So the Kraken are...not great. Bad, even. Down bad.
And the good thing about being bad in a nationwide sport, is that you can face teams that are somehow even worse. Welcome to the battle for the 1⁄4 eaten McChicken, friends. Our opponent from two dumpsters over is the Ottawa Sen-OH COME THE F%^K ON, OTTAWA.
Alright, so since we’ve had some time to kill and frankly it sucks that we’re...not that good, let’s look ahead to the Kraken’s second crack at the NHL Entry Draft coming up this summer.
For right now, it seems as though the Kraken’s 2022 first round draft pick are probably going to end up anywhere from 2nd to 5th overall, at least by places like SportingNews, Tankathon, DobberProspects, and other such websites who do a lot of draft prognostication and unsettling amount of watching of junior tournaments in 144p in Bosnia or wherever it happens to be held in a given year. This gives Seattle quite a bit of legroom to work with, especially if you’ve been watching this team suddenly fall into the position that they’d even be needing to talk about it. Let’s see who might be available for Seattle early on in this draft.
Shane Wright - Center - The Obvious Prize
It will be a minor miracle if the Kraken end up with the first overall pick thanks to the machinations of the Coyotes, but if they manage to pull it off...man, what a prize they would get.
Given an exceptional status exemption to join Canadian junior at a very young age, Shane Wright came to the Kingston Frontenacs as a talent fans were clamoring to see. In his first season as a 16 year old? 66 points in 58 games, which is definitely no small feat given what was going on at the time. This season is admittedly a bit of a step back for him, as it seems he’ll only beat that total by maybe about 10-20 points, which by Junior standards isn’t really all that impressive (check out what guys like Sidney Crosby used to do to the Quebec league for impressive), but Wright was never known for game-breaking offense, he was more built in the mold of guys like Jared McCann who can do a little bit of everything really well. Anybody who gets him will almost certainly find use for him, and a guy who can do a little bit of everything consistently is without a doubt a major need for the Kraken.
Matthew Savoie - Center - The True Number One Pick!?!?!!?1?!?1
Okay, so usually in like...good or gooder drafts, what normally ends up happening is that a lot of people begin to see picks 1 and 2 as interchangeable, usually based on World Juniors stuff or their teams not being able to make the Memorial Cup tournament or just strong performances all around. So you’ll see some analysts start to wonder if that consensus number 2 should actually be considered a number 1 due to the lack of hype, and try to overcorrect.
This time...I genuinely don’t know if Wright doesn’t end up getting lapped by Matt Savoie just from his sheer output. Winnipeg ICE forward Matt Savoie currently has 52 points in 34 games in the Western Hockey League; Canadian Junior’s longest drive and also, at least in my opinion, stingiest league in terms of point-getting. His playmaking skill and blinding skating speed at such a young age, particular attention has been taken to his ability to pass through defenders and create open space on the ice, has a lot of analysts second guessing themselves, especially since Wright’s start and his merely okay time at the World Juniors (for how long that lasted) has started to create some doubt.
In short, exactly the kind of dude the Kraken need; somebody who can turn their offensive zone time into paydirt in a damn hurry.
Logan Cooley - Center - The Hot Blooded, Two Fisted, All-American 200-foot Hockey Player
Guys, I regret to inform you the United States is now getting in on the good hockey names. Logan Cooley? C’mon now. That guy was born to have an NHL career. He had no other choice in life.
Thankfully, Cooley is one of those dudes you wanna make an NHLer, because he’s made himself quite an interesting player.
Moving out of the US-Development Program and into the USHL, Cooley is currently a point-per-game player and only getting better with time; his defensive acumen is the kind that makes any coach salivate because that means half the work is done for them; they just need to get the offensive upside out of them, and Cooley’s skating and playmaking ability gives the impression that he’s definitely going to be someone worth watching. Committed currently to the University of Notre Dame, his first year after being drafted will be huge as he faces some of the most rigorous play allowed for 18-21 year olds, and given the rise of the Big 10 in College Hockey (particularly with Matt Beniers tearing up the show), he could make a team that needs some strong center talent very happy.
Simon Nemec - Defense - The new breed of Slovakian Blue-liner
But let’s say Ron Francis and company say they feel pretty good about the kind of forward they’ve gotten so far from their Kraken. Maybe they want to shore up a blue line that has gone through...well...a lot, as it were. Multiple shufflings, COVID, and just plain bad performances that make you wonder if there’s some sort of cruel joke being played on King County this year. So where would you start looking for better, younger, and higher cieling’d defensemen?
Well, why not Slovakia?
Slovakia, Eastern Europe’s other white meat in terms of hockey prospect creation, has never quite recovered from their split from Czechia, and a massive corruption scandal that caused massive turnover in their own overriding hockey federation didn’t help matters. But as the last of the 90’s and early 00’s Slovak NHLers left the league, many returned home to take up the reigns and try to fix the problems that have long held back Slovakia’s hockey development
And you know what? It’s starting to pay dividends. This draft will probably see the most amount of Slovaks taken in the first round for the first time in a good long while, and it starts with Nemec. Nemec has drawn plenty of interest due to his skating, stick-work, and defensive acumen, while he wasn’t quite able to show it off at the World Juniors, he was able however to show that he’s definitely ready to make a major impact in his home country:
Simon Nemec with some nice 1on1 defending facing his own goal without taking a penalty. Prevents a shot on goal and immediately jumps up to join the rush in the last 20 seconds of overtime #2022NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/JYjJRMR4c3— Spoked Z (@SpokedZ) September 28, 2021
And I’m sure you’re saying “Okay, so he’s good at Slovakian Junior level that you told me was just recovering? How is that impressive?”
And this is where I pull back the curtain — Simon Nemec is not playing in Slovakian Junior. He plays for HK Nitra; a team in Slovakia’s Tipo Extraliga. The highest level of competition available in Slovakia for men.
Simon Nemec was doing all that against grown-ass professional athlete men. At 17.
Say what you will, that’s pretty impressive. And while he still has some aspects of his game to work out (he’s not really a guy you can get a lot of goals out of, for instance), this kind of incredible talent shows some real promise if molded right, and for the Kraken, somebody who can move like he does on the blue line would be a major boon.
Oh, and if you’re still confused about the whole “playing against men” and all that, Davy Jones Locker Room will soon have an article to better explain the European hockey prospect’s whirlwind world.
Whatever the case may be, Ron Francis is clearly looking into a season where he might find himself trying to sell hope of tomorrow rather than sell dreams of a Stanley Cup in year one. It’s painful in the now, but looking toward the future is a Seattle sports pastime, so for now, while we have a little time...we can dream.
What position do you think the Kraken should focus on in the draft?
This poll is closed
Best available. We can figure everything else out in Free Agency.
Forwards! We need more goals! MOAR GOALS!
Defenders! We need to get the heck out of the way of our netminders and make their jobs easier!
Goaltending! I know you probably don’t draft goaltenders this early on, but still! We need hope in net!