In this edition of Kraken News & Rumors, I’ll discuss two new coaching hires by the Seattle Kraken, as well as an update on the team’s leadership group and potential captaincy candidates. Things are slowly but surely coming together for the Kraken organization as their inaugural season approaches.
Kraken Hire Former Stanley Cup-Winning Coach Dan Bylsma to Charlotte Checkers
On Tuesday, it was announced that Dan Bylsma, who head-coached the Pittsburgh Penguins to a Stanley Cup championship in 2009, will join the Kraken and Florida Panthers’ AHL-affiliate Charlotte Checkers as an assistant coach. He previously coached the Penguins for six seasons before joining the Sabres as head coach for another two, then serving as an assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings the last three seasons. This will not be his first time behind a split-roster AHL bench as he formerly worked as an assistant coach for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in 2006 when the team was shared by the Penguins and Edmonton Oilers.
Bylsma tells NHL.com that his experience coaching a split-roster “was a good situation,” adding that “[the team] melded together as a group and helped develop good NHL players for both franchises.”
With so many young players in the Kraken’s system, Bylsma and the Checkers coaching staff will play a vital role in developing Seattle’s future stars. Thankfully, he is well aware of the team’s situation and is committed to helping his players in Charlotte achieve their goals of donning a Kraken uniform someday.
“We all look at NHL rosters and see the players listed [up to 23 on active rosters],” said Bylsma. “But during the course of a season, the typical NHL rosters runs 30, 32, 34 players deep. Seattle fans are going to count a good number of players wearing a Charlotte jersey to start the season that they will be cheering for in NHL games later in the year.”
Bylsma will serve under Checkers head coach Geordie Kinnear, who is entering his fifth consecutive year as an AHL bench boss.
Pro Scout Andrew Allen Named as Kraken’s First Goaltending Coach
Also, on Tuesday, the Kraken announced Andrew Allen, who worked as a pro scout for the organization over the last year, will serve as the team’s first goaltending coach. He has been assigned to work with Seattle’s three goaltenders currently under contract; Philipp Grubauer, Chris Driedger, and Joey Daccord.
“Andrew has been a valuable member of our team over the last year,” said Kraken general manager Ron Francis. “He played an integral role in the Expansion Draft as our pro goalie scout.”
NHL.com’s Bob Condor notes that Allen’s work as the Kraken’s pro goalie scout focused on “tracking pucks, rebound control, staying on your feet and less sliding in the crease, all with the idea of being in position to stop shots on goal,” also adding that Allen “deems edge control and reaction speed as top factors for NHL goaltenders.”
This will be Allen’s second NHL goaltender coaching job after working four seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, most notably helping in the development of Linus Ullmark. Allen also served as goaltending coach for the Japan men’s national ice hockey team from 2006 to 2011 and St. Lawrence University’s NCAA men’s ice hockey team from 2008 to 2011.
The Debate on Who Should Be the Kraken’s First Captain Heats Up
With preseason set to begin next month, the debate between Kraken fans on who, if anyone, should serve as the team’s first captain is heating up. Alison Lukan of NHL.com noted on Wednesday that Seattle’s roster includes at least seven players who served as a captain or alternate captain at some point during their major junior and/or professional careers. Kraken general manager Francis, who served as a captain for the Hartford Whalers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Carolina Hurricanes and won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2002, has a major task at hand deciding which players will make up the first leadership group in franchise history.
Among the top candidates for captaincy honors, Mark Giordano leads the way with eight years of experience serving as captain of the Calgary Flames from 2013-2021. Behind him, Jordan Eberle and Adam Larsson were alternate captains of the Oilers for five and four years, respectively. Newly acquired Jaden Schwartz held an alternate captain title with the St. Louis Blues for three years, including their run to the franchise’s first-ever Stanley Cup championship in 2019. Also acquired in free agency, Marcus Johansson was an alternate captain for one year each with the New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres.
The Vegas Golden Knights, who made their NHL debut in 2017, waited until 2021 to name their first captain in franchise history (Mark Stone). The Kraken likely won’t be in any rush to name their leadership group as the roster continues to take form, with many changes still expected to come.
It’s an exciting time to be a Kraken fan as the NHL’s 32nd franchise prepares to hit the ice for the first time next month. Seattle will play its first preseason game in Spokane, Washington, against their rival Vancouver Canucks on Sept. 27. As the coaching staff continues to be built and players continue to bond, there will be plenty more news and rumors to cover in the coming weeks ahead of the inaugural Kraken season.
Tom Pepper is a Seattle Kraken columnist and show host at The Hockey Writers. He joined THW in June 2020 and has been writing about the Kraken since June 2021. He also hosts the THW What’s Kraken show every week on iHeartRadio. Outside of THW, he is an undergraduate student at Ryerson University and covers U Sports hockey at the Eyeopener student newspaper. Follow him on Twitter at @TomPepper. For interview requests or inquiries, please email Tom directly at email@example.com.