DP Scouting Team’s Preliminary 2022 NHL Draft Rankings

Nick Richard

2021-09-03

It has barely been a month since the 2021 NHL Draft wrapped up but hockey never sleeps and our team has already begun work on the 2022 class. The 2021 draft cycle was an unusual one – to say the least – but the hockey world looks to be getting back on track and scouts got an early look at some of the top names for 2022 at the recent U18 World Championships, as well as the Hlinka Gretzky Cup and World Junior Summer Showcase.

Before we get to our preliminary rankings, let me introduce you to the 2021-22 DobberProspects Draft Scouting Team:

Eetu Siltanen | Head of Scouting/Director of European Scouting (@siltaneneetu)

Nick Richard | Director of North American Scouting (@_NickRichard)

Samuel Tirpák | Czech/Slovak/Central European Regional Scout (@SammyT_51)

Alexa Potack | Swedish Regional Scout (@alexa_potack)

Zack Szweras | Russian Regional Scout (@Zack_Szweras)

Marek Novotny | European Crossover Scout (@MarekNovotny96)

Jacob Barker | OHL Regional Scout (@JacobMBarker12)

Caitlin Berry | OHL Regional Scout (@caitlinsports)

Brayden Olafson | QMJHL Regional Scout (@olaf1393)

Jameson Ewasiuk | WHL/BCHL/AJHL Regional Scout (@JamesonEwasiuk)

Alexander Annun | USA Regional Scout (@Annun_Scouting)

AJ Gidaro | North American Crossover Scout (@AlfredoGidaro)

Danny Tiffany | Goaltending Scout (@dantiffany30)

It is still extremely early and it is important to remember that this is a very preliminary glance at the 2022 NHL Draft class. Think of it as a starting point, or watch list of sorts. Many of the names you see here will fluctuate on boards throughout the year and there will surely be highly ranked players on future rankings that aren’t on this list.

With that in mind, we decided to put players in tiers to begin the season. The first three tiers are our top 20 ranked prospects with players in tiers four and five being listed alphabetically. Additionally, we have identified the top five goaltenders to watch as the 2021-22 season gets set to begin.

Without further ado, let’s get to the rankings.

Tier One

1 | Shane Wright | C | Kingston (OHL) | 6-1 | 187 lbs

Jacob Barker: There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Shane Wright is in a tier of his own in this class right now. Wright first came onto the radar as a 15-year-old playing a year up on the stacked Don Mills Flyers team featuring the likes of Brandt Clarke and Brennan Othmann. He starred in the prestigious OHL cup and posted 18 points in 10 games, including the game-winning assist in overtime to clinch the tournament title. Wright was then granted exceptional status to play in the Ontario Hockey League one year before he was age-eligible and certainly did not disappoint. After going first overall to a struggling Kingston Frontenacs franchise, he proceeded to have an incredibly impressive season despite having minimal support, posting 39 goals and 66 points in just 58 games. This accounted for a significant amount of the club’s offense, as Wright was relied upon to play first line minutes immediately due to the lack of talent up front. After a significant absence from gameplay due to the coronavirus pandemic, Wright captained a stacked Canadian team at the U18 World Championships in Texas where it looked like he did not miss a single beat. Wright was dominant in every game he played, posting nine goals and 14 points in five games en route to captaining Canada to a championship in an entertaining win over a talented Russian squad.

Insane point totals aside, let’s talk a little more about what Wright brings to the ice, and honestly, there is very little that he doesn’t do for his team. First and foremost, you can’t ignore his blistering wrist shot which he can release quickly and in a variety of areas in the offensive zone. This forces defenders to attempt to close him down quicker than they may like, which Wright then uses to lure his opponents closer and create space for his teammates. Once that is done, he uses his elite-level offensive awareness and playmaking ability to find his teammates in areas where they can be successful. Wright also has smooth and speedy skating ability, which enables him to move the puck efficiently up the ice in a variety of ways. He does so mainly through attracting attention and dishing it to teammates, followed by finding space for himself to receive the puck again in dangerous spaces. Skillset aside, I think what makes Wright such an incredible prospect is his unmatched understanding of the game in all three zones of the ice. He has a knack for just knowing what is going to happen before it happens, which makes him very reliable defensively as he is also not afraid to get in the lanes and throw his body around as well. I am not usually one to rely on player comparables when analyzing draft-eligible prospects, but Craig Button’s comparison of Wright to Patrice Bergeron with slightly more offensive flare is spot on. At the NHL level, I anticipate Wright being an elite first line center, with whatever team wins the draft lottery happily receiving a potentially franchise-altering talent.

Tier Two

2 | Šimon Nemec | RHD | Nitra (Slovakia) | 6-1 | 192 lbs

Samuel Tirpák: Our highest ranked defenseman, and the only one in this tier, is Šimon Nemec. He is an extremely smart two-way defenseman who excels at both ends of the ice. His understanding of space is excellent, using his vision and high hockey IQ on both the defensive and offensive sides of the game. Defensively, he has excellent gap control and is great from a positioning standpoint, often disrupting passing lanes just by being in the right spots and using his stick properly. Offensively, he controls the tempo of the game extremely well and uses his passing to open up forwards and create opportunities. He understands timing perfectly, knowing when and when not to jump into the play. In addition to being able to control play at even strength, his shot and puck distribution from the point also makes him a great powerplay quarterback.

3 | Matthew Savoie | C/W | Winnipeg (WHL) | 5-10 | 181 lbs

AJ Gidaro: If anyone could supplant Shane Wright as the number one pick, it may be Matthew Savoie. Savoie is an intelligent dual-threat forward who plays with immense confidence. He is an agile and explosive skater, able to blow past opponents with skill and resiliency on the puck. In the offensive zone, Savoie is lethal and decisive. He moves the puck into dangerous areas with precision and doesn’t hesitate to fire a shot, boasting a quick and powerful release. Away from the puck, his game also shows promise. He uses his stick to free pucks and his explosiveness to retrieve them. With continued refinement and development, Savoie could be a number one center in the NHL.

4 | Ivan Miroshnichenko | W | Omskie (MHL) | 6-1 | 185 lbs

Zack Szweras: Miroshnichenko first cemented his position as a top-five player in the 2022 draft with his performance at the U18s back in May, scoring eight points in seven games. He followed up that tournament by captaining the gold medal winning Russian squad for the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, finishing with nine points in five games. He is a fast-paced, dynamic winger with above-average vision and hands. His strongest attribute is his elite-level shot. Whether it’s off the rush or on the half wall of the powerplay, there is very little that goaltenders can do to prevent his shot from finding the back of the net. The only concern for him is his consistency. There are times when he’s on the ice that he becomes invisible and seems like his effort level is low. Overall, Miroshnichenko is a top-five talent who needs to prove it consistently day in and day out.

5 | Brad Lambert | C/W | JYP (Liiga) | 6-0 | 179 lbs

Eetu Siltanen: Lambert has serious offensive talent. His transitional game is very good, and he skates exceptionally well, having really good posture and fast feet. He also has great puck skills and with that skating/skill combination, he can fly through the neutral zone and initiate great zone entries. Lambert can create chances using his vision but there are times – especially at the lower levels – that he has shown a tendency to be a bit selfish. At lower levels and in junior international competition, he is able to dominate the offensive zone just by deking around players and skating past everyone, but he needs to expand his toolset and simplify his game in Liiga as he progresses towards the NHL. His upside is high because of his offensive talent but there are some concerns that are related mostly to his defensive game and physicality.

Tier Three

6 | Logan Cooley | C | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 5-10 | 179 lbs

Nick Richard: Cooley is an intelligent two-way forward who plays a mature game for his age. He reads the play extremely well in all three zones and is committed to his defensive responsibilities, getting involved down low and covering for his defensemen. He has good speed off the rush and applies pressure on the forecheck, taking efficient routes to cut off puck carriers and disrupt plays with an active stick. Cooley doesn’t have Shane Wright’s shot or Brad Lambert’s speed but he has a well-rounded offensive toolkit. He skates quite well and can separate on the outside, makes quick reads and accurate passes in the offensive zone, and has the hands to execute skilled plays in tight. Cooley’s combination of smarts and skill is sure to draw interest early in the 2022 NHL Draft.

7 | Juraj Slafkovsky | W | TPS (Liiga) | 6-4 | 225 lbs

Eetu Siltanen: Slafkovsky is an offensively skilled winger with a big frame. He is physically mature and even though he already weighs 225 pounds, he has good skating ability – especially in his posture and stride power. He plays with good pace but he just needs to keep his legs moving to stay at that pace more consistently. Slafkovsky’s skill level is very good and he is able to beat defenders with dekes but occasionally relies on his skills a bit too much. In the first few games of the season, he has shown some great passing ability and looks a capable playmaker. Slafkovsky can score goals and is especially skilled in front of the net, redirecting incoming shots and capitalizing on rebounds. He needs to improve his consistency, but his offensive skill level shows exceptional potential.

8 | Rutger McGroarty | C | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 6-1 | 198 lbs

Nick Richard: One of the most complete prospects in the 2022 class, McGroarty possesses a diverse skillset that allows him to impact the game in a variety of ways. He is a strong skater with good size, incorporating finesse elements with a power game. Using his strength and slick hands, he is able to come away with contested pucks and make plays off of the wall. He takes the puck into middle ice and has a heavy wrist shot that he can release quickly to beat goaltenders cleanly. He hunts pucks effectively on the forecheck and finishes his hits with a purpose, adding value as a puck retriever on top of being an offensive threat. If he can bring his best on a consistent basis in his draft year, McGroarty could enter the conversation as a potential top-five pick.

9 | Danila Yurov | W | Magnitogrosk (KHL) | 6-1 | 172 lbs

Zack Szweras: Danila Yurov is a fast-paced, highly intelligent, physical hockey player. His toolset allows him to be effective playing against tougher competition which was proven when he was given the opportunity to play some of his draft-1 season in the KHL. Yurov’s best tool is his brain. He is constantly scanning the ice, reading the play, and anticipating the next move to be made. He complements that with his smooth skating and plus vision to drive possession in the opposition’s zone. For someone who is only 6-1, he plays like he is the toughest player on the ice, never afraid to use his body and fight for the puck to help his team. Yurov is my dark horse to jump into the top-five come draft day in June.

10 | Isaac Howard | W | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 5-10 | 174 lbs

Alexander Annun: Isaac Howard is a gifted winger who can beat you with pure speed or with his high-end puck skills. He has a dangerous shot and does a great job of giving himself opportunities to let it rip. He handles the puck very well in close with the ability to put the opposition in a blender, and he also uses his skill to change the angle of his shot to confuse goalies. He excels in transition, making smart passes and showing good instincts for where to go to create openings for his linemates. He shows no fear in attacking players head-on and is willing to drive the net. His playmaking ability is overshadowed by his shooting, but his vision and passing ability round out his impressive offensive game. While he can be a little lax defensively, he still shows the ability to make good plays and turn defense into offense in the blink of an eye.

11 | Conor Geekie | C | Winnipeg (WHL) | 6-4 | 205 lbs

Nick Richard: Conor Geekie is a gifted offensive player with the size that NHL teams covet. He has exceptional puck handling skills and can beat defenders with slick dekes to generate dangerous scoring chances. His shot grades out highly as well, featuring a quick and deceptive release that he can let fly in traffic. He competes hard and throws his weight around but is still growing into his body and can be knocked off balance a bit too often. The one area of Geekie’s game that holds him back is his skating. He has an inefficient, clunky stride and though he is able to power around the opposition in the junior ranks, Geekie will have to clean up his skating to take advantage of his offensive tools at the next level.

12 | Joakim Kemell | W | JYP (Liiga) | 5-11 | 176 lbs

Marek Novotny: Joakim Kemell is an extremely entertaining player to watch. He is a very skilled and dangerous winger who possesses a lethal shot and he will definitely fill the net with a lot of pucks. Kemell just wants the puck on his stick so he can be the difference-maker, and rightfully so as he is a very creative and confident player. The Finnish winger is a strong skater with great speed and edgework ,and you will regularly see him carrying the puck through the neutral zone. He is also very strong off the puck and plays a physical game. Kemell likes to hit and isn’t afraid to block opponent’s shots with his body. He is a player who loves to get under the opponent’s skin and he consistently seeks out contact.

13 | Tristan Luneau | RHD | Gatineau (QMJHL) | 6-2 | 174 lbs

Brayden Olafson: The Gatineau Olympiques’ first overall selection from 2020 is a sturdy and sizable defenseman who offers supplemental offensive contributions and steady defensive mannerisms. His most prominent and projectable offensive technique is to use his abrupt and nimble footwork to evade blueline pressure and get quick shots through traffic on net. Luneau makes quick adjustments to his defensive positioning and engages actively in loose puck battles, covering for his defense partner when necessary. He’s not exceptionally fluid but is quick for his size. One of his most notable positive attributes is his ability to box out opponents from the middle of the ice, either early in transition or effectively within his own zone. His pivots are very efficient and highlight the value of his balance and lower body strength in skill stacking.  It’s frequently evident that he has a plan with the puck immediately after acquiring possession – something he is capable of doing inside of movement, and without hesitation. The combination of his offensive and defensive reliability with the puck, as well as his moderate offensive ceiling, make him an almost certain first-round pick and favorable option within the top-15.

14 | Ryan Chesley | RHD | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 6-0 | 187 lbs

Alexander Annun: A right-handed shot, Chesley is a mobile two-way defenseman whose shot and vision make him a threat when operating on the powerplay. He is not averse to making end-to-end rushes, though he sometimes bites off a bit more than he can chew by attempting to slalom through the neutral zone. His long reach helps him to protect the puck and recover it when it gets knocked off his stick, as well as break up plays in the defensive end. His acceleration could use improvement, but his overall foot speed and agility are solid enough to keep up at both ends of the ice. He occasionally gets caught up the ice but, overall, positions himself well in his own end and uses his body to close down angles and knock players off the puck.

15 | Seamus Casey | RHD | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 5-10 | 161 lbs

Brayden Olafson: A bit of a waterbug type of player in terms of his continual off-puck awareness, the USNTDP’s Seamus Casey is a utility defender who is capable of playing with a high level of effectiveness on special teams deployment. Casey is fluid in terms of his movement and quickly adaptive to changes around him which gives him the ability to hold out for offensive opportunity. He takes calculated risks at the blue line before mitigating any consequence with his seamless pivots and decisive physical engagement. Perhaps his most impressive and projective attribute is his ability to quickly recognize passing lanes on both sides of the puck which enables him to maximize possession for his team. Casey uses an active stick in the defensive zone to optimize his ability to intercept passes, in addition to tactically positioning himself to tease the availability of passing lanes for the opposition before plucking the puck out mid-pass. In coherent sequence, he doesn’t hesitate to immediately activate his footwork in search of a reliable pass, building positive momentum quickly, rather than delaying for the perfect opportunity that will never come without creating it.

16 | David Jiříček | RHD | Plzen (Czech) | 6-3 | 176 lbs

Samuel Tirpák: Jiříček is an offensive defenseman who excels as a powerplay quarterback with one of the hardest and deadliest shots in the draft. His offensive skills are great, having a very good understanding of the offensive zone and where to be in order to get an offensive opportunity started or to finish off an opportunity himself if he sees fit. Defensively, he has a lot to learn. He is very physical, which is an asset that can be used really well, but his gap control and positioning lack consistency along with real proper technique. He can be a really frustrating player to scout with the opportunistic, almost selfish, nature of his shot selection.

17 | Elias Salomonsson | RHD | Skellefteå J20 (J20 Nationell) | 6-1 | 161 lbs

Alexa Potack: Through each step of Salomonsson’s career, offensive production has been his area of dominance but he has to focus on his defensive positioning to continue his growth as a two-way defenseman. He shows poise with the puck on his stick and can execute under pressure to push offense from the back end. Salomonsson has been taking on a third pairing role with the Skellefteå men’s team in the preseason and early CHL play. He has already shown his maturity and ability to handle pressure, so the jump to the level of SHL play may not be all that large.

18 | Frank Nazar | C/W | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 5-9 | 163 lbs

Nick Richard: Nazar is a versatile forward with great speed and a dynamic offensive skillset. His game is built around his skating and his ability to transition the puck up ice. He has exceptionally quick feet and is strong on his edges, allowing him to carry the puck through traffic in the neutral zone to generate offense off of controlled zone entries. Nazar has good vision to find teammates in space and he has a frighteningly effortless release on his wrist shot. He can contribute on both special teams units, regularly causing fits for opposing powerplays with the way he pressures puck carriers, and finding shooting space down low when his team has the man advantage. He doesn’t shy away from the dirty areas, throwing his body around when given the chance, but he will have to continue to bulk up as he develops if he is going to replicate his past success upon his arrival in the NHL.

19 | Denton Mateychuk | LHD | Moose Jaw (WHL) | 5-11 | 192 lbs

AJ Gidaro: If you like defencemen with offensive flair, then you’ll like Denton Mateychuk. He is an agile and aggressive offensive defenceman who loves to join the rush, often racing up the ice to support the play. Mateychuk is an effective weapon in the offensive zone, able to distribute the puck or use his quick release to beat a goalie. Defensively, he is a decent stick checker and is quick to retrieve pucks to turn play the other way. The biggest thing holding him back is a lack of strength and physical resiliency on the puck.  If Mateychuk can get stronger and refine his stickhandling, he could be one of the better defensemen to come out of the class.

20 | Jack Hughes | C | Northeastern (NCAA) | 6-0 | 165 lbs

Alexander Annun: Hughes is a center who plays a responsible two-way game and shows a knack for setting up teammates with his playmaking ability. He does well to create space for himself with his puck skills before delivering an incisive pass. His skating and edgework causes problems for opposing defenses and forces them to take penalties. While Hughes doesn’t generate many shots himself, he does well to create chances for his teammates to put the puck on net. He shows tenacity on the forecheck and his active stick often disrupts breakouts. He is a reliable faceoff man and he uses his body well for his slight frame. Hughes’ positioning and awareness in his own end are solid and he isn’t afraid to go to the dirty areas at either end of the ice.

Tier Four

Justin Côté | C | Drummondville (QMJHL) | 5-6 | 152 lbs

Keaton Dowhaniuk | LHD | Prince George (WHL) | 6-0 | 154 lbs

Pano Fimis | C | Niagra (OHL) | 5-11 | 157 lbs

Maddox Fleming | W | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 5-11 | 176 lbs

Cutter Gauthier | W | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 6-2 | 190 lbs

Mattias Hävelid | RHD | Linköping J20 (J20 Nationell) | 5-10 | 172 lbs

Ryan Healey | RHD | Sioux Falls (USHL) | 6-1 | 170 lbs

Lane Hutson | LHD | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 5-6 | 165 lbs

Devin Kaplan | W | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 6-2 | 192 lbs

Charlie Leddy | RHD | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 6-0 | 172 lbs

Mats Lindgren | LHD | Kamloops (WHL) | 5-11 | 165 lbs

Brandon Lisowsky | W | Saskatoon (WHL) | 5-8 | 176 lbs

Filip Mesar | C/W | Poprad (Slovakia) | 5-10 | 165 lbs

Noah Östlund | C | Djurgårdens J20 (J20 Nationell) | 5-10 | 163 lbs

Mathew Ward | C/W | Swift Current (WHL) | 5-7 | 154 lbs

Tier Five

Filip Bystedt | C | Linköping J20 (J20 Nationell) | 6-4 | 187 lbs

Jack Devine | W | Denver (NCAA) | 5-11 | 172 lbs

Zach Filak | C | Sarnia (OHL) | 6-2 | 185 lbs

Jake Furlong | LHD | Halifax (QMJHL) | 6-1 | 183 lbs

Nathan Gaucher | C | Québec (QMJHL) | 6-3 | 207 lbs

Tomas Hamara | LHD | Tappara U20 (U20 SM-sarja) | 6-0 | 185 lbs

Gavin Hayes | W | Flint (OHL) | 6-1 | 172 lbs

Marco Kasper | C | Rögle J20 (J20 Nationell) | 6-1 | 183 lbs

Kevin Korchinski | LHD | Seattle (WHL) | 6-1 | 168 lbs

Kirill Kudryavtsev | LHD | Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) | 5-11 | 185 lbs

Jonathan Lekkerimäki | C/W | Djurgårdens J20 (J20 Nationell) | 5-11 | 172 lbs

Cameron Lund | C | Green Bay (USHL) | 6-2 | 181 lbs

Jani Nyman | W | Ilves U20 (U20 SM-sarja) | 6-3 | 214 lbs

Antonin Verreault | W | Gatineau (QMJHL) | 5-8 | 163 lbs

Markus Vidicek | C | Halifax (QMJHL) | 5-10 | 161 lbs

Five Goaltenders To Watch

Tyler Brennan | G | Prince George (WHL) | 6-4 | 190 lbs

Danny Tiffany: Brennan has the prototypical build that NHL scouts and GMs drool over. At 6-4, he meets the height requirement but he isn’t just a big guy between the pipes. Brennan is active in his crease and has a great mind for the position. He is quick in his recoveries and doesn’t get caught staying down too long which keeps him in position to make second and third saves. He only played four games last season but made the most of them putting up an impressive .933 save percentage.

Rastislav Elias | G | Green Bay (USHL) | 6-3 | 176 lbs

Danny Tiffany: The goalie with arguably the highest ceiling in this draft class, Elias is coming to North America to play for the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers this season and plans to take the NCAA route in 2022-23. Elias has good size at 6-3 and he moves well in the blue paint. He looks comfortable when he plays against his own age group so playing in the USHL should be good for him. His positioning is a strong part of his game as he comes out and challenges shooters giving them little room on initial shots.

Niklas Kokko | G | Kärpät U20 (U20 SM-sarja) | 6-3 | 185 lbs

Danny Tiffany: Kokko is an athletic goalie with good size who is poised in his crease. He is in good hands as the Kärpät organization has produced three NHL draft picks at the position in the past three years. Kokko will look to make it four in four. Right now, he is a very raw talent but the potential is there for him to grow into an elite goaltending prospect.

Sergei Ivanov | G | SKA (MHL) | 5-11 | 157 lbs

Danny Tiffany: By the time Sergei Ivanov hears his name called at the 2022 NHL Draft, we will have lost count on how much hardware he has. Gold at the Youth Olympics, silver at the U18 Worlds, and another gold at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. Despite not having the coveted 6-0 or taller frame, Ivanov is extremely athletic in net and never gives up on plays when they break down. He has exceptional rebound control and consistently swallows up first shots. His butterfly is wide which takes up the entire lower portion of the net so if you’re going to beat him it’s best to shoot high. The stats back up his talent as he consistently puts up remarkable numbers, whether in the MHL or internationally.

Mason Beaupit | G | Spokane (WHL) | 6-5 | 183 lbs

Danny Tiffany: Mason Beaupit flew under the radar last season but managed to put up a .916 save percentage in 10 games last for Spokane. He is a big kid and takes up a lot of the net, allowing him to rely on his positioning. He reacts well to first shots and is pretty athletic for his size. He does, however, need to work on his positioning and control in the crease when the play breaks down. The potential is there for Beaupit to grow as a prospect.

Honourable Mentions

Eetu Siltanen: Miko Matikka, W

Nick Richard: Jordan Dumais, W

Samuel Tirpák: Gabriel Szturc, C

Jacob Barker: Ryan Abraham, C

Brayden Olafson: Luke Woodworth, C

Alexa Potack: Ludwig Persson, C/W

AJ Gidaro: Topi Rönni, C

Alexander Annun: Nick Pierre, C/W

Marek Novotny: Alexander Perevalov, W

Zack Szweras: Gleb Trikozov, C/W

 

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