It’s time for Dave Hakstol to unleash Vince Dunn

There were plenty of other notable players on the St. Louis Blues’ roster back on Expansion Draft day, when Seattle Kraken general manager Ron Francis selected Vince Dunn. The 24-year-old defenseman was a pending restricted free agent, but that didn’t dissuade the cap-conscious Kraken GM. A few weeks later, he signed a two year contract with Seattle, paying him $4 million a season.

In a summer when the average salary of top four defense skyrocketed, the Dunn dollar figure is being a significant raise—but far from unreasonable. While other players taken in expansion, like captain Mark Giordano, are on the tail end of their careers, Dunn will be a Kraken for the foreseeable future and should outperform his deal. He’s a major piece on the back end, and head coach Dave Hakstol needs to utilize him in the right way.

Dunn won a Stanley Cup in St. Louis, posting strong numbers and decent minutes on a team where stalwarts like Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko took on the hardest competition. He has similar support here in Seattle, but where he can do the most damage is on Seattle’s powerplay.

Dunn’s advanced statistics have been impressive through his career. They were great on a championship caliber Blues team, and saw little decline on a subpar one as well. He knows when to jump up in the play, when to trade chances, and when to stay home. His pre-season Kraken production turned heads, as did his big hit, and ensuing fight, versus the Nashville Predators in the franchise’s first win.

After missing some time following that game, he is back in the Kraken lineup as they return home for their inaugural game. The team finished its road trip on a bit of a slide and the game, versus geographical rival, the Vancouver Canucks, is an important one. Dunn has the ability to change the momentum in a number of ways and Hakstol needs to give him the opportunity to do so.

At practice this week, Dunn was skating with the second powerplay unit, while Giordano was up with the first. The two should eventually swap places. Gio has more than 50 powerplay goals to his name in his NHL career, so the call makes sense in the short term. As the season, or even the next game, progresses, adjustments to the lineup will no doubt occur, and hopefully Dunn gets elevated.

The 38-year-old Giordano should see his overall minutes decline over the 2021-22 season, especially if playoffs look likely, and the coach’s systems will be more firmly in place. As a team without a superstar, the Kraken need to score by committee, and with Dunn’s realistic ceiling being 15 goals over an 82 game season, he should be given every opportunity to do his part.