With the final few games of the NHL season being played out, the Seattle Kraken’s focus should be shifting to the May 10 NHL Draft Lottery. Currently, they sit 30th in the league and are projected to pick third overall in the 2022 Draft. This is the same position Seattle had last season before they won the lottery and moved up one spot to second overall and selected Matty Beniers.
This year, it is clear what the Kraken need, right-shot defencemen. They currently only have two right-shot defencemen signed next season in Adam Larsson and Will Borgen. If they pick third as projected, their focus should be on Šimon Nemec of HK Nitra in Slovakia.
Simon Nemec’s Scouting Report
For those not familiar with Nemec, he is a 6-foot-1, 192-pound right-shot defenceman who can transition the puck well and has exceptional skating ability. At 18-years-old, he has already shown he can have success against tougher competition as he has competed in the top Slovakian league for the past three seasons. He was also part of the Bronze Medal Olympic team and played a prominent role on the World Championship team last year.
What makes Nemec such a highly-touted prospect is that he rarely makes mistakes on the ice. He understands when to jump in the play offensively while also having strong gap control while playing defensively. His ability to not just get the puck out of the zone but also find teammates in stride is one of the reasons he finished the season in the top-10 for assists in the Tipos Extraliga, which is the top league in Slovakia.
This year, Nemec has been busy participating in the Olympics and the Olympic qualifiers, competing for the U-18 and U-20 Slovakian National Teams, and of course, playing for HK Nitra of the Tipos Extraliga, where he has been one of the top defencemen all season. He is currently playing in the Finals of the Tipos Extraliga and is projected to be part of Slovakia’s World Championship team once again. This means there is still plenty of time for Kraken fans to get a sneak peek at their next potential star before they call his name in early July.
Where Nemec Fits On The Kraken
If selected by the Kraken, Nemec would be inserted right into the top four from the start of the season. Seattle will most likely be keeping Vince Dunn and Larsson together as the first pair baring trades or signings, with the young Slovakian defencemen lining up on the second pairing with a player like Jamie Oleksiak or Carson Soucy. His insertion into the lineup would allow the Kraken to have a more mobile second pairing defence group while also putting him with a proven veteran that can help him transition to the NHL.
Nemec also has the potential to see special teams time next season. He can play both power play and penalty kill and should be used on the team’s second unit out of training camp. While he has the potential to be on the first unit power play, the Kraken would be smart to ease him into the position so that by mid-season, he is running the top unit.
As for the future, Nemec will most likely become a top-pairing defenceman within his first three seasons. The good news is with Larsson signed until the 2024-25 season in Seattle; there is time to develop him. If selected, he will be the future face of the Kraken’s defence, so they would be smart to develop him properly rather than throw him into the deep and see if he sinks or swims.
Kraken Building Strong Base For The Future
The Kraken need to ensure they build a strong base to be successful in the future. They already have a strong future first-line center in Beniers, but everyone knows that defence wins championships. That is why if Nemec is available when they are up for their first selection, it would be a mistake not to select the young Slovakian defender.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at area51sportsnet.com where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.