Ramblings: Winners and Losers of the 2022 NHL Draft
It has been much too long since I have written a ramblings article.
To all my loyal readers, I sincerely apologize! My work on the DraftCast has taken up most of my time this year.
Pat and I were actually going to do a winners and losers video for the latest episode – until Rogers decided to give out on us. After the draft (which I was able to watch on cable TV), I sat in boredom with no way to contact anyone or entertain myself for a couple of hours. Then, I decided to write this article – entirely from memory. It has since been edited with all the missing information and clips I now have access to again with the internet working again.
Without further ado, here are my winners and losers of the 2022 NHL Draft.
Don’t mistake me for a Slafkovský first-overall guy. Shane Wright was the best player available at first overall. The Habs have needed a franchise center for years now and they keep galaxy brain-ing it. First, they traded Sergachev for Drouin, then they picked Kotkaniemi at 3 in 2018, and now they trade for Kirby Dach.
While I think highly of Dach and Suzuki, neither of them currently projects as a first-line center. Personally, I think even Logan Cooley or Simon Nemec would have been better picks than Slafkovský. The only positive here is that Mesar and Slafkovský will get to play together in the NHL.
I’m calling the Canadiens winners because of their fantastic work on day two.
They started out the day out by adding one of the most projectable players available Owen Beck. He was our 22nd-ranked prospect in our final rankings and my third-ranked OHLer. The Steelheads centreman plays a refined and responsible game, driven by his strong mobility and excellent hockey sense. None of his offensive tools really stand out, but they are all at least NHL-average. He should be the Habs’ third-line centre in three years.
Perhaps the best pick of the entire draft was Lane Hutson at 62nd. The best-scoring defenseman in NTDP history possesses a sky-high ceiling as the draft’s best powerplay quarterback. Hutson may be undersized at 5-8, but this guy brought the receipts to his draft interviews showing his skeletal growth is delayed. Thus far, his size has limited his defensive ability – most prominently his lack of reach. However, he displays the gap control and defensive awareness requisite to make up for a lack of physicality.
I thought we were past the point of letting undersized players slide past where their body of work would rank them. For me, this pick just screams steal. As early as next year, we are going to be putting Hutson first round in redrafts.
I also liked Montreal’s final pick of the draft, Miguel Tourigny. Another 5-8 defender, Tourigny had 31 goals and 80 points in 65 games as a fourth-year player in the QMJHL this season.
When was the last time that a player as widely regarded as the best in the draft as Wright was slipped this far?
Make no mistake, Shane Wright fell into Seatle’s lap. If you told owner David Bonderman he would get to build his franchise around Matthew Beniers and Wright two years ago, he might’ve fainted.
We were well prepared for the possibility of Montreal passing on Wright. We knew the Devils were interested in both Juraj Slafkosvky and Simon Nemec, given their depth at centre. Logan Cooley has been labelled a Coyote from the minute they landed the third overall pick. But all the dominoes falling and Wright landing in Seattle seemed near impossible.
All the Kraken had to do on day two was not make any audacious picks and they would walk away from this draft as winners.
Instead, they knocked it out of the park.
In Jagger Firkus, David Goyette, and Ty Nelson, they have three of the most physically gifted players available in the draft. All three were viewed as potential first-rounders by many and will be given every opportunity to succeed in the NHL’s newest franchise.
After picking Beniers second overall last year, the Kraken had a sup-par draft. They didn’t make that mistake this time around, consistently nabbing the talent that was falling to them. I am a big advocate of taking the best player available rather than sticking with the guys you are familiar with or expected to get. Seattle embodied that philosophy at this year’s draft.
Columbus adds to a blueline led by Zach Werenski and Adam Boqvist by drafting two of the best defenseman in the draft on day one.
They continued to make savvy picks on day two. Del Bel Belluz is a surefire pick to play NHL games and tops out as a middle-six playmaker. Dumais was one of this year’s biggest wildcards: he had the most productive season by a QMJHL draft-eligible since Crosby, but he is 5-9, 165 pounds. Dolzhenkov, on the other hand, is a hulking 6-6, 236-pound forward. They also grabbed goaltender Sergei Ivanov, who played with Dolzhenkov (and Michkov and Miroshnichenko) on the Russian team that won gold at the 2020 Youth Olympics.
I think there is a good chance all seven of these picks play games in the NHL. Times have been tough in Columbus, but they have slowly built an excellent supporting cast for Patrik Laine – should he choose to re-sign.
This is just getting silly. The Wild have arguably picked the steal of the draft for three consecutive years. It’s not as big of a steal as picking Marco Rossi at #9 or Jesper Wallstedt at #20, but getting a potential first-line winger in Yurov at #24 has the potential to be another instance of highway robbery for Bill Guerin.
Danila Yurov has an insane profile in the model. He looks very similar to how Kucherov looked in the MHL in his draft year (although Kucherov was much younger, relatively). A top 5 talent dropped way far! pic.twitter.com/OnbVriunbO
Things are looking up in Minnesota after losing Kevin Fiala. Considering his public desire to leave, I think Guerin did well getting Brock Faber and the pick that turned into Öhgren in return – especially because it facilitated them taking a swing on Yurov.
In three summers, when the Wild are out of cap hell, they may well be one of the Stanley Cup favourites. Until then, they can keep feasting in the mid-late first round of the draft.
Edmonds is a late-bloomer who led the OHL in assists this season. Tampa likely sees the 20-year-old as someone who can make an instant impact in the organization. It’s a similar situation with third-time eligible Nick Malik, one of the best goaltenders in Liiga this season.
Tampa Bay now has three pieces that could be cheap contributors in a couple of years’ time – or trade assets.
When you have an organization as devoid of talent as Arizona, it’s understandable if your GM starts taking swings on talent at the draft. That being said since picking Clayton Keller and Jakob Chychrun in 2016, the Coyotes have drafted only one NHL regular: Barrett Hayton – who began the year in the AHL.
Arizona has lost the 11th overall pick in 2021 and the 49th overall pick and the 111th overall pick in 2020 due to various scandals. This season, they will play their games at Arizona State University. Perhaps they are not actually in a good place to take risks at the draft: they need guaranteed talent.
Cooley and Geekie should both be top-six contributors at the next level. Both have a lot of room to develop as prospects – but is Arizona the place they are going to hit their ceilings?
The Coyotes are losers because there were many better combinations of picks they could have made in Round One: Cooley, Geekie, and Firkus, or Wright, Frank Nazar, and Brad Lambert, or Wright, Geekie, and Tristan Luneau, and so on.
They are the lone losers of this drat. This might seem like me getting out of writing, but there weren’t really any clear-cut losers this year. Teams like Calgary, Colorado, and Florida were considered but they just lacked picks.
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On this episode: Pat is joined by Ben to discuss prospects in the Central Division who have a chance to make the roster to start, have cups of coffee, or may be up after the trade deadline. This talk is to help fantasy hockey GMs decide on prospects to add, watch or invest in for […]