3 Seattle Kraken Prospects Ready For The NHL In 2023-2024

One prevailing truth about roster-building in the NHL’s salary cap era is that no matter the team, receiving surplus value from players on entry-level contracts (ELCs) is crucial for making efficient use of a finite resource. The NHL’s cap ceiling will remain relatively unchanged for at least this upcoming season, so finding value in the sub-$1 million range could prove to be the difference this year.

Even though the Seattle Kraken enjoyed an incredible sophomore campaign in which they improved upon their debut season point total by 40 points, they could stand to bolster their roster with prospects ready to make the jump to the NHL on a full-time basis. Let’s dive into three such candidates from the Kraken system, the fruits of a rapidly improving prospect pool.

Shane Wright, Center

2022-23 Stats: Windsor Spitfires (OHL): 20 Games Played (GP) – 15 Goals (G) – 22 Assists (A) – 37 Points (PTS)

Wright, the fourth-overall selection in the 2022 NHL Draft, has endured a difficult start to his professional career. Due to the league’s rules about sliding ELCs (can play a max of nine games before burning the first year of his contract) and an arcane agreement between the NHL and CHL, Wright only played in eight NHL games over the first several months of the season and averaged under nine minutes a night.

The 19-year-old then made a brief conditioning stint with the AHL’s Coachella Valley Firebirds (six points in eight games) before being loaned to Team Canada at the 2023 World Juniors, where Wright won gold as a key member of the squad.

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After being sent to the OHL in the New Year and unsurprisingly tearing up the junior league (but losing in the first round of the playoffs), Wright returned to the AHL and was a part of the Firebirds’ extended playoff run, scoring nine points in 24 games as the team came within a goal of the Calder Cup.

Clear expectations coupled with consistent playing time will do Wright a great deal of good next season, but the Kraken will once again be faced with a difficult decision. Wright is once again ineligible to play in the AHL other than on an emergency basis like last season and still faces a number of roadblocks to a full-time NHL gig. 

Unless he bursts out of the gates and forces the Kraken to keep him in Seattle, another season spent in AHL/OHL limbo could be in the cards for one of the league’s most highly touted prospects. Wright is too good for the junior circuit but not good enough for the NHL – where is the compromise?

Ryker Evans, Defenseman

2022-23 Stats: Coachella Valley Firebirds (AHL): 71 GP – 6 G – 38 A – 44 PTS

Few prospects enjoyed as meteoric a rise in 2022-23 as Evans, the Kraken’s second-round draft pick in 2021. The 21-year-old finished second in scoring among all AHL defensemen under the age of 23 and ranked 12th among all blueliners. He ended the year quarterbacking the Firebirds’ top powerplay and led all rookie skaters in assists.

For his regular-season efforts, Evans was named to both the 2023 AHL All-Star Game, and received AHL All-Rookie Team honors, marking a strong debut season in professional hockey.

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Evans elevated his play in the postseason, leading all defensemen in goals (five), assists (21), points (26), and primary points (13) in all situations. For reference, Logan Day – second in playoff scoring by a defenseman – finished 12 points behind Evans.

The Kraken appear to have their top-six defensive group sorted at the moment, though Evans should get a look at some point, especially if injuries arise. After a notable rookie season in the AHL, the sky is the limit for the blossoming rearguard.

Tye Kartye, Forward

2022-23 Statistics: Coachella Valley Firebirds (AHL): 72 GP – 28 G – 29 A – 57 PTS

Despite being arguably the least-heralded prospect on this list, Kartye could be the one with the best chance at sticking with the Kraken for the 2023-24 NHL season. The 22-year-old undrafted free agent out of the OHL led all AHL rookies in scoring and was named the 2023 AHL Rookie of the Year as a result after starting the year in a depth role.

An injury to Kraken forward Jared McCann earned Kartye a call-up for the playoffs, and the freshman tallied five points in 10 games as Seattle advanced to the second round. After the Kraken were eliminated, he returned to the AHL and helped the Firebirds advance to the Calder Cup Final, posting six goals (third among rookies) and eight points in 18 playoff games which capped off a dream debut season.

Related: What Can the Kraken Learn From Golden Knights’ Stanley Cup Win?

Kartye’s impressive shot is a tool best utilized in a scoring capacity, though he will be in tough to crack a deep Kraken forward group. His fierce energetic style could give him an advantage in stealing a fourth-line role, though it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him vault up the ranks just as quickly as he did in 2022-23.

Like Evans, he likely starts the year in the AHL, although the Kraken will be tempted to call him up if he replicates his scoring exploits from last season. Keep an eye on one of the league’s under-the-radar NHL hopefuls.

Kraken’s Long-Term Future Looks Bright

Whether or not the Kraken improve on their 100-point 2022-23 campaign, the organization’s long-term future is optimistic. 

The team’s talented scouting staff took full advantage of the bounty of draft picks the Kraken had accumulated over its first three drafts and stocked up on prospects who have performed well above their draft pedigree. The result is a top-10 prospect pool cushioning an already competitive NHL club. Say what you will about the franchise’s odd approach to the expansion draft or free agency, but drafting has been a clear strength from day one.

A Stanley Cup championship may not be on the docket for 2023-24, but the Kraken are building something special. It’s only a matter of time before it pays concrete dividends.

Data courtesy of AHL Tracker and Elite Prospects.

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About Marko Zlomislic 100 Articles
Marko is an aspiring sportswriter with a passion for crafting stories while using a combination of the eye-test and (shudder) analytics, which is complemented by an academic background in criminology and political science. When not covering the Seattle Kraken for Oregon Sports News, Marko can also be found pouring countless hours into various sports video games franchises, indulging in science fiction novels, and taking long runs around his neighbourhood. You can yell at him by following him on Twitter or via email at mzlomislic97@gmail.com. He also regularly produces content for The Hockey Writers.