Seattle Kraken conclude 2021 NHL draft with six selections

The Seattle Kraken (@SeattleKraken) concluded the 2021 NHL Draft Friday with Kraken General Manager Ron Francis and Director of Amateur Scouting Robert Kron making six selections.

After selecting forward Matthew Beniers with the second-overall selection Thursday, the Kraken began day two by nabbing 19-year-old Ryker Evans with the 35th overall pick.

Evans, a five-foot-11, 181-pound defenseman, spent the last three seasons (2018-19 to 2020-21) playing for the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League, totaling 70 points (11 goals, 59 assists) in 132 games. His 28 points (three goals, 25 assists) during the 2020-21 season tied for the team lead in scoring and ranked second among all WHL defensemen. The Calgary, Alberta, native won a gold medal and was named the tournament’s top defenseman while playing for the Notre Dame Hounds at the 2018 Telus Cup, Canada’s under-18 national club championship.

In the third round, the Kraken selected 17-year-old Ryan Winterton with the 67th pick of the draft. The six-foot-two, 190-pound forward played in seven games during the 2020-21 season for Canada’s under-18 national team at the IIHF U-18 World Junior Championship where he totaled four points (two goals, two assists) and won a gold medal. Winterton, a Markham, Ontario, native, spent the 2019-20 season with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), recording 23 points (12 goals, 11 assists) in 53 games.

With their fourth-round selection, Seattle drafted 18-year-old defenseman Ville Ottavainen 99th overall. The six-foot-four, 201-pound Oulu, Finland, native spent the 2020-21 season with JYP of the Liiga, the Finnish Elite League, scoring one goal and adding two assists in 22 games. Prior to joining JYP, Ottavainen played the 2019-20 season with the Kitchener Rangers (OHL), tallying 15 points (four goals, 11 points) in 53 games, which was good for sixth among Rangers defensemen.

With the 131st pick, the Kraken selected Jacob Melanson, a native of Amherst, Novia Scotia. The five-foot-11, 181-pound forward played 18 games for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan of the Québec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), scoring eight goals and adding 11 assists. Melanson’s 19 points during the 2020-21 season nearly doubled his scoring total from the previous year in 21 fewer games, having notched 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in 39 games for the Québec Remparts (QMJHL).

The Kraken made their first goaltender selection with Semyon Vyazovoi with the 163rd pick in the draft. Vyazovoi posted a 14-9-1 record with a .939 save percentage and a 2.06 goals-against average for Tolpar Ufa of the MHL, the Russian junior league. His .939 save percentage was good for third in the MHL, and his 2.06 goals-against average tied for 12th in the league. Vyazovoi stands at six-foot-two and 168 pounds and is a native of Ufa, Russia.

With their final pick of the 2021 NHL Draft, the Kraken selected 6-foot, 181-pound forward Justin Janicke. The 18-year old spent the past two seasons (2019-20 to 2020-21) playing for the United States National Team Development Program, totaling 77 points (30 goals, 47 assists) in 95 games. The Maple Grove, Minnesota, native won a silver medal while representing the United States at the 2019 World U-17 Hockey Challenge, notching five points (one goal, four assists) in six games.

The Seattle Kraken will play their first game in franchise history in 80 days on Oct. 12 at Las Vegas.

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