Kraken Rookies Wright, Beniers Ready for Season Debut
SEATTLE (AP) — Matty Beniers is not one to have an expansive supply of life advice to be handing out at age 20.
But there are some memories from his debut with the Seattle Kraken late last season that he shared with 18-year-old Shane Wright ahead of his first NHL game on Wednesday night.
“I was like, ‘You’ll never feel better ever again in your life in a hockey game, ever,’” Beniers said. “You have endless legs, you can skate as fast as you can all the time. It’ll be exciting for him and for all of us to see him out there.”
When the Kraken hit the ice for the season opener in Anaheim, they’ll unveil a lineup that has some important additions up front that the team hopes will address some of the problems Seattle faced scoring goals last season.
While bringing in veterans scorers Andre Burakovsky and Oliver Bjorkstrand should be significant boosts, most eyes will be on Beniers and Wright, the two young cornerstones of the Kraken's future.
Beniers, the first draft pick in Kraken history, got his debut out of the way last season when he appeared in 10 games at the end of the season and had nine points. Now it's Wright’s turn to make his debut after his unexpected slide in this year’s draft that saw him fall to the Kraken at No. 4 overall.
“I hope there’s a little bit of nerves. There’s going to be a little bit extra adrenaline. It’s all a matter of how you individually and collectively channel that and get that ready,” Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said. “And for the younger guys, they’ve got good veterans in the room. We’ve got good leadership.”
To that point, it’s no surprise that sandwiched between Wright and Beniers in Seattle’s locker room is veteran Jordan Eberle, the oldest non-goaltender on the Kraken roster.
“A lot of things come at you quickly when you’re a young player. You just build on your confidence level and your consistency, those two things. If you can do that, you’ll spend a long time in this league,” Eberle said. “They’re both high draft picks, they both got a good head on their shoulders, and they’re both obviously tremendously skilled.”
Wright seemed destined to make Seattle’s roster to begin the season when he more than held his own early in the preseason. There is still the chance he could end up going back to playing at the junior level in Ontario, but for now the thinking is Wright will be with the Kraken for the entire season.
“I think just kind of over the course of preseason training camp it really just started to grow and I got a lot more confident in myself and my abilities here,” Wright said.
Wright will probably be a fourth-line center for Seattle to start, but he’s been matched in several different pairings throughout the preseason and often mixed with some of Seattle’s more experienced forwards, like Eberle, who was still playing juniors at age 18.
“I was still in the Western Hockey League, so these guys are way ahead of me,” Eberle said. “I was nowhere near ready to be in the NHL and nowhere near their level. So they’re definitely a step ahead.”