Having talked to the Seattle Kraken player development department coming out of July Kraken Development Camp, we then came up with a short list of prospects who the club was most excited about, of those that had never before played in an NHL regular season or Stanley Cup playoff game.
One of them might be playing in his first NHL game very soon. It starting to look that way for …
Ryker Evans – The dynamic lefty D-man who’s been playing the right side next to Jamie Oleksiak in recent scrimmages and games appears to be tracking toward a spot on the opening night roster. He’s been skating consistently with the first group on practice days and he did so again on Sunday morning.
That said, so did righty Cale Fleury, and we know he won’t be one of the six defenseman starting for the Kraken on opening night. It was a session full of drills, not hard line sets or defensive pairings, so one shouldn’t read too deeply into who was onboard. For the second consecutive session defenseman Will Borgen skated with the 2nd group, as did the “big rig” Jamie Oleksiak and veteran center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare.
The situation is still fluid as the Kraken work their way through training camp, but Evans has been impressive, coming off a 44 point season with the Coachella Valley Firebirds and 26 points in 26 playoff games for a club that fell one overtime goal short of a Calder Cup championship.
As we stated in our July story:
One Seattle Kraken management type could be overheard calling the defenseman a ‘rock star’. The simple interpretation: this kid is damn good.
Jani Nyman – The big Finnish winger is not at Kraken training camp, he’s playing in the SM Liiga, the top circuit back home for Ilves Tampere, close to his hometown of Valkeakoski. That was the plan all along for the recently turned 19-year-old, 2022 2nd-round NHL Draft pick, and it’s working out just fine.
Nyman, he with the laser shot, has three goals and three assists over his first nine games in Tampere.
As we mentioned in July:
He’s big, he’s crafty, and he has an absolute rocket of a shot, exhibited on many occasions at Kraken Development Camp last week, including when he snapped home the game winner in Team Blue’s 8-7 comeback win over Team White.
Nyman was voted the 2nd star in Ilves’s 3-2 victory over HIFK Helsinki on Friday night.
The Dobber Prospects site earlier described his potential this way:
Large-bodied, goal-scoring winger who drives the net and works the boards well. Needs to work on his quickness and two-way game to cement his middle-six upside.
Ryan Winterton – The kid needs seasoning and he should start getting plenty of it as Coachella Valley begins its training camp. He was one of six players the Kraken moved along on Thursday.
This was completely expected for a 20-year-old the Kraken are high on, but realistic about in terms of his progress. Covid wiped-out one of his Ontario Hockey League seasons, as it did for Shane Wright, Logan Morrison, and many others, while shoulder injuries only added to Winterton’s slower climb.
He’s a right shot center with strong two-way skills and NHL upside. He needs to stay healthy and he needs repetitions.
“That was exciting (the playoff performance), just to see the progression for him, and for him to come in and win strength testing, I think surprised a lot of people,” Kraken Player Development Director Jeff Tambellini said at the end of camp. “Just coming off two injuries like that usually sets a player back, but he had a fantastic playoff run and has come in and made a big statement that he’s ready to play. He’ll be a guy to watch at training camp.”
Both Wright and Tye Kartye, with limited NHL experience, continue to skate with the top group at Kraken training camp. This was totally expected for Kartye, who played in ten playoff games, and not a complete shock for Wright, who played eight regular season games early last winter. (More to come on both.)
Goalie Chris Driedger was with the first group Sunday, Joey Daccord the 2nd group. Literally just a note, and at this point not worth reading into. Both need to see time and given the opportunity to face the club’s top shooters.