Camping By Night and Day

As morning skaters and preseason games mix with daily practices these next two weeks (only 20 players dress for games among nearly 60 camp participants), the logbook for Kraken Training Camp Presented by Starbucks is filling up with entries, night and day:

+ When media entered the Kraken locker room after Monday night’s 3-0 preseason win over Edmonton, it was hard to ignore the coincidence-or is it?-that all three of the night’s goal scorers have lockers alongside each other. rookie Matty Beniers was peeling off gear in between Ryan Donato and Morgan Geekie.

Donato and Beniers go back to Boston area roots, living one town away from each other. Former NHLer and now college hockey coach Ted Donato, Ryan’s father, recruited Beniers to play at Harvard before COVID prompted Ivy League schools to cancel the sports calendar. Fans know by now Beniers committed instead to the University of Michigan for two breakout NCAA seasons. Geekie and Beniers shared nearby lockers when the latter advanced to the NHL for 10 games, just a couple of young guys with big upsides.

“It was huge, playing those 10 games,” Beniers said to a post-game media scrum Monday. “You get more acclimated [to the speed of NHL players], know more guys in the locker room. You feel more comfortable.”

In Monday post-game remarks, head coach Dave Hakstol said Beniers if much more than acclimated and comfortable, making a strong point about the 19-year-old (he turns 20 in early November) setting the pace for all teammates, prospects and veterans .

“Again, you all know I have mentioned Matty’s competitiveness,” Hakstol said. “I thought his I think his competitiveness showed in his readiness [Monday]”in his willingness to go out there, shift in and shift out, to do the job.”

+ Beniers, Donato and trade acquisition Oliver Bjorkstrand brought significantly hop as a line, starting with a first shift. Bjorkstrand set up Beniers for a near goal with a laser pass to the right slot and not many seconds later getting the puck to Donato for a one-timer. Beniers smiled a lot talking about playing with Bjorkstrand, adding “he could have had two or three [goals] himself tonight.”

For his part, Donato notched five shots on goal and five hits, leading the team in hits (young Ryker Evans had four) and second only to Beniers’ six shots. Earlier in camp Hakstol was asked about Donato playing with two linemates who are clearly in the mix for top-six minutes.

“That’s the value of Ryan Donato, he can play anywhere up and down the lineup,” Hakstol said. “One of his big values ​​is he brings multipurpose and his willingness to jump in wherever he is needed. It may not be perfect for him, but he works hard. One thing I really like is he finds his way inside [the slot in front of the net]. There are very few times he skates by the blue paint [of the goalie crease] or is not in front of the scoring area where there is ‘loose change’ [potential rebounds].”

+ When GM Ron Francis mentioned his quest to add more scoring this season at Sunday’s “State of the Franchise” fan event, he understandably mentioned signing Andre Burakovsky to a free agent contract, trading for Bjorkstrand, the return of Jaden Schwartz from the injury list “getting a full season of Matty Beniers.” Notably, he’s included Shane Wright2022 first-round draft choice (4th overall), as part of increased goal punch, especially getting power play minutes.

Going into Tuesday’s preseason debut for Wright, Hakstol was already giving good marks to the 18-year-old looking to earn a roster spot: “His practices are competitive and he is physically strong with good pace. He is an outstanding hockey player and already establishing a baseline [of trust among teammates] in this dressing room and out on the ice.”

+ Hakstol is reluctant to single out younger players just one preseason game into camp, but he couldn’t resist talking up the play of 22-year-old center Ville Petmanwho notched three hits and a blocked shot plus three takeaways in 11:32 of ice time.

“I thought that ‘Pets’ had a really good night tonight,” Hakstol said. “He’s smart with a good stick [to disrupt opponents]. He does a lot of little good things out there that won’t show up on the scoreboard.”

The Finland native (he’s getting plenty of mentoring from countryman Joonas Donskoic) has been playing in his country’s top professional league, Liiga, over the past four seasons while appearing in more than 70 games on national teams in world championships tournaments. He exhibited significant progress over those four seasons, culminating with a 2021-22 season in which the center and left wing scored 15 goals and 24 assists in 59 games and averaged 20 minutes per game on the top line for SaiPa, the pro team in his hometown of Lappeeranta.


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