After firing coach Dave Hakstol, the Kraken became the sixth of seven NHL teams with coaching vacancies to find their new man. Dan Bylsma, the Coachella Valley Firebirds head coach and the Seattle AHL affiliate, was promoted on Tuesday, becoming the second headman in franchise history. Coming off a surprise playoff season in their second-ever season, Seattle struggled last year, finishing with 81 points and sixth in the Pacific. The Kraken front office believes that Bylsma will be the answer to unlocking the young talent on the Seattle roster. He worked with many of them early, such as Shane Wright and Tye Kartye, when those players started their careers with Coachella.

This will be Bylsma’s third stint as the top man behind an NHL bench. In 2009, Bylsma took over the Pittsburgh Penguins after being promoted from their top AHL affiliate, the same jump he took with the Kraken. Pittsburgh won the Stanley Cup in his first year, their first since 1992, and the first of three Cup victories for Sidney Crosby. Bylsma stayed on for five more seasons, reaching the playoffs in all of them but only getting past the second round once. His tenure ended after the 2013-2014 season, but after taking a year hiatus, Bylsma took the Buffalo Sabers gig. He did not have as much success with the Sabers, and just two years later, Buffalo relieved him of his duties.

One of Bylsma’s first tasks will be fixing the offense for the Kraken. Seattle scored only 217 goals in the 2023-2024 season, the 11th most in the Western Conference. The team did not have a player score more than 30 goals on their roster, and Calder trophy winner Matty Beniers struggled in his sophomore season, lighting the lamp just 15 times in 77 games. In his two seasons with the Firebirds, Bylsma’s teams finished in the top three for goals scored in the league.

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