The Seattle Kraken officially revealed their first-ever bench boss, bringing Dave Hakstol on board to lead the charge. The longtime NHL coach has an interesting tie to Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie.
Hakstol has been the Toronto Maple Leafs assistant coach for the last two seasons and was previously at the helm with the Philadelphia Flyers for three and a half years. But before his NHL career, he was behind the bench for Oshie’s alma mater University of North Dakota for 15 seasons, including 11 as the head coach. He led the Fighting Hawks to the Frozen Four seven times and finished with a record of 289-143-43. Thirty of his UND players, including Oshie, went on to play in the NHL.
In 129 games under Hakstol’s reign, Oshie shined with 59 goals and 142 points. The 2005 first-rounder left after his third year to make the NHL jump with the St. Louis Blues. Through 13 years in the NHL, the Capitals alternate captain has registered 259 goals and 609 points in 856 games between Washington and St. Louis. He also won the Stanley Cup with Washington in 2018.
Having Hakstol as the coach makes Oshie, a Washington State native, an even more appealing target for the Kraken. But ultimately, it’s hard to imagine that the Capitals will expose Oshie regardless.
The 34-year-old was adamant about wanting to finish his career in D.C. General manager Brian MacLellan also admitted that losing him in the expansion draft would hurt.
“I signed an eight-year deal here because this is where I wanted to spend the rest of my career,” Oshie said in May. “I know there’s a business side of things and there’s a reality… that there’s always a chance you could go somewhere else or get traded or whatever. But I’ve approached every day since I’ve been here like this is going to be the last team I ever play for, and I think I’ve done a decent job of proving that to Lavi and Mac that this where I want to be. I feel like I can still be a big part of this team moving forward as I get older here.”
He’s a top-6 forward that’s a 20-plus goal scorer. Also, his skill-set, speed, hands, vision and wicked shot, makes him a major threat on offense. Over the last three seasons, he registered at least 20 goals, and he also led Washington in PPG in 2020-21.
While his $5.75 million cap hit over the next four years may raise concerns in regards to continued production, he brings more to the table than that.
For Washington, it’s his off-ice presence that’s most important. He’s a natural leader who leads by example. Not to mention, contagious enthusiasm and positive mindset make him the heart of the dressing room. If the Capitals expose him, they’ll lose a top-6 forward and major part of their culture and identity.