The Seattle Kraken have now completed two NHL Drafts in their history and are slowly building a strong farm system. While there are some holes to fill, such as their right-shot defensive depth, they have been able to assemble a strong group with prospects expected to make the jump to the NHL in the next few years. Seattle has already seen a prospect do just that with Matty Beniers playing ten games during the 2021-22 season. As he has played games at the NHL level, he is exempt from this list.
One of the biggest mistakes Ron Francis and the Kraken management could make is to dip into their prospect pool and use them as trade bait. Seattle is still a few years away from making a run and will need these entry-level contracts to help maintain cap compliance, not just this season, but down the road. If the Kraken do decide to move out some prospects, here are four that should be untouchable.
Keeping Shane Wright on the roster should be an easy decision. The fourth overall selection from the 2022 NHL Entry Draft should not only make the team during the 2022-23 season but is projected to be in the Calder Trophy debate by the end of the campaign. Not only is he a top prospect around the league, but he also tops the Kraken’s list, and may even be above Beniers when discussing overall potential.
There are few trades where giving up Wright would make sense. He projects as a number one center that could easily be at or above a point per game for the majority of his career. Despite having never played a game for the organization, he is a clear untouchable when it comes to trade talk.
With the 35th overall pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, the Kraken went off the board and selected Ryker Evans out of the Western Hockey League (WHL). This was a prospect who was ranked 192nd among North American Skaters by NHL Central Scouting, and most had going in the early 100s of the draft. He proved Seattle made a strong choice as he finished the 2021-22 campaign with 61 points in 63 games while being named to the WHL (East) Second All-Star Team.
The big question surrounding Evans is whether he can produce offensively playing on a separate team than Connor Bedard. While he was able to create offence on his own, playing with a generational talent that is projected to be the number one pick in the 2023 Draft could be part of the reason he finished with the most assists by a defenceman in the WHL during the 2020-21 season. The Kraken’s blue line is built mostly of shutdown defencemen, so he fills a need for Seattle. He will be one of the players to watch on the Coachella Valley Firebirds this season and is a prospect the Kraken should develop rather than use as trade bait.
Not many players on the Kraken have as much offensive creativity as Jagger Firkus. Drafted 35th overall in 2022, the Moose Jaw Warriors forward was one of the most dynamic players in the WHL last season. He finished with 80 points during the regular season, good enough for 14th across the league, and an impressive 19.3 shooting percentage. A player who was consistently part of the WHL Plays of the Week, he is poised to have an even better year in 2022-23.
The Kraken have dynamic offensive players like Wright, Beniers and Oliver Bjorkstrand, but they don’t have creative players like Firkus. Players that will try to pull off moves like a lacrosse-style goal. Granted, he is doing this at the WHL level, but his play shows a willingness to try everything possible to get the puck in the net. He is an exciting player to watch and one that Seattle will benefit from once he makes the lineup in the future.
The biggest issue the Kraken have throughout their organization is right-shot defencemen. Currently, they only have two under the age of 23, Ville Ottavainen and Ty Nelson. While both are promising, it is the latter that Seattle fans and the organization should be focused on.
During his first Ontario Hockey League (OHL) season, Nelson compiled 51 points in 66 games. He also had the most assists in the league among rookies with 42 and was named to the Second All-Rookie Team. All of this is impressive, especially considering he didn’t play the year before as the OHL cancelled their season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is a right-shot defenceman that can generate offence and is reliable defensively. This is exactly the type of prospect the Kraken need in their farm system and, at just 18, should be considered untouchable in trade talks.
Kraken Building a Strong Prospect Pipeline
The Kraken made some massive steps this offseason to improve their prospect pool, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed. In Peter Baracchini’s latest farm system rankings here at The Hockey Writers, he has Seattle moving from 31st overall all the way up to ninth. Using prospects to trade for known assets is tempting, but the best option is for the Kraken to hold onto them, especially these four.
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.