The Seattle Kraken are slated to pick second in this year’s draft. They were the only team to move up this year, going from No. 3 to No. 2. Despite the temptation to select second, Seattle’s best option would be trading down. This draft is very deep where value is available throughout the top 10, so they may still get the player they want despite trading down. Here are three teams that could be good trade partners come the NHL Draft.
New Jersey Devils
In 2019, the New Jersey Devils selected Jack Hughes with the first overall pick. This year, his brother, Luke Hughes is the fourth-ranked North American skater. New Jersey is going to try and reunite the brothers in whatever way possible. This is where Seattle can play a big role.
Picking at No. 3 are the Anaheim Ducks, who desperately need to rebuild their blueline. Luke Hughes would be a great partner for Jamie Drysdale. To avoid Anaheim pouncing on Hughes, New Jersey could offer a pick swap to jump up to two. In exchange, the Kraken could bolster their selection pool with the Islanders’ first or second-round pick this year, which New Jersey owns. This trade is all dependant on how badly The Devils want Hughes and how much they are willing to pay to get him.
Columbus Blue Jackets
The Columbus Blue Jackets are coming off a disappointing season where they finished with the worst record in the Central Division. They also have one of their top players in Seth Jones inform the team he will not be back after next season. Columbus will need to replace Jones with a solid right-shot defender. That player could be Brandt Clarke.
At 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, Clarke could be the perfect replacement for Seth Jones. He can make breakout passes, jump in on the rush and is not afraid to throw the body around. He registered 15 points in 26 games over in the Slovakian men’s league this year, proving he can compete against older and tougher competition. Columbus has three first-round picks this year including the Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs’ picks. This may be enough to move up from No. 5 to No. 3 and get that right-shot defender the franchise desperately needs.
Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings are slated to pick sixth right now, but do have Washington’s first-round pick and two additional second-round picks in this year’s draft. Detroit’s defence is solid but they do need a second-line center. Matthew Beniers might be exactly that as the 6-foot-1 centreman from the University of Michigan is a top-three pick that Detroit would love to add to their pipeline.
Beniers played so well this year that he earned himself a spot on the United States’ World Championship team. He played in five round-robin games where he registered a goal and an assist. He was also a key part of the USA’s World Juniors team that won gold this year. He is strong at both ends of the ice and can become that two-way centreman like Jonathan Toews or Patrice Bergeron. If Detroit wants a shot at him, they may need to make a deal with Seattle that could include one of the Red Wings’ 12 picks this draft.
Los Angeles Kings
A jump from No. 8 to No. 2 would require more require a little extra, but it is possible. The LA Kings need a goaltender desperately and this year’s draft holds one of the best goaltending prospects in recent memory with Jesper Wallstedt. With teams like Detroit and San Jose ahead who also need to enhance their goaltending pipeline, a trade could happen to ensure they get their desired player.
Related: THW’s 2021 NHL Draft Guide
Goaltenders rarely go in the top three of drafts but Wallstedt would be worthy of the second overall selection. He has great size at 6-foot-3, 214 pounds, and has proven he can excel against older competition. Wallstedt has played 23 games in the SHL before the age of 19. He has a .909 save percentage along with a 2.21 goals-against average during that span. If LA were to include a prospect like Arthur Kaliyev or Helge Grans combined with the No. 8 pick, it may be enough for Seattle to consider trading down that far. LA needs a goaltender and Wallstedt seems like the perfect fit.
A Deep First Round
With players like Fabian Lysell, Aatu Raty, Daniil Chayka and Carson Lambos all available later in the first round, acquiring that second first-round pick may be the best option for the Kraken. Even if it is a second-round pick, you could snag yourself a player like Logan Stankoven, Joshua Roy or Oliver Kapanen. Seattle should listen to the offers they get for the No. 2 selection, and strongly consider moving the pick at the draft.