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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
Alexa Potack: Between his great vision, dynamic play, and deceptive shot, Lekkerimäki made a very strong case to be included in the top-10. The young Swede has been a force to be reckoned with in the J20 Nationell, and leads Djurgårdens’ J20 squad in goals. He is able to use his impressive puckhandling skills to easily beat defenders and unleash his powerful shot. Lekkerimäki is on the smaller side but he uses this as an advantage, as he is consistently able to sneak into pockets of open ice in the offensive zone. His highly skilled play has not translated as much as anticipated with the Djurgårdens men’s team but it is only a matter of time before he adapts to the higher level of play. For the time being, he should be expected to continue his stellar play in the upcoming J20 playoffs.
10 | Isaac Howard | W | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 5-10 | 183 lbs
Alexander Annun: Just on the cusp of our top-10, Isaac Howard is having himself another fine season with the NTDP as he leads the team in points with 33 over the course of 25 games. Howard’s shot remains his most dangerous asset as he can beat you from anywhere with his wrist shot, but his playmaking ability has been a focal point as well, having posted 22 assists to date. He remains an offensive-minded player and occasionally tunes out in his own zone but he is aggressive on the forecheck and looks to make the opposition cough up the puck so he can go back to generating offense. He displays killer instincts in the offensive zone and is ready to pounce on mistakes or attack any holes in the defense. His quick first step and overall pace of play make him difficult to defend against as he attacks the defense head-on and forces them to make split-second decisions.
11 | Seamus Casey | RHD | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 5-10 | 161 lbs
Alexander Annun: One of the premier offensive defensemen in the class, Seamus Casey has done well to justify his high ranking early on as he boasts a 5-12-17 stat line through 25 games this season. He has been very difficult for the opposition to contain with his high-end skating ability that is made up of both speed and agility. His ability to drive play and lead the puck up the ice through controlled zone exits and entries allows him to assert himself in the offensive zone and create offense from the blue line. He isn’t exactly known for being a defensive stalwart but Casey’s defense is far from a weakness. He shows an understanding of where to position himself and while he may get caught out of position here and there, it isn’t due to a lack of ability. As his defensive game matures, he should become more reliable away from the puck without losing what makes him such a gifted offensive presence.
12 | Filip Mesar | W | HK Poprad (Tipos Extraliga) | 5-10 | 172 lbs
Samuel Tirpák: Mesar is a speedy and tenacious forward who has been one of the biggest draft risers so far this year – and rightfully so, given he is such an electric player to watch. Mesar is a smaller player but he plays bigger than his size would indicate. His game has an excellent two-way presence to it and he also has the versatility to play center and both wing positions. He is currently playing mostly at center in the top Slovak pro league, and he himself admitted he likes the center position better. That said, he may be forced to the wing as he advances towards the North American pro ranks. His skating and compete level is what allows him to have this electric style. He is a dog on the forecheck and when attacked by a defenceman, he protects the puck extremely well with upright positioning and small side-to-side maneuvers. Mesar has a lot of translatable tools that would be intriguing to an NHL team. So far this season, he is maintaining an impressive pace of a half-point per game and has made his men’s national team debut, where he actually won a Player of the Game Award. Mesar is going to be a crucial part of Team Slovakia’s success at World Junior Championships in Edmonton.
13 | Brad Lambert | C/W | JYP (Liiga) | 6-0 | 179 lbs
Eetu Siltanen: Lambert has had a pretty disappointing start to the season and he has hardly shown any improvement on his biggest flaws. However, the last few weeks have looked a bit more promising and now Lambert has a chance to gain more confidence by performing well at the World Juniors. Lambert’s drop in our ranking was inevitable, but he’s still a very promising prospect. His transitional game is among the best in the whole class. He is able to fly over the neutral zone and enter the offensive zone utilizing his excellent skating ability and great puck skills. Lambert’s offensive zone creation on the other hand has been a bit thin this season, but it has shown some signs of improvement recently. Lambert has a translatable game so if he starts to produce more and gets more confidence, he will surely rise in our rankings. He will be one of the most interesting draft eligibles to watch at the World Juniors.
14 | Juraj Slafkovsky | W | TPS (Liiga) | 6-4 | 225 lbs
Eetu Siltanen: Slafkovsky has improved his game constantly throughout the season. He started the season in U20 SM-sarja, but has been playing well in Liiga and will probably spend most of the second half playing there. Slafkovsky has an exciting skillset and he has shown some good playmaking ability in Liiga. His physicality is a strength and he utilizes it well to protect the puck and maintain possession on the offensive zone cycle. He can pull off skilled moves and has shown the ability to be downright dominant at the U20 level. Slafkovsky’s shot is powerful and he is very good in front of the net, redirecting the puck or cleaning up rebounds. His lack of skating speed can cause some problems with keeping up the pace of the game in Liiga but being 225 pounds as a 17-year-old doesn’t lend itself to natural mobility, and I believe he can improve in that area. Like Lambert, Slafkovsky will also be one of the most interesting draft eligibles participating in the World Juniors.
15 | Ivan Miroshnichenko | W | Omskie Krylia (VHL) | 6-1 | 185 lbs
Zack Szweras: Miroshnichenko was the top-rated Russian player in our preliminary rankings for the 2022 draft class. After a shaky start for him in the VHL, recording nine points in 22 games, he has started to slip down our rankings and lands outside the top-10. The reason for keeping Miroshnichenko inside the first round – let alone top-15 – is because of the glimpse of elite shooting, skating and puck handling skills he flashes. In order for him to re-enter the conversation as a top pick in this draft, Miroshnichenko needs to work on his consistency throughout each game and his passing awareness. It often seems like every time he gets the puck, he is looking for a shooting lane rather than advancing the play. Miroshnichenko was recently cut from the Russian World Junior team and will not be provided the opportunity to showcase his game on one of the biggest stages. Russia’s coach Sergei Zubov mentioned that the reason Miroshnichenko wasn’t picked was because he wasn’t in the best physical condition. Hopefully this will light a fire under him and get his game back on track. Time will tell if he can get his game back or if he will continue to fall in our rankings.
16 | Denton Mateychuk | LHD | Moose Jaw (WHL) | 5-11 | 187 lbs
Jameson Ewasiuk: Mobility is the name of the game for this talented rearguard. Mateychuk’s skating allows him to keep up with speedy forwards but also allows him to quickly and efficiently turn the puck up ice as he activates on the rush. He has excellent read and react abilities, and he oozes confidence when he is carrying the puck or controlling the offensive zone. With that being said though, Mateychuk picks his spots well and is not a “run and gun” defender who neglects defense or looks like a fourth forward on the ice.
Like many defencemen that are average to below average in size, Mateychuk has some defensive deficiencies. His lack of size and strength can hinder his effectiveness in battles and around the net-front area. At his size, he needs to be reliable positionally and while he isn’t necessarily unreliable, his gap control is still inconsistent. When at his best in the defensive zone, he is strategically working angles and utilizing an active stick to break up plays and retrieve pucks. His hockey sense, skating, and ability to diagnose in the defensive zone are what will make him reliable in his own end.
Mateychuk is a player that has recently been flying up online rankings. Coming in at #19 on our preliminary rankings back in September, the team saw the upside of this player last season and he now finds himself as our 16th ranked prospect for the 2022 NHL draft.
17 | Gleb Trikozov | C/W | Omskie Yastreby (MHL) | 6-1 | 185
Zack Szweras: Trikozov has been one of my favourite players to scout so far this year. He has plenty of raw skills and a strong IQ to complement them. Trikozov has been strong in transition, consistently pushing play into the offensive zone by making zone-entry and exit passes or using his speed and puck control to transition the puck himself. Trikozov also has a strong frame, which he uses to win battles in the corners and keep the opposition off the puck. When he has the puck in the offensive zone, he uses his brain to scan the ice for open passing and shooting lanes to help advance play. The next step to elevating Trikozov’s play is to learn how to perform better under pressure. At times when Trikozov is facing pressure he gives the puck away, however this is something that can be learned with experience. He is one of the youngest player’s eligible for the 2022 draft as a late August ’04 birthdate as well. This tells me he has more time to grow as a player and really harness his raw skills. I wouldn’t be shocked if by the next draft rankings, Trikozov overtakes Miroshnichenko as our second-highest ranked Russian player in this draft.
18 | Noah Östlund | C | Djurgårdens J20 (J20 Nationell) | 5-11 | 163 lbs
Eetu Siltanen: Östlund has started the season well for Djurgårdens’ J20 club and has also earned some SHL action as well, but hasn’t really been able to produce at that level so far. At the J20 level, he has played very well on a line with fellow draft-eligibles Jonatham Lekkerimäki and Liam Öhgren. Östlund is a fast-skating, play driving center with great playmaking skills. He has fast feet, really high pace in his game and his motor doesn’t stop. He uses his great puck skills to create plenty of chances for himself, but mainly his teammates. His transition game has been strong and in my viewings, he was the one who drove his line’s play for the most part. Östlund is still raw physically and needs to add strength, which drops his draft value a bit, but his combination of skill, skating, and offensive creativity makes him a first-round talent.
19 | Ty Nelson | RHD | North Bay (OHL) | 5-10 | 196 lbs
Jacob Barker: Don’t let Nelson’s smaller frame fool you, this guy plays way bigger than he is. He controls gaps in transition quite effectively, as his speed and agility allow him to keep pace with his opponents and use his reach or body to force a turnover. He has tons of confidence while leading the breakout, where he loves to rush the puck himself if possible. Off the puck, he is still trying to get involved in advancing the play, primarily through recognizing a lane that can be filled and jumping into it. Once across the blue line, he can confidently dish the puck to open teammates or positions where teammates can go get it, such as ringing it around the boards to find the winger down low – not to mention his ability to unleash a cannon of a shot from the blueline. There are times when he gets a little too excited to join the rush and gets caught wandering, but if he continues to develop his decision making in these scenarios, he can make a team quite happy in the first round of the draft.
20 | Liam Öhgren | W | Djurgårdens (SHL) | 6-1 | 187 lbs
Alexa Potack: At Sweden’s top level, Öhgren’s mobility and passing skills were both present and he looked confident playing alongside as well as against experienced SHL players. Both of Öhgren’s linemates have made their SHL debuts this season, but he has been the most impactful of the three. Back in the J20 Nationell, Öhgren has flashes of laziness and in those cases, he appears as the weakest link on the electric first line for Djurgårdens’ J20 team. That said, Öhgren has still been an impactful player in both leagues, but given how hard he can work, he needs to focus on hitting that level of drive more consistently. Overall, his skating and shot could use some work but there is a solid foundation for a future NHL player in Liam Öhgren.
21 | Conor Geekie | C | Winnipeg (WHL) | 6-4 | 205 lbs
Jacob Barker: There are a wide variety of potential outcomes for Geekie as a prospect, but on a surface level there is a lot to like. His size and skill with the puck make it exceptionally challenging for opponents to force the puck off him. This makes him particularly dangerous in transition if his opponents allow him to build up top speed, as it makes him essentially unstoppable while driving play forward. Offensively, Geekie’s ability to find teammates in favourable scenarios or release a powerful shot on goal make him a constant threat once across the opponent’s blueline. The main reason that Geekie is much lower on our rankings is due to some question marks surrounding his overall mobility and whether he can play the game at the notably high pace of the NHL. That being said, improving overall pace of play could see him turn into a strong top-six centre with plenty of offensive upside. It is a little risky, but if both Geekie and the team that drafts him focus on improving his mobility, it could seriously pay off.
22 | Rutger McGroarty | W | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 6-0 | 205 lbs
Nick Richard: McGroarty landed in the ninth spot in our preliminary rankings for the 2022 draft, and while he hasn’t played particularly poorly and the numbers look good, he has been surpassed by a number of prospects through the early part of the season and lands at #22 in our midseason rankings.
McGroarty has good size, slick hands, a solid release, and gets himself into scoring positions. He isn’t among the draft’s best skaters and his feet are a bit heavy but he still manages to cover enough ice at the junior level to get into space off the rush. McGroarty also shows a willingness to compete and get in on the forecheck, adding some versatility to his game when he isn’t getting a ton of touches. The biggest concerns stem from that happening a bit too frequently, where he is more of a passenger than he is a driver on his line at times. There is little doubt surrounding his raw skill but the consistency and pace with which he is able to deploy that skill will need to improve in the second half of the season for him to climb back into the conversation as a top-10 pick.
23 | Tristan Luneau | RHD | Gatineau (QMJHL) | 6-2 | 174 lbs
Brayden Olafson: The further we get into evaluating this draft class, the more Luneau’s versatility becomes the driving factor in his draft stock. While the Gatineau defender isn’t the type of player who will give you highlight reel plays on a nightly basis, there are very few games where he doesnt find a way to give you some piece of the winning formula. His five-on-five play can be a bit vanilla, but I’d say that’s mostly because of the way he sticks to executing the basic elements of a play, and doing so with power and precision. His posture is very sturdy which enables him to multitask better than most defensemen his age, continually scanning the ice for the next window of opportunity, and keeping his feet moving to create them. That’s not to say that Luneau is incapable of stepping outside of his comfort zone, only that he recognizes the value of quality and consistency. When he sees space in the neutral zone, the Olympiques righty will occasionally make an end-to-end dash with possession, gaining the offensive zone securely to set up a more sustainable play. Where his game seems to take on another level in terms of pace, urgency and even skill is when he is deployed on the man-advantage. Luneau is a dynamite triple threat on the powerplay, distributing with urgency and accuracy, and engaging his feet to keep the play moving, while looming as a constant shooting threat with his bomb from up high. While there is some room for improvement in the quickness of Luneau’s first few strides, he’s able to compensate by forecasting the play and taking direct lines to loose pucks for the upper-hand.
24 | Matthew Poitras | C | Guelph (OHL) | 5-11 | 172 lbs
Jacob Barker: Although the numbers won’t wow you, Poitras is a prospect that you do not want to miss. He is incredibly hard working with a well-rounded skill set that he utilizes effectively in all three zones of the ice. Defensively, his work ethic matched with his high-level knowledge of the game allow him to anticipate opponent’s decisions and force turnovers. In transition, Poitras likes to advance the puck at a quick pace, which he mostly does by making himself available to receive the puck in a lane and use his sneaky speed to burn opponents. He also has a knack for controlling the tempo in various offensive scenarios, as he is always willing to slow down the play and find a trailing teammate in a dangerous scoring position. It is somewhat challenging to project if Poitras is going to end up being a star at the next level, but his complete set of tools and work ethic make it easy to see him as a sure fire NHLer with lots of two-way upside.
25 | Jack Hughes | C/W | Northeastern University (NCAA) | 6-0 | 165 lbs
Nick Richard: Hughes is one of the older and more mature players in this class, already in the midst of his freshman season at Northeastern University. His production has been respectable for a first-year draft-eligible playing in the NCAA and he has earned the trust of his coaches early on, averaging over 17 minutes of ice time per game so far this season.
Not the most dynamic offensive presence, Hughes still possesses good hands and vision in the offensive zone but it is his two-way game that has garnered praise. He hasn’t had trouble keeping up with the pace of the college game and it has been a relatively smooth transition from playing with the NTDP last season. Hughes is a fine skater who generates speed through middle ice, blending good posture with quick crossovers, and utilizes his teammates effectively in transition. Off the puck, Hughes displays a strong work rate in all three zones. He gets in on the forecheck, backchecks with a purpose, and is a reliable defensive presence in his own zone. He may not have the high-end offensive upside that some other potential first-rounders possess, but he is one of the most pro-ready prospects in the class at this point in time.
26 | Elias Salomonsson | RHD | Skellefteå J20 (J20 Nationell) | 6-1 | 172 lbs
Alexa Potack: Salomonsson may not hold the same pedigree he held in the years leading to the draft but he is still certainly deserving of a first-round pick. Salomonsson has great puck skills and moves up ice with ease. He is cool under pressure and is not afraid to get involved offensively. Currently, Salomonsson has almost the same number of goals and assists, a testament to his two-way offensive nature. He is a lock as powerplay quarterback on one of Skellefteå’s units, with over a third of his total points coming from the man advantage. Though like many two-way defencemen at this age, there are some flaws within his defensive game, especially his positioning. Salomonsson has not received many opportunities at the professional level but when that day comes, it will be very interesting to see how his offensively-minded game translates against tougher competition.
27 | Marco Kasper | C | Rögle (SHL) | 6-1 | 183 lbs
Alexa Potack: The strongest asset that Kasper brings to the table is his skating ability. With nearly 40 SHL games under his belt, Kasper has demonstrated that he can keep up with the pace of professional hockey. He couples his speed with creative passing, making himself a threat in transition. Despite spending much of his time in the bottom-six for Rögle, Kasper has earned himself powerplay minutes due to his dominant speed. Kasper frequently controls the puck on zone entries and winds up in a net-front position, but the goals are yet to accumulate. This year will be an important year for Kasper to demonstrate that he is more than just speed and that he is capable of executing consistently intelligent playmaking.
28 | Owen Pickering | LHD | Swift Current (WHL) | 6-4 | 179 lbs
Brayden Olafson: Unless you live under a rock, chances are you’ve been subject to the recently growing hype surrounding defenceman Owen Pickering. The marginally raw, yet intriguingly versatile style that Pickering plays is certain to prod at the imaginations of scouts around the league. At 6-4, the Swift Current Broncos former ninth-round WHL Bantam draft selection is a relatively efficient skater, considering his size, which can be both a blessing and a curse. With a momentous stride that is powered by surprisingly adequate quickness, Pickering has been known to activate from deep in his own zone and make end-to-end rushes on his own. Plays like this are a wonderful showcase of his strengths, but also expose an element of risk that could induce hesitation among some scouts. On the opposite side of the puck, his size, and in particular, his reach enable him to cut off transition plays to the middle as well as along the boards. While his backward crossovers are deep and powerful, it would be great to see a bit of a quicker kick to create immediate space between himself and the rush. Nonetheless, when his gap is not ideal, he’s often able to compensate with an active and well-timed stick check.
29 | Matthew Seminoff | W | Kamloops (WHL) | 5-11 | 183 lbs
Nick Richard: Seminoff has been one of the most productive draft-eligible players in the Canadian Hockey League, trailing only Matthew Savoie in points per game among WHL draft-eligibles. Now in his third WHL season, Seminoff has shown notable improvement year over year.
Seminoff has shown off his nose for the net through the early part of the season. He gets involved down low, finishing his checks on the forecheck to disrupt opposing possessions and battling around the net for loose pucks. He is a determined net-front player who gets underneath defenders to establish good position and he has the hands to execute in tight areas. Seminoff’s skating isn’t exactly a strength, but it hasn’t held him back to this point in junior. Adding some more pace to his game could help make him a more dynamic offensive threat but there are some pro-level scoring traits in his toolbox.
30 | Ryan Chesley | RHD | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 6-0 | 187 lbs
Nick Richard: Chesley was the second-highest scoring defender on the NTDP’s U17 team last season, racking up 34 points in 37 games, and came in as the 14th ranked prospect in our preliminary draft rankings. The offense hasn’t been there for him the same way so far this season and he has taken a bit of a backseat to the likes of Seamus Casey and Lane Hutson.
Chesley is a great skater with a powerful, fluid stride who excels in transitioning the puck up ice, either by carrying it himself or by hitting a teammate with a clean breakout pass. He has shown improvement in his defensive play so far this season, identifying and eliminating threats off the rush with his good stick work while also maintaining solid positioning in defensive zone coverage more often than not. Chesley is strong on retrievals and has good hands in tight spaces, navigating attacking forecheckers to advance play for his team. In the offensive zone, he has been less aggressive than he has been in the past but still boasts one of the heavier point shots in the draft class. It has been a bit of an up-and-down season for Chesley so far, but the tools are there for him to develop into a puck-moving, two-way defender with some powerplay utility at the NHL level.
31 | Mats Lindgren | LHD | Kamloops (WHL) | 6-0 | 176 lbs
AJ Gidaro: Mats Lindgren is a mobile possession defenceman with offensive flair. In transition, Lindgren is an evasive and agile puck carrier, able to outmaneuver opponents with speed and skill. In the offensive zone, Lindgren facilitates the cycle. He moves and skates the puck into dangerous areas, creating scoring chances. While he can get caught flat-footed in the defensive zone and he isn’t the best at turning the play around, Lindgren’s ability to escape pressure keeps him out of the defensive end more often than not. With refinements to his game, Lindgren has the potential to be an exciting top-four defenceman in the NHL.
32 | Cutter Gauthier | W | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 6-2 | 190 lbs
AJ Gidaro: Gauthier is a versatile forward that plays with pace. He is an agile and explosive skater with the skill to outmaneuver opponents in transition. In the offensive zone, Gauthier is a dual threat. He boasts a powerful and accurate shot he uses off the rush, and finds seams through the slot to create scoring chances. Defensively, Gauthier reads play well, often forcing turnovers out of opponents. He pressures attackers with his stick and has the step to retrieve loose pucks. If an NHL team is looking for a safe bet with some upside in the late first or early second round, they may look no further than Cutter Gauthier.
33 | Mattias Hävelid | RHD | Linköping J20 (J20 Nationell | 5-10 | 172 lbs
34 | Alexander Perevalov | W | Loko Yaroslavl (MHL) | 6-0 | 192 lbs
35 | David Goyette | C | Sudbury (OHL) | 5-11 | 174 lbs
36 | Hunter Haight | C | Barrie (OHL) | 5-10 | 172 lbs
37 | Ludwig Persson | C/W | Frölunda J20 (J20 Nationell) | 5-11 | 179 lbs
38 | Pavel Mintyukov | LHD | Saginaw (OHL) | 6-1 | 192 lbs
39 | Jordan Dumais | W | Halifax (QMJHL) | 5-9 | 165 lbs
40 | Simon Forsmark | LHD | Örebro (SHL) | 6-2 | 194 lbs
41 | Danny Zhilkin | C | Guelph (OHL) | 6-2 | 183 lbs
42 | Filip Bystedt | C | Linköping J20 (J20 Nationell) | 6-4 | 187 lbs
43 | Nathan Gaucher | C | Québec (QMJHL) | 6-3 | 207 lbs
44 | Calle Odelius | LHD | Djurgårdens J20 (J20 Nationell) | 6-0 | 185 lbs
45 | Owen Beck | C | Mississauga (OHL) | 6-0 | 190 lbs
46 | Jimmy Snuggerud | W | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 6-2 | 185 lbs
47 | Vladimir Grudinin | LHD | Krasnaya Armiya Moskva (MHL) | 5-10 | 159 lbs
48 | Paul Ludwinski | C | Kingston (OHL) | 5-11 | 172 lbs
49 | Markus Vidicek | C | Halifax (QMJHL) | 5-10 | 154 lbs
50 | Ruslan Gazizov | W | London (OHL) | 5-11 | 187 lbs
Eetu Siltanen: Tomas Hamara (LHD, Tappara U20)
Nick Richard: Bryce McConnell-Barker (C, Sault Ste. Marie)
Samuel Tirpák: Jiri Kulich (C, Karlovy Vary)
Alexa Potack: Alexander Suzdalev (W, HV71 J20)
Zack Szweras: Ilya Kvochko (C/W, Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk)
Jacob Barker: Pano Fimis (C, Niagra)
Brayden Olafson: Leighton Carruthers (C, Rouyn-Noranda)
Jameson Ewasiuk: Kevin Korchinski (LHD, Seattle)
Alexander Annun: Lane Hutson (LHD, U.S. U18)
AJ Gidaro: Tyler Duke (LHD, U.S. U18)
Danny Tiffany: Tyler Brennan (G, Prince George)