Oilers Have History on Their Side For First Game Against Kraken

Monday (Nov. 1) will be a memorable night at Rogers Place, where the Edmonton Oilers will play the Seattle Kraken for the first time in the regular season.

The NHL’s 32nd team, the Kraken are now 3-5-1 to start its inaugural season, following a loss at home to the New York Rangers on Halloween night. The Oilers, meanwhile, boast one of the league’s best records at 6-1-0.

Two points are up for grabs between Pacific Division competitors, but Monday’s game will be historic no matter who wins.

Oilers Have Winning Streak Against Expansion Teams

Seattle is the 11th expansion team to join the NHL since the Oilers entered the league in 1979. In their first meeting against those prior 10 expansion teams, the Oilers are 6-4 but won the last five. That streak includes victories over the Nashville Predators in 1998-99, Atlanta Thrashers in 1999-00, Colombus Blue Jackets, and Minnesota Wild in 2000-01. The most recent was an 8-2 steamrolling of the Vegas Golden Knights four years ago at Rogers Place, where current Oilers Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins both scored twice.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Edmonton Oilers
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The last time the Oilers lost their inaugural contest against an expansion team was in 1993-94, when the Florida Panthers beat Edmonton 5-3 at Northlands Coliseum.

Larsson Makes His Return to Edmonton

In an offseason that featured lots of activity, the most surprising development in Edmonton might have been the departure of blueliner Adam Larsson to join the Kraken. Seattle selected Larsson during the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft on July 21, signing the UFA (unrestricted free-agent) to a four-year deal with Seattle worth $16 million.

Larsson’s departure from the Oilers sent shockwaves through Oil Country. The defenceman’s camp and Oilers general manager Ken Holland had been negotiating a contract for months, and it was widely assumed that Larsson would be re-signing in Edmonton. Holland said he woke up on the morning of the draft to a text message that Larsson would be signing with the Kraken.

Related Link: Recapping Adam Larsson’s Tenure with the Edmonton Oilers

The 6-foot-3 Swede spent five seasons in Edmonton after being acquired from the New Jersey Devils for Taylor Hall in June 2016, evolving into the team’s top shutdown defenceman. Larsson had 68 points in 329 regular-season games and eight points in 19 playoff games as an Oiler. He has three points in nine games thus far with the Kraken.

Seattle also features another ex-Oiler in forward, Jordan Eberle, selected from the New York Islanders in the Expansion Draft.  Eberle played seven seasons in Edmonton before being dealt to the Islanders on June 22, 2017, and has since been back in Rogers Place to play the Oilers just twice. Eberle, 31, has notched two goals and two assists for the Kraken.

Oilers and Kraken’s Shared Hockey History

Previously, the cities of Edmonton and Seattle have had teams in the same hockey league several times, starting with the Edmonton Eskimos and Seattle Seahawks in the North West Hockey League from 1933-1936. In the 1951-52 season, the Edmonton Flyers and Seattle Ironmen competed in the Pacific Coast Hockey League, a minor pro league that was renamed the Western Hockey League (a separate league from the modern-day Western Hockey League) for the 1952-53 season. The Flyers played in the WHL until 1963, while Seattle’s original WHL teams included the Bombers (1952-53 to 1953-54), Americans (1955-56 to 1957-58), and finally the Totems (1958-59 to 1973-74).

The modern-day WHL is part of the major junior Canadian Hockey League and currently features the Edmonton Oil Kings and Seattle Thunderbirds. The T-Birds have been in the WHL since 1985-86, while the Oil Kings debuted in the 2007-08 season. Since then, Edmonton and Seattle’s WHL teams have played 13 head-to-head games, with the Oil Kings winning seven of them.

The Oilers and Kraken Met in the Preseason

Technically, Monday’s game is not the first occasion the Oilers have faced off against the Kraken. The teams played each other twice in the preseason, September 28 at Rogers Place and October 1 in Everett, Washington.

The Oilers won the first game 6-0 with Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith sharing in the shutout, McDavid picking up three points and Brendan Perlini scoring twice. Three days later, at Angel of the Winds Arena, Seattle took the rematch 2-1, as Jaden Schwartz tied the game with 58 seconds left and Jared McCann scored the winner in overtime.

Now they meet in what will be Seattle’s first regular-season game in Canada. Monday’s game will be broadcast on Sportsnet One and Root Sports Northwest, with puck drop scheduled for 7:30 PM local (6:30 PM Pacific).

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