DP Scouting Team’s Midseason 2022 NHL Draft Rankings

Nick Richard

2021-12-18

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With the World Juniors approaching and most leagues across the globe well into their seasons, it is once again time to assess the 2022 NHL Draft class. After a difficult 2020-21 season for everyone in the hockey world, the 2022 class brings with it a renewed sense of optimism, as well as plenty of high-end talent.

The DP Scouting Team has collectively spent countless hours in the rinks, watching game tape, and filing reports over the last several months, culminating in this midseason edition of our draft rankings.

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)

Jacob Barker | OHL Regional Scout (@JacobMBarker12)

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)

As was to be expected, our board has seen significant changes since our preliminary draft rankings were published back in September. Many prospects have seen their stock rise through the early part of the 2021-22 season – some drastically so –  but others have gotten off to slow starts and have fallen down our rankings.

With the caveat that a lot can change before draft day rolls around, here are the DP Scouting Team’s top 50 prospects for the 2022 NHL Draft at the midway point of the season:

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

Brayden Olafson: The time has come for us to declare that the body of work exhibited by Shane Wright throughout the last several months has earned him sole possession of the top tier in our 2022 midseason rankings. Of course, if you’ve had the fortune of watching a sample of his recent play we doubt you’ll disagree. 

As one of the more complete as well as innovative 17-year-olds to come along in recent years, it would be a disservice to Wright’s hockey IQ to say that he is simply deceptive or creative with the puck. Rather, to appreciate the intelligence and intuition that comes to him so naturally and is infused into nearly every play that he makes with the puck, you might just have to be on the ice with him. You’ll rarely find Wright in a position where he doesn’t have outlets or options, and while his linemates certainly deserve some credit for that, it takes a special kind of player to maintain such consistency when it comes to designing and coordinating plays from the onset. Wright has shown the ability time and time again to forecast the development of an offensive attack, and make the subtle, yet critical plays that allow for them. Evidently, this doesn’t limit his ability to be inventive in the offensive zone, or reliable in the defensive zone. There are rarely any indications of hesitation when the puck is on his stick and in fact more often than not, because of his anticipation, there are as many or more high-value one-touch plays in his arsenal as there are dynamic carries.

While there is a laundry list of characteristics that make Shane Wright a special prospect, something that I might consider to be one of his real difference-making qualities is his persistence. Whether at the front of the net, in transition, or in a variety of other situations, Wright gives a second, third, fourth, and fifth effort to ensure the success of a particular play. No player is perfect, even those as talented and as intelligent as Wright is, but having the layer of security that is his effort and persistence makes him a player that any NHL club should be ecstatic to select. 

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

Eetu Siltanen: Kemell has had a very impressive start to the season. The versatile goal-scoring machine racked up points at a record-breaking pace in Liiga before an injury slowed him down. Fortunately, his injury wasn’t long-term and he will be able to join Team Finland for the World Juniors in Edmonton. Kemell’s biggest strength is his scoring ability and shot as he’s a volume shooter who possesses both a lethal wrist shot as well as a deadly one-timer. Though his ability as a sniper is what immediately stands out, he has a versatile toolkit. Kemell is a fast skater with good edgework and has great puck skills with the ability to create chances, both for himself and for his teammates. He has shown amazing confidence and seems to get even better under pressure. Kemell also plays a physical game and likes to get under the skin of opponents. He throws a lot of hits, even against much bigger opponents than himself. Kemell has translated his game very well at every level and his early-season play has only added to the excitement about his upside.

3 | Matthew Savoie | C | Winnipeg (WHL) | 5-9 | 179 lbs

Jameson Ewasiuk: When Matthew Savoie first stepped into the WHL at 15 years of age and recorded a modest seven points in 22 games, there were a lot of people that became hesitant as to what the dynamic young forward’s upside was. But when you watched those games, you could see that his minutes were relatively limited, he was often in the bottom-six, and that overall, he looked way better than the stats would indicate. Was he Connor McDavid or John Tavares at the same age? No, but he is an elite prospect nonetheless.

Jump to last season when the young forward opted to play in the USHL for the Dubuque Fighting Saints and it didn’t take long for the talented forward to grab everyone’s attention again as he recorded 21 goals and 38 points in just 34 games in his draft-1 season. It was definitely a statement season for Savoie, telling everyone that despite being in a new country, in a new league, and in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, he was indeed one of the top prospects for the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.

Flash forward to this season. Savoie is back with the Winnipeg Ice and currently leading the WHL in points with 47 and is fourth in goals with 17 in just 29 games. He is able to dominate the offensive zone due to his dynamic creativity, his elite hockey sense, and his excellent work ethic. He isn’t a physical player necessarily but he is competitive and hard on pucks and he doesn’t hesitate to enter the dirty areas of the ice. While he is undersized and his first steps are not as clean and explosive as they could be, Savoie has a solid top speed but typically relies more on shifty puck carrying and elusiveness rather than pure speed to maneuver the puck through the offensive zone.

Were the early expectations from a couple of years ago unrealistic? Yes, they were. Is Matthew Savoie an elite prospect with first line NHL potential? Again, the answer is yes. He should be seen as a consensus top-10 pick at this point and he holds the third spot in our mideason rankings.

4 | Simon Nemec | RHD | HK Nitra (Tipos Extraliga) | 6-1 | 192 lbs

Samuel Tirpák: After multiple months of scouting Nemec, I affirmed my position that he is the best defenceman in this draft. As we described him in preliminary rankings back in September, he is an extremely smart two-way defenceman who excels at both ends of the ice. His understanding of space is excellent and he uses his vision as well as his high hockey IQ on both the defensive and offensive sides of the puck. Defensively, he has great 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 is extremely smart with super-precise passing ability. Nemec takes risks at times, but they often pay off. In 22 games with Nitra, he has 13 assists and is waiting for his first professional goal of this season. With the participation of NHL players at the Olympic Games looming, he is still likely going to earn a spot for the games. Nemec is also going to be one of the key members of the Slovak U20 team at the upcoming World Junior Championships.

5 | Logan Cooley | C | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 5-10 | 174 lbs

Alexander Annun: Coming into this season, Logan Cooley was looking to cement himself as a top-10 pick in a very talented draft and as we near the halfway point, he certainly seems to be doing just that. With his ability to see the ice better than most players, his playmaking capabilities stand out as he is able to create high-quality chances out of nothing. He is a very talented skater who changes up his pace to give him control over the situation and he is able to execute plays at a high speed. He has totaled 30 points over 20 games and has even posted some solid numbers in the faceoff circle as well. His defensive game has stood out as he puts in the work down low and forces turnovers that directly lead to high danger chances going up the ice. Based on his current trajectory, Cooley will soon be involved in the top-five discussion across the board.

6 | Danila Yurov | W | Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL) | 6-1 | 179 lbs

Zack Szweras: Danila Yurov has been climbing draft lists recently due to his fast pace, high IQ, and elite offensive skills. He has bounced back and forth between the MHL and KHL this year as Magnitogorsk looks to keep him game-ready, even if he isn’t seeing much KHL ice time. When in the MHL, he often looks too good against the junior competition, currently at 12 points in six games. In limited action in the KHL, Yurov has not looked out of place. In fact, he continues to drive the play towards the offensive zone, even in a reduced role. Going forward, Yurov is looking to continue his strong play with the Russian squad at the World Junior Championships. Hopefully, his performance over the first half of the season will provide the KHL club with more reason to give him a larger role. This way he can continue to elevate his game against tough competition.

7 | David Jiricek | RHD | HC Plzen (Tipsport Extraliga) | 6-3 | 190 lbs

Samuel Tirpák: Jiricek is certainly a player who is going to be debated a lot amongst scouts and the hockey-viewing public. He is a pure 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 offensive opportunities started or to finish off an opportunity himself if he sees fit. Defensively, he shows positive traits but still has a lot to learn. He is physical, which is an asset that can be used really well, but his lack of gap control and lack of consistency in terms of positioning is somewhat of a red flag that needs to be taken into consideration. So far this season, he is proving his offensive value in the Czech Extraliga, where he has collected 11 points with five goals and six assists in 29 games. Like his Slovak defensive counterpart Simon Nemec, he is going to be a key part of his U20 team at the upcoming World Junior Championships and could potentially earn a spot on the Czech Olympic team.

8 | Frank Nazar | C/W | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 5-10 | 174 lbs

Nick Richard: After leading the NTDP’s U17 squad in scoring last season, Nazar has once again been one of the program’s top players this season – this time for the U18 team. He has been one of their most productive players through the early part of the season while showing the versatility to affect the game in all situations.

Nazar is an electrifying forward who combines high-end speed with great puck skills and a creative mindset. He can generate off the rush but can also work the cycle to create offense off of sustained possessions, using his elusiveness and inventive nature to play through traffic in the offensive zone. Nazar is a dual offensive threat who can create chances for his teammates with slick passes but he also has a strong release that he uses to finish off opportunities on his own. He has spent time on both special teams units with the U18 team this season and has shown the ability to play both center and wing in the past, adding to his versatility. Nazar makes strong off-puck reads and has a solid understanding of his defensive responsibilities but needs to find some consistency with that part of his game to really maximize his potential at the pro level.

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

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