Well we know the Seattle Kraken are picking fourth at the NHL Entry Draft. While last year they moved up a spot to pick Matty Beniers at #2 overall, the odds gods didn’t smile upon them in the same way this time around. And while sliding back a spot seems a bad thing, the team is still getting a promising young player that has a chance at cracking the opening night lineup.
Cale Makar— Mike Benton (@Benton_Mike) May 10, 2022
and Ron Francis
A sample of those chosen 4th overall. #SeaKraken
If you’re like me, you look at that list and wonder how a truly elite defender like Cale Makar was available to the Avalanche at No. 4. The funny thing is, Colorado finished last in 2016-17, and had the highest odds in the league to get the first overall pick, likely a highly-touted center named either Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier. I don’t know that anyone would trade Makar for either of those two today. Keep that in mind as we continue to dig into who the Kraken might select with that fourth overall pick this July. Up next, we’ve got the top American-born forward in the draft:
Logan Cooley, United States Development Program
Logan Cooley is a left-shooting center of middling height and elite skill. Ranked second overall by most amateur scouts, he’s unlikely to be available to the Kraken. If he was three inches taller, I’d change “unlikely to be” to “won’t be” available. The question, if he is available, is the old standby: Draft the best player available or draft for positional need?
The answer should always be the best player available, but NHL general managers fall into the trap of trying to address roster holes with a 17 or 18 year old player. If Cooley, who put up 27G, 48A, 75P in 51 games this season, falls to the Kraken then the fact that they already have their number one center of the future in Matty Beniers shouldn’t factor into the equation.
Not only does a team need more than one star player to truly find success, but centers can easily switch to the wing, while not every winger can play center. And ultimately, if there wasn’t room on the roster for two elite centers (unlikely) you could always trade someone away for a more suitable return.
Cooley is said to be a reliable, two-way player who can finish, while his passing and stickhandling are his best attributes. He got 12 points in 11 games at the World Junior championships two years ago and, if not for Covid, might have put on an even more impressive showing this January. Unfortunately for amateur scouts everywhere, the rescheduled WJC will happen in August, a month after the draft, so any breakout performances will only validate draft day decisions, rather than informing them. Cooley can also win faceoffs (the Kraken were 26th in faceoff win percentage in 2021-22) and his hockey IQ should more than make up for his slightly smaller stature.
So while there’s clearly an organizational need for a big, dynamic defenseman who can make a good pass out of his own zone and contribute at the other end as well, if Cooley is on the board, it’s probably the right decision to make him a Kraken.
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