Release the Kraken: Kingston’s Tye Kartye signs 3-year deal with NHL’s newest team

The NHL’s Seattle Kraken has signed Kingston native, Tye Kartye of the Sault Ste. Marie (Soo) Greyhounds, to a three-year entry-level contract.

With Kraken Executive VP and General Manager, Greyhound alumnus and hometown hero, Ron Francis’ number 10 currently hanging in homage from the rafters at the Soo’s GFL Memorial Gardens, Kartye appreciates the connection as he himself moves from the Greyhounds to Francis’ NHL team. “Yeah, I met [Francis] when I when I went to training camp in September in Seattle,” he discloses. “It’s really cool because obviously, he’s a legend with the Soo Greyhounds. So there’s definitely some close ties to where I’m at now and Ron Francis.”

Tye Kartye, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds Assistant Captain. Photo by Bob Davies.

For his part, Francis says, “We were impressed by Tye during training camp and are excited to welcome him to our organization.”  He describes Kartye as “well-liked by teammates” and notes that he “has taken tremendous steps offensively this season and we are looking forward to helping him develop as a player.”

The 5’11”, 202 lb twenty-year-old is in his third OHL season with the Greyhounds, but before that, he was a Kingston kid with big hockey dreams. Kartye attended J.E. Horton Public School in Barriefield, and La Salle Intermediate and Secondary School, and played for the Greater Kingston Jr. Frontenacs (now Jr. Gaels). Growing up, his hockey hero was Sidney Crosby, Kartye says. “He was so dominant, and he was always on the TV. It was just hard to take your eyes off him when he was.”

Asked what he would tell young hockey players who dream of being in the big league someday, Kartye takes a second to reflect. “I would just say, follow your dreams and work hard. I think that’s what I’ve done. Obviously, I was one of those kids just a while ago. Just stick with it — if you stick with it and work hard, good things will usually happen.”

Over his hockey career so far, Kartye has definitely been taking his own advice. The hardworking left-winger was originally selected 158th in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection, scored just four goals in his first OHL season, and then missed all of 2020-21 because of COVID-19 restrictions. Suffice it to say, he feels he has had a lot to prove. 

“He is a sort of feel-good, late bloomer story,” observes Randy Russon of Hockey News North, who covers the Soo Greyhounds for Sault This Week. “[Kartye is a] not-overly high-round OHL draft pick, who has surpassed many in his age who were drafted well ahead of him in getting an NHL contract.” 

Indeed, Kartye is now working toward a career-best season, having already scored 60 points in 48 games for the Greyhounds this year. He sits second in overall team scoring, while he leads the league in power-play goals (17) and game-winning goals (9).

“He has taken an overall, under-the-radar complete game into being an impact player in the OHL,” says Russon. “I talk to Kraken amateur-scout Mike Dawson often, and Kartye is a player who Mike has done his homework on.” 

Kartye played his final season for the Greater Kingston Jr. Frontenac Midget Hockey club in 2017-2018, where he produced 28 Goals and 23 Assists for 51 points in 36 games. In 2021-2022, he appeared in his 150th OHL game with the Soo Greyhounds in December, scored his 100th career point in November, and was named Assistant Captain that same month. And now he has an NHL contract with his name on it to show for his labours.

It is most likely that Kartye will play his inaugural season as a member of the Kraken’s new farm team in the California desert. Back in November, the Kraken shared the news that their new AHL affiliate would be The Coachella Valley Firebirds, an expansion team expected to start play for the 2022–23 season. The team currently lists its contact information as a Palm Desert, California address, but the team will play home games at the Coachella Valley Arena, a venue that is currently under construction.

“That’s probably where I’ll be in the AHL… in Palm Springs… I don’t think I’m worried about moving, because I’ve been away from home for four years now playing in the Soo, so that shouldn’t be a big deal,” Kartye says, noting though, that he has never been to California before. “That climate will be a lot different than Sault Ste. Marie,” he laughs.

Kartye says he feels good heading toward this season’s playoffs with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Photo by Bob Davies.

No matter what though, Kingston is home. “I’ve loved living there my whole life and I still come back in the summer and in the offseason, and I just it’s a great spot and I mean, hopefully, I live there for a long time,” Kartye reflects.

For now though, Tye Kartye is focused on chasing the playoffs with the Soo Greyhounds. “I feel pretty good,” he observes. “We’ve got 16 games left now, so we’re kind of trying to battle for one of the top spots in the conference and then try and heat up a little bit before playoffs and have some momentum going in. It’s my last year so hopefully, we can go out on a good long run here this year.”

Hockey fans can catch the Greyhounds in action when they play host to Kitchener on Friday and Saturday, with both games beginning at 7:07 p.m. Soo Greyhounds Hockey can be heard live on Rock 101 (101.3 FM). Shaw Spotlight provides fans live TV coverage of select games, and Verizon Digital provides live coverage of all Ontario Hockey League games (OHLLive) through CHL TV.

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