.
This season, he’s only seen four total games of action. With the Firebirds, he played three games and earned a 2-1 record, while having allowed 10 goals. That gave him a 3.36 goals-against average (GAA) with an .880 save percentage (SV%). Admittedly, not the best numbers, but it was only three games.
In his lone NHL game, he earned his first win as a Kraken (his first NHL win since the 2020-21 season) and the second of his NHL career. He was thrown into the fire, literally, going up against a Calgary Flames team with their high-powered offense. He saved 36 of 40 shots, including all six on the penalty kill and one while on the power play, in the 5-4 come-from-behind win.
Hakstol Needs to Give Daccord a Real Chance
As you can see by the heading, I’m calling out the coach. One of my biggest criticisms from last season was that Grubauer was being overplayed. He finished the season having played 55 games, which is 15 more regular-season games than the 40 he played during the 2020-21 season. If you factor in his 10 playoff games that year, it’s still fewer total games than in the Kraken’s inaugural season. Grubauer will be 31 by December.
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Jones is 32 years old, turning 33 in January, and he hasn’t played more than 40 games since the 2019-20 season. That’s not to say that Jones doesn’t have anything left in the tank, because he’s showing he’s still got some kick left in those pads, but why overwork him, too? This team is already playing competitive hockey, so why shoot them in the foot?
It’s a very promising sign that Daccord’s victory came from shutting the door on a team that has Stanley Cup aspirations. Is there any quicker way to ruin someone’s confidence by not playing them for the next five or 10 games? For the Kraken’s sake, hope they don’t find out.
Jones is and will be this team’s starter until one of their goaltenders return. I’m not arguing that Daccord could take that role as things stand. However, this is a perfect time and opportunity to let his leash grow longer and allow him to show his capability. When everyone’s healthy at the end of the day, Daccord will be back with the Firebirds. To be blunt, if the Kraken allow him to rot on the bench (again), it would be a waste of his time and potentially further plateau his development.
Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek voiced his doubts that Daccord would clear waivers ahead of the season on a podcast episode of his radio show “The Jeff Marek Show” from Nov. 3, 2022. “He was one of those players that in preseason, I was really wondering about because I wasn’t sure that this guy was going to clear waivers… I looked at Joey Daccord and I looked at how many teams around the NHL were looking for goaltending help, specifically for a backup, and I said ‘I can almost see Seattle putting Martin Jones on waivers before they put Joey Daccord.'”
Clearly, I’m not the only one who sees his potential, he just needs a real opportunity. One start every dozen or so games is not an opportunity; it’s like coming home from a vacation during the winter, and naturally, you turned your heat off while you were gone, yet expect the house to warm right up the second you flip it on.
Daccord will be back in the AHL this season, it’s more than likely. What matters now is that he shows that, even if the numbers aren’t the prettiest, he can win this team some hockey games. That means that he absolutely needs to go out and perform and sprint, not run, with every chance he’s given. First, Hakstol needs to give him that shot.