Welcome to a new weekly series called “Scouting Spotlight”! Every week, we’ll highlight three players around the NHL who are potential picks for the Kraken in this July’s Expansion Draft. We’ll provide a bit of background on the players and why they’re worth watching this week.
Each Scouting Spotlight will finish with a “Game of the Week” which will showcase some potential Kraken players in an exciting matchup.
Here’s our picks for Week 1 of Scouting Spotlight:
Schedule this week: Tues. 1/19 @ NYR 4PM PT – Thurs. 1/21 @ NYI 4PM PT – Sun. 1/24 vs. NYI 4PM PT
Sharangovich earned his spot in this week’s Scouting Spotlight with an impressive performance in the Devils’ 2-1 OT win over the Boston Bruins. Playing on the Devils’ first line with Jack Hughes and Kyle Palmieri, Sharangovich finished third in ice time among all Devils forwards. He ended the game in incredible fashion as he scored the overtime game winner, his first NHL goal, with only 1.7 seconds left on the clock. Wow.
You don’t often see a 22-year-old rookie thrown onto the top forward line and trusted with so much ice time this early in the season. Maybe it helps that Sharangovich has already had some time to warm up. Even though the NHL season just started, Sharangovich played 34 games with Dynamo Minsk in the KHL at the end of last year before joining the Devils for training camp earlier this month.
New Jersey’s expansion draft situation will be fun to monitor this season. Sharangovich is one of many young Devils players who will be given the opportunity to improve and possibly play their way onto Seattle GM Ron Francis’ radar. The Devils have 10 (!) forwards eligible for the expansion draft aged 22 or 23. Those are often make-or-break development years. As the Devils try to figure out what they have in their forward prospects, the Kraken scouting staff will be watching too. Don’t be surprised if several Devils forwards appear in future Scouting Spotlights this season.
As for Sharangovich, the Devils have put the Belarusian winger in a position to succeed early and he’s making the most of it. Keep an eye on him this week to see if he can build on his early success. He’ll certainly be given every opportunity.
Schedule this week: Wed. 1/20 vs. EDM 4PM PT – Fri. 1/22 vs. EDM 4PM PT – Sun. 1/24 @ CGY 1PM PT
Justin Holl has been on a tear to start the 2020-21 season. He’s averaging a career high 21:48 of ice time and his four points rank him second among all NHL defensemen in scoring. It’s a small sample size, but it appears as though something has finally clicked for the 28-year-old defenseman. After struggling to stay in the Leafs’ roster the past three seasons, Holl may have earned himself a permanent spot in Toronto’s top-4.
As expected, Maple Leafs fans have reacted to this success with their trademark cautious optimism and levelheadedness.
Hyperbole aside, Holl has played very well and could establish himself as a solid option on defense for the Kraken should he continue playing at this level. Toronto’s defense trio of Muzzin, Reilly, and Brodie will most likely be protected in the expansion draft which would give the Kraken the option of taking a potentially much-improved Holl.
Holl won’t be able to sit back and enjoy his early success for long though. He and the Leafs have a pair of games against Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and the Oilers this week. Tune in to see how Holl fares when matched against two of the most dangerous forwards in the NHL.
Schedule this week: Tues. 1/19 vs. WAS 4PM PT – Fri. 1/22 vs. NYR 4PM PT – Sun. 1/24 vs. NYR 4PM PT
The Penguins overhauled their depth forward group this offseason and Jankowski was one of the new additions. A Calgary Flames first round pick in 2012, Jankowski never quite lived up to his draft position. However at only 26 years old, it’s not impossible for a change of scenery to help the former top prospect regain his form. After all, Jankowski has shown that he can produce before. He’s only two seasons removed from a career-best 32 point season with the Flames where he was a useful bottom-6 winger.
Through three games with the Penguins it’s been so far, so good. Jankowski scored the Penguins’ first goal of the season on Wednesday and added this beautiful backhand assist to tie the game in the 3rd period.
While he’s been efficient with the opportunities he’s had, Jankowski has only averaged 14 minutes of ice time over the first three games. Look for the Penguins give him some more ice time this week after a strong start.
Scouting Spotlight Game of the Week: Edmonton Oilers @ Toronto Maple Leafs, Wednesday 1/20, 4:00PM PT on NBCSNEmbed from Getty Images
This game stands out for a couple reasons. It’s a nationally televised marquee matchup and has all the offensive star power you could ask for. Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and John Tavares are sure to put on a show in this North Division matchup.
The area of interest for the Kraken, however, is on defense. As mentioned earlier, the Leafs’ Justin Holl has garnered a lot of attention early on and will look to continue his stellar play against two of the best forwards in the world. On the other side of the ice, two Oilers defensemen will be on Seattle’s radar. Ethan Bear and Caleb Jones have underperformed recently and were both healthy scratches for the Oilers’ game against Montreal on Monday. After being forced to watch a game from the press box, I would bet that they’ll both be back in the lineup on Wednesday for a chance to prove they belong on the ice going forward. If Bear and Jones can get their game on track, they’ve shown the potential to be top-4 defensemen. At least one of them should be available to the Kraken this July.