Seattle Kraken get No. 4 NHL Draft pick: What, and who, to expect
The 2022 NHL Draft Lottery, the second in Seattle Kraken history, was a bit of a letdown from an entertainment standpoint.
We didn’t get to see the lotto balls sucked into a tube as the actual drawing took place in private, presumably in a sketchy, dark, smoke-filled room. Rather, we got NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly revealing the 16 lottery picks one at a time by turning over a placard with team logos on it. When he got to pick four, he flipped over Seattle’s logo, meaning the Kraken will have the fourth pick overall.
The odds said that was the most likely landing spot for the Kraken, and they knew they would drop no further than the fifth pick. The Montreal Canadiens, who will host July’s NHL Draft, nabbed the top pick, with the New Jersey Devils picking second and the Arizona Coyotes getting the No. 3 selection.
“There are good players in the draft,” Kraken general manager Ron Francis said after the lottery. “Having the opportunity to throw more darts at the board this year, we’re feeling pretty good about where we sit. Our staff feels we did an excellent job last year with the picks and I know they did an outstanding job again this year… It is a good class, especially at the top. We’ll have our list ready and see where the three teams go in front of us.”
Francis says that there are potentially six or seven players that the team could end up picking between. With the Canadian Hockey League playoffs underway and the upcoming World Championship, his scouts are not done working yet and the team’s board could change between now and the July 7-8 draft.
Over the last month, Francis had said the possibility of the Kraken finding a player in the first round to play right away next season was there, but that remains uncertain.
“I think there are players available to step in and play this year, but it really depends on the three picks before us and who we get at four,” Francis said. “It’s still a little bit early.”
Whether the selection arrives in Seattle on Day 1 or after a year or two of further development, the Kraken will add a quality player with the fourth overall pick, one that should be a key contributor at some point down the road.
What kind of player gets selected fourth overall?
Looking over the past 10 NHL Drafts, the fourth pick has yielded quality players and should again this year in what is considered a quality class.
Last summer, the New Jersey Devils selected Michigan defenseman Luke Hughes with the fourth overall pick. He has yet to play in the NHL, opting like Michigan teammate and Kraken forward Matty Beniers to play the college season. He had a great year, though, and all indications are that he will be a top performer at the NHL level.
The year prior, the Detroit Red Wings took Swedish winger Lucas Raymond, who took a year to get to the Red Wings but just completed an outstanding rookie season with 23 goals.
Other notables include the 2018 fourth overall pick Brady Tkachuk, who is already the captain of the Ottawa Senators and a young star on the rise, and in 2014,the Nashville Predators selected Portland Winterhawks defenseman Seth Jones, who has become one of the top blueliners in the league.
Of course, the fourth pick hasn’t always produced a surefire player. Just ask the New York Islanders, who took defenseman Griffin Reinhart fourth overall during the 2012 NHL Draft. Reinhart was a bust, playing in just 37 NHL games over his short-lived career. That pick did have a happy ending for the Islanders, at least, as they traded Reinhart to the Edmonton Oilers to move up in the 2015 NHL Draft and take Seattle Thunderbirds star Mathew Barzal in the first round.
If Francis selects well, the Kraken will be adding a high-end player to the pipeline.
Who will be available to Seattle Kraken at No. 4?
Barring a shock of epic proportions, Shane Wright of the Ontario Hockey League’s Kingston Frontenacs should go first and play in Montreal next season. A complete player who can score and create, he’s been the presumptive No. 1 for the upcoming draft for over a year.
After that, it gets a little trickier. Most likely, picks two and three will be some combination of U.S. speedster Logan Cooley or Slovakian Olympic hero Juraj Slafkovsky, and those guys most likely will be off the board when the Seattle Kraken turn comes up.
Seattle will probably be looking at a trio of possibilities with the fourth pick.
It could go with the high-scoring Matthew Savoie from the Western Hockey League’s Winnipeg ICE, Finnish winger Joakim Kemell, or the highest-ranked defenseman in Simon Nemic from Slovakia.
In Savoie, the Kraken would add a scoring machine who potted 35 goals and 90 points in 65 games this season for one of the WHL’s top teams. He is not the biggest guy in the draft, listed at 5 foot 9 and 178 pounds, which brings into question how close he is to the NHL.
Who's got slick mitts and leads all @KubotaCanadaLtd CHL / NHL Top Prospects Game invitees in points?
— The WHL (@TheWHL) March 16, 2022
Kemell, who is listed at 5-11 and 171 pounds, comes armed with a terrific shot, and the Kraken are desperate to find some players who can finish. Kemell could be that guy. He played on several national teams this season and scored, but the most impressive stat is the 15 goals he scored in the Finnish Liga, a professional league filled with older players.
Joakim Kemell completes the hat trick in overtime! 🇫🇮
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) April 28, 2022
Nemic is the top defenseman available in this year’s draft, and Francis could look to bolster his blueline pool here. Nemic is said to be a smart player who sees the ice well and can dish the puck. He’s a right-handed shot, which is always a bonus.
Simon Nemec gives Slovakia the 3-2 lead over Sweden.
— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisTHN) August 4, 2021
Francis has a tough call here. All three players are worthy of going fourth overall, and having choices is a good thing. Which of these three are the best? That’s a matter of preference and how Francis and head scout Robert Kron see things.