Presuming they stay at number-20 in the draft and are planning to take the “best player available”, we take a look at three 1st-round NHL Draft possibilities for the Seattle Kraken on June 28th in Nashville.
“Best player available” generally rules the day for most NHL clubs when they’re not looking for a specific type of player at a specific position. A team in the position of looking to improve and get deeper anywhere and everywhere will also usually take a center over a winger, and maybe a stalwart defenseman over both of those.
That’s when it comes down to whom the scouting staff and Kraken General Manager Ron Francis feel would be the best player available with the highest potential upside.
Francis and Director of Amateur Scouting Robert Kron would have the final say in a dispute or in a toss-up.
Right now the Kraken need to add depth up front and on the back end. At some point along the way they’ll also probably want to add a goalie to their prospect pool, but that won’t be happening in the 1st-round.
Forwards will rule the early portion of the draft this summer, but based on some lists the experts and the “experts” have put together, here’s three potential blueline draft picks that might fall into the Kraken’s wheelhouse in 2023.
Kraken Need For D
Even with the likely re-signing of big D-man Carson Soucy and the keeping of the season-two blueline corps together, the Kraken will want to add some talent there and bump up the line-up a little bit. They already have talented, lefty 21-year-old puck mover Ryker Evans playing in Coachella Valley for the Firebirds.
We always start with the NHL Central Scouting Bureau (CSB) rankings, although they separate the North American skaters from the European skaters on two different lists.
London Knights (OHL) defenseman Oliver Bonk slots in at number-20 on the North American list, but since somewhere between five to seven Europeans will get picked before the Kraken select in their present spot, there’s no point in pencilling in Bonk as a possibility. By the way, he’s the son of former NHL’er Radek Bonk.
If one slides seven spots up the North American list to number-13, we’ll find big right-handed Oshawa Generals (OHL) center Calum Ritchie.
But wait, Shane Wright is a 19-year-old right-handed center the Kraken took last summer 4th-overall. Hmmm.
Bob McKenzie of the TSN TV Network in Canada has the Kraken selecting defenseman David Reinbacher from Kloten in the Swiss National League at 20th-overall. Meanwhile, McKenzie’s cohort at TSN Craig Button has Reinbacher going 8th-overall to the Washington Capitals.
Did we mention this is an inexact science.
— Reinbacher – The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Austrian born defenseman isn’t as physical as his size might indicate. He’s not a high-end defender, but he is tricky on the offensive end and a potential second-unit power play quarterback. He’s right-handed, which might benefit a club looking for balance from both sides and his overall game is making solid progress.
Would he be worth it as a Seattle 1st-rounder? Sure, remember, they’re picking 20th, not 5th, and this player’s stock is up. His biggest strength is his hockey sense and his maturity. He’s ranked 5th on the overall CSB European prospect list.
— Axel Sandin Pellikka – That’s a lot to fit on the back of a sweater. “ASP” is ranked two slots below Reinbacher on the overall European list, but they’re both considered potential top-4 NHL D-men. For different reasons.
Sandin Pellikka is definitely more of a skater, puck mover, and offensive minded. The Swede stands 5-11 and 180-pounds and plays an assertive game. What he lacks in hockey sense compared to Reinbacher, he makes up with quickness and mobility.
— Lukas Dragicevic – Seattle major junior hockey fans would remember seeing this kid playing for Tri-City against the Thunderbirds this season. He put up 75 points in 68 games and offers up a nice balance of aggression and mobility. He might fit the mold of what the Kraken fans are kind of used to, but McKenzie didn’t agree with CSB with his mid-season rankings. They had Dragicevic as the 18th best overall North American skater, their highest ranked D-man, while Bob had him going 27th in the draft.
Button doesn’t have the Vancouver area native in his top-16. It’s not for a lack of offensive presence; it’s his defensive game that still needs a bit of work.
Three names to keep in mind if the Kraken go back-end in a high-end draft that’s mostly full of forwards.