Given the intensity of the Stanley Cup Playoffs thus far, the Seattle Kraken flew under the radar in signing Peetro Seppälä to his entry-level contract (ELC) on May 7. General manager Ron Francis made the signing despite the team having a surplus of left handed defensemen, and with inaugural second-round draft pick Ryker Evans making the jump to professional hockey from the Western Hockey League (WHL).
The 6-foot-2, 192-pound defenseman hails from Kuusankoski, FInland, was never drafted, and is coming off a career-year in the Finnish Elite League (SM-liiga) with the KooKoo Kouvola. He could make the jump to North America this upcoming season. Let’s take a look at Seppälä’s hockey career thus far, and see where he fits with the Kraken.
Seppälä’s Pre-Kraken Career
Seppälä has been with the KooKoo organization since 2014 when he played for the U16 team. He got his first taste of SM-liiga action during the 2017-18 season, where he played six games but scored no points. In the four seasons since, he’s played no fewer than 31 games for the team and has totaled 17 playoff games over two postseason appearances.
He’s played in 174 games for Kouvola, tallying 15 goals and 39 assists for 54 points. He’s also added 94 penalty minutes (PIMs) and held a plus-20 rating. This past season was his breakout season, where he scored eight goals and 21 assists for 29 points with 30 PIMs and a plus-18 in 57 games. Every statistic listed was a career-high. He saw 15 of his playoff games this season, and finished with eight assists.
Internationally, he won a gold medal at the 2018 U18 World Junior Championship. He tallied a goal and a minor penalty in the tournament with an even rating. In the 2020 U20 World Junior Championship, he took two minor penalties, but scored no points in seven games. He’s played three international games this season and has no points, but is a plus-1.
Where Seppälä Fits With the Kraken
With the 21-year-old’s addition, the Kraken have five left-handed defensemen under contract through at least next season. While they’re definitely need defensive prospects that are right-handed shots, he could be a good piece to build around. He’ll likely end up in the American Hockey League (AHL) for the Coachella Valley Firebirds’ inaugural season, and could find top-four ice time slotted behind Evans.
As things stand, Evans is the top Kraken defensive prospect. Carson Soucy led Kraken defensemen with 10 goals, and Vince Dunn finished the season leading their defenders with 35 points, and a team-leading 28 assists. It was Dunn’s best year since his Stanley Cup year in 2018-19 with the St. Louis Blues. Despite this, they need more offense from their blue line. Evans finishing with 61 points in 63 WHL games solidifies his position. However, it could prove beneficial to Seppälä.
Being that expectations won’t be super high, he’ll be afforded the time to fully adjust to the North American game. He can take his time and get in his reps to acclimate himself to the style with less pressure. His role this upcoming season should be to provide secondary defensive scoring for the Firebirds, and potentially find himself with secondary special teams time. Based on his performance, he can always earn more.
Was Signing Seppälä a Hit or a Miss?
The following phrase is becoming a theme with a lot of the Kraken’s recent signings: low risk, high reward. A young, bigger-bodied defenseman with decent mobility and offensive upside is hard to call a miss. It’s not like they overpaid for a free agent past his prime. The Kraken are building and they don’t need to rush Seppälä along.
Considering the speculation that the Kraken will use their fourth-overall pick on Czechian right-handed defenseman David Jiříček , he could play himself into a role that finds him partnered with the top prospect in the future. To paraphrase THW’s Adam Kierszenblat, Jiříček could be the defensive anchor that allows Seppälä to thrive offensively.
The Kraken are doing exactly what they need to do; adding younger talent with upside. If he hits his potential, adding Seppälä could address their need for more offensive production from the blue line. Additionally, it could be a signal towards their draft intent. For more Kraken coverage, NHL Entry Draft coverage and more, stick with The Hockey Writers.
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.