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Kraken vs Jets PREVIEW: Next contestant same as the last

Jordan Eberle goes to shoot the puck right in front of the Jets' goaltender
Player Photography provided by @Jennthulhu_Photos on Instagram

The Need to Knows

  • Time: 7:00 pm PT / 10:00 pm ET
  • Place: Climate Pledge Arena, Seattle, WA
  • Where to Watch: ROOT Sports NW, TSN3, ESPN+ (out of market)
  • Where to Listen: KJR 93.3 FM
  • An Opposing Viewpoint: Arctic Ice Hockey

Know Your Enemy

The Winnipeg Jets are a very, very familiar foe, considering the Kraken just played them on Tuesday night. Allyson’s preview for that game does a very good job of breaking down the underlying stats of the Jets, and if any of those numbers have changed, it’s only one game’s worth of changes. It feels redundant to rehash over the same data for a home-and-home situation.

The enemy could look a little different by the time the game comes along, though. The Jets are in the mix for the top spot in the Central Division and are clearly primed to be buyers as the trade deadline wraps up. They got ahead of the deadline frenzy by acquiring Sean Monahan from the Montreal Canadiens, but I’d be surprised if that’s the only splash they make. Beyond that, though, it’s the same enemy from the other night.

Game Preview

The goal for the Kraken remains the same as it has for a while: keep finding a way to grind out wins to stay relevant in the playoff race. After winning both sides of a back-to-back against the Flames and Jets, the Kraken have continued to give themselves a fighting chance. Yet, the team could be putting up a fight for all the wrong reasons as the Kraken have already begun the process of selling off players. Ron Francis and company aren’t trying to burn it to the ground, but it’s time to turn an eye back toward the future. The playoffs are far from a sure deal, even with recent play from the Kraken. As a result, Alexander Wennberg was traded to the New York Rangers on Wednesday, and the next player that could be gone is Jordan Eberle.

If you’re unaware, the short summary is that if Eberle and his camp cannot come to an agreement over a contract extension for him, then they will trade him at the deadline. At the time of me writing this, there’s been no new updates on this front, and I’m not sure how soon after this piece goes up that news will break. I’m also not sure how close to the deadline contract negotiations can go on for if the Kraken aren’t bluffing, but there’s gotta be somebody who’s willing to pull the trigger on a last-minute Eberle trade before the 12:00 pm PT deadline. If today is his last day with the Kraken, it’s all because management is thinking about the long-term picture. It doesn’t matter how much of a rockstar he’s been for the team over these past three seasons, it’s all about building for the future. How far down the road do the Kraken actually view Eberle as part of their plans? What could the return for trading him now look like someday? We’ll all find out together by this afternoon whether Eberle gets to mark career game 999 tonight with the Kraken or not, but the team has to prepare themselves for either outcome going into it.

On top of the uncertainty of the trade deadline, it’s still unclear whether Vince Dunn will return to the lineup. During practice on Thursday, Dunn didn’t skate with the team, but Hakstol didn’t confirm or deny whether the defenseman would be good to go for the game. Without any concrete updates on Dunn’s status, there’s a chance the Kraken could be missing a top-line forward via trade and a top-pair defenseman due to continued injury going into tonight’s contest. Now, the Kraken were able to defeat the Jets on Tuesday without Dunn, but when he’s tied for second on the team with 45 points and leads the team with 34 assists, his ability to help launch offense is still missed.

Even though the Kraken are playing the same opponent again, it feels hard to say it’ll be easy for them to replicate the results when everything feels so unknown right now. It’s the nature of the trade deadline, but it’s even more heightened when a team has to play a game only hours after it passes. While there’s factors to consider such as on-ice production numbers and the way certain players affect others (what does a top line with Matty Beniers and Tomáš Tatar even look like if Eberle isn’t on it?), there’s also what trades can do for the collective psyche of the locker room. The Kraken have seemed to adapt to not having Wennberg playing with them, since he was a healthy scratch leading up to his trade, but what does it mean to potentially lose one of the A’s? Unless you are this season’s Philadelphia Flyers, selling off players typically means a team doesn’t see a playoff run in its immediate future. The players in that locker room can definitely fight like hell to prove management wrong, but if Francis is making moves that say the odds aren’t in their favor, it’s hard not to wonder how much that message could become internalized in the room.

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