For the first time, the Seattle Kraken are primed to reap what they’ve sowed from their prospect pool. 

Except for Matty Beniers, one of the few prospects ready to contribute immediately, the Kraken system was slowly being built up over the last couple seasons. Now, there are some young players knocking on the door to become NHL regulars.

Vying for NHL spots

Tye Kartye

Tye Kartye is a no-brainer to be in this category. Not only did he prove he belonged at the NHL level with three goals and five points in 10 playoff games – in his debut stint with Seattle, no less – but the 22-year-old forward showed he’s exceptional in the AHL as the league rookie of the year.

Two competing questions come to mind for Kartye. From one perspective, Kartye will need to kick out one of the current top-nine forwards — all under contract next season — to play a true scoring role. However, one could argue Kartye has little left to prove in the ‘A’ after his 57-point season as a rookie. 

We wouldn’t be shocked to see Kartye back starring in Coachella Valley next season and in the mix for call-ups in the event of injuries and suspensions to key offensive players. But more than likely, the Seattle Kraken will find a spot for him in the lineup, possibly playing in a fourth-line role similar to Daniel Sprong, who bagged 21 goals and 46 total points this season. 

Also of note: While he’s a tad old to be considered a true “prospect,” Kole Lind is having a great season in the AHL and will be in the running for a spot on the NHL roster. Same goes for veterans like Andrew Poturalski. There’s room for Kartye and Lind on the Kraken next season, but how Seattle handles its restricted free agents (RFAs) and unrestricted free agents (UFAs) will provide more clarity. 

Ryker Evans

The 21-year-old defenseman has been excellent in his first AHL season, with 44 points in 71 games. He also leads all defensemen in the Calder Cup playoffs with 13 points in 13 games. 

Unlike Kartye, Evans has a cleaner path to playing time next season. Currently, Carson Soucy is a UFA, and three others —Vince Dunn, Will Borgen, and Cale Fleury — are RFAs. Depending on how Seattle general manager Ron Francis handles the aforementioned quartet of blueliners — granted with roughly $18 million of cap space, according to CapFriendly — may indicate how ready the Kraken believe Evans is for the NHL. 

Shane Wright

Unfortunately, there are intricacies and complications with that pesky NHL-CHL agreement that blur the situation with Wright next season.

Ideally, Wright could play in the American Hockey League and continue to develop if he’s not quite ready for the NHL, but that might not be a permanent option. Wright has little to prove in junior after tallying 37 points in 20 games for the Windsor Spitfires this year. 

Sound Of Hockey’s own Curtis Isacke has a more extensive breakdown of the situation with Wright. 

Returning to the AHL 

Luke Henman

Ville Petman

Peetro Seppala

All three of Henman, Petman, and Seppala played for the Firebirds last year and should factor into the Coachella Valley lineup again next year. 

Eligible for the AHL 

Aged out of junior 

Logan Morrison

Kyle Jackson

Both of these forward prospects will be over 20 years old next season and thus aged out of the Ontario Hockey League. 

Morrison, who was signed as an undrafted free agent, should factor into Coachella Valley in some form or fashion. At the very least, he’ll play in the ECHL. 

Jackson’s situation is more complicated, as he’s unsigned. The Kraken have until June 1 to make a contract offer to Jackson. If they don’t, he’ll become a free agent. 

The 20-year-old center posted 83 points in 67 games for the North Bay Battalion. 

Making the leap

Ryan Winterton

Jacob Melanson

Ville Ottavainen

Barring any surprises, all three should make their AHL debuts next year. 

Winterton and Melanson, both of whom are signed to entry-level contracts, will be 20 next season and are old enough to play for Coachella Valley; it’s unlikely for signed NHL prospects to play their overage season in junior hockey. Both forwards have been assigned to Coachella Valley for the postseason, but only Melanson has drawn into the lineup and has played one game. 

Winterton led all skaters in the OHL playoffs with 29 points, but fellow Kraken prospect Tucker Robertson and the Peterborough Petes knocked his team out in the Finals.

Melanson scored 99 points in 59 games for two teams — the Sherbrooke Phoenix and the Acadie Bathurst-Titan in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. 

Eligible for the AHL but up in the air

Tucker Robertson 

Robertson and the Petes are playing in the Memorial Cup over the weekend. Based on how the Kraken have handled their prospect signings this spring, waiting until the player’s season is over to announce the signing, a contract could be waiting for the fourth-round pick. Robertson posted 90 points in 68 games in the OHL this season. 

Unlike Jackson, the Kraken don’t have to decide on Robertson until June 1, 2024. If the summer passes without a contract for Robertson, he’ll likely return to the OHL for his 20-year-old season. 

Headed back to juniors/NCAA/overseas

Jagger Firkus (signed) – WHL

Ty Nelson (signed) – OHL

David Goyette (signed) – OHL 

Tyson Jugnauth – NCAA (Wisconsin) 

Ben MacDonald – NCAA (Harvard)

Justin Janicke – NCAA (Notre Dame)

Barrett Hall – NCAA (St. Cloud State)

Niklas Kokko (signed) – Liiga

Jani Nyman – Liiga 

Semyon Vyazovoy – VHL/MHL

We don’t expect any of the aforementioned prospects to make the professional leap next year. 

Firkus, Nelson, and Goyette are too young to play in the AHL by the NHL-CHL agreement. 

Kokko, Nyman, and Vyazovoy are all eligible – European Leagues don’t have any restrictions on age like the CHL — but likely won’t be in the AHL next season for two separate reasons. For Kokko, Francis said he expects him to play overseas for another year before jumping to North America.

Nyman and Vyazovoy are unsigned and won’t be eligible unless offered a contract. 

All of the NCAA players will almost certainly return to their respective schools. 

Josh Horton
Josh Horton

Josh Horton is a freelance writer, former newspaper journalist, and erstwhile Western Hockey League writer for the Everett Herald and The Spokesman-Review (Spokane). He is NOT a juggler, nor is he a former professional baseball player. Follow him on Twitter @byjoshhorton.

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