The 2022 NHL Entry Draft is upon us, and before we look to the future, we should take a look back at the past. The Seattle Kraken used all seven of their draft picks during the 2021 NHL Draft. Since then, several players have had standout performances, while some others have tapered off a bit.
The Kraken have added several prospects via free agency or other means throughout the year. However, I’ll talk about them more at a later date. In this report, we’re going to take a look at the inaugural Kraken draft class one year later.
Matty Beniers – Round 1, 2nd Overall
Easily, the team’s most exciting prospect has been second-overall selection Matty Beniers. He spent the majority of the year playing for the University of Michigan on a team loaded with talent. He was fourth on the Wolverines with 23 assists, second with 20 goals, and led the team with 43 points in 37 games. He was also a plus-29 and only registered 16 penalty minutes (PIMs) along with 10 power-play goals.
Beniers was able to play in one game before the 2022 World Junior Championship was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic where he registered an assist. He played in four games for Team USA at the Olympics and scored a goal and an assist with a plus-2 rating.
When he joined the Kraken at the end of the year, he played in 10 games and had a point in all but one, starting things off with a five-game point streak. He finished his first taste of NHL action, which saw him play against five playoff teams, with three goals and nine points in 10 games.
Ryker Evans – Round 2, 35th Overall
Ryker Evans had a fantastic year for the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) Regina Pats that culminated in him signing his entry-level contract (ELC) with the Kraken. He scored 14 goals and 61 points in 63 games on a team that ultimately missed the playoffs. He also had 96 PIMs. His WHL numbers have improved every season he’s been in the league, as he finished 10th in the WHL in goals by a defenseman, his 47 assists placed him eighth, and his point total finished him seventh.
Evans spent time in all situations, registering two shorthanded assists. His 177 shots also put him ninth among WHL defensemen. That’s something that should excite the Kraken, as they need offensive production from the back end. Additionally, their power play was ranked 29th in the NHL at 14.6%, and he can quarterback a power play. He scored six goals and 32 points on the man advantage this season.
Ryan Winterton – Round 3, 67th Overall
Ryan Winterton started the season late due to injury but had a fantastic year for the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) Hamilton Bulldogs that saw a trip to the Memorial Cup Final. They ultimately lost 6-3, but he had a very strong postseason to cap off his year as a whole.
Winterton scored 20 goals and 46 points, with a plus-35 rating in 37 games for the Bulldogs during the regular season. When the playoffs came around, he added seven goals and 19 points in 18 games as the team made its run to the Memorial Cup. Considering his past injuries and how the OHL didn’t play last season, it was a very successful 2021-22 campaign for the 18-year-old pivot.
Ville Ottavainen – Round 4, 99th Overall
Ville Ottavainen scored six goals and 14 points in 44 games for the Finnish Elite League’s (SM-liiga) JYP HT Jyvaskyla. The big, 6-foot-5 defenseman added 59 PIMs and held a minus-4 rating. He played a game at the World Juniors before it was canceled and finished with just one minor penalty.
Jacob Melanson – Round 5, 131st Overall
Jacob Melanson’s goal-scoring ability was on full display for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s (QMJHL) Acadie-Bathurst Titan this past season. He was second on the team, having ripped home 35 goals, and finished third in scoring registering 56 points in 54 games. He also added four goals and six points in eight playoff games.
The Kraken desperately need goalscoring, and finding some within their prospect pool would be an excellent thing. With an intriguing free agent market approaching, general manager Ron Francis may continue to take the long game, as evidenced by his accumulation of picks ahead of this year’s draft.
Semyon Vyazovoi – Round 6, 163rd Overall
Semyon Vyazovoi was the only goalie that the Kraken drafted last year. Playing for the Molodyozhnaya Hokkeinaya Liga (MHL), the Russian junior hockey league, he was very strong throughout the year. He played for Tolpar Ufa, and in 41 games, posted a 2.03 goals-against average (GAA) and .927 save percentage (SV%). His record was 25-10-3 with five shutouts. In four playoff games, he went 1-1-1 with a 2.71 GAA and .911 SV%, his lone win being a shutout.
Justin Janicke – Round 7, 195th Overall
Justin Janicke had a slow start to his year at Notre Dame. However, once February hit, he started to put some points on the score sheet. In 13 games, starting with a Feb. 4 matchup against Penn State, he scored two goals and seven points to close out the year. Wholesome note here: he’s playing with his older brother on the Fighting Irish.
I think some of these guys are going to require some more time, but others could be around sooner than maybe originally thought. Beniers will be on the Kraken roster next year, and barring a really strong training camp, Evans should be receiving top minutes with the Coachella Valley Firebirds to start the season.
In the meantime, buckle up for this year’s NHL Draft. The Hockey Writers has you covered with content ranging from prospect profiles and mock drafts, to team-specific pieces and rankings, and much more. Find it all in our FREE 2022 NHL Draft Guide. Enjoy!
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.