Why the Kraken took Berkly Catton 8th overall

2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Portraits

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JUNE 28: Berkly Catton poses for a portrait after being drafted by the Seattle Kraken with the eight overall pick during the 2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft at Sphere on June 28, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Candice Ward/Getty Images)Photo: Candice Ward / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

The rumblings could be felt from Seattle, to a major junior hometown in Spokane, to his resident home of Saskatoon. 

Berkly Catton, all 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds, was right there at eighth overall and the Seattle Kraken on the clock. 

They wasted no time in taking him.

Catton became the latest in a trend of forwards off the board in the first round for Seattle on Friday night at The Sphere in Las Vegas, bringing over a 116-point haul from his second Western Hockey League season with the Spokane Chiefs – not an easy league (or, U.S. Division) to hit triple digits.

But the talented center's game screams electrifying offense – and now he’s spoken for in a dark blue hockey sweater with the trademark cascading “S.” 

2024 Kubota CHL Top Prospects Game

MONCTON, CANADA - JANUARY 24:Berkly Catton #27 of Team White stick handles the puck in team red zone during the third period of the 2024 Kubota CHL Top Prospects Game at Avenir Centre on January 24, 2024 in Moncton, Canada. (Photo by Dale Preston/Getty Images)Photo: Dale Preston / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

WHY THE KRAKEN TOOK BERKLY CATTON: His offense was too good to pass up, and it smelled “best player available” – to the point where the Kraken had him targeted, and waited it out. He just about nearly broke the WHL with a 116 point season. Only three other Canadian Hockey League draft eligible players have topped 115 points in the last 25 years: Connor Bedard, Patrick Kane, and Sidney Crosby. 

To get 116 points in the CHL, as a teenager, is no cakewalk.

“It’s a super exciting moment to have the draft work that way, with a guy that you want, desire, and see what he’s good at, he falls in your spot and you get him,” said Kraken head coach Dan Bylsma. 

General manager Ron Francis said Catton was “the guy we wanted” after the pick in Las Vegas, and that the glut of centers creates movement through the depth chart. But it’s the chance to land a offensively high-volume center who apparently is causing this chain reaction, based on the potential coming to Seattle. 

“Centers are critical,” said Francis. 

“(Carson) Rehkopf and (David) Goyette have moved to the wings. So, we just felt where we were, depth at center was important.” 

They have a saturation of pivots, and some have been reassigned to different long term positions like the names Francis mentioned, taken each in the last two years. This reinforces even more how valuable they see Catton today, and Catton in the future. He potentially fortifies off a potential future spine of centers that includes him, Beniers, and Shane Wright, all taken in the draft within the top ten picks. 

WHAT CATTON BRINGS TO THE KRAKEN PIPELINE: Potential game-breaking skill, hockey IQ, transition game excellence, no fear to go into high-traffic areas, and work ethic. It’s a matter of when, not if, he becomes an NHL player. Calling him a “superstar in the making” still may be a work in progress, but the foundation has been established. 

You may recall that a diminutive 5-foot-9 forward, with prodigious numbers coming out of the Canadian Hockey League but a reputation of erratic defense, went in the first round. We’re not talking about now. We’re talking way back in 2007: that player was Patrick Kane, taken first overall by the Chicago Blackhawks. Three Stanley Cups later, Kane is on the inside track to the Hall of Fame. 

This isn’t to suggest Catton, also with a prolific skill set but with marks on his defensive record, is the second coming of Kane - but rather as a reminder of the attraction of skill, and the difference it makes. 

COMPARABLE: You’ll hear a lot – from Jonathan Drouin (where he was supposed to be), to a more substantial figure in Hurricanes star Sebastian Aho. But Catton grew up watching two prolific players to mirror his skill set, from his own words with 93.3 KJR-FM: 

“Pavel Datsyuk was always a guy I looked up to. Just so dynamic with the puck and smart. Now and in recent years, Jack Hughes is a guy.”

“Dynamic and smart players are who I grew up with.” 

WERE THERE OTHER PROMINENT PICKS AVAILABLE? Certainly. Look at the blueline, a pool where many thought the Kraken would dip into. Zeev Buium, who’s drawn comparisons to Quinn Hughes and John Carlson, was sitting available out of national champion Denver. Right-shot Zayne Parehk, drawing similar questions to defensive aptitude but an offensive behemoth with OHL Saginaw, was taken one pick later by Calgary. Sam Dickinson, tall and talented out of OHL London, went to San Jose at 11th overall. 

It's clear that despite a thin pool of blueliners within the system as compared to centers, that Catton’s game was too good to pass up. 

WHAT’S NEXT FOR CATTON: Short term, he’ll be center stage next week, July 2-5 at Kraken Community Iceplex for the team’s annual development camp, a first glance on open ice to show off his skill set – the week will end with game-like simulation, when Catton and others will compete in the annual Stucky Cup scrimmage finale. 

Long term, likely two more years await Catton at the WHL level, which is certainly no death sentence (as an example, look at Mat Barzal and Oliver Bjorkstrand’s careers even after spending two more seasons there, following their draft year). 

He’s eligible to play in the NHL now, but as we know, 18-year olds require an exceptional amount of talent to break in and stay at that age. Otherwise he’s inegible to go pro because of the CHL-NHL agreement. Shane Wright, who got a taste of the show two years ago, was an exception to the rule and it required formal lobbying from the Kraken to clear the former 19-year old for admission into the American Hockey League, where he thrived this past season. As a baseline, Catton will have to wait until he’s 20 to get into the pro ranks that span the Kraken and minor league options, unless his game accelerates so rapidly that the Kraken have no choice but to plug him in at the big level within the next two years. 

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content