The 2022 NHL draft has no shortage of incredible names.
Rutger McGroarty. Luca Del Bel Belluz. Cruz Lucius. Zam Plante. Jimmy Snuggerud. Cutter Gauthier. Oasiz Wieseblatt. Pano Fimis.
But none beats Jagger Firkus, a projected first-round pick from the Moose Jaw Warriors. The story about his name, though, is lame: his parents saw it, liked it, and named him that. No interesting back story. No crazy roots. They liked it, and that's it.
At least he knows it's one of the best names in hockey right now, and that counts for something.
It's been an incredible year for Firkus, who started as a late-second-to-third-round prospect heading into the season. But a 36-goal, 80-point season -- capped off with Team White's top player honor at the CHL Top Prospects Game -- did so much to boost his draft profile in talent that isn't lacking in scoring talent. Away from the ice, Firkus does a bit of everything to stay occupied. He's a pitcher, loves playing badminton, and is no stranger to golf and spikeball, either. Rumor says he's pretty good at all of it, too, making it to a national championship in fastpitch softball, better known as fastball.
Nicknamed the "Firkus Circus", Firkus's creativity was a highlight of the draft season. He scored a lacrosse goal during a playoff game and seemingly had no issue taking on any defenseman in the league. Firkus' 80 points were good for second among first-year eligible draft prospects, doing so on a Moose Jaw team that finished second in the East Division behind Winnipeg -- a whole 30 points behind the ICE.
The numbers were there, the scouts were noticing his skill with the puck, and saw a clear improvement from even the short period he played with the Warriors last year during the COVID-19 shortened season.
"Nobody saw him putting up nearly 40 goals this year," a scout said. "And you have to wonder where he takes his game next season."
The biggest knock about his game? He's just 5-foot-10. A total of 28 teams talked to Firkus at the combine, and it was a common theme. But that clearly didn't stop him from producing this season, and the concern doesn't seem to bother him in the slightest.
“I honestly don’t care," Firkus said at the NHL draft combine in Buffalo. "It's their opinion, it's not going to change how I think about it. I’ve been small my whole life... it's part of the game."
That's the spirit.
And, frankly, his smaller frame hasn't been an issue. He looks up to Mitch Marner, who was listed at 5-foot-11 when he was taken fourth overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2015. Sure, smaller players have typically had a tough time showing legitimate star power in the NHL -- Brad Marchand and Johnny Gaudreau are more of the exception than the rule -- but Firkus has so much that scouts like in a mid-to-late first-round prospect.
Firkus can play center and on the wing, can shoot the puck from just about anywhere and has tremendous hands that too many goalies were caught confused by this year. Firkus can be caught trying to do too much to make the best play instead of the smartest play, but that's fixable with NHL coaching -- and it's always nice seeing prospects trying things out and taking risks like that.
If you're drafting Firkus, you're mostly looking to take advantage of his creativity and shot.
Firkus is as confident as it comes as a prospect, and you have to be to willing try some of the moves he makes on the ice. And while he's not the biggest prospect by any means, he's got the skill to make something out of the opportunities given to him, and he's going to be one heck of a find for the team that selects him on draft day.