In this edition of Seattle Kraken News & Rumors, Philipp Grubauer is named starting goaltender against the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday, Haydn Fleury looks to continue proving himself as he replaces Carson Soucy in the lineup and Riley Sheahan prepares for his revenge game.
Grubauer to Make Ninth Start of the Season on Thursday
Grubauer will make his first start of November against the Sabres, who are visiting Seattle on Thursday. The 29-year-old goaltender has come up with huge saves in big moments for the Kraken but is still looking to improve on a mediocre .896 save percentage (SV%). He will have a chance to do that against Buffalo and could get his season SV% above .900 with a strong performance.
Grubauer will be under more pressure to perform with Chris Driedger being activated off the injured reserve on Monday. Entering the season, the tandem was expected to split approximately 60 percent of starts for Grubauer and 40 percent for Driedger, but with Driedger going down with a knee injury after playing just 32 minutes this season, Grubauer hasn’t had to compete for the starting job just yet. With both goaltenders healthy and ready for action, expect a fun battle for the crease between two high-caliber puck-stoppers in Seattle. Grubauer gets the first chance at proving himself on Thursday, while Driedger will probably get his shot sometime in the next couple of games.
Fleury Set to Replace Soucy Against the Sabres
Head coach Dave Hakstol is still experimenting with his lineup, as Fleury is set to replace Soucy on defence when the Sabres visit Seattle on Thursday. Fleury last played against the New York Rangers on Oct. 31, playing 20 shifts and 16:37 of ice time, but failed to find the scoresheet. Just one game prior, he scored two goals against the Minnesota Wild on Nov. 28. The 25-year-old is still looking to earn a spot as a mainstay Kraken defenseman.
Fleury was selected from the Anaheim Ducks at the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft, alongside his younger brother Cale Fleury from the Montreal Canadiens. While Haydn is working toward earning his place in Seattle, he is with the Charlotte Checkers in the AHL continuing his development. Haydn gets another chance to prove himself on Thursday in hopes of earning a full-time spot on the roster. His two goals are tied with Mark Giordano and Soucy for most among Kraken defensemen. If he puts on a strong performance against Buffalo, he may also get a chance to play on Seattle’s upcoming road trip against the Arizona Coyotes and Vegas Golden Knights.
Sheahan Prepares for Revenge Game Against Buffalo
Although he was not selected by the Kraken in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft, Sheahan played last season as a Buffalo Sabre before signing in Seattle as an unrestricted free agent. In 53 games with the Sabres, he tallied 13 points (four goals, nine assists). On Thursday, he will get the chance to face off against his former team as the Kraken host Buffalo at Climate Pledge Arena.
Sheahan has already made history with the Kraken, scoring the first preseason goal in franchise history. With one goal in his first 10 games this season, he is just three away from matching his goals total with the Sabres last year. Surely, he will want to put on a good show against Buffalo. With two points (one goal, one assist) on the season, look for Sheahan to play a high-intensity game as he centers the fourth line between left-wing Max McCormick and right-wing Nathan Bastian.
The Kraken play the Sabres at Climate Pledge Arena on Thursday at 7 p.m. PT before hitting the road again. Seattle looks to improve its record to 3-2-0 at home, and 4-6-1 on the season, in its first-ever matchup with Buffalo.
Tom Pepper is an NHL columnist at The Hockey Writers.