Picking out players for a mock draft last year was horrendous. I only got a few players right, some bold takes backfired on me hard, it was tough. Instead of a mock draft, I opted to do a consolidated list, where the teams whose own picks don’t matter, as I just rank the players 1-32. A ton of work went into it, and I welcome the idea of conversation, so please let me know if you agree, or disagree.
#1 – Shane Wright – C – Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
The best player in this 2022 Entry Draft hasn’t changed one bit, it’s Shane Wright. Wright has been challenged for the number one spot, but I won’t budge. Wright shows flashes of offensive greatness, with an outstanding shot and great vision. He has a great possibility of being a captain in the NHL one day as he shows leadership qualities and great compete. Many people are concerned with the production of Wright, with 32 goals and 62 assists for 94 points in 63 games. After a slow start, he put up around a 1.8 point-per-game pace in the second half of the year after being upgraded to Kingston’s 1st line center. Wright looks to be an immediate impact at the NHL level in his first year.
#2 – Logan Cooley – C – USNTDP (USHL)
Another amazing center, this time being Logan Cooley of the USNTDP. Cooley is this year’s top two-way center. While being an offensively skilled center, he maintains an all around defensive game. Having great faceoff numbers, and seeming to be all over the ice, many believe that Cooley has a high ceiling. In the USHL this season in 24 games, Cooley scored 13 goals, and added 23 assists for 36 points. In the U18s, he had 10 points in only six games. Logan Cooley has decided to take the college route, and will be an asset for the University of Minnesota for at least the next season.
#3 – Simon Nemec – RHD – HK Nitra (Slovak League)
The top ranked defender in this draft is Slovak defeseman Simon Nemec. He has the most stability, he can make plays under pressure, and has great offensive tools. He has a solid frame, being 6’1″, 192 lbs. Nemec has a great slap shot, but didn’t shoot as much in the regular season in the Slovak League. In 39 games, Simon scored a single goal, but added 25 assists. However in the playoffs, he scored five goals and 12 assists, for 17 points in 19 games. In draft interviews, Nemec confirmed that he would be making the move to North America to play next season, whether in the NHL or AHL, which could be attractive for some teams. While nothing super special about his game, he is one of the safest picks in the first round.
#4 – Juraj Slafkovsky – TPS (Liiga)
Probably the most polarizing player of the whole entire draft, Juraj Slafkovsky comes in at number four. He could go as high as the first pick, or as low as the fifth pick. The Olympic Slovak star might have one of the biggest cases of recency bias we’ve seen in a long time. One thing that always concerns me, is a player that struggles to score in their main league, but when it comes to the international stage, they light it up. A great example of this is Buffalo Sabres forward Casey Mittelstadt. Coming from high school and the USHL, after putting up okay numbers, but after an exceptional WJC-18 showing, he jumped to the eighth pick. Since then, he’s failed to be a consistent producer, and failed to do one pull up at the NHL Draft Combine. I’m not comparing the two players, because they are not similar at all, but the scenario could be a reality.
Slafkovsky has the tools to be a great power forward winger, his production needs to come, as his shot is lethal, and he can use his physicality and size to his advantage. Many compared him to now Stanley Cup champion, Mikko Rantanen, which is a very fair comparison, yet I believe Rantanen was more flashy in the Liiga, although finding clips from back them proved to be challenging.
#5 – David Jiricek – RHD – HC Plzen (Czechia League)
It hurts putting David Jiricek at number five, I love him as a player. He has arguably the highest ceiling in the draft, with elite offensive capabilities and a lock that can’t be picked when it comes to defense. It’s just a matter of if he can translate that game to North America. His way of playing defense is aggressive, which is something that you don’t typically see in the NHL with the growing speed of young forwards. He has a booming slap shot and can walk the blue line to perfection. Standing at 6’3″, and weighing in at 190 lbs, he has the frame many NHL scouts and executives find appealing.
#6 – Matthew Savoie – C – Winnipeg (WHL)
If Mat Savoie was given just two or three more inches in height, he could absolutely push to be a top-3 selection in this draft, as he stands at 5’9″ and weighs 180 lbs. He has the highest offensive ceiling out of every forward in the draft I believe, with great vision all over the ice, and outstanding hockey IQ. In 65 games this past season, he scored 35 goals and totaled 90 points. One major area of concern for Savoie would be his health. He’s dealt with multiple concussions throughout his entire junior career, making him one of the more risky picks in this draft.
#7 – Joakim Kemell – W – JYP (Liiga)
The best goal scorer in the draft is Joakim Kemell, from JYP of the Liiga. As a teenager, he has shown his goal scoring abilities throughout the season, and has made it apparent to teams in need of a goal scorer, that he is the guy. In 39 games in the Liiga this past season, Kemell scored 15 goals and totaled 23 points. A vast higher production rate than Juraj Slafkovsky. Kemell has an elite level shot and goal scoring ability, so whoever ends up taking him, will love the selection.
#8 – Frank Nazar – F – USNTDP (USHL)
The eighth best player in the draft in my eyes is Frank Nazar. Nazar is a speedy forward with great edge-work and an extremely creative player. In 24 games for the USNTDP this past season, Nazar recorded 15 goals and 35 total points. Frank Nazar is committed to the University of Michigan where he will look to be another flashy piece for Mel Pearson’s team. Standing at 5’10” and weighing 180 lbs, Nazar has a solid frame and can be a real good asset for any team in one to two years.
#9 – Jonathan Lekkerimaki – F – Djurgardens IF (SHL)
Since 2019, Djurgardens IF has had a first round pick in each draft. This includes Tobias Bjornfot in 2019, Alexander Holtz in 2020, and William Eklund in 2021. Safe to say, Jonathan Lekkerimaki will continue that streak. Lekkerimaki has a great hockey sense, and can play in almost any position you need him in. I see him as a potential riser who could go as high as #5, but should be a top-10 lock. He’s a natural goal scorer, most compare him to the likes of Vancouver Canucks young forward, Brock Boeser. He should absolutely go back to Sweden for a year or two, but you’ll get the best of his play as a center.
#10 – Marco Kasper – C – Rogle BK (SHL)
Back to back Swedes in the top-10, something that happened last year, when Simon Edvinsson and William Eklund were taken with picks six and seven. Marco Kasper is a late riser on my list, as something that truly stands out to me is his work ethic and the fight he puts up in the SHL to be a solid contributor to Rogle BK. He scores a lot of his goals in front of the net, jamming at loose pucks, doing anything he can to help his team. He works hard in the corners to win puck battles, and owns some very good leadership qualities. In 46 games in the SHL this past year, Kasper scored seven goals and added four assists for 11 points. The 6’2″, 187 lbs power forward could be another riser, as many NHL executives think fondly of him and his play.
#11 – Cutter Gauthier – C – USNTDP (USHL)
Another American born center, this time, Cutter Gauthier. A very popular pick amongst scouts in the NHL, Gauthier is a player with great size standing 6’3″, weighing in at 201 lbs. He commands the play with a 200 ft. game, very physical, and impressive in his interviews. He has a lot of potential to jump as high as number five or six, but with his true skill set, I believe he’ll fit in the 8-12 range. He will be getting some seasoning at Boston College, under new head coach, Greg Brown.
#12 – Ryan Chesley – RHD – USNTDP (USHL)
Probably one of my favorite defenseman in the draft behind David Jiricek, Ryan Chesley of the US National Team Development Program. Ryan Chesley is a popular player amongst his teammates. Many of them say he is the hardest defenseman to get around on the team. He has lots of characteristics of being a very solid top-4 to top pairing defenseman. Very reliable, plays a simple game, and is very positioned. Talking with many scouts, we all agree that Chesley is one of those players who isn’t made for junior hockey, but will succeed in the professional leagues. Standing 6’0″, and weighing in at 200 lbs., it makes too much sense for a team that needs some stability on the back end to take him higher than many have him placed. Chesley is committed to the University of Minnesota, a team with a history of developing great blue liners such as Nate Schmidt, Erik Johnson, and Ryan Lindgren.
#13 – Danila Yurov – W – Magnitogorsk (MHL)
What a tough player to crack when figuring out his ceiling and floor. The first Russian on the list, Danila Yurov is quite an interesting prospect. Skill level alone, he can easily be a top-7 pick in this draft. In my first write-up of the consolidated players list, Yurov ended up as the 3rd best player. Months later, in the midst of the Russian-Ukraine War, a battle for playing time, and much more hurdles, Yurov has faced many issues in his draft year. In the KHL, looking directly at the numbers, Yurov seems to be an easy-miss. No points in 21 games, he shouldn’t be anywhere near the top-20. Except, in those 21 games, he’s averaged less than four minutes on the ice, making it incredibly challenging to decide where he is right to be picked. He can find open areas on the ice and has a wicked shot. He has the tools, it’s just about the Russian factor. In the MHL, Yurov totaled 36 points in 23 games, scoring 13 goals. Yurov can fall, a lot, especially with the bone-chilling news the hockey world has learned about Flyers goaltending prospect, Ivan Fedotov and the Russian military. He’ll be a gamble, but he’s a great player.
#14 – Brad Lambert – F – JYP/Pelicans (Liiga)
Another player with a challenging year, Brad Lambert really did feel the pressure this season. Coming into this year, Lambert was a consensus second overall pick. As an under-ager in the Liiga, he scored seven goals and eight assists for 15 points in 46 games for JYP. Fast forward to this season, between JYP and then a mid season trade to the Pelicans, he scored four goals, six assists for 10 points in a total of 49 games. He has a skill set to be a great player at the next level, but he’s still a gamble. He isn’t the fastest skater, and he seems lazy and unmotivated at times, but I bring up the point to scouts that haven’t played much hockey that when it comes to some players, when things aren’t going right, they really aren’t going right. He could easily be a top-6 forward, but the biggest challenge will be finding his confidence again.
#15 – Conor Geekie – C – Winnipeg (WHL)
Conor Geekie is yet another weird player. Taller in size, standing at 6’4″, Geekie has many critics in the scouting department. He’s been criticized for his skating, his lengthiness, and his hockey IQ. I think those who can push that aside are getting a solid player, one who wants to improve, but is also very self-aware of his play. He will no doubt need some time to season in either the WHL or AHL. The two year route for WHL seems to make the most sense. In 63 games, he assisted 46 times and scored a total of 70 points. Before you ask, yes, he is the younger brother of Seattle Kraken forward Morgan Geekie, and he does have another brother Noah, who plays division II baseball. One player I do see a lot in him is Brian Boyle, who was never an elite talent, but made his career in the NHL last.
#16 – Denton Mateychuk – LHD – Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
Denton Mateychuk is becoming a favorite for me. Mateychuk might be one of the most mature prospects in this draft. He holds accountability in the locker room, and on the ice, but that on its own isn’t enough to be a top end draft pick. Mateychuk is an excellent skater who has great defensive capabilities. He has decent size at 5’11”, and can play a physical brand of hockey. He handles the puck so well, and can be such an important piece to any team building from the back-end up.
#17 – Liam Ohgren – W – Djurgardens IF (SHL)
Another player coming from the Djurgardens system, Liam Ohgren is a very skilled player. Ohgren is a speedy and skilled winger, owning a 200 ft. game. His vision on the ice is some of the best in the draft, as he can throw a slick pass to a teammate for an easy tap-in. His offensive skill makes him one of the biggest potential risers in the draft. In 25 SHL games this season, he only tallied two points, but in the J20 Nationell, he scored 33 goals and racked up 58 points. He can easily jump up a few spots, but his lack of SHL production keeps him away from the top-15.
#18 – Isaac Howard – W – USNTDP (USHL)
Yet another USNTDP graduate, Isaac Howard should be a lot higher with his offensive tools. He won’t be the most defensive-responsible on the team, but his goal scoring makes up for it. He has a deceptive shot, beating goalies clean. He has a nose for the net, and benefits easily off powerplays where he can make quick passes and help any cycle game. He’s said it himself, he’s a hungry goal scorer, no amount will satisfy him. He has a lot of Kyle Connor traits, but we think he’s still a lot better. Howard will be playing next season at University of Minnesota-Duluth, so he will be playing where Alex Iafallo once reigned supreme.
#19 – Pavel Mintyukov – LHD – Saginaw Spirit (OHL)
I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of Pavel Mintyukov. I believe that in the NHL, you don’t win with defensemen who don’t play defense. You can probably notice a certain defenseman who has fallen, a lot. There’s no doubt in my mind that Mintyukov has offensive talent, this guy posted 62 points in 67 OHL games. His core problem, like previously stated, is his defensive play. He seems lost a lot in his d-zone, chasing a hit or losing a guy. He’s going to need two to three years of seasoning in the OHL or AHL, but I also give him benefit of the doubt because talking to scouts, the system Saginaw plays is very aggressive, which isn’t always suitable for defenders.
#20 – Noah Ostlund – C – Djurgardens IF J20 (J20 Nationell)
Another smart Swedish player, Noah Ostlund cracks the top-20. Ostlund is a very capable forward. He has the speed and skating ability to make it at the NHL-level, he can play a dynamic cycle game, where like Isaac Howard, he can make quick seem passes, and fool opponents. One thing about his game however, is that he plays a perimeter game, where in the NHL, players with his skill level fight in tight for the puck. He played 11 SHL games but failed to register a point. In the J20 Nationell, he scored nine goals, 33 assists, and amounted to 42 points.
#21 – Jiri Kulich – C – HC Energie Karlovy Vary (Czech League)
Jiri Kulich is another one of my favorite prospects for this draft. I changed my mind about him before the U18s where he truly shined for 11 points in six games, but afterwards, that solidified my projection. In the Czech League, he scored nine goals and added five assists for 14 points in 49 games. Kulich can be a two-way center who brings intensity and leadership. I see him as a middle-6 center, a very capable third line center, but not a black hole if needed to be bumped up. He can also play the wing, but he’s a better player down the middle. Kulich is another potential steal, as his ability to play a two-way game, and still be a solid point producer, will look well to NHL scouts.
#22 – Filip Mesar – F – HK Poprad (Slovak League)
Filip Mesar is a highly skilled winger who stood out for the silver medal-winning Slovakian team at the Hlinka-Gretzky tournament. He’s a great puck carrier that has a lot of skill when it comes to the offensive zone. He’s slick and has smooth skating, has great vision when looking for potential passes, but also knows when to shoot, something very valuable in the NHL. Playing in the Slovak League, Mesar tallied eight goals, eight assists, for 16 points in 37 games. Not terrible, as he can be a value pick, for a team that wants to mold a prospect with raw talent into a solid top-6 playmaker.
#23 – Rutger McGroarty – C – USNTDP (USHL)
Coming from Lincoln, Nebraska, Rutger McGroarty is another power forward from the US National Team Development Program. He has an NHL-ready shot and doesn’t need a ton of space to let it rip. However, that won’t stop him from finding space on the ice where he can work his magic. A combination of his shot, size, and hockey sense makes him a player that many should keep an eye on, as he could go higher. Scouts believe that his skating could use improvement, a common theme in this draft. Committed to the University of Michigan, McGroarty will look to balance his game and work out the small kinks in his game.
#24 – Owen Pickering – LHD – Swift Current Broncos (OHL)
Thanks to his 6’5″ frame, Owen Pickering has jumped up many draft boards from the later rounds, to the late first round, or second round. Yes, one NHL General Manager will see that size and believe that he’ll be a Norris candidate one day, but his game is tricky. After talking to scouts, I’ve learned that he only recently had a growth spurt, adding five or so inches to his height. This may explain why he only weighs 179 lbs. He’s aware of what’s being said about him, but he needs time to simmer in the junior league. To be confident in him, an organization with a good dietetics team should take the chance, assuring that before he plays one NHL game, he adds 20 or so pounds. Besides that, he uses his long reach for stick checks, but is questionable when it comes to a physical game. He’s also the cousin of potential first rounder, Denton Mateychuk. He’s an athletic player, also playing baseball, but he will get his chance to play in the show, but his development is extremely important.
#25 – Jagger Firkus – Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
Talk about going from extreme to extreme, moving from a 6’5″ defenseman, to a 5’10” forward. Jagger Firkus is an exceptional offensive player. 80 points, 36 goals, in 66 games for Moose Jaw. His weight is concerning. 154 lbs. only. That scares scouts, as adding 20 lbs only gets him to around 175. Yes, smaller players are thriving in the NHL as of recently, but when it comes to weight, they get thrown around. Firkus has the talent to be in the first round, no doubt. A team has to take their chance with someone this size, as it may keep him from playing there for a few years.
#26 – Jimmy (James) Snuggerud – F – USNTDP (USHL)
Jimmy Snuggerud is a player that can literally go anywhere in this draft. I’ve seen him as high as 11, I’ve seen him around 16/17. I have him at 26, obviously. Snuggerud can be an offensive weapon. He has a great shot, and relies heavily on his IQ to read plays. He has a larger frame, standing at 6’2″, and is in the works of developing a great two-way game. Following the many great two-way players in this draft, he’ll be taking his talents to the University of Minnesota next season. For the USNTDP this past season, Snuggerud scored six goals and notched 20 apples. I would like to see him shoot a lot more, something that can almost easily be worked on. He’ll be a name to watch come draft time.
#27 – Kevin Korchinski – LHD – Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
To some of the readers not familiar with my work, this will come as a major surprise. To my common followers, this won’t be one at all. Yes, Kevin Korchinski will absolutely go higher than 24, there isn’t a doubt in my mind. As he should, he’s a great offensive tool to have on the back-end. He assisted on goals 61 times in the WHL this past season. He’s a good player, don’t get me wrong, but you won’t see me at any of his fan club gatherings. As I’ve previously stated, I don’t believe you win in the NHL with no-defense defenseman. Of course, it’s the offensive blue liners who get the Norris votes. I don’t believe Korchinski has much of a defensive game, or has the desire to develop one. I hope he proves me wrong, and goes into the NHL and kills it. For now, I’m low on him, and I hope he embarrasses me five years down the road.
#28 – Lian Bichsel – LHD – Leksands IF (SHL)
Another 6’5″ defenseman, Lian Bichsel has been lethal in the SHL for Leksands IF. The Swiss d-man is a physically demanding player, almost someone who you see across the ice and fear for your life. He weighs 225 lbs., which is nice knowing he’s grown into his body. He isn’t a special player offensively, so teams looking for a puck mover should probably look away. He’ll use another year or so in the SHL before coming to North America where he’ll be a feared defenseman for years to come.
#29 – Lane Hutson – LHD – USNTDP (USHL)
What a character Lane Hutson is. I’ll start off by saying how his teammates love him in the locker room, which is always a good sign when selecting someone of his caliber. He has never-ending energy, he’s always smiling, and it affects his teammates in a positive way. Now onto his play. He has elite offensive ability, as he seems to skate and move the puck at great speed. His defense is pretty solid too, he spent his time in the USNTDP playing with Ryan Chesley. They made great partners. If he’s so good, why is he at 26? Well, many are aware that he’s 5’8″ and weighs 160 lbs. According to sources, he did bring in a doctors report stating that he can grow to 5’10”, which I thought left great impressions on scouts and General Managers. He will be playing next year over at Boston University, so yet another collegiate player playing in Massachusetts.
#30 – Ivan Miroschnichenko – W – Omskie Krylia (VHL)
Earlier in the season, Ivan Miroschnichenko was ranked as the 2nd best player in this draft on my board. I was very high on him. Good shot, good passing, every aspect of the offensive game, he had. Unfortunately, many know his downfall had been his diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Doctors have cleared him to continue his hockey career, but the risk has grown significant, especially being overseas in Russia. He has elite skating, and with all his assets, probably has the best all-around offensive game this draft has to offer. I believe a team, who has a great prospect pool, and a great team, will take a risk pick here. He deserves it. He’s battled hard, and has come a long way.
#31 – Jack D. Hughes – C – Northeastern Univ. (NCAA)
I get it, the production, or the lack there of, has been a concern for a lot of scouts. I believe there is more to Jack D. Hughes’ offensive game than what he showed this year. In 39 games, he scored seven times and added nine assists for 16 points. Not outstanding numbers, I agree. However, I do think he has a great defensive game, he’s very reliable. No, I’m not making that Patrice Bergeron comparison. I hate those. It’s way too overused. I do think he won’t just have a cup of tea in the NHL. He will adjust to whatever his coaches tell him, and he learns a lot of that from his father, new GM of the Montreal Canadiens, Kent Hughes. I think people are too harsh on him, and he could end up falling a lot more.
#32 – Gleb Trikozov – F – Omskie Yastreby (MHL)
To wrap up the 32 list, we have Gleb Trikozov. A smart offensive player, great shot, good hockey IQ and vision. Pretty much the classic Russian player. He has the potential to be a top-6 player. He did play in the VHL season, recording a goal and an assist for two points. The MHL is where he did his magic, producing 23 goals and 45 points in 35. The Russian-factor could play a major role in Trikozov’s case, as he isn’t the most flashy of players, so teams might not risk it.
Alexander Perevalov – W – Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)
Luca Del Bel Belluz – C – Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
Owen Beck – C – Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)