It’s a who’s who of Kraken prospects attending rookie camp starting this Sunday, with the on-ice portion starting Monday. Three years of NHL Drafts accumulated.
At this point, aside from 2021 2nd-overall pick and 2023 Calder Trophy winner Matty Beniers, no other Kraken home grown product has cracked the NHL line-up on a regular basis.
For some that’s a bit of a surprise as it relates to 2022 4th-overall pick Shane Wright, the right handed center who was considered a phenom throughout his teenage years back in Ontario. Originally projected by scouts to be the 1st-overall pick by the Montreal Canadiens at the draft in Montreal 15 months ago, Wright fell to the Kraken three picks later. Instead of stepping right into the big show, the lanky Burlington, Ontario native had a whirlwind 2022-’23 season.
Wright’s still a teenager, having turned 19 on January 5th, the day he and his Team Canada mates won the Gold Medal at the 2023 World Junior Championship in Halifax.
Last season Wright spent various amounts of time in the Ontario Hockey League, American Hockey League, and the NHL while trying to nail down the finer points of the pro game at its highest level. He scored his first and only NHL goal last December against, none-other-than, the Montreal Canadiens.
It appears Wright will be granted an exemption to play in the AHL this season, rather than being forced to play back in major juniors. It won’t matter should he somehow manage to crack the NHL line-up.
Having Kartye attend rookie camp almost seems to make Wright having another kick at the can seem a bit more palatable. But then again, ego never seems to enter into these proceedings. Both players are anxious to show what they’re made of and don’t seem to be too concerned about who they’re playing against or who’s watching.
Kartye showed up at the informal skates that Seattle Hockey Insider attended over the last couple of weeks while Wright didn’t. That’s likely nothing more than a pre-training camp preference, differing schedules, or just a coincidence.
Although Kartye has yet to play an NHL regular season game, he did impress by scoring three goals during a ten game run in the Stanley Cup playoffs. He was impressive overall; comfortable under pressure and with physicality against much savvier veteran opponents.
Speaking of veterans, Kartye will be giving one or two Kraken a run for their money in trying to nail down an opening night roster spot in the bottom-six. It’ll be one of the more interesting competitions to watch.
((NOTE: Wright, Kartye, and Evans (below) are not presently listed on the big training camp roster))
Along those lines, defenseman Ryker Evans remains the hottest wild card. The 21-year-old, 2021 Kraken 2nd-rounder posted 44 points from the blueline during the regular Coachella Valley AHL season and then helped carry the Firebirds through to a seven-game Calder Cup Final with 26 points in 26 playoff games.
The Kraken won’t want to use him lightly or as a reserve at this stage. Sitting in an NHL press box as a healthy scratch doesn’t do anyone any good. He’d have to bump a big league D-man, and although unlikely, it’ll be fun to see just what type of impression he makes in camp.
6-foot-5, 220-pound, right-shot Finnish D-man Ville Ottavainen, a participant at informal skates at Kraken Community IcePlex last week, will be another prospect blueliner to watch at rookie camp. The Kraken’s 4th-rounder in 2021 will look to make the fulltime move to North America this season.
The on-ice portion of the Kraken’s main camp begins September 21st.