During Wednesday night's NHL Draft Lottery broadcast, Kraken general manager Ron Francis was a virtual linchpin of the show, especially when he was shown in one square on screen with fellow GMs Kevyn Adams of Buffalo and Bob Murray of Anaheim.
All teams had been slotted for the July 21 NHL amateur draft except Buffalo, Anaheim and Seattle. Francis looked composed when Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly flipped the No. 3 pick card to reveal Anaheim, even though he admitted later to a small gathering of staffers that he was excitedly thinking "maybe we have a chance" at getting the No. 1 overall pick.
The pick turned out going to Buffalo, which finished the 2020-21 NHL regular season with the worst record. It was only the 10th time since the lottery's inception in 1995 that the No. 1 has been awarded to the team with the worst record.
Francis was nonetheless happy with the results because the odds were stacked toward the Kraken likely picking No. 4 or No. 5.
"We've done our homework knowing which players we like from No. 1 to 5," said Francis on a post-lottery livestream aired on 950 KJR and Streamyard featuring KJR sports radio hosts Dave "Softy" Mahler and Dick Fain along with Kraken team broadcaster Everett Fitzhugh. "We knew we would get quality players in that range. Now we have to make sure we get the 1-2 slots right."
While Francis allowed the "consensus is the depth of 2021 NHL Draft class might not be as deep" as some years, he said he still expects to get a "really good player" who will compete in the NHL.
ESPN national hockey writer Emily Kaplan, a must-read/must-watch personality, joined the livestream a bit later in the half-hour to second that opinion: "Usually the No. 2 overall pick becomes an NHL player, whether star or grinder. The chances of that player never wearing a Kraken jersey are low-unless he is traded because Ron Francis makes an amazing trade."
Kaplan, who covered the NFL before moving to her first love hockey, says the entire sports is amped up about Seattle becoming the 32nd franchise in the NHL.
"It's a huge deal, a big deal," said Kaplan. "Everybody knows the way Seattle fans support their teams. There's a real buzz across hockey and sports about the Kraken."