Seattle Kraken prospects

The Kraken’s 1st NHL Draft; Where Are They Now?

‘Twas a busy summer for Kraken general manager Ron Francis and staff in the summer of 2021. They not only had to select a player from each of the other* NHL teams via the NHL Expansion Draft on July 21st, they then had to quickly turn around and take part in their first ever amateur draft just a couple of days later.

* As the most recent other NHL expansion team (2017), the Vegas Golden Knights were not required to give up a player to Seattle. Think the management-types that agreed to that concession are regretting it? Oh well, too late. It doesn’t appear the Vegas franchise needed that advantage and it now has a Stanley Cup championship to prove it.

Kraken Picks

1) We don’t need to spend a whole lot of time on the 1st-round pick of the Kraken from 2021. That would be 2nd-overall selection Matty Beniers out of the University of Michigan, the reigning Calder Trophy winner as NHL rookie-of-the-year. We’ve recently produced a “Seattle Kraken Roll Call” on this player and had some fun with him in Nashville right after he won his award. (Video at bottom).

He’s tallied 66 points in 90 regular season NHL games.

2) Ryker Evans is another guy we’ve paid quite a bit of attention to; the Kraken’s 2nd-round pick taken 35th-overall. He’s considered one of the franchise’s top-three prospects and could make a big impression at training camp this September. The question is, can he make a big enough impression to bump someone down or off the NHL roster.

The rookie lefty D-man had a 44-point season for the Coachella Valley Firebirds in the American Hockey League. He then heated up even more in the playoffs, with 26 points while playing in 26 games. He’ll be back there if he doesn’t crack the NHL roster.

3) Ryan Winterton also slotted into the top-3 prospect list following Kraken Development Camp this summer. The 3rd-rounder was taken 67th-overall. Plagued by shoulder injuries since the draft, he’s healthy now and coming off a 29-point playoff performance in 21 games for the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League.

Winterton, who turns 20 in a week, was one of many OHL’ers who sat out the 2020-’21 season because Covid forced the cancellation of the league’s season. He seems to have made up for that lost opportunity and will be another entertaining youngster to watch at Kraken camp.

The versatile forward is expected to play in the AHL this season.

4) 4th-rounder Ville Ottavainen didn’t participate in Development Camp this summer. He was coming off a busy season in Finland’s top pro league with 16 points in 51 games. The right-shot defenseman stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 220 pounds, so he had no trouble mixing things up with the men in the premiere SM Liiga.

The 99th-overall pick did train in North America with the OHL Kitchener Rangers in 2019-’20. He also snuck into two AHL games last season for the Firebirds. Having signed his three-year entry-level deal with the Kraken this past March, it appears he’ll be playing with the AHL affiliate this season. The option would be to loan him back to a top Finnish team.

5) The Kraken selected hefty right winger Jacob Melanson in the 5th-round, 131st-overall out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. We wrote his profile at the end of May.

The 20-year-old wrapped up his junior career in the spring and joined the Firebirds for one Calder Cup playoff game.

He’s expected to join Coachella Valley and play a full season in the AHL.

6) There needed to be a goalie taken in the Kraken’s 1st draft and that goalie is Semyon Vyazovoi, taken 163rd-overall in the 6th-round. He’s one to keep an eye on, although he seems to be a bit of a mystery. Part of that may be his age, 20, and the fact he’s military eligible for a country fighting a war.

Vyazovoi wasn’t able to make it over from Russia for Kraken Development Camp, but if his progress continues, the Seattle brass will want to see this young man sooner than later.

Vyazovoi put up sterling numbers in the top Russian junior league last season, the MHL, and will move up to the 2nd highest tier of professional hockey this coming season, the VHL. It roughly translates to the Supreme Hockey League, one step below the top Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).

7) The final pick for the Kraken in their inaugural draft was winger Justin Janicke off the US National Under-18 team. Now 20, Janicke enters his third season playing for the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame in college hockey. He’s tallied ten and 14 points respectively the last two seasons.

Janicke was noticeable in scrimmages at Development Camp. He’s still growing; now 6-feet, 190-pounds. He generally receives high praise for his hockey smarts and his work ethic, both of which are exemplary.


— Simmer’s Sunday 9: Wedding Bells, Big $$, Trivia

— Kraken Saturday: Camp Nears, McCann’s Lively Skate

Simmer with Calder Trophy winner Matty Beniers in Nashville on NHL Awards night.

Rob Simpson

Rob Simpson has covered the NHL in five different decades. He’s authored 4 books on hockey and is a veteran TV and radio play-by-play man and reporter.