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Exit Interview: Kahkonen Talks ‘Frustrating’ Season, Going Outside for Help

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Credit: San Jose Sharks

In his first full season with the San Jose Sharks, goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen did not perform the same as when he was acquired at the 2021-22 Trade Deadline.

Last year, Kahkonen played 11 games for the Sharks, and although his record wasn’t the best, his 2.86 GAA and a .916 Save % backed up his strong play. This season, however, Kahkonen had a 3.85 GAA and a .883 Save % across 37 games played, a clear drop-off in form from the prior season.

Of course, it was a slightly leakier team defense, going from Bob Boughner to David Quinn.

But Kahkonen knows he has to play better than that. And he should get that opportunity, as he’s currently the only experienced goalie signed by the Sharks beyond this season.

San Jose Sharks GM Mike Grier spoke on Kahkonen, recognizing his struggles this year, but applauding his in-season progress. He also touched on how Kahkonen will approach things differently this summer:

Exit Interview: Grier on Trading Karlsson, How Sharks Get Better, Not Bringing Back Reimer & More (+)

Kahkonen, in his exit interview, talked about his “frustrating” season, going outside the Sharks organization for help, and his best stretch of play this season.

See Kaapo Kahkonen’s full interview here

Kaapo Kahkonen on how he felt his season went:

Well, disappointing and frustrating, first of all, the overall feeling after this season. Obviously, like you said, there are always things you can learn from moments and from games and seasons like this [when] things don’t go your way, mentally, physically, and about your game. There’s a few structural things I feel, towards the end of the year, I was just starting to kind of figure out, and those things helped me to feel better in the games at the end of the year, which was obviously a good sign, I feel. There may be things that people don’t see on the outside, but what I think is important is that I feel that improvement myself. Kind of gives me a feeling that by continuing doing those things, that will help me out and move forward.

Kahkonen on what he worked on during the season:

I’d rather not go into those [specifics]. Obviously, they’re things we discussed with goaltending coaches and then some other people that are strength coaches upstairs and stuff. It’s just those things that will help me to be more in control and manage my body better on the ice and be more square and stuff like that. The usual.

Kahkonen, on if he went outside the San Jose Sharks organization for guidance or kept everything in house:

Yeah, outside [too].

Kahkonen on his confidence in the direction of the organization:

Certainly, I think [Grier has] made a lot of good decisions. That’s not something I’m thinking about. Obviously, that’s not my job to do. My job is to come back better and be one of those pieces to help the team in that direction. I think he’s got the whole summer. He’s seen the way this team played, and he’s probably got a little more time to react on certain things than he certainly did last summer. I’m optimistic and excited.

Kahkonen on what he felt was his best stretch of the season:

I think the latter half of the year certainly was much better, and I felt better. Again, I have no clue about the numbers. I don’t look at them. Other than the wins and losses, that’s the only stat I care about. The two points every night.

I did have a few more wins in the second half of the year.

Maybe this stretch around the All-Star break. I believe there was a good stretch there.

Obviously, the Deadline kind of mixed everything in the room, and that’s normal. That’s what happens when the team is in this situation. Even after that, there [were good games]. It’s important to look at those good games and good moments, but also the ones that you know, you needed to be better, to see what went wrong there or what I could have done on those moments or in those games help the team even more. I think it’s it’s important to look both ways.

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