DP Scouting Team’s April Rankings for the 2022 NHL Draft

Nick Richard

2022-04-08

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Leagues all over the world are into their stretch drives, with some already onto the postseason, and there have been notable changes on our board since we published our last rankings in December.

Our team of scouts has been hard at work watching game tape, logging live viewings, and writing reports over the last several months, and these rankings are the result of those efforts. Like our draft board, our group has undergone some changes since our December rankings so let me reintroduce you to the team:

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

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

Hadi Kalakeche | QMJHL Regional Scout (@HadiK_Scouting)

Kyle Watson | OHL Regional Scout (@kyle_nw)

Evan Pace | WHL Regional Scout (@evanpace17)

Alexander Annun | USA Regional Scout (@Annun_Scouting)

Alexa Potack | Swedish Regional Scout (@alexa_potack)

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

Dave Hall | Crossover Scout (@hall1289)

Pat Quinn | Crossover Scout (@FHPQuinn)

Danny Tiffany | Goaltending Scout (@dantiffany30)

It can be difficult to come to a consensus with a large group of people who have differing opinions but one thing that our group agreed on was that there is a pretty clear cut group of 10-15 prospects at the top of the draft and not much separating the players beyond that in the first few rounds.

A lot can still change before draft day rolls around, but after plenty of debate and discussion, here are the DP Scouting Team’s top-64 prospects for the 2022 NHL Draft.


1 | Shane Wright

C | Kingston (OHL) | 6-1 | 187 lbs | Shoots: R

Nick Richard: While it was perhaps overstated, Wright got off to a bit of a slow start this season by his standards. His play in the second half, however, has cemented him as the number one prospect for the 2022 draft in the eyes of our scouts.

After tallying 39 goals and 66 points in 58 games as an exceptional status player in his draft-2 season, expectations were incredibly high for the Frontenacs’ captain as the OHL returned to action for the 2021-22 season. Unfortunately, the eye-popping production wasn’t there early on and Wright wasn’t the consistently dominant player everyone had come to expect. He tallied 11 goals and 19 assists in 22 games before the World Juniors – impressive numbers for most draft-eligible players in the OHL – but it was hard to shake the feeling that he was leaving some meat on the bone.

Following an abbreviated World Juniors, Wright has turned it on down the stretch for Kingston. In 36 games since the break, he has scored 20 goals and 43 assists, adding almost a half-point per game to his production from prior to the WJC. More importantly, he looks like the game-breaking, two-way force that everyone expected to see this season.

Wright is everything that NHL teams covet in a franchise player down the middle. He is a strong, efficient skater who navigates the ice with a purpose, he is a reliable and proactive defensive presence who can impact the game in all three zones, his vision and ability to quickly identify threats, as well as options, make him a high-end facilitator, and his shot is a weapon that he can use to beat goaltenders in a variety of ways. He has good hands that allow him to execute skilled moves under pressure and consistently come away with contested pucks. His sense of spacing and the routes he takes without the puck force opposing players into difficult decisions, and he is able to quickly turn opposing mistakes into offense for his team. Wright has drawn comparisons to Patrice Bergeron, and rightfully so, but I also see some John Tavares in his game when it comes to his offensive utility.

He may not grow into a perennial Art Ross candidate but he has all the tools to be a highly productive, play-driving pivot at the NHL level, and his overall body of work to this point has earned him top billing for the 2022 NHL Draft.

2 | Simon Nemec

D | HK Nitra (Tipos Extraliga) | 6-1 | 192 lbs | Shoots: R

Eetu Siltanen: Our team still believes that Nemec is the clear-cut best defender in the 2022 draft class, and the best player available after Shane Wright. He had 26 points in 39 regular season games with Nitra in Slovakia’s top pro league and now has six points through seven playoff games.

The 6-1 defender plays an offensively-minded, but solid two-way game and excels at both ends of the ice. What separates Nemec from many others, is his excellent hockey sense and ability to read the game. His smarts are on display in both offensive and defensive situations. He is very effective at leading the breakout, utilizing his mobility to escape pressure and his vision to make an accurate first pass. Nemec doesn’t hesitate to activate and join the rush when he sees an opportunity, either. He shows off his great puck skills when carrying it up the ice in transition, and when he controls the offensive blue line.

Defensively, he maintains very strong gap control and great positioning, which helps him to break up defensive zone cycles and intercept passes. While Nemec doesn’t have the hardest shot in the class, he has a knack for getting it through traffic and on the net. He also has the ability to quarterback a powerplay, thanks to his excellent hockey sense and high-level puck skills.

Though he didn’t see much ice time, Nemec also represented his country at the recent Olympics and he should get another chance to solidify his draft stock on the international stage at the men’s World Championships in May.

3 | Logan Cooley

C | NTDP U18 (USNTDP) | 5-10 | 174 lbs | Shoots: L

Dave Hall: When sifting through Cooley’s game, it is nearly impossible to find noteworthy flaws. His versatility and willingness to be a difference-maker at both ends of the ice is nearly unmatched and will likely be the factor that pushes him above his peers within this draft class.

Offensively, he brings an incredibly creative and smooth demeanor as he maneuvers in and out of pressured situations. After drawing in defenders, he is able to process the play quickly, using his incredible vision to find an open man – making him a threat at all times. Of course, do not sleep on his scoring ability, either. Whether it is undressing goaltenders in tight or unleashing an accurate snapshot from the half-wall, Cooley’s ability to find twine is just as impressive as his vision. While the skating stride is by no means perfect, he plays the game with explosive pace and can make defenders pay off of the rush. All-in-all, he delivers the entire offensive package.

In his own zone, he is efficient and understands when to stand back and take over defensive responsibilities. He reads the play incredibly well, while his swift skating allows him to be in all areas of the ice on short notice. Despite a smaller frame, he does not shy away from being aggressive on puck carriers and brings the ability to kill penalties – something that isn’t always prominent in such a high octane forward.

Despite originally committing to Notre Dame, the Pittsburgh native has since de-committed and will be heading to Minnesota to suit up for the Gophers in 2022-23. This, after leading the U.S. National U18 Team in points, firing at a “Cool” 1.43 points per game clip to this point in the season.

4 | Juraj Slafkovsky

W | TPS (Liiga) | 6-4 | 218 lbs | Shoots: L

Eetu Siltanen: Slafkovsky climbed 10 places from our December rankings to land in the fourth spot this time around, due in part to his outstanding performance at the Olympics which helped ease some concerns our scouts had about his game. The biggest concerns we had were with his pace and processing speed but he was excellent on the smaller ice surface while representing Slovakia, earning MVP honors for the tournament.

Slafkovsky’s biggest strengths are his puck handling and puck protection abilities, but he brings more to the table than just that. He is adept at creating chances for his teammates but can also do damage with his quick wrist shot. He has shown improvement across the board but shooting from tight spaces under pressure is probably the one skill that he has developed the most this season, making him a more versatile offensive threat. His skating isn’t exactly a strength but for an 18-year-old of his size, it isn’t overly concerning as his posture is pretty good and his feet are relatively quick. His production in Liiga has been modest for most of the season but he has stayed hot following the Olympics with more than half of his total point production on the campaign coming in the final six games of the regular season.

On top of his offensive toolkit, Slafkovsky’s physical maturity and European pro experience could help make his adjustment to the NHL a seamless one. Players that feature his combination of skill and power are rare these days and Slafkovksy will draw plenty of interest near the top of the draft.

5 | Matthew Savoie

C | Winnipeg (WHL) | 5-9 | 179 lbs | Shoots: R

Hadi Kalakeche: Savoie’s drop from the third spot in our midseason rankings to fifth in this edition is less indicative of his play, and more indicative of the names above him making a case for themselves in the top-five. Although his production since our last rankings has dipped compared to his massive first half of the season, Savoie still displayed the same high-end tools that made him so effective early on.

His skating is decent, with his crossover utilization being his strongest asset. He weaves through opposing neutral zone formations almost effortlessly and gains a lot of speed over long distances, but his first few steps lack the usual explosiveness that undersized forwards tend to display. Savoie is one of the most cerebral offensive players in this class, however, and he is very adept at identifying when to draw players in, stretch the ice, or play one-touch, give-and-go hockey. He also mans the half-wall on the power play better than anyone in this draft. Savoie’s shot and distribution ability benefit from his cerebral nature, as the forward will often pop up unmarked or gain himself an extra inch or two to work with as a result of his off-puck routes and on-puck manipulation. His work ethic and board play are complementary tools that earn him an extra loose puck or two per game as well.

Expect Savoie to see more success on the wing at the pro level, as he can falter on faceoffs and in his own zone, but the offensive upside is too promising to pass up at this point in the draft.

6 | Frank Nazar

C | NTDP U18 (USNTDP) | 5-10 | 174 lbs | Shoots: R

Alexander Annun: Nazar is having himself a fine season with the NTDP’s U18 squad, sitting third in team scoring behind fellow potential first-round picks Logan Cooley and Isaac Howard. His continued improvement this season has propelled him up a couple of spots from our midseason ranking when he landed in eighth place.

Nazar continues to be an elite threat offensively as he utilizes high-end skating ability and equally impressive skills on the puck to generate scoring opportunities. He can beat you in transition and fire off a lethal shot with his quick release, making opposing defenders pay for not closing down on him quickly enough. He moves intelligently off the puck and floats into pockets of space time and time again to present himself as a passing option as well, adding to his versatility as a scorer. Nazar processes the game at a fast pace and has a creative way of thinking to be able to make plays that many others wouldn’t even consider. Defensively, he seems to disengage from time to time but when he is attentive he does a good job at closing down gaps quickly with speed and even holding his own in physical battles with his tenacity.

Nazar still has areas of his game that require further development but he might also have the highest offensive ceiling in this draft and could develop into a star at the NHL level.

7 | David Jiricek

D | HC Plzen (Tipsport Extraliga) | 6-3 | 190 lbs | Shoots: R

Nick Richard: Jiricek is having a strong season for a draft-eligible defender in the top Czech professional league but had what should have been his coming-out party at the World Juniors cut short due to a knee injury suffered in Czechia’s first game. The tournament was postponed shortly thereafter so we wouldn’t have gotten much of a look at Jiricek against his peers anyway, but the injury has kept him on the shelf since then.

Despite the injury, Jiricek has maintained his standing from our December rankings. He is a talented and creative offensive presence from the back end who possesses good size and mobility, allowing him to push the issue in the offensive zone. He isn’t afraid to attempt high-risk passes and he identifies his options in an efficient manner in order to find success on those plays. Jiricek’s shot has also grown into a decent weapon and his one-timer can beat goaltenders from the point.

A big-bodied defender, Jiricek doesn’t shy away from physical play either and will step up to finish a big hit in the neutral zone when he sees an opportunity. He will have to continue to refine his decision-making process in terms of when to step up and be aggressive but his overall defensive game has shown improvement throughout the year. He has continued to show progress in the way that he establishes body position to box out in front of the net and engage in battles along the wall, and that should help him make the adjustment to the next level.

Jiricek may not be quite as much of a sure thing as Simon Nemec but his potential could be just as high and he shouldn’t have to wait around long to hear his name called on draft day.

8 | Joakim Kemell

W | JYP (Liiga) | 5-11 | 176 lbs | Shoots: R

Eetu Siltanen: Kemell has bounced up and down draft boards, beginning with his historic start to the Liiga campaign that saw him being talked about as a surefire top-five pick. But his production has slowed in the second half, including a 16-game scoreless drought, bringing about questions regarding the sustainability of his early-season run.

Our team still has faith in Kemell, however, and we believe that he is worth a top-10 pick in the draft. His shooting ability and overall goal-scoring toolkit are still among the best in the class and he has the potential to be a dynamic powerplay weapon in the NHL, thanks to his versatile repertoire of shots. He has also shown more promise distributing the puck on the powerplay as the season has gone forward.

While Kemell is primarily a sniper, his overall game is well-rounded. He competes very hard and despite being only 5-11, loves to throw his weight around and engage in battles. As one scout pointed out in our meeting, he also has a tendency to be a bit of a jerk, which is something we consider to be a positive attribute in this business. Kemell won’t wow you with his vision but he can flash some playmaking skills along with his scoring ability from time to time. He is also a good skater with good balance, and he has been improving his transitional game, finding players with quick passes and carrying the puck up ice with his speed and agility. He controls the puck well and has the ability to create his own shots, but will need to continue to refine that part of his game.

Though Kemell’s production has slowed in the second half, he still has all the tools to be a versatile, goal-scoring winger at the NHL level.

9 | Jonathan Lekkerimäki

W | Djurgårdens (SHL/J20 Nationell) | 5-11 | 172 lbs | Shoots: R

Alexa Potack: Lekkerimäki is having a great season but the most impressive thing has to be his adjustment to the pace and style of SHL hockey. Although at first Lekkerimäki played a more reserved version of his game, it didn’t take long for him to fall into a familiar rhythm.

His stick-handling and scoring ability has earned the respect of coaches and teammates alike. He appears frequently on Djurgårdens’ powerplay, manning the half wall where his hard, accurate shot, which he can utilize from any range, has made him an extremely valuable addition. Looking deeper into why Lekkerimäki is capable of beating goalies with ease, it begins with his patience. If Lekkerimäki doesn’t have an open lane, he waits to fire his shot or looks for a pass option. He is a natural goal scorer but his passing ability is noteworthy as well. Another part of Lekkerimäki’s goal-scoring excellence is his release time. No matter if he is net-front or shooting from a faceoff circle, he’s able to get a shot off with no hesitation.

Lekkerimäki has impressed already but it is clear that there is much more potential for him to develop. He has clear powerplay upside, between his creativity, pace, and shot. Additionally, he will be a great asset in transitional play and can help out on the defensive end. He may be a prospect that requires some patience but Lekkerimäki should be well worth the wait.

10 | Denton Mateychuk

D | Moose Jaw (WHL) | 5-11 | 187 lbs | Shoots: L

Evan Pace: Mateychuk has continued to shoot up draft boards this season with his stellar play for Moose Jaw in the WHL and he cracked the top-10 for our spring rankings after he was our 16th ranked prospect back in December.

His offensive activation and smooth, agile skating draw eyes to his every move. Great offensive performances are the standard for Mateychuk as he currently sits at 14 multi-point games on the season, including an incredible six-assist night. He is able to turn with ease and stop on a dime while maintaining good balance and keeping his head up. His elusiveness with the puck is shown on nearly every shift, as he loves to jump in the rush and keep defenders on their heels. Besides his skating, Mateychuk makes tape-to-tape passes at high speed and handles the puck extremely well.

Not only are his physical tools high-end, but his IQ keeps him two steps ahead of the play and helps him with his defensive reads as well as his offensive bursts. Defensively, he is able to attack at the right times and manipulate opposing players into a turnover or forced play. He is able to play both sides of the ice, typically playing on the right side as a left-handed shot, which adds to his versatility. As an excellent powerplay threat, he can be used as both a quarterback on the point and as a facilitator or bumper.

With the way the game is growing, Mateychuk is a prime example of the new-age offensive defenceman who loves to jump into the rush, yet is defensively reliable.

11 | Cutter Gauthier

W | NTDP U18 (USNTDP) | 6-3 | 194 lbs | Shoots: L

Alexander Annun: The points are finally starting to come for Gauthier and it was always going to be a matter of time given his skills and the style of play he brings to the ice. As a result, he has seen climbed his way to just outside the top-10 of our rankings after barely cracking the top-32 back in December.

Gauthier is one of the hardest-working players on the ice, with a propensity for getting in on the forecheck with speed and looking to get physical with the defense to force turnovers. He is a solid distributor but the timing of his playmaking is the standout part of his passing game as he holds onto the puck and waits for play to develop instead of rushing the pass. Gauthier’s physical presence in the attacking end earns him space in front of the net where he fearlessly looks for rebounds, and his gritty play along the boards helps to sustain possessions. He has decent hands and can attack players head-on by beating them with a combination of his size, speed, or skill in a bid to fire off his shot which happens to be his best attribute.

Gauthier’s well-rounded game offers something for every team to find appealing in a potential first-round pick, providing the projectable floor of a top-nine forward with the potential to grow into a top-six scorer.

12 | Pavel Mintyukov

D | Saginaw (OHL) | 6-1 | 192 lbs | Shoots: L

Kyle Watson: Mintyukov is one of the most divisive prospects in the class due to his unique playstyle. He operates almost as a fourth forward, constantly making rushes and driving to the net for rebounds. He generates plenty of chances, but he can also leave his team shorthanded at times.

The Russian defenceman carries around his stocky build well enough, but unlike many offensive defenceman, his game is not built around elite four-way skating ability. He almost appears faster with the puck on his stick because of how good his puck control is. Rather than trying to skate around players, he likes to draw them in and use his hands to get around them. He is able to start the breakout by beating the first man with a quick turn, using his reach to separate the puck from the defender, and either sending an outlet pass or rushing the net himself – all in an instant. I believe he will be able to translate this offense to the NHL: he is able to make these plays consistently and despite a lack of top-end speed, he shows enough deception, variance in routes, and creativity with the puck to dominate in transition. However, he can get caught cheating up-ice at times, which makes you wonder how many NHL teams are going to let him play such a specialized role.

Without the puck, the deficiencies in Mintyukov’s skating are more apparent. When he is in position to defend the rush, he consistently makes good reads, using his reach and frame to nullify his opponents’ attacks. However, he does not have the straight-line speed to catch up when he gets caught pinching. His proclivity to join the rush can also result in him losing his man in his own end.

Mintyukov has a lot of tools and it will be interesting to see his development over the next few years. If he can smoothen out his stride and work on his defensive game, he could be a first-pairing defenceman in the NHL.

13 | Danila Yurov

W | Magnitogorsk (KHL/MHL) | 6-1 | 179 lbs | Shoots: L

Eetu Siltanen: Danila Yurov’s lack of playing time in the KHL has bordered on ridiculous, and it is difficult to fault his lack of production at the top level when you consider that he spent most games watching from the bench. At the junior level, however, he scored 36 points in 23 games and looked very good against his peers.

Yurov has a well-rounded toolkit and while he can produce offense, he also plays a strong 200-foot game. He is a smooth skater with a technically sound stride and posture who possesses good puck skills. He plays a straight-ahead style of hockey, employing strong puck protection skills in concert with his high-end vision and quick wrist shot. What stands out most about Yurov is his hockey sense and ability to read the game. He anticipates situations and can make great reads that most players can’t, providing great defensive value on top of his offensive instincts.

Yurov may not have the most flash or upside in this class but he should be a pretty safe pick and projects as a solid two-way, middle-six NHL winger.

14 | Kevin Korchinski

D | Seattle (WHL) | 6-2 | 185 lbs | Shoots: L

Evan Pace: Korchinski is an offensively gifted defender with good size and skill to complement his solid two-way game. He has produced extremely well for Seattle in the WHL this season and is one of the better players in the league at his position.

Korchinski’s hockey IQ, vision, and skating ability are three major assets in his game and he has used them to generate offense all year long. He uses powerful crossovers to gain speed, and his lateral movement and agility are excellent, but his choppy, high-kicking stride could use some retooling. Korchinski has elite edges and is one of the most mobile defencemen in the class. On the powerplay, he is great at baiting defenders and opening up passing or shooting lanes for scoring chances. This deception can be attributed to his swift lateral movement, open hips, and shiftiness, but also his soft hands, which he uses to toy with penalty killers.

He isn’t just a powerplay quarterback, however. At even strength, he is effective at carrying the puck up the ice, maneuvering and shaking off forecheckers during puck retrievals while handling pressure with the puck on his stick. If there isn’t a lane to skate, he makes tape-to-tape passes utilizing his great vision. Defensively, he is able to get stick-on-stick on puck carriers and force them to make an uncomfortable play, before attacking.

His production, skillset, and upside are major reasons why the highly-touted blueliner has earned consideration to be chosen in the top half of the first round.

15 | Filip Mesar

W | HK Poprad (Tipos Extraliga) | 5-10 | 172 lbs | Shoots: R

Dave Hall: While his future upside may not stack up to a few of his fellow countrymen – more specifically Simon Nemec and Juraj Slafkovsky – Mesar shows great potential to translate into a well-versed NHL player.

His most prominent attribute is his skating as he carries tremendous edge work and explosive acceleration – he can burn defenders when he hits top speeds. With that, he is able to play all three zones effectively, swapping between the wing and center positions. On the offensive, he is as well-rounded as they come and can attack with a multitude of weapons. He is a dual-threat contributor in that he can beat opponents with his shot or an elusive pass. With smooth hands, he is able to beat defenders one-on-one and uses his high-end motor to force himself into scoring opportunities.

Producing 30 points over two seasons, his numbers in the top Slovak league are by no means jaw-dropping. But don’t let that fool you, Mesar brings top-six potential with ample room for growth.

16 | Owen Pickering

D | Swift Current (WHL) | 6-4 | 179 lbs | Shoots: L

Nick Richard: This is a bit higher than you’ll find Pickering on most public draft boards but there are a couple of our scouts who are big believers in his upside. He doesn’t boast the same offensive numbers as some of the other top defencemen in this class but his raw tools are undeniable.

Pickering has a unique combination of size, mobility, and two-way instincts that give him as much upside as just about anyone outside the top-10 picks in this draft class. He has a fluid, powerful stride with great extension that allows him to cover a lot of ice but he is still agile for such a rangy defenceman who is still growing into his body. He has good footwork to stick with oncoming attackers and he utilizes his mobility, as well as his impressive wingspan, to shut down opposing transitions in the neutral zone.

He picks his spots in the offensive zone but shows good instincts in how he activates down the wall or squeezes the zone by taking the space in front of him. Pickering has good puck retrieval abilities, due to his reach and mobility, and he can quickly start the breakout before jumping into the rush if he sees a lane to attack.

Pickering is a bit of a project but with added strength and proper development, he could ultimately become one of the best defencemen to come out of the 2022 draft.

17 | Liam Öhgren

W | Djurgårdens (SHL/J20 Nationell) | 6-1 | 187 lbs | Shoots: L

Alexa Potack: Öhgren has continued to be a force to be reckoned with in the J20 Nationell, and has even picked up the pace since our December rankings.

He has one of the highest floors in the 2022 class, best demonstrated by his rapid release, mobility, and vision. His versatility as an offensive weapon is one of his best assets. He consistently executes accurate and creative passes in all zones and has a nose for scoring areas around the net. Additionally, his shot is among the best in the draft. His most impressive goals are those from the slot or inner halves of the faceoff circles when he gets to let his quick wrister fly, but the majority of his goals are scored at the net-front.

While Öhgren hasn’t achieved the level of success in the SHL that one would expect to see from a player with such outstanding J20 numbers, his ability to beat opponents – goalies and defencemen alike – should be expected to translate. He may not have first line potential but the team that drafts him will likely be getting a high-pace, creative middle-six winger.

18 | Isaac Howard

W | NTDP U18 (USNTDP) | 5-10 | 183 lbs | Shoots: L

Alexander Annun: Isaac Howard has continued to find success on the scoresheet throughout the season but is receiving a bit of a drop in the rankings from the 10th spot on our midseason list down to number 18.

Howard is a very talented player with dual-threat capabilities and he has shown this time and time again. His hockey IQ in the offensive zone is elite and his movement off the puck shows he has a great understanding of where the chances are going to come from. Howard has undergone a bit of a transformation this season in taking on more of a playmaker role as opposed to relying so heavily on his trusty shot that has been his bread and butter leading up to this point. He is a skilled puck carrier who enjoys attacking one-on-one and he has the ability to beat his man head-on. He has a quick first step and good top speed to go along with it which makes him a tough customer on the forecheck where he can really bear down on puck carriers before engaging physically with his stocky frame.

Howard remains a potent scorer on offense and has shown his ability to create chances off his own stick to underline his potential as a top-six forward in the NHL.

19 | Marco Kasper

C | Rögle (SHL/J20 Nationell) | 6-1 | 187 lbs | Shoots: L

Alexa Potack: Kasper has played more professional games than almost every player in this class and that largely works to his advantage. He has plenty of experience competing against men and has been able to chip in with a bit of offense at the SHL level this season as well.

From his earliest days in the SHL last season up until now, Kasper has used his skating and competitiveness to fuel his game. Not only is he able to play to the speed of the SHL, he is able to dictate the pace. In addition to his raw speed, the Austrian forward is able to use his 6-1 frame to create havoc around the opposing net, providing net-front screens and the ability to deflect incoming shots with his good hand-eye coordination. Kasper can certainly play a gritty game as well and I would expect that to increase as he progresses and eventually begins his NHL career. The intensity and size are there, and he is being utilized in something of a grinding, bottom-six role with Rögle already. His skating ability pairs with this intensity to benefit his two-way game which should make him a reliable player at the next level as he is able to evaluate an opponent’s trajectory and maintain good positioning during defensive shifts.

Kasper is an incredibly hard-working player in all three zones and that mindset should serve him well on his path to the NHL.

20 | Ty Nelson

D | North Bay (OHL) | 5-10 | 196 lbs | Shoots: R

Kyle Watson: The first overall pick from the 2020 OHL Priority Selection has come as advertised in his first season of major junior. Nelson has jumped immediately into a prominent role on one of the best teams in the CHL in North Bay and has been making a solid case to be the league’s Rookie of the Year.

Nelson has long been a highly-touted prospect due to his high-end offensive ability. He checks all the boxes of a powerplay anchor-type; he is able to weave through defenders using a combination of quick edgework and puck skills, and when he reaches top speed, he is very hard to stop. He is able to generate at least a couple of high-danger scoring chances per game through his rushes alone, and he has also been able to make plays on the cycle as well on the powerplay with consistency.

What has been most impressive about Nelson’s first season in the OHL has been both the quantity and quality of his shifts. Considering he did not play competitive hockey at all last season, the former Toronto Jr. Canadiens star has adjusted to the jump in physicality and speed seamlessly. No draft-eligible defenceman in the OHL has been on the ice for more goals at even strength or played as many minutes as Nelson. He is not the fastest skating defenceman available, but he has a powerful and efficient stride that enables the rover style he employs.

This season, there have been some wrinkles in his game, but nothing that isn’t normal for a draft-eligible defenceman playing over 25 minutes a night. Nelson has a lot of raw talent and his sterling resume should carry a lot of weight in the war room discussions on draft day. Factor in that he shoots right, and it’s very difficult to imagine him not being a first-round pick.

21 | Gleb Trikozov

C/W | Omsk (VHL/MHL) | 6-1 | 185 lbs | Shoots: R

Eetu Siltanen: Gleb Trikozov has been very good throughout the season at the junior level playing for Omskie Yastreby in the MHL. He also got into some games at Russia’s second-