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Wait a 'Second'

While the Kraken did not draw the top pick in the upcoming NHL Draft, they still beat long odds to gain the No. 2 spot and its attractive choice of players

by Bob Condor / @SeattleKraken / nhl.com/kraken

Two might not be better than No. 1, but the Kraken will pick ahead of 29 other teams in the 30-team first round of the NHL's upcoming amateur draft. The results of the 2021 NHL Draft Lottery place the Kraken at selecting No. 2 overall in next month's amateur entry draft.

Seattle entered the day with a 10.3 percent probability of the lottery balls pointing to the Kraken as the team with the top choice among this year's top eligible 18-year-old player. There was also a 10.3 percent chance the Kraken would be No. 2. That's one of 10 odds for each slot.

What's more, it was three times more likely the Kraken would fall to No. 4 or No. 5 than earn one of the first three choices. That's why team staffers and guests gathered at Climate Pledge Arena's preview center cheered long and loud when the Anaheim Ducks were awarded the No. 3 pick, guaranteeing Seattle one of the top two spots.

For his part, Kraken GM Ron Francis was most excited and "felt the best" when NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly flipped the No. 4 slot card showing the New Jersey Devils logo. That's because there was a near 40 percent chance the Kraken would land at that point, the highest probability among the five top spots the Kraken were guaranteed.

Video: GM Ron Francis meeting with the media to discuss the outcome of the 2021 NHL Draft Lottery

"Then when the No. 3 card showed Anaheim, I thought 'we've got a chance,' " said Francis, talking among his hockey analytics staff after doing media interviews.

Consider landing at No. 2 as the franchise's first of many days overcoming the odds.

Francis has been through the NHL Draft Lottery four times as general manager of Carolina. Selecting No. 2 overall is new high mark for Francis, along with former Hurricanes colleague and now Kraken director of amateur scouting, Robert Kron.

Francis and Carolina never won the top spot but did move up to the No. 7 pick in 2014-tabbing defenseman Haydn Fleury-and then up to the No. 5 overall pick in 2015, choosing another defenseman with a formidable NHL future, Noah Hanifin. Fleury has played 179 NHL games and Hanifin checks in at 436 games.

There is no consensus No. 1 pick in this year's amateur draft class, like there was last year when New York Rangers forward Alex Lafreniere was the top pick. But the Kraken will have the choice among top players as ranked by NHL's Central Scouting Bureau.

Topping the scouting bureau final rankings among North American skaters (forwards and defensemen) is 6-foot-6 defenseman University of Michigan Owen Power, who has impressed NHL executives and scouts with his superior skating, size and defensive prowess during his NCAA season and as a member of Team Canada at this past winter's World Junior Championship in Edmonton.

Video: Francis on Kraken's Draft Lottery odds

Others on the North American list include No. 2 Mason McTavish, a center for Peterborough of the Ontario Hockey League who played on loan with Olten of the Swiss second division in 2020-21 (the OHL canceled its season). McTavish scored five goals and added six assists for Team Canada at World Juniors.

Two of Power's Michigan teammates are also highly rated: Forward Kent Johnson at No. 3 and forward Matthew Beniers at No. 6. The top six North American skaters include No. 4 Luke Hughes a defenseman from Team USA's Under-18 National Team Development Program and the brother of recent high-end selections Quinn Hughes (No. 7 by Vancouver in 2018) and Jack Hughes (No. 1 by New Jersey in 2019).

At No. 5 is Dylan Guenther, a forward for his hometown Edmonton juniors team and the top prospect of the Western Hockey League, which includes the Seattle Thunderbirds and Everett Silvertips.

There are three players of note at the upper end of Central Scouting's top European skaters: No. 1 William Eklund, a high-speed, high-motor left wing who played a pivotal role for Djurgarden as an 18-year-old in his home country's top Swedish pro league.

Fellow Swede Simon Edvinsson, a defenseman who competed for Frolunda in the Swedish junior league, ranks No. 2 while Finland forward Aatu Raty, who plays for his nation's elite Liiga pro league. Raty was deemed a possible candidate for No. overall at the end of the 2019-20 season.

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