To have success as a franchise, you need to be able to draft well. That includes your picks in rounds four through seven. In recent years, we have seen these late-round selections blossom into NHL stars. Whether it be Ondřej Palát, Mark Stone, Johnny Gaudreau or Connor Hellebuyck, later-round picks can make a significant difference to your team. The Kraken currently holds the 99th, 131st, 163rd and 195th pick between rounds four and seven. Here are some late-round picks the Seattle Kraken should consider in this year’s draft.
The Kraken currently holds the 99th overall selection in the 2021 NHL entry draft. Players picked in this position include current Kraken player Joonas Donskoi and Carolina Hurricanes James Reimer.
Cole Huckins, Acadie-Bathurst Titan (C)
2020-21 Season Stats: 33 games played (GP), 14 goals, 18 assists, 32 points
If you need a big center, then Huckins is your guy. He is listed at 6-foot-3, 201 pounds. The part of his game that is most impressive is his passing. He can find open teammates all over the ice and deliver crisp passes to scoring positions. There are some questions about his defensive game, but overall, he is a solid prospect who could develop nicely into an NHL player.
Roman Schmidt, US National Team Development Program (D)
2020-21 Season Stats: 45 GP, 3 goals, 11 assists, 14 points
There is a lot to like when it comes to Schmidt. He is a big body defenseman who isn’t afraid to throw hits or stand up for his teammates and has some offensive skill to his game. His stickwork and ability to get the puck away from opponents is his strongest asset. He has committed to playing for the Kitchener Rangers next season, consistently one of the top franchises in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).
Shai Buium, Sioux City Musketeers (C)
2020-21 Season Stats: 50 GP, 4 goals, 22 assists, 26 points
Buium is an exciting defensive prospect who has committed to the University of Denver next season. He has the ability to take over a game with his speed and puckhandling. His size is also an asset as he is currently listed at 6-foot-3, 214 pounds. The real question is if he will be able to perform against tougher competition. He had success in the United States Hockey League last season, now can he compete and thrive at the NCAA level.
The 131st pick in the draft hasn’t produced a ton of stars but a few valuable players. This includes Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg and former Nashville Predator Matt Hendricks.
Atte Lehikoinen, KalPa (D)
2020-21 Season Stats: 49 GP, 11 assists, 11 points
Lehikoinen will not blow to doors off anyone but has been a solid prospect out of Finland’s development team. He was the assistant captain of his U20 team last season despite being only 17 and continues to be invited to and play a role at international tournaments for Finland. He can be an excellent prospect and one we look back on in a few years questioning why he wasn’t drafted higher.
Guillaume Richard, Tri-City Storm (D)
2020-21 Season Stats: 46 GP, 2 goals, 14 assists, 16 points
Richard is a great defenseman who can break up plays in his own zone and let opponents get around him. One reason fans should be excited about him is he was invited to play for the Team Canada U-18 team this past season. He had a plus rating every game he played in included a +6 performance against Sweden. Next year, he will be playing at Providence College, where he should show he can compete against tougher competition in the NCAA.
Zack Ostapchuck, Vancouver Giants (LW)
2020-21 Season Stats: 22 GP, 7 goals, 9 assists, 16 points
If the Kraken want a west coast kid with size, then Ostapchuck is their man. He has shown steady improvement over his Western Hockey League (WHL) career and has established himself as a hard to play against winger who can throw big hits. Drafting him also allows Kraken fans to watch him develop as Vancouver will make two stops in Kent, Washington, to play the Seattle Thunderbirds next season. He is projected to have a big year next season, so this is a prospect people should be getting excited about.
Some may see sixth-round picks as throwaways, but the 163rd overall pick has produced some good NHLers. Players include Brad Richardson of the Nashville Predators and former New York Islander Marty McInnis.
Simon Knak, Portland Winterhawks (RW)
2020-21 Season Stats: 24 GP, 16 goals, 13 assists, 29 points
Knak is older than most in this draft class, which means he has had an extra year to develop. He is a leader in the locker room and is a fixture in Switzerland’s development program. This past World Juniors, he was named team captain and one of Switzerland’s top three players at the tournament. He has dominated the WHL and would be a great addition to the Kraken’s prospect pool.
Ilya Ivantsov, SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (C)
2020-21 Season Stats: 53 GP, 8 goals, 25 assists, 33 points
Ivantsov had a great season and was named an assistant captain on Russia’s U-18 team. He has his offensive game down; the question is can he put on some weight and become tougher to play against. He is currently listed at 5-foot-10, but only 154 lbs. If he continues to develop and work on his defensive game, he could be the steal of the draft.
Carson Latimer, Edmonton Oil Kings (RW)
2020-21 Season Stats: 22 GP, 5 goals, 11 assists, 16 points
There is a lot to like when it comes to Latimer. He never seems to run out of energy and has developed into a player who is not afraid to play physically. Although he has played the penalty kill, he needs to work on his defensive game. There is a lot of potential here, so it will be interesting to see if he can take the next step in his development and step up for an Oil Kings team set to lose some of their key players before next season.
The last scheduled pick for the Kraken is 195th overall. There haven’t been many who have made the NHL, but players like former Red Wing Christian Djoos and former Dallas Star Jyrki Jokipakka show that this pick can be valuable.
Florian Elias, Adler Mannheim (C)
2020-21 Season Stats: 34 GP, 3 goals, 5 assists, 8 points
Elias is an impressive prospect who is not getting enough attention. He lit up the World Juniors for Germany last year, finishing with nine points in five games and showed he belonged in Germany’s top league as an 18-year-old. There are questions around his size as he is only 5-foot-8, 170 lbs, but he could still have a chance at the NHL if developed properly.
Caedan Bankier, Kamloops Blazers, (C)
2020-21 Season Stats: 22 GP, 11 goals, 12 assists, 23 points
Bankier is a playmaking center with a lot of upside. He can find teammates in open positions and has the ability to thread the puck through defenders to create scoring chances. There are some questions about his defensive play, but he has been steadily improving over the last two seasons. He is definitely a project prospect that has the potential to turn into something in the future.
Taylor Gauthier, Prince George Cougars, (G)
2020-21 Season Stats: 15 GP, .915% Save Percentage, 2.74 Goals Against Average
Although Gauthier is going into his third draft, he should still be a consideration for selection. Team Canada loves him, so why don’t NHL scouts? Despite playing for a rebuilding team in Prince George, he managed to put up decent statistics and has shown improvement year after year. Depending on his preseason, he could see games in the AHL as early as next season.
Value in Later Picks
As mentioned, there is value in later-round picks. The Kraken need to build an entire prospect pool, so they need to make these picks count. Seattle may acquire additional picks, but the players listed above would provide great value if available.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken team. His work can also be found at dubnetwork.ca where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League. Adam is excited to be part of the Kraken’s inaugural season and ready to bring you in depth coverage of the NHL’s 32nd team.