With 38 points so far this season, Gourde is already proving to be a key piece of the Kraken’s offensive gameplan.
For a team in their first year trying to find their footing, veteran players like Yanni Gourde have served as key contributors on the offensive end of the ice. After spending his first six years with the Tampa Bay Lightening and winning back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 2020 & 2021, Gourde has come to Seattle and brought with him a knack for helping his team put up points. With 22 assists so far through his first 55 games of the season, Gourde is currently on pace for the second most assists of his career.
His impact thus far:
At 0.41 assists per game, Gourde is on pace to come up just shy of his career best 39 assists he had in the 2017-18 season (0.48 per game). During that season he finished 6th in Calder cup voting and made a big impact on a Lightening team that finshed 1st in the Atlantic division with 113 points. Fast forward to 2022 and Gourde is having a very similar impact. Take the last six games for example. In those games Yanni has 7 points (4 goals, 3 assists) including an impressive one timer against his old squad. Six games is currently Gourde’s longest points streak of the season.
Currently Gourde is spending most of his ice time as the team’s #2 Center alongside linemates Mason Appleton and Colin Blackwell (edit: Blackwell has been traded). Four of Gourde’s assists this year have been by way of Blackwell, making him Yanni’s favorite goal scorer so far this season. When the two of them are on the ice together, especially recently, their chemistry is on another level. Evident by the fact that the dynamic duo has teamed up for not one, but two shorthanded goals in Seattle’s last seven games.
The affect of the trade moving forward:
With the news of Blackwell’s trade, it will be on Gourde to work on his rapport with the others on the ice. Though him and Blackwell may have been clicking at the right time, I’d expect to potentially see Morgan Geekie filling that open spot on the line. Geekie’s play style is similar to Blackwell’s and would fit nicely on the ice alongside Gourde. Getting ice time together should also help kickstart some of Geekie’s development. Playing alongside your teams biggest playmaker should help open up more lanes for Geekie and it’s always nice to play with someone who can constantly get the puck on your stick around the net.
With former captain Mark Giordano now being officially gone as well, Gourde seems like the next in line to don the “C”. Although they may not name a replacement captain for the remainder of this season, there’s nobody more deserving next season than Yanni. His veteran status, leadership ability and love of the team are exactly what the Kraken need to get the best out of everyone on a nightly basis. Wins and losses aside, Gourde is exactly what the city of Seattle needs.
What to watch for:
Although Gourde isn’t the most prolific goal scorer, he’s shown in the past that he does have the ability to eclipse the 20 goal mark. With him seemingly hitting his stride the farther into the season we get, it’s not ridiculous to think a 20 goal, 40 assist season could be in store for Gourde. Especially after the two goal effort he put up on Saturday pushing his total to 16. On a team void of an elite point scorer, Gourde is doing his best to fill that role in whatever way he can.
Going forward Gourde may not have the profile of a first line center most teams look for. What he does have, though, is the ability, personality and hockey IQ to lead this team until someone like their 2021 2nd overall pick Matty Beniers is ready to be called up and make an impact at the NHL level. A line of Tanev, Gourde and Eberle in 2023 has the makings of being a thing of beauty. Gourde and Eberle’s excellent passing ability would compliment each other very well and Tanev’s crazy eyes and ability to put the puck in the back of the net would provide the spark desperately needed on this team. For now, though, let’s just sit back and enjoy Gourde’s impressive season and the energy he brings night in and night out.