MONTREAL — There are a handful of pressing needs for the Kraken before Thursday’s NHL entry draft.

No one doubts the team needs to score more. It also could use a puck-moving, right-handed-shot defenseman to balance a lefty-heavy squad.

Thing is, team needs present day often change by the time a draft pick bears fruit at the top level. Another thing the Kraken are in desperate need of is minor-league depth, considering the team’s lone draft class of a year ago consists of seven players — six of which will remain in the minors once Matty Beniers makes the big club this fall.

And that means anybody the Kraken chooses at No. 4 overall will automatically ascend to near the top of the prospect depth chart. There are a good four or five candidates on that list; two of them right-handed defensemen in David Jiricek and Simon Nemec, along with three forwards in Cutter Gauthier, Joakim Kemell and Matthew Savoie.

Shane Wright speaks during a news conference after being selected as the fourth overall pick by the Seattle Kraken during the first round of the NHL hockey draft in Montreal on Thursday, July 7, 2022. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via AP) GMH123

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Not to mention, some dark horses that could slip through given this isn’t considered a premium draft year and many of the candidates seem bunched awfully close together in the top-10. National pundits from both the U.S. and Canada have weighed in with diverging opinions as well.

Here’s a look at some recent mock drafts.

Sam Cosentino, Sportsnet

Kraken pick: Defenseman Simon Nemec, HK Nitra Slovakia.

His comment: Has two-plus years of experience playing in the top men’s league in Slovakia, but also the benefit of two worlds and an Olympics, and he’s never looked out of place.

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A coveted ‘Right Shot’ ‘D’ prospect who is a transitional defender that quarterbacks the power play. Sneaky strong. He has the strength and movement to angle opponents and finish his check along the boards. High end hockey ‘IQ’. Head on a swivel.

My comment: The Kraken have placed a premium on high character and smarts. Nemec is mature beyond his years, having grown up among men in a hurry. And nobody questions his on-ice intelligence. 

Chris Peters, The Daily Faceoff

Kraken pick: Defenseman David Jiricek, HC Plzen Czech Republic.

His comment: A highly mobile, 6-foot-3 defenseman with a bomb of a shot and solid puck-moving capabilities, Jiricek has incredible upside relative to the class. He missed the second half of the season due to a knee injury, needing more than three months to rehab. Jiricek returned in time to play for the Czech national team at the Men’s World Championship, showing that he’s healthy and prepared to make an impact.

My comment: The Kraken could do a lot worse than taking a defenseman in this draft. 

Ryan Kennedy, The Hockey News

Kraken pick: Nemec.

His comment: Who will be the first D-man off the board? It’s gonna be tight. But Nemec is a great candidate thanks to his mobility, his ability to defend and the offensive skills he brings to the back end. Had a monster playoff run with Nitra, putting up nearly a point per game.

My comment: The defensive side of Nemec’s game tends to be overlooked due to his penchant for offense. 

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McKeen’s Hockey, Yahoo! Sports

Kraken pick: Jiricek.

His comment: This draft is going to be wild. For my money, I think Jiricek fits the profile of the type of player that Ron Francis and Robert Kron seemed to target last year and when they were drafting in Carolina. Plus, Kron is of Czech heritage himself. Jiricek gives them a potential top three defender who can play in all situations, but who may require a bit of patience as his game becomes more refined.

My comment: Never underestimate the past performance of a GM and his scouting director.

Corey Pronman, The Athletic

Kraken pick: C Shane Wright, OHL Kingston Frontenacs.

His comment: If Wright starts to slip a little, my bet is this is his floor. If it goes Wright, (Juraj) Slafkovsky, (Logan) Cooley 1-2-3, then I believe Seattle will be down to one of the top two defensemen, Jiricek and Nemec, Joakim Kemell or (Cutter) Gauthier, with my money being on them taking Nemec.

My comment: Bold choice here. But the consensus No. 1 overall pick for the past two years would have to do more than slip. He’d need to topple, crash and burn to land with the Kraken. I can’t see GMs in Montreal, New Jersey and Arizona all simultaneously risking career damage by passing on Wright. 

Bob McKenzie, TSN

Kraken pick: Nemec.

His comment: The 6-foot, 199-pound Slovak is a smooth-skating, intelligent defenseman who is a highly efficient puck mover with a solid two-way game. He doesn’t possess elite or wow factor offensive ability and he’s not a punishing physical defender, but his skating and smarts give him the assets to be a No. 2 or No. 3 NHL blueliner. He was as high as No. 2 and as low as No. 7 in our survey of scouts.

My comment: McKenzie’s brother-in-law, John Goodwin, is a Kraken pro scout. That said, Goodwin isn’t on the amateur scouting side, and McKenzie, a legendary hockey “insider” in Canada, gets top-notch intel from all types of places. And when he’s playing up intelligence and smarts with Nemec, I’d pay attention. 

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Kate Shefte, The Seattle Times

Kraken pick: Nemec.

Her comment: It’s between the right-side defensemen for me. David Jiricek — of the good size, punishing hits and heavy shot — should have a long, steady career. But if it truly comes down to the best player available, I predict the Kraken won’t be able to pass on the somewhat flashier, puck-moving Nemec. It sounds like he could be on their top power play unit soon.

My comment: Jiricek definitely plays the more intentionally physical game, but that’s what got his knee injured at the World Juniors in December. That style can court trouble when guys engage in overkill laying on the body.

Geoff Baker, The Seattle Times

Kraken pick: Nemec.

My comment: None of the forwards outside the top three really impress as do the defensemen. As many have predicted, it will be close, but I think Nemec takes it over Jiricek based on hockey smarts. Jiricek already having a knee injury also worries me given his physical style. He might be over his injury now, but it wouldn’t surprise if they keep recurring. That and the Hockey IQ factor points to the Kraken choosing Nemec.