It has been a while since we have done a round of Musings, but with a crazy week ahead across the league, I thought it was time I dusted off the template and shared some thoughts before we head into the NHL Entry Draft and then free agency.
Managing expectations of NHL Entry Draft prospects
The first round of the NHL Entry Draft kicks off Wednesday as 32 of the best draft-eligible hockey players in the world will hear their names called in Nashville. Rounds 2-7 will be Thursday starting at 8 a.m. Pacific. For the players that get selected, it is a remarkable accomplishment, even if a lot of them might not ever suit up for an NHL team. For those players that do eventually make it, there is still a long road ahead. To help manage everyone’s expectations, here is a quick refresher on the outlook of an NHL prospect.
First round of the NHL Entry Draft
The first round of the NHL Entry Draft is as close to a sure thing as it comes. 98 percent of NHL skaters drafted in the first round between 2010 and 2018 have played at least one NHL game and 81 percent of the first rounders played at least 100 games in the NHL.
Note that this visual excludes goalies drafted. Goalies are unique in terms of development time, and games played can be misleading since goalies can be in the NHL but not get credit for an official game played if they are serving as the backup.
Timing of first-round draft picks
When players make it to the NHL is another core component of setting expectations. Where a skater is drafted in the first round will correlate with the expected games played by season, but on the aggregate, the peak number of games played by a first-round draft pick will be around his sixth season after being drafted.
Assuming no trades that impact the Kraken’s first pick of the NHL Entry Draft, they will select 20th overall Wednesday. That means we should not expect Seattle’s first-round pick to play more than 25 games in the NHL until the 2025-26 season.
Other themes of the NHL entry draft
One of the biggest stories of the draft will be who drafts the Russian phenom, Matvei Michkov. There was a time when I remember people debating who would go No. 1, Michkov or Connor Bedard, but the world has changed since then. Michkov faced adversity and is proving to be enigmatic. Teams will need to evaluate the risk they are willing to take on by drafting Michkov, as there do seem to be a lot of questions about when he might make it to North America. Most prognosticators seem to think he doesn’t slip past eighth overall.
On that note, here is a look at the number of Russians drafted by team and round over the last three NHL Entry Drafts.
They released the Kraken… schedule
In case you missed it, the Kraken released their 2023-24 schedule. They will open in Vegas on Oct. 10, which will be the night the Golden Knights raise their Stanley Cup Championship banner. The home opener will be Oct. 17 against the Colorado Avalanche. The Kraken have the fewest back-to-back games in the league next season, which should be an advantage. During the 2022-23 season, the Kraken were 8-5-3 in the second game of a back-to-back scenario, though, so maybe this is a bad thing.
The Kraken will travel 49,572 miles this coming season which is 5,000 more miles than last season. 49,572 is fourth most behind Edmonton (53,902), Winnipeg (53,008), and Calgary (50,013).
Other Kraken Musings
- The Kraken prospect pool is rather shallow at defense. We all like Ty Nelson (2022 third round) but of the drafted players, Ryker Evans (2021 second round) appears to be the only lock to eventually make the NHL.
- On that note, if either of the Swedish defensemen of Tom Willander or Axel Sandin-Pellikka slip to the Kraken at No. 20, either of them will be hard to pass up.
- The Kraken have never drafted a Swedish hockey play in the NHL Entry Draft.
- It was fun to start entering Kraken game dates in my calendar this week. I have also started to circle a few away games on the schedule.
- I wonder how many fans will be booing Cale Makar on opening night?
- The Kraken have just three regular-season home games in October and a whopping 10 home games in March.
- One of the rumored players on the trade block is Samuel Girard from the Colorado Avalanche. I would love to see Ron Francis pull another Oliver Bjorkstrand-like trade for Girard.
- The Kraken re-signed defenseman Gustav Olofsson this week to a two-year, two-way deal for a league minimum of $775k AAV. Olofsson was steady for the few games when he got called up this season, but what I remember about him is his interaction with the fans when they were playing one of their AHL games at the Kraken Community Iceplex. He made a point to wave to kids on the glass and give fist bumps. Things you just love to see.
- NHL clubs have until Friday to submit qualifying offers to their pending restricted free agents. We have mentioned it multiple times, but we do not anticipate Daniel Sprong receiving a qualifying offer. Essentially, he played too well and priced himself out of re-signing with Kraken.
- Morgan Geekie is the interesting pending RFA. We saw how shrewd Ron Francis can be when he did not qualify Ryan Donato and Sprong last season, only to re-sign them in free agency later in the summer. Could he do something similar with Geekie? If Geekie is not qualified, I do not see him coming back to Seattle.
- The WHL also released its schedule this week. Check out the Seattle Thunderbirds schedule here and the Everett Silvertips schedule here.
- There are seven days where the Kraken, Silvertips, and Thunderbirds are all playing home games.
The busy week ahead
It is going to be a busy week, so to help you (and myself) keep it all straight, here is the rundown.
- 6/28 – First Round of the NHL Entry Draft (ESPN)
- 6/29 – Rounds two through seven of the NHL Entry Draft (NHL Network)
- 6/30 – Qualifying offers due for all pending restricted free agents, buyout period ends
- 7/1 – NHL free agency period opens
- 7/1 – Seattle Kraken development camp starts
- 7/2 – Seattle Kraken development camp open to the public
- 7/5 – Seattle Kraken development camp 3-on-3 scrimmage open to the public
There is a lot going on right now, and we surely missed a few topics, but if there are any questions, thoughts, or areas you would like me to explore, leave a note in the comments section. Thank you for reading. Enjoy the draft, free agency, and development camp.