With the inaugural BEARD Hockey dispersal draft in the books, excitement looms amongst the Kraken faithful as a new era begins.
As the Seattle Kraken's top brass met with the media at a recent team press conference, newly appointed General Manager Brett Barton appeared to be satisfied with the current team he had managed to assemble through the dispersal draft.
Having received the 19th overall pick, which would eventually be traded along with 46th overall pick in a move that would see Seattle receive the 30th and 35th overall picks, the Kraken's front office set out to build a solid core that could compete in the near future - and they feel they've accomplished just that.
“Truthfully, we went into the dispersal draft without one particular strategy in mind,” GM Barton said. “We knew that our first two selections would determine how we approach the remainder of the draft so, prior to the dispersal draft, we had created a tier list of players to give us an idea on who would potentially be available when we were on the clock."
"Our staff felt confident that we could get two players in our second tier by swapping first and second round picks with a team picking towards the back end of the first, which I can confirm we did in Quinn Hughes and Tim Stutzle. After selecting those two we figured it would be best to target players who are young or on the verge of entering their prime years going forward.”
Head coach Mike Sullivan, who was selected to guide Seattle's pro club for the next 3 years, was ultimately tasked with finding the best linemate chemistry whilst juggling line combinations throughout training camp and pre-season.
After the recent conclusion of an uninspiring pre-season in which the Kraken managed only one win, many analysts believe some of the lines used in pre-season will be tweaked and anticipate an opening night line-up looking something as follows:
Tim Stutzle - Josh Norris - Conor Garland
Rudolfs Balcers - Yanni Gourde - Blake Coleman
Rasmus Asplund – Alex Galchenyuk – Michael Amadio
William Carrier – Derek Stepan – Pat Maroon
Jonas Brodin - Josh Morrissey
Quinn Hughes - Thomas Chabot
Jaycob Megna - Caleb Jones
When reflecting upon the make-up of the Kraken roster, it's clear that GM Barton prioritized having a strong defensive core as four out of the team’s first six selections were defensemen.
Age and contract length was also something Seattle’s front office appeared to have placed heavy emphasis on as there are currently only four upcoming unrestricted free agents on the pro roster – all of which happen to be role players or backups. Barring any major roster moves, fans can expect to see this core in place for a long time.
The BEARD Hockey entry draft also saw the Kraken acquire some intriguing prospects to potentially build upon in the future. First round selections Noah Ostlund and Jagger Firkus, along with second round selection David Goyette as well, are particularly all prospects the Kraken’s scouting staff considered high-upside forwards with top-six potential.
There is no shortage of future talent within the team’s prospect pool with Simon Edvinsson, Kirill Marchenko and Fyodor Svechkov already in the Kraken’s prospect pipeline via a prospect package selection during the dispersal draft, not to mention Jonatan Berggren, who could be fighting for a roster spot as early as next season.
As we begin approaching the time of year where the games start to matter, expectations for many franchises around the league will certainly be high heading into the 2022-2023 season.
However, the general sentiment in GM Barton's press conference seems to be that Kraken fans may have to wait another season before expecting a deep playoff run, as the front office anticipates several key players to improve heading into the following year.
“Sustained success is the main priority in Seattle,” GM Barton reiterated. “It’s a work in progress for sure but we’ve got a strong core to build around and we’re optimistic about being able to compete for Stanley Cups for years to come.”
Whether or not the team proves to be a contender in the upcoming season remains to be seen, but the organization's ambition to remain consistently competitive in the future should bode well for Seattle going forward.