By Zackery Robert

Coming up we now move to the Pacific Northwest and visit the newest team in the NHL. The Seattle Kraken have only been in two drafts this far, with 2023 being their third, we saw significant improvement for the Kraken this year making it to the conference semi finals this year, a positive sign of good things to come in the future.

With only having two drafts under their belt the whole top picks in franchise history and the not so top picks are not incredibly well vetted as their oldest draftees will be 20-21 years old and may have not even played a game in any pro level yet which is fair because they’re barely into their 20s. What we will look at are five players who have some of the biggest upside that the Seattle Kraken have drafted to their club so far.

First up we will take a look at the most obvious of choices in former second overall pick in 2021 Matty Beniers. Beniers had a great D+1 year in Michigan and then promptly took his skills from the NCAA to the NHL and showed no signs of regression. He looks to be this year’s lock for the Calder trophy as rookie of the year, this will be confirmed later in June, and his stats in his first year were quite good for the 20 year old. With 57 points in 80 games he was on par with players like Jonathan Huberdeau and Nathan MacKinnon in terms of ppg during their rookie seasons where both of them took the Calder trophy respectively. This pick looks to be their best yet in their short history.

Up next we will go again in the first round of the 2022 draft this time and look at fourth overall section Shane Wright. Wright was the consensus number one pick for a huge amount of time leading up to the 2022 draft where he only began to slip out of that position towards the tail end leading up to the draft. He ended up slipping from first to fourth and the Kraken were happy to pick him up at the number four spot. Wright has had a very peculiar beginning to his young career, in the NHL he was scratched quite a bit, leaving a lot of head scratching by the fans/media in the process, and only ended up playing eight games before being sent down, he scored two points in those eight games. He played eight games in the AHL where he scored six points and then promptly dominated the OHL again putting up 37 points in 20 games for the Windsor Spitfires. There is no denying that Wright has immense skill, this pick looks to be their second most promising pick thus far.

Moving on to their third most promising pick we will stay in the 2022 draft and look in the second round where Seattle held the 35th overall pick and took Jagger Firkus. Firkus slipped in this draft, he was looked at as a first round pick in the latter part of that round but found himself unselected and having to wait until that weekend to be picked. It did not take long as he was the third pick in that second round and for good reason. I’m back to back seasons in the WHL Firkus played 66 games and scored 80 and 88 points respectively. He is a very skilled two way forward who has no issue putting up goals and points, he hit the 40 goal mark this season in the WHL. He had recently signed his pro contract with the Kraken and will look to make his pro debut this upcoming season, most likely will play more in the AHL but has many tools at the NHL level that can lead him to play some games in the NHL this year. This pick has the potential to be a steal of a pick in the early second round, only time will tell however, but this pick looks to slot in as Seattle’s third most promising selection in their young history.

Moving on to number four on the most promising chart we will take a look at the 2022 draft and at pick number 68 where Seattle selected defenseman Ty Nelson. Nelson was the 68th selection in the draft and definitely the one with the best hat, the North Bay blue liner had an impressive season with 76 points in 61 games this year. Having 24 goals and over 50 assists is not a small feat and Nelson looks to have many tools that can help him a lot as a top four defenseman in his prime. It is always hard to tell exactly how good a player will be when it comes to playing in the NHL judging solely off play in the juniors but Nelson looks to have good potential and at an early third round pick it can potentially look to be a steal of a selection.

Looking at the fifth and final most promising pick we have one player and an honourable mention to name. First the honourable mention from the second round of the 2022 draft, David Goyette. Goyette scored 92 in 63 games this past season and was a consistent threat during his time with the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL this year. The potential is there to be a good middle six player. However the fifth spot goes to 2021 fifth round pick Jacob Melanson. Melanson finished this year with 99 points in only 59 games along with scoring 50 goals in those games. Melanson split time this year in the QMJHL with both the Acadie-Bathurst Titan and the Sherbrooke Phoenix and he was equally good with both teams during the season. Standing at six feet tall and 206 pounds this 20 year old has the ability to be a good middle six power forward and as a fifth round pick that is a steal.

The Kraken coming out of this year looked a lot different and it was mainly positive this year, they made it to the conference semifinals and a lot of their more core players were clicking this year. Looking ahead to the draft on June 28th the Kraken hold nine picks this year and four in the first 64 picks, 1st, 2nd, 2nd (TOR), 2nd (WPG), 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 6th (WSH), 7th. With their first round pick being in the latter half of the draft some very good options for the Kraken would be centre Riley Heidt, defence Tom Willander, and defence Oliver Bonk. The Kraken being so new it wouldn’t hurt them to just choose the best prospect left when they draft, however taking a look at their current team and prospects, defence would be a good way to go for the team given their lack in the pipeline so either one of Willander or Bonk would fit nicely in this team.

For more information on the 2023 NHL Draft class be sure to pick up your copy of the comprehensive DraftPro 2023 NHL Draft Guide.