What Ryker Evans' call-up means for the Seattle Kraken blueline

Seattle Kraken v Edmonton Oilers

EDMONTON, AB - SEPTEMBER 28: Ryker Evans #41 of the Seattle Kraken skates against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place during third period preseason action on September 28, 2021 in Edmonton, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)Photo: Codie McLachlan / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

It’s anything but a modest call-up. The implications are anything but modest for the Seattle Kraken blueline. 

On Tuesday, the Kraken officially recalled second-year pro and defenseman Ryker Evans from the Coachella Valley Firebirds of the American Hockey League. No other corresponding move was made on the Kraken roster, who will have a full slate of 23 healthy skaters, plus Jaden Schwartz and Andre Burakovsky, who are still on injured reserve. 

The Kraken are now carrying eight active defensemen on the roster. Jaycob Megna, a reserve in his first full season with the team, has yet to appear in a game this season. 


What this move means for Ryker Evans: 

Evans, 21, will presumably get a shot in the near future to prove he’s ready for the NHL level. His NHL debut could come early as Thursday when the Kraken open a six-game homestand against the New Jersey Devils. 

At the least: assuming he gets penciled into the lineup, it’s an opportunity for his first taste of regular season competition. He would likely head back to Coachella Valley in the near future with his feet wet from the hyper-intense rigors of NHL game action, and an understanding of the next steps he needs to stick in an NHL lineup with the demanding, multi-layered responsibilities of the modern-day defenseman. 

At the most: his time has finally come to make a home on the Kraken blueline, and he might as well pack up his living arrangements in Coachella Valley for good. He was a surprising last cut in Kraken training camp two months ago, with head coach Dave Hakstol complimenting his play as “outstanding” in the offensive zone to Jared McCann remarking his potential as “deadly” at the NHL level. He turned heads, and before that, nearly became a Cup-winning cult hero when he helped guide the Firebirds to game seven of the Calder Cup Final, losing in overtime to the Hershey Bears. He ripped off 26 points in 26 games as a 20-year old rookie defenseman – only Max McCormick (27 points) and Kole Lind (31 points) had more points than him in the postseason – and was named to the AHL’s All-Rookie Team with Tye Kartye. 

He wound up playing in 89 games last season into late June – and that doesn’t count the preseason. 

Though the demotion at the end of the preseason was a shocker, he proved that ample playing time was more beneficial than sitting for a period of time in an NHL press box. Evans has eight points in 18 games as Coachella Valley’s leader in scoring among defenseman, making it abundantly clear he’s accomplished nearly everything possible on the developmental checklist. 

What this move means for the Kraken:   

They potentially jolt their lineup, which admittedly could use a spark, with a disappointing start sinking their record to 8-12-6 and five points out of the Western Conference playoff picture, going winless in the last five games since a 7-1 thrashing of the San Jose Sharks on Thanksgiving eve. 

One call-up is not a savior’s appointment, and the Kraken have made several already this season trying out Shane Wright, Ryan Winterton, Max McCormick and Marian Studenic but the recent pattern has come with a train of forwards in light of injuries. There are no known injuries on the Kraken blueline, which has been part of a defense that has taken a battering, on the wrong half of five-on-five shot quality for four of the last five games. Assuming nobody is hurt, an extra defenseman will take a seat in the press box, also amplifying competition for playing time (at times, a residual effect, also elevating team performance).

Though defensemen typically take longer to develop, Evans’ upside is remarkably high and his development has taken significant strides since being taken in the second round two years ago. He has the capability to push for significant minutes, turned heads on power play reps in the preseason, and has the full potential to become a linchpin of the future in the Kraken defense. How long it takes to fulfill that potential is to be determined. 

But the starting block has arrived. 

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