A few weeks after signing Matty Beniers, the Seattle Kraken signed their second 2021 NHL Draft decide on Friday. The group introduced that their second-round decide, defenseman Ryker Evans, had signed his entry-level deal after his season within the WHL got here to an finish.
This got here with barely much less fanfare than Beniers’ signing did. There have been no graphics or video footage of his airport arrival however that’s the distinction between second total within the draft and thirty fifth total, which is the place Evans was chosen final July.
But that doesn’t imply this isn’t an essential step.
Evans, 20, was one of many higher defensemen within the Western Hockey League final season. Playing with the Regina Pats, he scored 14 targets, 47 assists, and 61 factors in 63 video games, which put him third on the Pats scoring and seventh within the league for scoring from a defenseman.
He thrived on particular groups as properly, scoring six power-play targets and organising 26 extra. Three of his targets have been game-winning targets.
He’s listed at 6-feet tall and 190 kilos and whereas he gained’t scare anybody with bruising hits within the defensive zone, he could find yourself giving opposing coaches matches along with his offensive capability. Evans is a puck-moving offensive defenseman, and the massive query now might be can he translate his success in junior hockey to the professionals, and can he crack the Seattle lineup this fall?
Evans is an older prospect, a late bloomer if you’ll, however stored getting higher every year, and all of his scoring numbers this season have been profession highs. He was in coaching camp this previous fall with the Seattle Kraken and was spectacular. In drills and scrimmages, he confirmed off some puck-moving ability, slick strikes, and performed as if he belonged.
He wasn’t intimidated in any respect, even taking part in a preseason recreation on the street. All that carried into the common WHL season the place he began scorching and by no means slowed down.
Now that he’s signed, what’s subsequent for Evans
The group introduced Friday that Evans will fly to Charlotte and be part of the Checkers for his or her AHL playoff run. He’ll apply with the professionals and is eligible to play if wanted. So, he’ll get a style of the professional hockey way of life, pace, and ability.
After the playoffs he’ll spend his summer time figuring out to organize for his second coaching camp with the Seattle Kraken within the fall, hoping he can crack the lineup.
“Ryker came in last year and was a real pleasant surprise in camp,” common supervisor Ron Francis stated final month. “It’s not every day you see a young guy play with that kind of confidence and moxie and I thought he did a real good job. He’s had a great season down there this year in Regina. Most younger guys need extra strength. So, that’s something hopefully over the course of summer he’ll get stronger in his game. And then it’s coming in and it’s just learning a little bit more about the NHL game, it’s more structured and more disciplined.”
If he does get sturdy sufficient and repeats that very same confidence and moxie, don’t be shocked if he finally ends up on the opening night time roster. While the Kraken have defensive group, the one factor lacking is a dynamic puck-moving defenseman.
Evans was that man in juniors and if he can replicate it this fall, the Kraken offensive assault will enhance.
“He’s a real confident kid that skates well and moves the puck well,” Francis stated. “He’ll have every opportunity to come in here and show us what he can do in camp. If he makes the team, great. If not, then it’s not the end of the world to go down to [AHL] Palm Springs and play some games and develop down there.”
Where would Evans match?
There aren’t apparent rosters spots for Evans because the season involves an finish. Seattle will make modifications this summer time and whereas most of these must be inside the ahead group, there’s nonetheless an opportunity the protection seems to be totally different.
Jamie Oleksiak and Adam Larsson are locks to return to the Kraken. Both are below contract and have had stable seasons. Larsson has arguably been Seattle’s greatest total defenseman and set a brand new career-high in targets.
Vince Dunn has actually come on this 12 months for the Kraken and leads the group in assists. He is a two-way defenseman who handles his personal finish, can cross the puck, and has a savvy knack for figuring out when to fill in on offense. Carson Soucy had a powerful season as properly and must be a lock to return.
With the highest 4 defensemen considerably set, Evans might want to show extra helpful than a bunch of youthful guys who’ve all had up and down seasons.
The two brothers Haydn and Cale Fleury are each restricted free brokers and Francis has a tricky name right here. Haydn was an everyday scratch early within the season, obtained into the lineup after the NHL Trade Deadline however has struggled with an damage since. Cale has proven some indicators, however inexperience could price him.
Will Borgen has yet one more 12 months on his contract which can be sufficient to maintain him. He’s younger and whereas he hasn’t put up massive numbers, his underlying analytics are sturdy.
Evans doubtlessly has a special ability set than many of the returning defensemen and if that ability reveals in coaching camp, he might change certainly one of these gamers. Defense is a tricky place to play, particularly for a younger rookie. As Francis hinted, the American Hockey League would be the almost definitely beginning place for Evans however don’t be shocked if sooner or later subsequent season, he’s taking part in NHL video games.