KRAKEN

Seattle Kraken Camp Observations: Top pick Shane Wright is real deal

Jul 13, 2022, 1:29 AM | Updated: Jul 18, 2022, 3:30 pm
Seattle Kraken Shane Wright...
Shane Wright talks to Seattle Kraken coach Dave Hakstol at the 2022 NHL Draft in Montreal. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

With NHL free agency kicking off Wednesday morning, the Seattle Kraken hope to be aggressive in picking up players to help the team this season. Meanwhile, on the ice at the Kraken Community Iceplex the more distant future has been on display.

NHL experts: What landing Shane Wright means for Seattle Kraken

The team is holding its first ever development camp to get a look at the franchise’s recent draft picks, most of whom won’t contribute at the NHL level for a couple of years. All the prospects will compete in a scrimmage Wednesday morning and the camp will conclude Thursday.

For these players, it’s a chance to show what they can do under the watchful eye of the Kraken coaches and general manager Ron Francis. It will be the closest some get to the NHL, but for others it will be the first step in their pro careers.

The camp has been fast with all prospects having speed to kill. Francis was looking to add scoring to the pipeline this offseason and he’s done that. Every skater selected by the Kraken in the NHL Draft in Montreal last week were guys known primarily for their offensive upside, and so far they’ve lived up to the hype.

There has been a ton of action on the ice this week. Here are a few of the takeaways.

Shane Wright is the real deal

Seattle’s top draft pick has been the talk of the hockey world since the expected No. 1 selection in the 2022 NHL Draft surprisingly dropped to Seattle at No. 4 last week. On the ice, his play has done the talking.

The Kraken have mostly run drills in camp so far so we’ve yet to see Wright unleashed in a game-like situation. That hasn’t stopped him from looking slick, however.

He has speed, can handle the puck, and looks like he’s on pace to make the Kraken roster and play in the NHL this season. On one play, he reached behind himself for a loose puck and was able to tap it to a teammate who skated in on net and scored. It was a little play but showed off some of his hockey sense.

One player who doesn’t need any convincing is third-round pick Ty Nelson, a defenseman who grew up playing with and against Wright. The two faced each other last season when Wright’s Kingston Frontenacs played Nelson’s North Bay Battalion in the Ontario Hockey League.

“He’s a great player.” Nelson said Tuesday. “You never know if he’s gonna make a pass back or if he’s gonna dangle or he’s gonna rip it top corner, and he could do all of those. He’s a fantastic two-way forward, as well. So I’m super grateful that he’s on my team and I’m super happy because we’ve been great buddies ever since we were little.”

Beniers looks like Beniers

Last season’s first-round pick is at camp, and looks as expected. Matty Beniers is preparing for his first full season in the NHL where he’ll face more challenges than he did in the 10-game stint he played at the end of last season.

He’s shown the same skill that delighted in April. The puck seems to be drawn to him and he handles it with total command.

With Wright also in camp, there is excitement over the two locking down the center position for the Kraken for the next decade. When either is on the ice, your eyes are automatically drawn to them. It’s an exciting time for Seattle.

“He’s such a talented player and is going to be a high-end player in the NHL for the foreseeable future,” Wright said about his new teammate. “I love just talking to him and competing with him. It’s always something I love doing.”

One of the highlights of camp so far was the two competing in a one-on-one drill. Beniers won the race to the puck, but Wright was able to harass him enough to force a backhand shot that went wide. At best, it was a draw.

Jagger Firkus is more than just a cool name

Firkus was the first of Seattle’s four second-round picks, taken at No. 35, and has shown flashes at camp. Tuesday he scored a slick goal during a 3-on-3 short ice game, which is not surprising since he scored 36 goals last season for the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL.

Earlier in the practice he was matched up with Beniers on a drill against the boards. Beniers won the puck battle, but Firkus made a quick recovery and with a snap of his stick stripped the puck from Beniers in front of the net. It was a good sign considering Firkus is most known for his offense.

Firkus is still a couple years away from making the NHL, though, and will return to the WHL after training camp in the fall.

“It’s cool to have your first camp and I think going back to Moose Jaw, I think we’ll be a really good team,” Firkus said. “We have a really good chance next year to be really deep and I’m excited for that. I love it in Moose Jaw, it’s a great place to play. It’s a great city, it’s friendly and it’s fun. I enjoy everything about it, so I’m excited to get back there.”

Even though he’ll be back in Moose Jaw this year, he has a bright future ahead of him.

Ryker Evans sharp

Last season’s second-round draft pick, Evans has looked sharp at the development camp. On the first day, he scored a spectacular goal that brought cheers from the fans in attendance. Later, he attempted a shot between his legs.

Evans, 20, is coming off a monster season with the Regina Pats of the WHL where he scored 14 goals, 47 assists, for 61 points. He has an outside chance of making the opening day Seattle Kraken roster if he can show during training camp in the fall that he’s ready for the NHL. So far, nothing in his game indicates he’s not poised to do just that.

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