NHL Draft Predictions: Experts Weigh In on Kraken's First-Round Pick

Vince Carbonneau
June 26, 2024  (9:18 PM)

Ron Francis at the podium
Photo credit: ESPN

Kraken's Next Move: First-Round Predictions for the NHL Draft

After a successful second year that saw them reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs and win a postseason series, the Seattle Kraken couldn't sustain that momentum in their third season. With a 34-35-13 record in the 2023-24 campaign, they finished 17 points shy of a playoff spot, placing them eighth from the bottom in the NHL standings. This result gives Seattle the No. 8 overall pick in the upcoming NHL Draft.
The draft kicks off with the first round broadcasted live on ESPN Friday at 4 p.m. in Las Vegas, followed by rounds 2-7 on Saturday starting at 8:30 a.m. on NHL Network.
As the Kraken prepare to make their selection, let's explore the expert predictions for their first-round pick.
An ‘Offensive Force' on Defense writers Adam Kimelman and Mike G. Morreale both project the Kraken will select defenseman Zayne Parekh from the Ontario Hockey League's Saginaw Spirit. The 18-year-old is heralded as an 'offensive force' after a record-setting season, scoring 33 goals and 63 assists in 66 games, and helping Saginaw win the Memorial Cup. Parekh's standout performance earned him the Max Kaminsky Trophy as the OHL's top defenseman.
Despite concerns about his defensive skills, Kimelman believes Parekh's dedication to improvement and strong work ethic make him a valuable pick. Parekh's stock has risen significantly this year, climbing from No. 10 to No. 5 among North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting's final 2024 prospect rankings.
A National Champion
Scott Wheeler of The Athletic also sees the Kraken picking a defenseman, suggesting University of Denver left-hander Zeev Buium. Wheeler notes there's a chance Buium might be off the board by the time Seattle picks, but he believes Buium is a perfect fit for the Kraken. Buium's freshman year included 11 goals and 39 assists, contributing to Denver's 10th national championship and earning multiple accolades, including NCHC Offensive Defenseman of the Year.
Buium also played a key role in Team USA's gold medal-winning World Juniors squad, leading all defensemen in the tournament with three goals. NHL Central Scouting ranks him as the No. 4 overall North American skater.
An Intriguing International Prospect
Tony Ferrari of The Hockey News predicts the Kraken might go for Russian defenseman Anton Silayev from the KHL's Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod. At 6-foot-7 and 211 pounds, Silayev combines size and skating ability, making him an intriguing prospect. He posted three goals and eight assists in 63 games last season.
Silayev's KHL contract runs through the 2025-26 season, raising questions about when he might join the NHL. Nonetheless, his potential as a cornerstone blueliner is hard to ignore. NHL Central Scouting ranks Silayev as the top international skater.
A Scorer Familiar with the PNW
While most experts lean towards a defensive pick, Sportsnet's Jason Bukala suggests forward Berkly Catton from the WHL's Spokane Chiefs. Catton scored 54 goals and 62 assists in 68 games last season, earning a second-team CHL All-Star spot. Despite his smaller frame at 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, Catton's skillset is impressive.
Catton was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 WHL Bantam Draft, a team captain for Canada Red at the 2022 U17 World Hockey Challenge, and helped Canada to bronze at the 2023 U18 World Juniors. NHL Central Scouting ranks Catton as the No. 8 North American skater.
As the Seattle Kraken prepare for their first-round pick in the NHL Draft, the consensus among experts points towards selecting a defenseman. Whether it's Parekh, Buium, or Silayev, each prospect offers unique strengths that could bolster Seattle's roster. However, a talented forward like Catton might still be in play, providing an intriguing alternative to enhance the Kraken's offensive depth.
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NHL Draft Predictions: Experts Weigh In on Kraken's First-Round Pick

Do you think the Kraken should prioritize a defenseman in the first round?

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