If you had the Seattle Kraken drafting Shane Wright at fourth-overall on your NHL Draft bingo card, then pat yourself on the back. While some had projected the one-time consensus first-overall prospect to go first, he fell off and right into the Kraken’s tentacles. Many have compared him to Patrice Bergeron, and considering the Kraken struggled defensively, this is an incredible steal. He’s expected to be in the starting lineup for their opening-night matchup against the Anaheim Ducks.
In this article, I’ll talk about his fit and the dynamic duo that he and 2021 second-overall pick Matty Beniers will form down the middle, and take a look at what the Kraken’s Day 2 strategy should be. Side note before starting, THW’s Adam Kierszenblat gets credit for this title as he gave me the idea; always have to give credit where it’s due. Now, let’s get swimming.
Shane Wright & Matty Beniers Will Form Dynamic Duo For Kraken
I talked about how Wright and Matty Beniers would fit together in the Kraken lineup ahead of the draft, and now we get to see it come to fruition. Honestly, this may even take some pressure off Beniers going into next season. After scoring nine points in his 10-game stint at the end of the 2021-22 season, scoring a point in all but one game, it probably elevated expectations of him coming into his first full NHL season.
Wright is going to have pressure on him as it is, especially considering he fell in the draft. Having some of this pressure removed from Beniers could help him succeed. Wright is coming in as a two-way player with supreme potential. It’s almost a bit of a safety net because if he gets off to a slow start offensively, he can rely on his defensive ability and focus on that until the offense starts to figure itself out.
While it’s unclear who will line up on the right and left wings in the team’s top-six to start the year, these two guys should be the top two centers. This is even more important if the team ends up being out of contention. These guys should get as many reps as possible with as much ice time as possible; within reason. Now, if they struggle, reducing their role a bit could help, but I’m talking about each of them in a top-six role with time on special teams.
The Kraken need immediate help on special teams, and now they have two guys entering the lineup who can impact both the power play and penalty kill right away. They were 29th on the power play and 31st on the penalty kill, so it’s easy to think that scoring a couple more power-play goals and killing off a few more penalties would have resulted in a few more wins for the team.
Kraken Day 2 Draft Strategy
I’ve said for a long time that on the list of things that the Kraken need, right-handed defensemen and goal scorers were two of the top items. With their first pick this year, they got a two-way center with a world of potential. You can’t pass up a player with the upside that Shane Wright has if he drops to fourth overall, you just can’t. However, now they need to shift their draft strategy for Day 2, and I’m adding a goaltender to the mix.
General manager Ron Francis has 11 draft picks remaining, barring any trades on the draft floor tomorrow, including four in the second round. Here’s where he can really start adding pieces to start filling in the holes that this team has. It likely won’t be an immediate impact, but drafting shouldn’t be looked at as a quick fix, it’s an investment.
Their first priority should be a right-handed defenseman. There are several options, Ty Nelson could be available, he scored 51 points in 66 games for the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) North Bay Battalion this season. Personally, my choice is St. Louis Blues forward Jordan Kyrou’s brother, Christian Kyrou.
He can quarterback a power play and isn’t afraid to fire the puck on net from the blue line. He tallied points in all situations, and while the Kraken should look to him for his offensive ability, seeing him round out his two-way game and play on the penalty kill as well would make him a steal in the early second round.
Another player I think they should take a good look at is 6-foot-4 goaltender Tyler Brennan, who played for the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) Prince George Cougars this past season. While his regular-season totals weren’t super inspiring, the team did struggle as a whole. He played in 39 games and had an 11-25-2 record with four shutouts. His games played, wins, and shutouts all led the team. He also had a 3.58 goals-against average (GAA) and .899 save percentage (SV%).
However, he had a strong playoff despite not recording a win. The Portland Winterhawks swept the Cougars in four games. He played all four but finished 0-3. However, he had a 1.86 GAA and .954 SV%. The Kraken goaltending depth is thin, and it’s been made even thinner by Chris Driedger’s ACL injury. They need to add goaltending depth, and this is both the time and the way to do it.
THW’s Peter Baracchini had Brennan ranked at 84th overall in his final rankings, and he was ranked the top North American goalie prospect via the NHL’s Draft Prospect Rankings. If the Kraken could use one of their later second-round picks, or even their third, to snag him, they absolutely should. For more potential mid/late-round Kraken picks, check out Kierszenblat’s deep-dive exploring it.
The NHL Draft’s already off to an exciting start. From surprise selections to huge trades, the drama and excitement that started in the playoffs are carrying over into the draft. This is fantastic for hockey. Enjoy Day 2, and stick with The Hockey Writers for all your draft content!
Sean Raggio lives for hockey. He will be covering the Seattle Kraken, and is a co-host of “What’s Kraken” for THW. Sean gained experience in writing for television, print and radio while studying journalism at Quinnipiac University and being an active member in the student media organizations there. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out on Twitter! A link can be found at the bottom of his articles, such as this one.