Kraken 2022 NHL Draft Target: Christian Kyrou

The Seattle Kraken have four second-round draft picks in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft, and one should be used to select defenseman Christian Kyrou from the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) Erie Otters. The Kraken have many needs to fill, and the draft is one of the best ways to fill them. One of their most significant needs is right-handed defensemen.

Christian Kyrou Erie Otters
Christian Kyrou, Erie Otters defenseman (Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images)

This will hinge upon the Kraken’s earlier draft pick at fourth overall. There could be two highly rated right-handed defensemen in David Jiříček and Simon Nemec available. One could find themselves taken in that slot. Additionally, if they opt to go with a forward like Cutter Gauthier, that makes it even more imperative to draft Kyrou.

Related: THW’s FREE 2022 NHL Draft Guide 

This piece will first give a bit of background information on Kyrou and see how he performed this past season. Then, I’ll assess how he’d fit in with the Kraken as they stand. This is the second Kraken Draft Target piece I’m writing; I made a “building a case” joke in the first one, and I liked it, so why stop there?

Take your seats, court is back in session.

Christian Kyrou’s Mini Prospect Profile

If the last name sounds familiar, it’s because it should be. His older brother Jordan is rising to stardom with the St. Louis Blues. He scored just over a point per game in just his second full season after being drafted 35th overall in 2016. Interestingly, the Kraken have that same exact pick in this year’s draft. Even more interestingly, in the THW Round 2 Mock Draft, I selected Christian in that same exact spot for the Kraken. 

Christian started his OHL career by appearing in 21 games for the Otters during the 2019-20 season.  He didn’t score a single point, just two penalty minutes (PIMs) and was rated a minus-4. He came into the 2020-21 season ready to really kickstart his junior hockey career and… the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rough start. However, to paraphrase Gemma Teller (portrayed by Katey Sagal) in Sons of Anarchy, we all get knocked down, it’s about how we get up. He got up with force.

In the 2021-22 season, on an Otters team that struggled to a sub-.500 record, he finished third in scoring by just three points. He tallied 60 points in 68 games, fourth-best among OHL defensemen. His 42 assists led the team, and his 18 goals were third for goals by a defenseman in the OHL. 

Let’s break down those scoring numbers for a second. He scored two goals and 17 assists on the power play, for 19 power-play points total. He added a goal and four assists while shorthanded, for five shorthanded points. That leaves 15 goals and 21 assists for 36 points in all other situations. Additionally, he finished third on his team with 193 shots on goal, which was sixth among OHL defensemen. That’s something that Kraken general manager Ron Francis should look at very strongly. 

However, with the good must always come the bad. THW’s Mark Scheig detailed some of what Kyrou has to work on before becoming an NHLer. 

“While there is a lot to be excited about, Kyrou certainly has room for improvement. He is undersized at 5-foot-11. Opponents were able to push him around at times, especially in wall battles. He was able to make up for some of that by using his skating and stick to break up plays. In addition, because Kyrou is always thinking offense, he would get caught allowing odd-man chances the other way by being too aggressive. Once he figures out the overall defensive consistency, watch out.”

 – Mark Scheig, from “Christian Kyrou – 2022 NHL Draft Prospect Profile,” The Hockey Writers

Naturally, he has aspects of his game that he needs to improve on, as all prospects do. However, there is no denying his offensive prowess. Despite his consistency issues in the defensive zone, he is trusted in all situations and could be expected to post similar, if not better numbers next season should he remain in the OHL.

Examining Christian Kyrou’s Potential Fit With the Kraken

Kyrou could become a key cog on a Kraken team that really needs to bolster its right-handed defensive depth. Regardless of what it does at fourth-overall, he could slot into the defense’s top-four once it’s his time to make the jump to pro. Something in his favor is that the Kraken are still in build mode, and likely won’t be competing for a playoff spot in the near future, so they shouldn’t rush him in his development. 

If we look ahead a bit, the Kraken have a few defensive prospects signed to their entry-level contracts (ELC) in Ryker Evans and Peetro Seppälä. Jamie Oleksiak and Adam Larsson are the only two rostered defensemen signed past the 2023-24 season. Between that, and the assumption that they may sell at the deadline again if the playoffs are out of the picture, there could be a nice-sized hole for Kyrou to step into. 

He’s someone they should pair with more of a stay-at-home defenseman when he first turns pro. Oleksiak could be a good match, as it will allow Kyrou to explore his offensive game at the NHL level while Oleksiak can cover for him rather dependably. Add to that some power-play time and even secondary penalty killing down the line, and they could have a staple for their top-four. 

He should be taken with the 35th-overall selection, their first pick in Round 2. His rankings have fluctuated, but given what he brings to the table, they should take him as soon as possible after the first round. 

Related: Kraken’s 2021-22 Season in Review: Behind the Metrics

The Kraken are in a good spot with the draft as they have nine picks in the first four rounds. They should draft Kyrou as he not only fills their need for a right-handed defenseman, but brings special teams versatility and high hockey IQ to the table. They need more offensive production from their blue line, and he’s someone who could bring it.

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