The Seattle Kraken could be getting a top-six fixture back in the lineup earlier than expected. General manager Ron Francis reported in his press conference today, on the opening day of training camp for the team, that Gourde’s recovery from injury was progressing “ahead of schedule,” meaning he could be back in the lineup earlier than the previously projected early-December return.
Gourde was Seattle’s selection from the Tampa Bay Lightning in this year’s expansion draft, and he was immediately expected to take on an increased role in Seattle. Serving as arguably the best third-line center in the league behind Brayden Point and Anthony Cirelli, Gourde brings a hard-working, solid two-way game with 50-60 point upside. Widely projected as the team’s no. 1 or no. 2 center, it was revealed just days after the draft that Gourde would miss the first two months of the season after having shoulder surgery.
It should be noted that Gourde was indeed at Seattle’s first day of training camp today, albeit in a red non-contact jersey.
The 29-year-old (soon to be 30) Gourde is among one of the best undrafted talents in the NHL. He’s brought home the Stanley Cup in two of his four full NHL seasons, all with Tampa Bay. His rookie campaign in 2017-18 saw him elevated into a top-six role due to injury, and he didn’t disappoint. Despite being 26 years old at the time, his 25 goals and 64 points in 82 games was good enough to earn him some Calder votes, finishing sixth overall in voting for the trophy.
Seattle hopes that a healthy Gourde in a top-six role this season can offer similar production.