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2022 NHL Draft Rankings: The Wright Call

Our prospect expert weighs in with his top 40 players as we approach the stretch drive in many developmental leagues.
Shane Wright

Shane Wright

With the CHL Top Prospects Game in the rearview mirror and Future Watch available now, it felt like a good time to get into some 2022 draft rankings. Perilous as always, this year has now been complicated further by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which has severed many ties between the Big Red Machine and the rest of the hockey world. It's hard to say yet how that will impact Russian draft prospects, but I think it's fair to assume that kids who stayed in Russia will be affected, while those who came over to North America will likely be questioned by NHL teams about their commitment to stay over here. And of course, there is the case of Ivan Miroschnichenko who has been battling Hodgkin's lymphoma. Needless to say, his first priority is to get healthy, but his standing in the draft (already complicated) will be a big X-factor.

To give you a general sense of my thought process here, it's my understanding that Shane Wright is in a tier of his own. My big challenge was the next tier, as it doesn't seem like there is much separating the next five picks (though I like Cooley, the center at No. 2). And while it may be surprising for some to see Geekie ahead of his dynamic teammate Savoie, I always go back to the last-second nerves that NHL teams seem to get in the top 10 when it comes to a player 5-foot-10 and under. To use the best/worst sports cliche, it is what it is.

I have also chosen to go 40 deep here because I find it gives the best sense of what the first-round pool is. Talk to NHL scouts and they will often group players into a 25-40 category: kids that could be either late first-rounders or early second-rounders with no distance between them. After all, the only difference between No. 32 and No. 33 is that one of the sleeps well after the first night of the draft.

With all that said, let's get to the picks.

1. Shane Wright, C, Kingston (OHL): He plays a complete game already and if you need points, he can go on a spree. The type of No. 1 center who you want out on the ice in the last minute of play whether you're up a goal or down a goal.

2. Logan Cooley, C, NTDP (USHL): High-end Minnesota commit combines speed and smarts to create turnovers and burn opponents with his offensive prowess. Still has some growing to do and scouts anticipate another pop in his skating once he does.

3. Joakim Kemell, RW, JYP (Fin.): Red-hot start to the season saw him blitz the Liiga in scoring. And though he was slowed by a shoulder injury, Kemell played in all situations for JYP. Wicked release and great compete level.

4. David Jiricek, D, Plzen (Cze.): Put on an absolute show early on in the Czech League season, proving he could bring offense, mobility and poise from the back end. Knee surgery has kept him on the shelf, but he was just named to the World Championship training camp.

5. Juraj Slafkovsky, LW, TPS (Fin.): The MVP of the Olympics with Slovakia finished off his Finnish regular season strong. He's a big-time beast with great upside and while scouts are trying to figure out how much upside he has, it's hard not to see him in the top five.

6. Simon Nemec, D, Nitra (Svk.): Steady, all-around blueliner putting up numbers in Slovakian League after dominating at summer's under-18 Hlinka-Gretzky tournament. Some scouts believe he's the top blueliner in the class, so don't be shocked if he gets picked before Jiricek.

7. Conor Geekie, C, Winnipeg (WHL): Scouts call him a "Big Rig" and his combination of size and skill is so tantalizing. Still developing on a loaded Ice squad, I wouldn't be surprised if a team jumps at him early thanks to the long-term potential.

8. Matt Savoie, C, Winnipeg (WHL): Very skilled, very quick and he has an intense battle level that makes up for his smaller frame. Now, will Savoie be ultimately penalized for his height on draft day? Woe be the teams that pass on him, because they'll give a rival a great prospect.

9. Cutter Gauthier, LW, NTDP (USHL): I like the versatility Gauthier has shown this year. The Boston College commit has proven he can also play center and has been great on the penalty-kill. His shot is lethal and he has great size to go with it.

10. Ryan Chesley, D, NTDP (USHL): This one might be a shocker for the Internet crowd, but I've spoken to multiple NHL teams who rank Chesley as one of the top blueline targets in the draft. He's an all-around defender with incredible strength, committed to the University of Minnesota.

11. Denton Mateychuk, D, Moose Jaw (WHL)

12. Frank Nazar, RW, NTDP (USHL)

13. Danila Yurov, RW, Magnitogorsk (Rus.)

14. Jonathan Lekkerimaki, RW, Djurgarden (Swe.)

15. Marco Kasper, C, Rogle (SHL)

16. Pavel Mintyukov, D, Saginaw (OHL)

17. Rutger McGroarty, LW, NTDP (USHL)

18. Brad Lambert, RW, TPS (Fin.)

19. Liam Ohgren, RW, Djurgarden (Swe.)

20. Jagger Firkus, C, Moose Jaw (WHL)

21. Nathan Gaucher, C, Quebec (QMJHL)

22. Jimmy Snuggerud, RW, NTDP (USHL)

23. Luca DelBelBelluz, C, Mississauga (OHL)

24. Owen Pickering, D, Swift Current (WHL)

25. Lian Bichsel, D, Leksand (Swe.)

26. Filip Mesar, RW, Poprad (Svk.)

27. Ivan Miroshnichenko, LW, Omsk (Rus.)

28. Kevin Korchinski, D, Seattle (WHL)

29. Calle Odelius, D, Djurgarden (SHL)

30. Jack D. Hughes, C, Northeastern (NCAA)

31. Maveric Lamoureux, D, Drummondville (QMJHL)

32. Julian Lutz, LW, Munich (DEL)

33. Isaac Howard, LW, NTDP (USHL)

34. Noah Ostlund, C, Djurgarden (Swe.)

35. Cam Lund, RW, Green Bay (USHL)

36. Noah Warren, D, Gatineau (QMJHL)

37. Ty Nelson, D, North Bay (OHL)

38. Tristan Luneau, D, Gatineau (QMJHL)

39. Matthew Poitras, C, Guelph (OHL)

40. Jordan Gustafsson, C, Seattle (WHL)


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