In this edition of Seattle Kraken News & Rumors, Jordan Eberle is named as the Kraken’s first-ever All-Star selection, Matty Beniers heads to the 2022 Olympics to represent Team USA, and Chris Driedger puts together a strong performance in his eighth start of the season.
Eberle Will Represent the Kraken at 2022 NHL All-Star Game
On Thursday, Eberle became the first-ever Kraken player to be selected for an All-Star game. He will represent Seattle at this year’s event in Las Vegas, being held from Feb. 4-5. The 31-year-old leads the Kraken with 24 points (12 goals, 12 assists) in 34 games. It will be his second All-Star appearance, formerly playing in the 2012 event in Ottawa.
“It’s a huge honor being selected as the Kraken’s first-ever All-Star,” said Eberle. “Our fans have been so amazing this season. Climate Pledge Arena has been one of the loudest buildings in the league. Their support means so much. I’m excited to represent them in Vegas.”
Eberle will suit up alongside some incredible Pacific Division talent this year, including Edmonton Oilers superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, Golden Knights’ captain Mark Stone and 2019 Stanley Cup champion Alex Pietrangelo, among other impressive names.
Beniers Heading to Beijing to Represent Team USA at 2022 Olympics
The Kraken’s second-overall pick from the 2021 NHL Entry Draft will represent his country at this year’s Winter Olympics. At just 19 years old, Beniers was named to Team USA on Thursday. He is in the midst of a great NCAA season with the Michigan Wolverines, with 26 points (12 goals, 14 assists) in 22 games.
“I was at a loss for words when I found out about getting invited,” said Beniers. “I thought, ‘Wow, that’s the Olympics. Holy cow!’ I was shocked and grateful at the same time.”
Kraken general manager Ron Francis even game some high praise for Seattle’s top prospect.
“This is a great opportunity for Matty and it is well deserved,” said Francis. “He’s had a tremendous season at Michigan and we’re looking forward to seeing him on the game’s biggest international stage. We hope Kraken fans enjoy watching him compete in the Olympics and we wish him well.”
Beniers and Team USA drop the puck on preliminary round action against China on Feb. 10. The team is set to compete in Group A, which also includes Canada, Germany and China.
Driedger Puts Together Strong Performance, Despite 2-1 Loss to Blues
On Jan. 13, the Kraken fell to the St. Louis Blues, 2-1, on the road. Despite the loss, Driedger put together a strong performance in his eighth start of the season. The 27-year-old had his second-best game of the season, stopping 25 of 27 shots for a .926 save percentage (SV%). He gave the Kraken a great chance at winning the game, but Seattle’s offense couldn’t find the back of St. Louis’ net more than once.
Kraken goaltending has struggled this season, but Driedger’s solid performance on Thursday sparks some hope for Seattle. He has only played in 10 games this season, while his partner Philipp Grubauer has played 27 games. Driedger recorded a .927 SV% across 23 starts with the Florida Panthers last season, and hopefully is rediscovering his game with the Kraken now.
It will be interesting to see if head coach Dave Hakstol starts giving Driedger more starts, as he has heavily depended on Grubauer so far this season. Driedger now holds the best save percentage on the team at .896 percent, while Grubauer has a 880 SV%. Both goaltenders need to improve and find consistency, but Driedger put on a good display of his capabilities on Thursday and will look to build on it when he gets another opportunity in net.
The Kraken are back at home to take on the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday at 7 p.m. PT. Seattle is winless in its last eight games and is still looking for its first win of 2022.
Tom Pepper hosts The Hockey Writers Podcast on iHeartRadio and wherever you listen to podcasts, every weekday (Monday to Friday). In addition, he writes the “NHL Sound Bites” and “NHL Talk” columns. He is a diehard Buffalo Sabres fan in Toronto, frequently driving the Queen Elizabeth Way to cheer on his team at KeyBank Center.