The 2021 NHL Entry Draft represents the first opportunity for the Seattle Kraken expansion franchise to make a splash ahead of their inaugural season. They currently hold the 2nd overall pick following the results of last week’s draft lottery in which they moved up one slot from their initial position.
With no consensus first overall selection available in this year’s class, the Kraken are faced with the difficult decision of sifting through a swath of talented but imperfect prospects.
With that said, here are three prospects who will be available to Seattle come draft day.
- Owen Power
Power has found himself atop a majority of the industry’s most prominent draft boards at several points this season, and it’s easy to see why.
He pairs a monstrous 6’6 frame with a relatively smooth skating style, allowing him to reliably exit the defensive zone and effectively move the puck on offense.
Power’s enormous wingspan and physical stature make him a defensive force, disrupting attacks with his long reach and forcing opponents to think twice before challenging him, despite occasionally lacking aggressiveness.
After impressing as a freshman at the University of Michigan, Power won gold with Team Canada at the IIHF World Championships showing he could hang with quicker, stronger competition.
Although his shot and playmaking abilities aren’t elite, he can take on a hefty workload while still driving play and will be a key pillar of any franchise’s defense core.
2. Matthew Beniers
The Wolverines were truly blessed with talent this season, as Beniers joined Power and fellow projected first-rounder Kent Johnson in leading a formidable trio of draft-eligible freshmen.
Following a season in which he finished fourth in scoring (24 points) among collegiate freshmen, Beniers featured at the World Championships for the United States and posted 2 points in 6 games while holding his own against grown men.
A quick first-step, breathtaking acceleration, and an unflappable demeanor with the puck allows Beniers to evade pressure and find open teammates with ease, consistently executing the right play with poise.
Unlike many young prospects, Beniers has already demonstrated commitment to playing a mature two-way game, assuring coaches that Beniers will be responsible in all situations and possesses the physical tools to make up for any missteps making him the most pro-ready of the 2021 class.
3. Simon Edvinsson
If Power is indeed taken by the Buffalo Sabres, Edvinsson offers a similarly enticing package as a consolation prize with the Swedish defenceman standing at a sizeable 6’4.
Unlike most blue liners at his size, Edvinsson is not afraid to pinch and rush up the ice with the puck, creating offensive mismatches for his team. He displays adept puck handling that can help him maneuver out of tense situations.
However, that aggressiveness can occasionally get him into trouble as he can be isolated and caught in transition, leading to chances the other way.
On the defensive side, Edvinsson shows inconsistent peripheral awareness of his opponents in his own zone and would be best served in developing that area of his game. While his flaws may be accentuated due to playing alongside men in Sweden’s highest division, it won’t get any easier in the NHL.
Whichever team drafts Edvinsson must be patient with a player who flashes tantalizing potential but can make frustrating defensive miscues. If his physical gifts can be harnessed, look out.
So, who should the Kraken select?
Although it can be difficult to pass up a defenceman capable of dominating defensively while simultaneously contributing on offense, it isn’t the be-all and end-all of roster construction.
I’m a huge proponent of hockey being played at a breakneck pace, and what better way to reward Kraken fans than to ice a team capable of electrifying the crowd on any given night.
For that reason, I would push to make Beniers the first draft selection in franchise history and continue to emphasize speed and skill in Seattle’s return to the National Hockey League.