Mining the back half of the draft to find late-round gems such as seventh-rounders Ondrej Palat and MacKenzie Weegar is crucial to building a winner. Of course, hitting on those gems is hard, so here’s a look at some of the 2022 draft prospects who have intriguing upside as late-round sleepers.
Jordan Dumais, RW, Halifax (QMJHL)
Not big nor fast, but Dumais had 33 points in April alone and 109 points overall for the Mooseheads. He has superb hands and great analytics, but his pace of play needs work.
Aaron Pionk, D, Minnesota Wilderness (NAHL)
The brother of fellow late-bloomer Neal Pionk, this was Aaron’s first season as a defenseman. Smart puckhandler, committed to Minnesota State, was passed over last year.
Croix Kochendorfer, G, Chippewa (NAHL)
Raw netminder needs to be coached up, but the tools are there: he’s big, flexible and quick. Kochendorfer made a name for himself at the NAHL Top Prospects tournament.
Simon Wolf, G, Red Bull Akademie Jr. (Cze)
German goalie has NHL size but has only played for bad teams – both locally and on the international stage. Luckily, he’s a top-notch competitor, and he moves well. Has solid butterfly mechanics, too.
Kocha Delic, C, Sudbury (OHL)
His numbers on a young and struggling Wolves team don’t tell the story. Delic brings energy, skating acumen and work ethic, earning him a spot on Canada’s U-18 squad.
Jack Sparkes, D, St. Mike’s (OJHL)
Massive D-man comes in at 6-foot-7 and 230 pounds. Doesn’t bring much offense, but he’s nasty and moves well. Drafted by USHL Lincoln and committed to Michigan State.
Frederic Brunet, D, Rimouski (QMJHL)
Passed over last year, Brunet has really upped his game with the Oceanic and has scouts talking. Big kid with good hands who can skate. He’s particularly strong at puck retrievals.
Mathew Ward, C, Swift Current (WHL)
Ward, another smaller forward looking to prove himself, has feistiness and skates well. Played for Canada’s U-18 team and led the Broncos in scoring.
Kirill Dolzhenkov, LW, Krasnaya Armiya Jr. (Rus)
Huge, powerful winger (6-foot-6, 236 pounds) pulled off a ‘Michigan’ goal this year. Scouts aren’t sure about his projection, though, and he didn’t have a big role on CSKA Moscow’s junior team.
Michael Callow, RW, St. Sebastian’s (USHS)
The raw tools are obvious: Callow measures 6-foot-4, 194 pounds and has soft hands. Harvard commit is great from the tops of the circles on down but needs to play harder.