It’s draft week, and that means a lot of content here at Sound Of Hockey. John Barr and Darren Brown will be talking about the draft on this week’s Sound Of Hockey Podcast. On the website, check out:

Today, we mock draft. I will presume that players will come off the board in the order predicted by the Big Board. For example, if a player is slotted at No. 47 on the Big Board, I treat that player as unavailable to the Kraken at pick No. 50. In highlighting potential “alternative” picks, I’ll mention a few players who could be in range if they “fall” to Seattle’s pick. I won’t “predict” any trades, but I’ll mention a few that would be fun along the way.

Let’s get to it.

Round 1. Pick 20: Quentin Musty, LW, Sudbury Wolves (OHL)

Big Board rank: 21 | Analytics rank: 12 | NHLe calculation rank: 9

Age: 17 | Height: 6’1.5” | Weight: 200 | Left shot | 27 goals and 55 assists in 57 games played

Scout’s view: “Musty has an excellent shot from range, distributes quite well off of the rush and does a great job of creating space for himself. His ability to create consistently at 5v5 is a credit to how well he handles pressure. Musty will take advantage of tight lanes when looking to thread the needle and will look to complete drop passes when hitting a wall.” – Josh Tessler

Notes: Musty would check a lot of boxes for the Kraken. His point production stacks up against past high draft picks from the OHL. He has the size, shot, and playmaking ability to thrive in the top half of an NHL lineup. He is one of the youngest players in the draft. And, he happens to play a position (left wing) at which the Kraken have not yet invested much draft capital.

Some scouts faulted his engagement and defense, though others reported that these aspects of his game improved as his draft season progressed. His skating may be the biggest question mark, but his physical profile and skill creates an avenue to a bottom-six role in the NHL even if the skating doesn’t come around.

How about a few alternatives? LW Samuel Honzek (Big Board rank: 19 | Analytics rank: 20) is an impressive athlete. LW Andrew Cristall (Big Board rank: 25 | Analytics rank: 8) is intriguing for his offensive potential if Kraken scouts are sold on his skating and overall game.

What if the draft were 10% more fun? Let’s trade picks 20, 52, and 84 to the Pittsburgh Penguins for pick No. 14 and draft LW Zach Benson (Big Board rank: 6 | Analytics rank: 6) if he falls due to size concerns.

Round 2. Pick 50: Hunter Brzustewicz, RD, Kitchener Rangers (OHL)

Big Board rank: 55 | Analytics rank: 44 | NHLe calculation rank: 30

Age: 18 | Height: 5’11.75” | Weight: 190 | Right shot | 6 goals and 55 assists in 77 games played

Scout’s view: “The four way mobility (especially his edgework and lateral quickness) is excellent . . . . As a puck mover, Brzustewicz stands out because of his vision and decision making. Poised under pressure, he always seems to make the correct play with the puck on his stick. . . . I’m a little leary of the projection, but he passed the eye test almost every night in the second half showing great progression.” – Brock Otten

Notes: Scouts describe a well-rounded profile that was trending up toward the end of the 2022-23 season. Scouting critiques point to his underlying athleticism and engagement level, but his skating skill seems solid enough for him to project as solid in the transition game. While he may not have a dynamic element that makes a top-of-the-lineup projection likely, he checks a lot of boxes for Seattle. He plays a position of thin depth in the organization (right defense), and his scoring suggests he is a solid value in the mid-second round.

How about a few alternatives? Many scouts prefer RD Beau Akey (Big Board rank: 47 | Analytics rank: 43). LD Luca Cagnoni (Big Board rank: 49 | Analytics rank: 23) is an undersized but talented player who could pay dividends if he can survive defensively at the NHL level. LD Etienne Morin (Big Board rank: 52 | Analytics rank: 57) was highly productive in the QMJHL. In reality, pick No. 50 may be a selection where Seattle tries to catch a player, likely a forward, who “falls.” I’ll highlight a few of these as alternatives to pick No. 52.

What if the draft were 10% more fun? Let’s trade picks 50 and 52 to Chicago for pick 35 and draft RD Lukas Dragicevic (Big Board Rank: 33 | Analytics Rank: 19), a blueliner with as much offensive upside as any in the draft.

Round 2. Pick 52: Lenni Hameenaho, RW, Ässät (Liiga)

Big Board rank: 56 | Analytics rank: 54 | NHLe calculation rank: 24

Age: 18 | Height: 6’1” | Weight: 185 | Right shot | 12 goals and 13 assists in 59 games played

Scout’s view: “[T]here’s no doubt about Hämeenaho’s best quality being his intelligence. He’s an extremely smart off-puck player at both ends of the rink. . . . On the other side of the coin is Hämeenaho’s skating. It’s a problem with both the mechanics and the output. . . . Both the top speed and the acceleration are lacking.”  – Elite Prospects Draft Guide

Notes: Hameenaho is routinely lauded for strong intelligence and hockey sense, making the right plays without the puck consistently. Otherwise he has a solid-but-not-superlative skill set across the board and is burdened by below-average skating.  Several scouts suggest he’s close to being ready to take on a third-line role in the NHL right now but doubt he has much more upside beyond that. While this is seemingly meant as a criticism, I don’t see it that way. If Hameenaho caps out as a third-line player, that is an excellent result for a second-round pick. His production at the highest Finnish pro league at his age makes him a prime target in my NHLe calculation. At the very least he’d be a high-floor counterbalance against other high-upside picks if the Kraken selected him in the second round.

How about a few alternatives? RW Jayden Perron (Big Board rank: 36 | Analytics rank: 30), who would be a worthy selection at pick No. 50 or 52 if he falls.  RW Koehn Ziemmer (Big Board rank: 44 | Analytics rank: 22) could very well be the choice at 50 or 52 if he lingers. Setting aside the uncertainty of drafting Russian players, Roman Kantserov (Big Board rank: 64 | Analytics rank: 34) would be in the mix. If I could have cheated on the premise of this exercise–that players will be drafted in Big Board order–I would have gone with Perron or Ziemmer at No. 50 and Brzustewicz at No. 52.

Round 2. Pick 57: Tristan Bertucci, LD, Flint Firebirds (OHL)

Big Board rank: 80 | Analytics rank: 37 | NHLe calculation rank: 19

Age: 17 | Height: 6’2” | Weight: 179 | Left shot | 12 goals and 43 assists in 70 games played

Scout’s view: “Bertucci’s a lockdown defender with a budding transition game. He gets on his check early, matches opponents’ footwork along the boards, and ties up sticks around the net. Physicality and pace kills plays across the rink, and make him a formidable 1-on-1 defender.”  – Elite Prospects Draft Guide

Notes: Bertucci’s data supports a selection in the top two rounds. Add to that quality size, young age, and on-ice performance that was trending up toward the end of the season, and there is a lot to recommend selecting him, even if it is viewed as a bit of a “reach” at pick No. 57. Critiques of Bertucci often returned to his performance with the puck under pressure, but some noted improvements as the season moved along.

How about a few alternatives? Bertucci’s teammate RW Coulsen Pitre (Big Board Rank: 68 | Analytics Rank: 41) is an intriguing alternative. Undersized but hard charging forwards Luca Pinelli (Big Board Rank: 61 | Analytics Rank: 46) and Denver Barkey (Big Board Rank: 66 | Analytics Rank: 51) would also make sense. The Kraken may opt to snag a goalie in the second round, and, if they do, Jacob Fowler (Big Board Rank: 71 | Analytics Rank: 136) and Juha Jatkola (more on him in a minute) stand out to me based on their production.

Round 3. Pick 84: Gavin McCarthy, RD, Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)

Big Board rank: 87 | Analytics rank: 77 | NHLe calculation rank: 49

Age: 18 | Height: 6’1” | Weight: 181 | Right shot | 8 goals and 19 assists in 42 games played

Scout’s view: “He’s solid in his own end, going down to his positioning (most of the time), his active stick, and his impressive four-way mobility. His skating especially stands out as a trait that should carry over extremely well to the next levels. There are times when he can puck chase, but it’s important to note his age here. He has a great deal of development time left. He also brings an excellent level of physicality, not afraid to mix it up with anyone.” – McKeen’s Draft Guide

Notes: McCarthy’s data justifies his draft position, particularly as a right-handed defenseman. And scouts saw an emerging physical presence with a quality defensive game and movement skills. Headed for college in the fall, he affords the Kraken a longer timeline before reaching a signing decision.

How about a few alternatives? Tanner Ludtke (Big Board rank: 106 | Analytics rank: 72) intrigues as a center prospect who still could be on the board at this point. Winger Aiden Fink (Big Board rank: 91 | Analytics rank: 83) would be a home run swing on a small Junior-A scorer. Alexander Rykov (Big Board rank: 78 | Analytics rank: 47) would be interesting if he is still there.

Round 4. Pick 116: Juha Jatkola, G, KalPa (Liiga)

Big Board rank: 132 | Analytics rank: 180 | NHLe calculation rank: 32

Age: 20 | Height: 6’1” | Weight: 176 | Left glove | .905 save % in 43 games played

Scout’s view: “He lacks the massive frame that a lot of scouts look for, but makes up for that with an intelligent, aggressive approach to facing shooters. . . . Playing in a professional league for an extended period of time for the first time in his career seems to have paid off dividends for his situational awareness. . . . Strong skating ability in regards to both his strength and edgework are also key components to Jatkola’s game.”  – Elite Prospects Draft Guide

Notes: Jatkola makes sense to me for two reasons. First, playing in Finland dovetails with the team’s goalie expertise in its scouting ranks. Second, Jatkola showed that he could perform as an above-average regular at a high professional level (Liiga). Junior goalies are years away from reaching that stage. So, theoretically, Jatkola should carry less uncertainty and a shorter development path.

How about a few alternatives? From this point forward in the draft, any player with a strong data profile becomes a likely Kraken target. Among those not mentioned below are: RW Yegor Klimovich; RD Mazden Leslie; LD Magomed Sharakanov; LD Oskar Asplund; LD Elmeri Laakso; RW Alexander Suvorov; and C Antti Virtanen.

Round 5. Pick 148: Ryan Conmy, RW, Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)

Big Board rank: 173 | Analytics rank: 49 | NHLe calculation rank: 63

Age: 18 | Height: 5’10” | Weight: 185 | Right shot | 34 goals and 30 assists in 62 games played

Scout’s view: “Conmy’s a precision shooter, crafty playmaker, and inside lane attacker. . . . When Conmy’s not on the puck, he’s getting open and creating space. . . . And he gobbles up every loose puck with a two-metre radius, cementing his 200-foot player status.”  – Elite Prospects Draft Guide

Notes: Perhaps my favorite sleeper draft prospect in this class, his data profile resembles a top pick, and scouts seem generally complimentary of his play. Critiques focus on his skating mechanics and overall speed, but similar things can be said of prospects ranked much higher.

Round 6. Pick 168: Ivan Anoshko, C, Dinamo-Shinnik Bobruysk (MHL)

Big Board rank: 180 | Analytics rank: 74 | NHLe calculation rank: 69

Age: 18 | Height: 5’10” | Weight: 168 | Left shot | 21 goals and 33 assists in 55 games played

Scout’s View: “A skilled playmaking center out of Belarus, Anoshko plays a heady and mature game. He was the MHL’s rookie of the year this season and has been on the scouting radar for a few years thanks to his international performances for Belarus. Despite a lack of size, he routinely attacks between the hash marks and drives the net. The athletic tools will undoubtedly need to improve . . . .”   – McKeen’s Draft Guide

Notes: An interesting late-round center prospect, there are some rumors he may play in the USHL next season, which would make his development more manageable.

Round 6. Pick 180: Justin Kipkie, LD, Victoria Royals (WHL)

Big Board rank: 203 | Analytics rank: 153 | NHLe calculation rank: 86

Age: 17 | Height: 6’4” | Weight: 190 | Left shot | 8 goals and 25 assists in 67 games played

Scout’s View: “[Kipkie] is a strong, hard-nosed defenseman who showcases impressive mental fortitude and above-average hockey sense. He utilizes his strength and grit both in battles in the defensive end, as well as by leaning into his heavy shot. . . . His skating is flat-out ugly, with heavy boots and minimal agility, but there is possibility for improvement. He is a little difficult to project at the moment, but there is enough raw material here that a development staff could sculpt an NHL defenseman out of.”  – McKeen’s Draft Guide

Notes: This is the point of the draft where gambling on a big-bodied defenseman makes the most sense. Kipkie is young, has tools, and some production to go with a 6-foot-4 frame. The Kraken will face a quick decision about whether to sign him, though, which is what makes this pick a bit difficult.

Round 7. Pick 212: Bogdan Konyushkov, RD, Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (KHL)

Big Board rank: 246 | Analytics rank: 194 | NHLe calculation rank: 20

Age: 20 | Height: 5’11” | Weight: 176 | Right shot | 2 goals and 28 assists in 74 games played

Scout’s View: “[Konyushov] led his KHL team in average ice time, as his cerebral game on both ends convinced coach Igor Larionov to immediately give him an opportunity for a leading role on the team. And if we look at advanced stats, those are telling that this trust paid off really well, as Konyushkov is among the league’s leaders in both completed pass amount and percentage, as well as in the puck battle win percentage.”  – Victor Fomich

Notes: This draft ends up a bit too heavy on the defensive side, but Konyuskov is too interesting to pass up given his strong play in the second-best professional league in the world.

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