“Kronner” is the hockey nickname for Robert Kron, an NHL center for 771 regular season games who spent about a dozen years in various scouting positions for the Carolina Hurricanes before being named Director of Amateur Scouting for the Seattle Kraken. Kron previously played with and worked with current Kraken General Manager Ron Francis.
This past week he’s been in charge of the Kraken’s effort at the NHL Draft Combine, an event that allows the 32 franchises the opportunity to get to know the top 106 prospects for this summer’s NHL Draft that starts on June 28th. The players will wrap things up Saturday morning with a battery of physical challenges after spending much of the week passing physicals and being interviewed by potential suitors.
“We’re trying to meet all of the kids that would fall where we are picking at (number) 20 (overall) or with the three picks in the 2nd-round,” Kron told Seattle Hockey Insider. “We want to find out who they are as people because we know who they are as players. It’s a short window, but we try to get into that a little bit.”
It can be difficult to get a full portrait in a twenty minute conversation, but the Kraken know certain qualities they’re looking for in general. The club is trying to determine where the teenager is on the road to maturity.
“We’re big on character, we’re trying to see if there’s any red flags, if there are, we follow up,” Kron added. “We do interview these kids throughout the year anyway, so we have a lot of information on them, it’s just kind of confirmed when we’re here what we thought.”
Over the years we’ve heard prospects talk about some awkward or downright bizarre questions that a few teams have asked in an effort to flesh out issues of character. Maybe questions about marijuana use or what a player would do if they saw a teammate shoplift something. The Kraken don’t use that methodology, aren’t trying to trick anyone or put them in an awkward position, or “throw them under the bus” if you will.
And no math questions, Kron admitted with a laugh.
“We want to know about where they come from, family background, injuries, all that, teammates, linemates, self-assessment, see how mature they are physically and mentally with room to grow,” he added.
For the most part NHL teams are all trying to accomplish the same thing using similar lines of questioning. The biggest difference would be the players each respective team if focusing on. Naturally there are kids who make many lists, but teams have priorities and favorites. In the case of the Kraken there’s a bit more flexibility because of the wide ranging needs in general. It’s a third-year franchise that can use talent and depth throughout the organizational rosters.
In its first two drafts the Kraken selected Matty Beniers 2nd-overall in 2021 and Shane Wright 4th-overall in 2022. With the on-ice success this past season, the Kraken are picking 20th-overall. It’s a tougher task than the high picks because after the top four, six, or eight guys, the choices become way less obvious. Plus, with potential Kraken choices being plucked ahead of that position, they have to be ready with multiple options, a similar process for their three choices in the 2nd-round.
“You don’t know who’s going to be there and you don’t know what your list is going to look like based on what is unfolding,” Kron said. “You’re kind of hoping that someone you like in the top ten or fifteen maybe drops to you, and if not you’d better have your list tight and know that the guy 20th is the guy that you want.”
— More here Sunday morning on the Kraken at the NHL Combine and the infamous physical tests.