One of the Seattle Kraken with the highest expectations coming out of the expansion draft was Yanni Gourde, but that excitement was quickly squashed when GM Ron Francis announced that the former Tampa Bay Lightning forward would require shoulder surgery. Gourde was given a four-month recovery timeline, meaning he’d be back at some point in November or early December.
Hard work has paid off in this case, with Gourde activated from injured reserve well ahead of schedule. The talented center will make his Kraken debut this evening when Seattle takes on the New Jersey Devils in their fifth game of the season.
Unfortunately, good news rarely comes alone these days for the Kraken, and today is no different. The team has also moved backup goaltender Chris Driedger to injured reserve, recalling Joey Daccord from the minor leagues in his stead. Kole Lind has been moved to the AHL to make room for Gourde on the roster.
Missing just four games is a best-case scenario for Gourde, who is coming off consecutive Stanley Cup championships with the Lightning and represents the team’s best option down the middle. Though he has been known for his work as a checking-line player the last couple of years in Tampa Bay, Gourde does have exceptional offensive upside, and scored 17 goals and 36 points in 56 games last season. His career-highs of 25 goals and 64 points came in 2017-18 as Brayden Point was just breaking out and before Anthony Cirelli had established himself in the Lightning lineup. In Seattle, he should get the chance to get back to that level of offensive production given the minutes he is expected to receive.
It’s not clear exactly what happened to Driedger to put him on the shelf. He came into last night’s game in relief of Philipp Grubauer and was expected to start tonight in the second half of the back-to-back, but will now be out at least seven days. In the interim, Daccord will serve as the backup, a great chance for a young goaltender that looked very promising before injury robbed him of most of last season. In one start for the Charlotte Checkers this season, the 25-year-old Daccord stopped 26 of 27 shots for the win.