Who experts are predicting Kraken to take in first round of NHL Draft

Jun 26, 2024, 4:58 PM | Updated: 5:02 pm

Seattle Kraken draft prospects...

Berkly Catton handles the puck during the 2024 Kubota CHL Top Prospects Game. (Dale Preston/Getty Images)

(Dale Preston/Getty Images)

After making a run to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and winning a postseason series in their second year of existence, the Seattle Kraken couldn’t find a way to build off that success in year three.

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A 34-35-13 2023-24 campaign resulted in the Kraken finishing 17 points off a playoff berth with the eighth-lowest point total in the NHL. As a result, Seattle holds the No. 8 overall pick in the upcoming NHL Draft.

The draft begins with the first round broadcasted live on ESPN Friday at 4 p.m. in Las Vegas. Rounds 2-7 take place Saturday starting at 8:30 a.m. on NHL Network.

What direction will the Kraken go with their first-round pick Friday? Let’s take a look at what the draft experts are saying.

An ‘offensive force’ at defender

The league website had writers Adam Kimelman and Mike G. Morreale each give their take in its first-round mock draft, and both have Seattle adding defenseman Zayne Parekh from the Ontario Hockey League’s Saginaw Spirit.

The 18 year old is described as an ‘offensive force’ after putting together a record-setting season for the Spirit. In 66 games, he netted 33 goals and dished out 63 assists while helping Saginaw claim the Memorial Cup, the top prize in the CHL. His efforts resulted in winning the Max Kaminsky Trophy, which is awarded to the OHL’s top defenseman. The right-handed shot an OHL record for most goals by a 16-year-old rookie defenseman in 2022-23, netting 21 goals.

The biggest question surrounding the 6-foot, 178-pound Parekh appears to be how his defensive skills will translate to the next level. “Questions surround his defensive play, but Parekh is driven to get stronger and improve; for someone graduated high school at 16, there’s no question he knows how to put in the work,” Kimelman wrote.

Parekh’s stock has been on the rise this year, making the jump from No. 10 to No. 5 overall among North American skaters NHL Central Scouting’s final 2024 prospect rankings.

A national champion

Scott Wheeler of The Athletic also believes the Kraken will go defender with their first-round pick, selecting University of Denver lefty Zeev Buium. Wheeler does note that there’s a strong possibility Buium is gone by the time Seattle is on the board, though.

“I don’t think there’s a better potential fit in this top 10 than Buium and the Kraken,” Wheeler wrote. “He gets to stay close to home. The Kraken get the premium D prospect they’ve yet to draft, and one who checks all of the boxes their scouting team seems to have coveted in its infancy.”

Buium had 11 goals and 39 assists and helped Denver claim its record 10th national championship as a freshman this past season. He earned numerous individual accolades along the way, including NCHC Offensive Defenseman of the Year and an NCAA Frozen Four All-Tournament team selection.

He was also a member of Team USA’s gold medal-winning World Juniors squad this year and led all defenseman in the tournament with three goals scored.

He’s the No. 4 overall North American skater, according to NHL Central Scouting.

An intriguing defender for Seattle Kraken

Tony Ferrari of The Hockey News keeps the theme of defenseman going for Seattle, but this time it’s one from overseas. Ferrari projects Russian defenseman Anton Silayev from the KHL’s Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod.

The 18 year old is one of the most intriguing prospects in the draft due the skating ability he pairs with an impressive 6-foot-7, 211-pound frame, and he could be gone by the time the Kraken are up to pick at No. 8. He had three goals and eight assists in 63 games this past season.

“The Kraken have done a great job of building up a solid prospect pool in their short existence, but they seem to lack some of the size on the back end that Silayev undoubtedly has,” Ferrari wrote. “Silayev would give the Kraken a blueliner to build around.”

One complicating factor with the left-handed shooting Silayev is his KHL deal runs through 2025-26 season, and there is not guarantee he’ll came stateside after it expires.

He’s the top-ranked international skater, according to NHL Central Scouting.

A scorer familiar with the PNW

The general consensus seems to be that the Kraken will go with a defenseman with their first pick, which makes sense considering the talent at the position at the top of the draft and the need Seattle has at the position. However, Sportsnet has the Kraken picking forward Berkly Catton from the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs.

The 18-year-old Catton unleashed a barrage goals on his juniors opponents this past season, potting 54 to go along with 62 assists in 68 games. He was named a second-team CHL All-Star for his efforts. That came a season after he earned WHL Rookie of the Year with 55 points (23 goals, 32 assists) in 2022-23.

Catton was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 WHL Bantam Draft, a team captain for Canada Red at the 2022 U17 World Hockey Challenge and helped Canada to bronze at the 2023 U18 World Juniors.

The left-handed shot doesn’t possess the biggest frame at 5 foot 10 and 175 pounds, but “his skill is too good to ignore,” Sportsnet’s Jason Bukala wrote.

NHL Central Scouting has Catton as its No. 8 North American skater, one spot up from his mid-term ranking.

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