As the calendar turns to August, we will be shifting our focus full time to the upcoming NHL season soon. Before we do that, though, at least one piece of offseason business remains–a recap of the Seattle Kraken’s 2023 NHL Draft. 

How do the Kraken draft picks stack up on the Sound Of Hockey Big Board? How have public draft experts graded Seattle’s performance? What do we know about the newest Kraken players? Let’s dive in.

For the second year in a row, the Kraken accumulated a deep and talented class

Last year, at the 2022 NHL Draft, the Seattle Kraken leveraged extra draft picks in the second round to acquire five of the top 50 players on the Sound Of Hockey Big Board. 

Remarkably, history repeated itself at the 2023 NHL Draft. Again the Kraken were armed with extra second-round picks from the team’s trades at the 2022 NHL trade deadline, and again the team came away with five top-50 players on the Sound Of Hockey Big Board. Seattle’s five top-50 players tied San Jose for most in the NHL. No other team obtained more than three.

The key distinction this year was that Seattle’s own draft picks were those of a playoff team, rather than those of a 60-point team. Last year, the Kraken were able to grab the No. 1 overall player on the Big Board, Shane Wright, but did not have a similar opportunity to draft any true top-tier amateur players this year.

That said, the Kraken did take (at least) two high-upside swings during the 2023 draft on players that have the potential to provide top-tier production. Seattle’s first-round pick Eduard Sale was frequently projected as a top-10 draft choice after his draft-minus-one year in which he posted 99 points in 44 games in Czechia’s top junior league. His season was so good, he made the rare leap to Extraliga, Czechia’s top pro league, as a 17-year-old. He played a limited role, though, and met adversity playing against veterans in one of the best professional leagues in the world. Still lauded as one of the most skilled playmakers and scorers in the draft, the Kraken could have a top-tier talent if Sale can find his offensive footing again.

Likewise, the Kraken took a big swing at offensive talent in the later stages of the second round in the form of Tri-City defenseman Lukas Dragicevic. Setting aside high school players, Dragicevic scored more total points (79) and on a per-game basis (1.07 points per game) than any other right-handed defenseman in the 2023 NHL Draft. Some scouts question whether Dragicevic can be good enough defensively, but his potential as a blueliner proficient in the transition game and on the power play is significant.

Overall, Seattle consistently found value with their draft picks–at least in the eyes of the Sound Of Hockey Big Board. In total, only 87 players were selected at a draft position equal to or later than the player’s rank on the Big Board. In other words, these are the choices that the Big Board would deem a “value” pick. The Kraken selected seven of those 87 players, most in the league. No other team selected more than five. Columbus, Las Vegas, San Jose, and Philadelphia each accomplished that feat.

Public draft analysts ranked the Kraken draft class highly

For these reasons, it is not surprising that public draft analysts (upon whose work the Big Board was built) were generally complimentary of Seattle’s draft, frequently referencing it among the strongest draft classes assembled:

Seattle’s draft picks bring a wide array of talents

Pick No. 20, Eduard Sale, LW, HC Kometa Brno (Czechia)

Height: 73 inches | Weight: 168 lbs | Shot: L | 7 goals, 7 assists, 49 games played

Big Board: 17 | Highest rank: 7 (Craig Button)

Analytics Rank: 21 | NHLe Rank: 25

Scouting perspective: “[Sale is] a smooth skater who is noticeable in transition for both his ability to weave up ice and facilitate and also his ability to create breakaways for himself and beat goalies one-on-one. He’s got superb vision and ranks among the best in the class at dissecting coverage as a passer. I love him on the half-wall/point on the PP with his ability to hit east-west seams (he just seems to see every lane and opening). He can slow it down and pick things apart or hurry up his passes through holes. He has shown a knack for making big plays at big moments and can really shoot it, whether with a quick-release wrister or his dangerous one-timer.” – Scott Wheeler

Pick analysis: Eduard Sale came to Seattle Kraken Development Camp and showed rust early. He was nondescript for long stretches. But by the end of the three-on-three scrimmage on the last day, he was starting to show the skill that made him a top prospect coming into the 2022-23 season. In one sequence he showed high-end handling and scoring touch, roofing a backhander. Sale is likely to come to Kraken camp in the fall and then spend the season with the Barrie Colts in the OHL. How he progresses this year is of paramount importance to Seattle’s prospect pipeline. 

You can find our full analysis of the draft pick in the June 28 post “Breaking news: Seattle Kraken draft Eduard Sale at No. 20.” 

Pick No. 50, Carson Rehkopf, LW, Kitchener Rangers (OHL)

Height: 73 inches | Weight: 194 lbs | Shot: L | 32 goals, 33 assists, 77 games played

Big Board: 48 | Highest rank: 36 (Peter Baracchini)

Analytics Rank: 39 | NHLe Rank: 78

Scouting perspective: “Rehkopf is [a] bigger build with an interesting blend of size and skill. He has a pro level frame and shot already. . . . He has also shown the ability to play both down the middle and on the wing. . . . If able to develop his skill set effectively, there could be a . . . middle-six forward that can dominate middle ice. He also has the length and active stick to provide value on a penalty kill unit. There are concerns about Rehkopf’s engagement with the play off the puck, as well as his commitment to physical play . . . .” – Ben Jordan

Pick analysis: Rehkopf has no shortage of physical tools, and his skills impressed during portions of Seattle Kraken Development Camp too when he displayed a heavy and accurate shot. Rehkopf’s counting stats during his 2022-23 season in the OHL were good but not elite, and scouting reports cast doubt on his off-puck engagement and defensive-zone play. On the other hand, Seattle Director of Amateur Scouting Robert Kron complimented Rehkopf’s two-way game when describing the pick. Rehkopf feels like a player with volatility in his projection, but with several different avenues to earn professional playing time. 

You can find our full analysis of the draft pick in the June 29 post “Seattle Kraken draft Carson Rehkopf at No. 50.”

Pick No. 52, Oscar Fisker Molgaard, C, HV71 (SHL)

Height: 72 inches | Weight: 163 lbs | Shot: L | 4 goals, 3 assists, 41 games played

Big Board: 38 | Highest rank: 23 (Dobber Prospects)

Analytics Rank: 52 | NHLe Rank: 143

Scouting perspective: “Molgaard’s excellent defensive work has resulted in him playing most of his year in the prestigious SHL mainly as a role player. Molgaard has an . . . exceptional defensive toolset and a composed mindset lets him disrupt his opponents frequently and successfully. Offensively, he has understandably struggled at the SHL level given his role but his nippy skating has been a danger in the lower levels. At international and the U-20 level Molgaard proved he can ‘the guy’ with driving offense with great vision for teammates and a well-rounded skillset.” – Joe Maciag

Pick analysis: Molgaard exudes maturity. This manifests on the ice, where he displayed a responsible two-way game in the SHL as a 17-year-old. It also shows off the ice in his dealings with the media, including his interview with Sound Of Hockey’s own John Barr and Darren Brown. The question with Molgaard is whether he can score enough to play at the NHL level. Further developing his offensive skill level is key to his future.

You can find our full analysis of the pick in the June 29 post “Seattle Kraken draft Oscar Fisker Molgaard at No. 52.”

Pick No. 57, Lukas Dragicevic, D, Tri-City Americans (WHL)

Height: 74 inches | Weight: 181 lbs | Shot: R | 15 goals, 64 assists, 74 games played

Big Board: 33 | Highest rank: 20 (McKeen’s Hockey)

Analytics Rank: 19 | NHLe Rank: 8

Scouting perspective: “Lukas Dragicevic is the best offensive defenceman in this year’s draft. No one combines his level of puck skills, vision, and activation. For both of his WHL seasons, Tri-City’s offence has flowed through him. He’s the initiator, connector, and often the finisher. And he led the team in ice time both seasons – no small feat for a player who switched from forward just a few years ago. . . . Full stop, the defence must improve to get the green light in the NHL.” – Elite Prospects

Pick analysis: Before the draft, I mentioned Dragicevic as a first-round candidate based on his rare point production from the blue line. Match that production with a right-handed shot, six-foot-two frame, and skating talent (even if it is still in need of refinement), and you have a defenseman with almost every quality a player development program could ask for. His movements and reads on defense, particularly defending the rush, will need to improve, but it’s not a long shot to think those improvements will come since he has only played as a blueliner for three years. 

You can find our full analysis of the pick in the June 30 post “Seattle Kraken draft Lukas Dragicevic at No. 57.”

Pick No. 84, Caden Price, D, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

Height: 73 inches | Weight: 181 lbs | Shot: L | 6 goals, 36 assists, 69 games played

Big Board: 50 | Highest rank: 28 (Dobber Prospects)

Analytics Rank: 50 | NHLe Rank: 55

Scouting perspective: “Kelowna asked [Caden Price] to take on a lot of responsibility as the leader of their blue line, but the Rockets never fully clicked as a team, and when things started to go sideways, he didn’t have a lot of support underneath him. He didn’t look ready or comfortable in the role he had, so the challenge for scouts now is trying to determine what sort of role you can project for him as a future NHLer. The most appealing thing about his game is that there really isn’t anything unappealing about it. He’s well-rounded and highly versatile. With good smarts, a relatively full toolbox and a can-do attitude he can play the game any way you want him to, and every coach loves having guys like that around.” – McKeen’s Hockey

Pick analysis: Price is another defenseman long on both physical tools and skills. He has not put it all together into game production to the same extent as Lukas Dragicevic, but his advocates in the scouting community suggest he can still do it and ascend into that upper echelon. Others look at Price and scratch their heads as to why he didn’t produce more offensively and defensively. This coming season will be crucial for Price as he will likely have a featured role on the Kelowna blue line. Can he shore up his defensive game and get closer to a point per game on the offensive side? He’ll have the opportunity.

You can find our full analysis of the pick in the July 2 post “Seattle Kraken draft Caden Price at No. 84.”

Pick No. 116, Andrei Loshko, C, Chicoutimi Saguenéens (QMJHL)

Height: 73 inches | Weight: 170 lbs | Shot: L | 22 goals, 49 assists, 72 games played

Big Board: 122 | Highest rank: 89 (FC Hockey)

Analytics Rank: 98 | NHLe Rank: 113

Scouting perspective: “Loshko plays like a veteran. He’s the player the coach sends over the boards to counter the opposition’s top line, to play on the penalty kill, and protect leads. His mature game impressed our staff in every single viewing. He applied his team’s system well and offered timely passing options to teammates in transition. ‘He reloads defensively, anticipates the next play of opponents, supports teammates on breakouts, and knows his next play in possession,’ Elite Prospects lead scout David St-Louis wrote in a November report. ‘The hockey sense looks above-average — offensively, too. He’s really intriguing.’” – Elite Prospects

Pick analysis: Scouts credit Loshko for playing a simple but effective two-way game. He is able to slow down the chaos around him and make the right play more often than not. Whether he can keep up with professional pace and score enough in the NHL is an open question, but most scouts that got a close look at him came away raving about him and describing a potential fourth-line checking forward.

Andrei Loshko
Andrei Loshko shoots the puck at Kraken Development Camp (Photo/Brian Liesse)

Pick No. 148, Kaden Hammell, D, Everett Silvertips (WHL)

Height: 74 inches | Weight: 181 lbs | Shot: R | 8 goals, 18 assists, 72 games played

Big Board: 167 | Highest rank: 92 (McKeen’s Hockey)

Analytics Rank: 146 | NHLe Rank: 240

Scouting perspective: “[Hammell’s] game so far has certainly leaned much further on the defensive side than the offensive one. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, however, as leaning into that specialty might be the best application of his tools. He’s strong and sturdy in his lower body and combines that with clean footwork and a long reach to be a real pain in the neck to get through or behind in one-on-one situations. He’s tough and physical, whether that’s by driving players into the boards hard and pinning them there or battling them tooth and nail in front of his goalie, and he can play this way without getting whistled for unnecessary penalties. He’s going to get a lot of opportunities over the next two seasons to diversify and expand his game through more encouraged usage as a puck-mover and offense creator, but maybe temper expectations about how successful that will go.” – McKeen’s Hockey

Pick analysis: This pick has an interesting blend of “floor” and “ceiling.” On the one hand, Hammell is a six-foot-two, physical, righty defenseman, with solid athleticism whom scouts believe should be able to play representative defense. Those traits carry a lot of value in the NHL and could earn him professional minutes. On the other hand, Hammell was believed to be an exciting offensive prospect coming into the 2022-23 season, and according to scouts, he did show solid passing and transition game skills, even if the point totals lagged. Hammell will play this coming season in Everett, so Seattle will be able to monitor his development closely.

Pick No. 168, Visa Vedenpaa, G, Kärpät U20 (U20 SM-sarja)

Height: 74 inches | Weight: 170 lbs | Catches: L | .886 save percentage, 31 games played

Big Board: 222

Analytics Rank: 1937 | NHLe Rank: 1017

Scouting perspective: “Visa Vedenpää is an exciting young goaltender in the Kärpät development system in Finland. . . . Playing with good instincts, he reacts well to broken or quick- developing plays. His strong technical base puts him into position to do that, because he stays within the frame and is rarely caught out of his net. He plays with moderate depth, with his heels generally at the top of the crease on plays off the rush. . . . His skating ability might be his weakest aspect.” – Elite Prospects

Pick analysis: Seattle drafted goalie Niklas Kokko out of Kärpät U20 in Finland in the 2022 draft and came back for an encore in 2023, selecting the goalie that took Kokko’s place for that same club, Vedenpaa. The success of the Kärpät program in developing goaltenders is well documented, and it surely didn’t hurt that Kokko appears to have taken a further step forward since he was drafted. Vedenpaa is highly regarded by the Finnish National Team, as he was one of three Finnish goalies brought to the World Juniors Summer Showcase. He is unlikely to be at the 2024 World Juniors–that should be Kokko and Topias Leinonen–but the invitation suggests he’s a prime candidate to be in net in 2025.

Niklas Kokko and Visa Vedenpaa watch the Kraken Development Camp scrimmage (Photo/Brian Liesse)

Pick No. 180, Zeb Forsfjall, C, Skellefteå AIK (SHL)

Height: 69 inches | Weight: 168 lbs | Shot: L | 1 goal, 0 assists, 18 games played

Big Board: 104 | Highest ranking: 49 (Peter Baracchini)

Analytics Rank: 187 | NHLe Rank: 1919

Scouting perspective: “Forsfjall is a strong playmaking forward. He can run a power play well enough and find seams to create chances. He has good hands and can create in small areas too. He’s not that big or physical, but Forsfjall gives an honest effort every night, can PK, and wins enough puck battles. Forsfjall has played center in junior regularly but I’m guessing he’s a wing as a pro due to his frame. He has strong speed and in-tight quickness although it’s not elite small guy skating. He has talent, but whether there’s enough in his game to be a legit NHL’er is up for debate” – Corey Pronman

Pick analysis: Easy agility on the ice, plus speed, strong puck handling in transition, and tenacity and instincts on defense, particularly penalty kill, characterize Forsfjall’s game. He did not score very much as a 17-year-old fourth-line center in the SHL, but that is to be expected. It’s easy to see the value he brings and fall in love with him as a player, but the question will be whether he can squeeze enough offense out of his profile to succeed. He is a willing forechecker, but light on his skates and won’t be moving hulking defenders off the puck. His shot seems solid, but he has not been able to use it to generate much production yet.

Pick No. 212, Zaccharya Wisdom, RW, Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (USHL)

Height: 73 inches | Weight: 172 lbs | Shot: R | 29 goals, 20 assists, 64 games played

Big Board: 207 | Highest ranking: 164 (McKeen’s Hockey)

Analytics Rank: 584 | NHLe Rank: 461

Scouting perspective: “The significant improvement in production this year thanks to improved on-puck play has put him back on the draft radar. Still a high energy and tenacious off-puck player, Wisdom can now drive play with the puck on his stick thanks to upgrades made to his skating and refinements made to his skill and finishing ability. His upside is likely still pretty limited, but the well-rounded nature of his game makes him an ideal bottom six candidate.” – McKeen’s Hockey

Pick analysis: Wisdom is an overaged, physical winger, who took a step forward with his puck handling and scoring during his 2022-23 season in the USHL, according to scouts. Some see a late-blooming power forward profile capable of earning a bottom-six role down the road. His low point production and age work against him, though. Wisdom is bound for Colorado College in the fall, so he has a longer development timeline and an opportunity to continue to build his game brick-by-brick at the NCAA level.

Curtis Isacke

Curtis is a Sound Of Hockey contributor and member of the Kraken press corps. Curtis is an attorney by day, and he has read the NHL collective bargaining agreement and bylaws so you don’t have to. He can be found analyzing the Kraken, NHL Draft, and other hockey topics on Twitter and Threads @deepseahockey.