Now that the Stanley Cup playoffs have reached the conference finals, we know more about the order of selection for the 2022 NHL draft in Montreal. All but the final four picks of the first round have been established, with the rest being determined by the next two rounds of the playoffs. Picking up where I left off last time, I've put together a mock draft for the first round, with this version beginning at No. 17. For a look at the first 16 picks, check out my previous mock draft entry.
As for the new picks, let's get down to brass tacks:
17. Nashville Predators, Jimmy Snuggerud, RW: For a franchise usually associated with great defensemen, the Preds have actually had some very balanced drafts of late, so we'll go Best Player Available here. Snuggerud comes from an extensive hockey family and showed a ton of improvement with the U.S. NTDP this season. The best part? He's just getting started. The University of Minnesota commit plays a smart, all-situations game and has a high ceiling.
18. Dallas Stars, Pavel Mintyukov, D: With 2021 picks Wyatt Johnston and Logan Stankoven putting up scorching offensive numbers in the CHL, let's give Dallas a defenseman with the Stars' first pick of 2022. Mintyukov was excellent for OHL Saginaw this year, contributing at both ends of the ice and demonstrating a great competitive fire. A great skater who can rush the puck, Mintyukov is at his best when he picks his spots.
19. Los Angeles Kings, Danila Yurov, RW: What do you get for a team that has everything in its pipeline? How about a potential home run in Yurov, the best Russian in the class. Because he played back home this season, it's anyone's guess when he'll be picked, but on paper Yurov is a heavy, powerful forward with a great shot who can really produce. He can also play center, though the Kings have a lot of options there already.
20. Washington Capitals, Liam Ohgren, LW: With three of Washington's four top prospects in Future Watch playing on the blueline (Vince Iorio, Alexander Alexeyev and Lucas Johansen), we'll go with a forward here in Ohgren, the captain of Sweden's gold-medal world under-18 squad. Well-built with a shoot-first mentality, Ohgren can also make plays and he's a strong skater. If he's not on a scoring line, his compete level still brings value.
21. Pittsburgh Penguins, Brad Lambert, RW: When you draft as infrequently as the Penguins, you need to take some chances occasionally. Lambert was a potential top-three pick coming into the season but struggled under the spotlight and had teams wondering what his future holds. His hands and his skating are among the best in the class, but the work ethic and hockey sense are red flags. Could the Pens get great value in the back half of the first round here?
22. Anaheim Ducks (from BOS), Rutger McGroarty, LW: Anaheim has been a great landing spot for NTDP players for years now and McGroarty would be a nice pick-up here. The University of Michigan commit has size, skill and a two-way game and has only really been hampered by his speed. Assuming he can find another gear as he develops in the college game, he'd give the exciting Ducks of the future some more weight up front.
23. St. Louis Blues, Nathan Gaucher, C: Gaucher just feels like a Blues pick, perhaps because St. Louis has been such a great heavy, two-way team in recent years. Playing for Patrick Roy's Quebec Remparts in the 'Q,' Gaucher is a physical, 200-foot player with great hands in traffic. His skating needs another gear, but there's time for him to pick that up as he continues to develop in major junior.
24. Minnesota Wild, Lian Bichsel, D: You've got Kaprizov, you've got Boldy, you've got Rossi. Now it's time to beef up the blueline. Bichsel is a Swiss national who played for Leksand in Sweden this year and showed off a ton of promise as a granite-hitting defenseman with a mean streak. Bichsel is the type of blueliner you want when you're in the playoffs and scouts think the 6-foot-5 kid could be 230 pounds by the time he gets to the NHL.
25. Toronto Maple Leafs, Jagger Firkus, C: Aside from taking big Matthew Knies last year, the Leafs definitely have a type and Firkus fits the bill: not big, but really smart and skilled. Firkus showed off his high end at the CHL Top Prospects Game and was the leading scorer for WHL Moose Jaw this season. He certainly needs to put on some weight (he's listed as 5-foot-10 and 153 pounds), but there's time for that.
26. Montreal Canadiens (from CGY), Isaac Howard, LW: While the Habs have a new GM, it's fair to say they've done well with American picks recently and Howard is a dynamic junkyard dog who plays the game at a high pace. He's undersized, but ask Montreal fans how they feel about Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki. Howard is heading to the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where Habs pick Blake Biondi currently plays.
27. Arizona Coyotes (from CAR), Maveric Lamoureux, D: With their first pick of 2022, I gave Arizona center Logan Cooley, so let's go in the opposite direction here. Lamoureux is a 6-foot-7 defenseman from QMJHL Drummondville who moves well and can get the puck up the ice. He's also got a great physical component to his game and much like Bichsel, he'll be a monster once he gets a couple more years of bulk and muscle on his frame.
28. Buffalo Sabres (from FLA), Jiri Kulich, C: The Sabres already landed Conor Geekie and Owen Pickering in this mock draft, so they're really playing with house money. Kulich would be a great pick, as he's coming in hot after an electric world under-18s with Czechia. Not only can the kid put up numbers, but he also plays a solid two-way game. Didn't get a ton of ice time in the Czech League, but the fact he was there was impressive.