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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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-highest men’s level in the VHL, but playing in the MHL is what has best allowed him to put his game on display.
Between the MHL regular season and playoffs, he has notched 57 points in 44 games, 31 of them being goals. Trikozov is a dual-threat forward, as he possesses a dangerous wrist shot along with good playmaking skills and vision. He engages on the forecheck and has a knack for coming away with contested pucks to create quick-strike offensive chances. He is an above-average skater and possesses good hockey sense, finding space for himself to shoot the puck or identifying lanes to create chances for his teammates. Trikozov scans the ice and reads the play well, anticipating plays before they unfold and making quick decisions.
Trikozov doesn’t really have any clear weakness in his game and while his all-around toolkit is just above-average, he is one of the youngest players available in the 2022 draft and looks like a very promising pick in the late first round.
C | Mississauga (OHL) | 6-0 | 190 lbs | Shoots: R
Nick Richard: Beck’s numbers don’t jump off the page and he isn’t even the highest-scoring draft-eligible player on his own team, but his pro-level traits are evident when you watch him play.
With a game built upon a foundation of intelligence and versatility, Beck is one of the more projectable players available in the 2022 draft. He doesn’t necessarily have any standout skills but there aren’t many holes in his game either. He is a technically sound skater who can generate speed through the middle of the ice when given space, and he has a strong understanding of where to position himself in order to provide puck support. Beck’s tendency to play between checks and establish inside positioning without the puck allows him to receive passes with leverage and string plays together to sustain possession for his team. He has good hands and shows a willingness to attack defenders in one-on-one situations if there is no higher-percentage play available to him but he has done a better job of avoiding rushed decisions with the puck as the season has gone on. He offers dual-threat capability in the offensive end as well, with the ability to beat goaltenders from scoring areas and the vision to find teammates through traffic.
In the defensive end, he maintains solid positioning and shows good poise when things start to break down rather than running around and losing his assignment. It isn’t something we usually discuss very much with prospects, but Beck is also an outstanding faceoff man who can be relied upon to win key draws in difficult situations.
Perhaps the biggest selling point with Beck is the pace with which he is able to execute all of the above skills. He has the potential to grow into a top-six offensive role but even if he doesn’t reach that ceiling, his pace and well-rounded game give him a pretty safe floor as a third line NHL forward.
D | Gatineau (QMJHL) | 6-2 | 174 lbs | Shoots: R
Hadi Kalakeche: At this point in the draft, there aren’t going to be many right-handed defencemen available with near-surefire NHL potential but Luneau is one of them.
Although his game doesn’t present many game-breaking elements and his upside might be relatively limited as a result, Luneau’s versatility on and off the puck makes him a safe bet to make an NHL roster sooner than most. His regular scanning, both before and after getting the puck, helps him make sound decisions on the breakout, and he has a fluid stride that helps carry him up the ice after finding the right pass. He doesn’t carry the puck up often, but when he does, it’s a controlled exit and entry almost every time.
With a heavy shot and some sound defensive fundamentals to boot, Luneau is a jack-of-all-trades prospect that teams with a good amount of upside in their ranks already might take an early swing on, especially if their pool of right-handed blueliners is shallower than they wish for it to be.
W | Moose Jaw (WHL) | 5-10 | 154 lbs | Shoots: R
Evan Pace: One of the biggest risers this season, Firkus has been tremendous throughout his draft year and lands in the back half of the first round in our latest rankings.
Firkus brings a lot to the table as his puck skills, skating, and IQ set him apart as one of the top draft-eligible forwards from the WHL. While he is much lighter than most of the other top prospects, his competitiveness along with his excellent IQ helps him dominate his opponents. His ability to anticipate the play, force turnovers, and turn them into high-danger scoring opportunities is an underrated aspect of his game. It is elements like his shot, hands, and vision that get scouts excited about his potential, but his compete and IQ jump off the page when viewing his games. He can play in tight space, use his body to protect the puck, and then find his teammates with ease. Firkus has shrugged off naysayers as he was recently named Team White MVP at the CHL Top Prospects Game and has climbed his way to the top of the scoring race in the WHL.
It may take a bit longer for him to catch up in terms of physical maturity but Firkus already has a leg up in terms of raw talent and our group believes he is worth the swing at this point of the draft.
D | Djurgårdens (SHL/J20 Nationell) | 6-0 | 185 lbs | Shoots: L
Alexa Potack: Odelius has seen time in the SHL this season but has spent most of the campaign playing in the J20 Nationell where he has been the most productive draft-eligible defender in the league.
Odelius plays a two-way style that allows him to be noticeable and effective in all three zones. His largest threat to opponents is his smooth skating and although he is rarely the fastest on the ice, Odelius has a very clean stride as well as great agility. He is responsible in the offensive zone, rarely getting caught in a position where he is too deep to transition back to defense in time. For that reason, the defenceman tends to send shots on net from the blueline, trying to create an opportunity for a tip-in or rebound. A handful of times this season though, the strength and accuracy of Odelius’ shot has beaten netminders on its own.
In addition to his frequent shots on net, Odelius is great at circulating the puck around the offensive zone. He has great hands and vision which come to use in offensive and transitional play. On defense, Odelius has gotten better this season in using his body to gain possession of the puck or disrupt the opponent’s rhythm. There is still room for improvement but he has now combined his frame with his vision to defend better.
Odelius is a dependable player that has many attractive features to his game, such as his skating, vision, and overall two-way ability. That versatility is what earned him a first-round grade in the eyes of our scouts.
C/W | NTDP U18 (USNTDP) | 6-0 | 205 lbs | Shoots: L
Alexander Annun: McGroarty is having himself a productive season and his overall game continues to look solid as he builds his case as a potential first-round pick.
McGroarty is another in a long list of dual-threat forwards that the NTDP has at their disposal with this special crop of players. He has good size, a nice shot, and good hands in tight to beat opposing defenders. He finds himself in good scoring positions often and has the accurate shot, as well as sneaky good playmaking skills, to make something happen once he receives the puck. McGroarty sometimes fades into the background in games and doesn’t have much of an impact on the outcome, so consistency is something that he will have to continue to work on. His skating is something that has been a concern all season as he isn’t the lightest on his feet and can struggle at keeping up with the pace of the game.
A well-rounded player with a nice set of tools at his disposal, McGroarty still has a couple of pieces to his game that require further refinement but he should draw interest in the first round.
D | NTDP U18 (USNTDP) | 5-10 | 161 lbs | Shoots: R
Eetu Siltanen: Seamus Casey has had a good season for the NTDP’s U18 squad, producing 26 points in 40 games.
The University of Michigan commit is an offensive-minded defender who moves the puck very well. Thanks to his great offensive and on-puck abilities, his high-end upside helps to mitigate his lack of size which is a concern among our team as well. He is great on the breakout, firing crisp passes or carrying the puck up the ice himself with his great mobility if necessary. In the offensive zone, he controls the blue line where he can flash his great puck skills and his four-way mobility. He utilizes an active stick on the defensive end and doesn’t have problems with positioning, but even though he competes hard for his size, one-on-one battles can cause him problems, and boxing out at the net-front is definitely not one of his strengths.
Casey has no shortage of offensive potential but his size and defensive game are a bit concerning, and he hasn’t produced at quite the rate we expected so far this season, dropping him down to 27th place on this list.
C/W | Pelicans (Liiga) | 6-0 | 179 lbs | Shoots: R
Eetu Siltanen: Long considered one of the top prospects in the 2022 class, Lambert has had a very tough season and our team has serious questions about his game and developmental trajectory.
While his dynamic skating and great puck handling are among the best in the class, and his transitional game is still one of the best in Liiga, his production has been very disappointing as he managed just 10 points through 49 regular season games split between JYP and the Pelicans organization. His hockey sense isn’t the strongest, but he has shown some promising playmaking skill at times – the production just hasn’t been there for him and he actually took a step backward after scoring 15 points in 46 Liiga games last season. His shot isn’t much of a weapon and he will need to improve upon that in order to diversify his game.
Lambert’s defensive game still isn’t at an adequate level to play center at the pro level and he still needs plenty of work in terms of physicality and strength. As mentioned, Lambert obviously has a ton of skill in his toolkit, but he just doesn’t seem to be able to get it together, and after two and half years of experience in Liiga, he still hasn’t been able to take that next step. We hope he can bounce back as Aatu Räty did, but it is difficult to justify ranking him higher than this at this point.
C | Winnipeg (WHL) | 6-4 | 205 lbs | Shoots: L
Pat Quinn: Geekie has been one of the most productive draft-eligible players in the CHL this season but our group has serious concerns about how his game will translate to the next level if he doesn’t significantly improve his pace and mobility.
Geekie has what NHL GMs crave at the draft table: size, as his 6-4 frame projects very well to withstand the rigors of the NHL. There is also no questioning his puck skills as he has the ability to handle the puck in traffic using his tremendous reach. Geekie uses his size very well as he can shield the puck on the boards, but when he tries to do everything himself he can ruin a good scoring chance. That is not to say his hockey IQ is poor; rather it is great, as he can find open teammates in the offensive zone after creating traffic with the opposition focusing on him. He also has a good sense of pressure and when to move into open space in the offensive zone. In any real scoring position, Geekie has a great shot that can beat goalies clean with the combination of a deceptive release and power behind the puck. His downside comes from his clunky style of skating which may hold him back from being a top-six NHL player. Additionally, he will need to correct lackadaisical defending in his own zone and the occasional panic when under pressure from opposing forecheckers.
Geekie possesses plenty of intriguing qualities in an NHL center but there is plenty of risk that comes along with that package.
C | Sudbury (OHL) | 5-11 | 174 lbs | Shoots: L
Pat Quinn: Goyette has been the driving force of the Sudbury Wolves all season, leading the team in scoring by a substantial margin while being one of the highest-scoring draft-eligible players in the OHL.
Goyette is a standout skater and a wizard with the puck at top speed. He is one of the best skaters in this year’s draft and if given time and space with the puck through the neutral zone, he can make the opposition pay in short order as he doesn’t need much time to separate. Goyette’s puck skills are fantastic as he can handle tough passes while flying down the ice at high speed and then stop up and change momentum, and he understands the attacking structure in the offensive zone. He is more of a playmaker than a shooter, but when the opposition begins covering his teammates he can take matters into his own hands and score – he is especially deadly on the powerplay when he has a lot of room. Goyette’s negatives stem from his play in his own end where he can lose coverage and will turn the puck over if he is pressured enough.
He will have to continue to iron out some of the risky decision-making as he develops but Goyette has the potential to be an impactful transitional player who can provide offense at the NHL level.
C | Djurgårdens (SHL/J20 Nationell) | 5-11 | 163 lbs | Shoots: L
Alexa Potack: Although he’s the last of the Djurgårdens foursome that is likely to all be picked in the first round, Östlund has got a lot of positives within his game.
He is a playmaker in every sense of the word, with both quick hands and feet. He is great at finding teammates in transition or off the cycle and while he isn’t the flashiest handler, he can still drive play. His mindset is “pass first” but when given the chance to shoot the puck, he will attempt to capitalize on the opportunity. His shot is an area that requires improvement and is certainly not at the same level as that of Öhgren or Lekkerimäki. Of the goals he has scored this season, a majority have been scrappy net-front goals rather than powerful shots from distance.
Size is a concern for Östlund, as his 163-pound frame is not going to help him in professional hockey, whether it be in Sweden or North America. Adding muscle will be a focus and will become a priority for the team that drafts him, so it is likely a short-term issue. Given his playmaking ability and speed, he has got a good ceiling to begin with but deficiencies like his shot and size are what set him back from his draft-eligible teammates.
W | NTDP U18 (USNTDP) | 6-2 | 185 lbs | Shoots: R
Dave Hall: Snuggerud, a product of the USNTDP, has enjoyed impressive point totals and steady progression throughout his draft year, all of which makes him one of the more intriguing prospects climbing the ladder.
Above all else, his instinctive goal-scoring ability is what truly demands attention, as he provides a wide range of shooting threats. Of course, he is no slouch in the assist column and moonlights as a well-versed puck distributor. Adding to the allure, he carries a pro-ready frame which he combines with a strong drive for the net, impressive transitional speed, and crafty puck handling skills. Be it from long range, in tight, or off the rush, he has a knack for making opponents pay. He battles hard in all three zones and uses his power to overthrow opponents and strip pucks, all before transitioning play to the offensive end.
Given his toolkit and pro-ready frame, the Minnesota native has the potential to grow into a versatile weapon at the NHL level.
33 | Luca Del Bel Belluz | C | Mississauga (OHL) | 6-1 | 179 lbs | Shoots: L
34 | Ivan Miroshnichenko | W | Omsk (VHL/MHL) | 6-1 | 185 lbs | Shoots: R
35 | Ryan Chesley | D | NTDP U18 (USNTDP) | 6-0 | 194 lbs | Shoots: R
36 | Adam Ingram | C/W | Youngstown (USHL) | 6-2 | 174 lbs | Shoots: L
37 | Mattias Hävelid | D | Linköping (SHL/J20 Nationell) | 5-10 | 172 lbs | Shoots: R
38 | Hunter Haight | C | Barrie (OHL) | 5-10 | 172 lbs | Shoots: R
39 | Mats Lindgren | D | Kamloops (WHL) | 6-0 | 176 lbs | Shoots: L
40 | Ludwig Persson | C/W | Frölunda (SHL/J20 Nationell) | 6-0 | 179 lbs | Shoots: L
41 | Jiri Kulich | C | HC Karlovy Vary (Tipsport Extraliga) | 6-0 | 172 lbs | Shoots: L
42 | Danny Zhilkin | C | Guelph (OHL) | 6-2 | 183 lbs | Shoots: L
43 | Sam Rinzel | D | Waterloo (USHL) | 6-4 | 181 lbs | Shoots: R
44 | Matthew Poitras | C | Guelph (OHL) | 5-11 | 172 lbs | Shoots: R
45 | Simon Forsmark | D | Örebro (SHL/J20 Nationell) | 6-2 | 194 lbs | Shoots: L
46 | Elias Salomonsson | D | Skellefteå (SHL/J20 Nationell) | 6-1 | 183 lbs | Shoots: R
47 | Jack Hughes | C/W | Northeastern University (NCAA) | 6-0 | 165 lbs | Shoots: L
48 | Filip Bystedt | C | Linköping (SHL/J20 Nationell) | 6-4 | 187 lbs | Shoots: L
49 | Nathan Gaucher | C | Québec (QMJHL) | 6-3 | 207 lbs | Shoots: R
50 | Alexander Perevalov | W | Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (KHL/MHL) | 6-0 | 192 lbs | Shoots: R
51 | Vladimir Grudinin | D | CSKA Moskva (KHL/VHL/MHL) | 5-10 | 159 lbs | Shoots: L
52 | Matthew Seminoff | W | Kamloops (WHL) | 5-11 | 183 lbs | Shoots: R
53 | Lane Hutson | D | NTDP U18 (USNTDP) | 5-8 | 148 lbs | Shoots: L
54 | Paul Ludwinski | C | Kingston (OHL) | 5-11 | 172 lbs | Shoots: L
55 | Rieger Lorenz | C | Okotoks (AJHL) | 6-2 | 185 lbs | Shoots: L
56 | Noah Warren | D | Gatineau (QMJHL) | 6-5 | 214 lbs | Shoots: R
57 | Matyas Sapovaliv | C | Saginaw (OHL) | 6-4 | 190 lbs | Shoots: L
58 | Bryce McConnell-Barker | C | Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) | 6-1 | 187 lbs | Shoots: L
59 | Lian Bichsel | D | Leksands (SHL/J20 Nationell) | 6-5 | 216 lbs | Shoots: L
60 | Vinzenz Rohrer | W | Ottawa (OHL) | 5-11 | 168 lbs | Shoots: R
61 | Ruslan Gazizov | C/W | London (OHL) | 5-11 | 187 lbs | Shoots: L
62 | Brandon Lisowsky | C/W | Saskatoon (WHL) | 5-9 | 172 lbs | Shoots: L
63 | Maveric Lamoureux | D | Drummondville (QMJHL) | 6-7 | 196 lbs | Shoots: R
64 | Jordan Gustafson | C | Seattle (WHL) | 5-11 | 179 lbs | Shoots: L
Eetu Siltanen: Tomas Hamara | D | Tappara (Liiga/U20 SM-sarja) | 6-0 | 185 lbs | Shoots: L
Nick Richard: Jake Karabela | C/W | Guelph (OHL) | 5-11 | 170 lbs | Shoots: L
Hadi Kalakeche: Antonin Verreault | W | Gatineau (QMJHL) | 5-8 | 163 lbs | Shoots: L
Kyle Watson: Isaiah George | D | London (OHL) | 6-1 | 194 lbs | Shoots: L
Evan Pace: Pano Fimis | C | Niagra (OHL) | 5-10 | 174 lbs | Shoots: R
Alexander Annun: Cole Spicer | C | NTDP U18 (USNTDP) | 5-10 | 174 lbs | Shoots: L
Alexa Potack: Joel Ratkovic Berndtsson | W | Frölunda (J20 Nationell) | 6-0 | 179 lbs | Shoots: L
Samuel Tirpák: Adam Sykora | W | HK Nitra (Tipos Extraliga) | 5-10 | 172 lbs | Shoots: L
Danny Tiffany: Tyler Brennan | G | Prince George (WHL) | 6-4 | 190 lbs | Catches: L