Biggest NHL Draft Questions: Who will Seattle Kraken select at No. 4?
Now that the Stanley Cup has been awarded and the season is officially over, next week’s NHL Draft is the next big hockey event. Round one will take place Thursday, July 7, and rounds two through seven will happen the next day on July 8. After two years of conducting the draft online, the NHL returns to holding the event in person, this time in Montreal and the Seattle Kraken hold the fourth overall pick.
If you’re a new fan or a grizzled vet, the Draft is must watch. The first night is usually the most fun but if you’re of the hardcore variety, the second round, and its rapid-fire pace can be just as interesting. It’s the one time of the year that the entire hockey world – the NHL and all the amateur leagues – come together for what is the ultimate hockey convention.
All 32 NHL teams send delegations, and they sit on the arena floor, there are no secretive ‘war rooms’ in hockey.
Seattle general manager Ron Francis will be there with his scouting team, and they’ll be busy. Francis has 12 picks next week including the fourth pick overall. Whether Francis makes all those picks or uses them to swing some trades, it’s going to be a busy Draft for the Kraken.
What should Seattle Kraken fans be watching for? Here are some questions that will be answered next week.
Who will the Seattle Kraken take at No. 4?
The online Draft pundits mostly agree on who the top four players available are but there is some question as to the order they should or would be picked. On top of that, what nobody knows is how the teams at the top of the Draft have these players ranked.
Montreal has the first pick with the New Jersey Devils picking second, and the Arizona Coyotes selecting third ahead of Seattle.
Shane Wright from the Ontario Hockey League is the consensus number one pick and as a solid scoring center, he should go first to the Montreal Canadiens which will be a thrilling moment for the local fans in the building.
However, there are some who prefer Slovakian Juraj Slavkovsky at number one. Slavkovsky is a big power forward who has a ton of athletic ability and has the potential to be a top-end goal scorer after impressive performances at the Olympics and IIHF World Championships.
The third player is Logan Cooley who is a dynamic scorer playing for the United States National Team Development Program. He’s speedy, skilled, and the kind of player that will bring people out of their seats despite being on the smaller size.
If those end up being the top three, then it’s been routinely speculated that Francis will grab defenseman Simon Nemec who is a two-way slick skating, righthanded defenseman who has offensive upside.
But what if one of the three clubs picking before Seattle goes off the script? If there’s a player that isn’t expected in the top three selected, things get interesting. The Kraken could benefit if one of those top three players slips to the fourth pick. Nemec is too good to be considered a consolation prize but if a Cooley or Slavkovsky slips, it could end up being a boon for Seattle.
Will there be trade winds?
The Draft is often when trades happen in the NHL. There has already been speculation about trades when the Ottawa Senators indicated that they might be willing to move the seventh pick in the first round if they can get an “impact player” in return.
Seattle may not be a good fit to be trading partners with the Senators, but Francis is loaded with extra Draft picks – including four in the second round – and surely has been working the phones to see what he might be able to do.
Does that mean he moves picks to acquire a player that can step into the lineup right away? Can he package some second-round picks to move into the first and select another player he likes?
Outside of who the Kraken pick, this is the most intriguing aspect of the Draft from a Seattle view.
Will there be a run on defensemen?
Like most sports, the NHL is a copycat league.
The Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup with a balanced attack but their defense was significant. Defenseman Cale Makar, who won the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP, led the Avalanche and he was surrounded by a talented group on the back end.
Will that sway other franchises on how to build a roster as they look to copy the Avalanche success?
Nemec is not quite the same type of player as Makar but he will help the offense and would help a team like the Kraken who have a need there. What about defensemen like Seattle Thunderbirds Kevin Korchinski who is the epitome of an offensive defenseman? His skill set might become more attractive thanks to the impact Makar has had in the league. He’s currently predicted to be selected in the top half of the first round. Will he rise?
Will we see more defensemen go in the first round as everyone looks for the next Makar?
Will the Thunderbirds be well represented?
Korchinski is the highest-rated Thunderbird but he is joined by some of his teammates. Forward Reid Schaefer is a big, power forward who exploded to score 32 goals this season. He’s currently rated as a possible late first, early second-round prospect.
Center Jordan Gustafson is a smart, all-around player who scored 23 goals for the Thunderbirds will also hear his name called next week.
Goalie Thomas Milic was skipped over in the Draft last season but his performance this year, especially in the playoffs, may garner enough interest in his second go-around to get picked. He was invited to Kraken training camp last fall, but an injury kept him from attending.
It will a fun day for the local WHL club as their players will be in play. Is it possible that the Seattle Kraken take one of them?