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NHL Draft Day Tracker: Follow Along for Round 1

Follow along with the picks and analysis from the first round of the NHL draft with thoughts from our experts all night long.
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Follow along with the picks and analysis from the first round of the NHL draft with thoughts from our experts all night long.

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1. Montreal Canadiens: Juraj Slafkovsky, LW: Big, talented and edgy, Slafkovsky had a wild international schedule that saw him turn heads at the Olympics and the worlds. Playing in Finland, the Slovakian teen had decent numbers, but there's still a lot of potential, too. (Ryan Kennedy)

2. New Jersey Devils: Simon Nemec, D: When scouts watch Nemec play, they don’t see any discernible flaws in his game. But they don’t see anything that gets them super excited, either. “He does everything so well and so efficiently without being overly dynamic or exceptional in any one area,” said one scout. “It’s just not fun to talk about him. There are not a lot of weaknesses.”

But that doesn’t mean Nemec doesn’t have a bright future. He has played well all season against men in the Slovak League. He has definitely got more of an offensive bent to his game than David Jiricek, but he’s not nearly as physical. (From The Hockey News’ Draft Preview)

3. Arizona Coyotes: Logan Cooley, C: The University of Minnesota commit is already fast, but he'll likely get faster as he grows into his body and gets stronger. Cooley has excellent offensive tools and he can use his talents on the defensive side, as well. (Ryan Kennedy)

4. Seattle Kraken: Shane Wright, C: After basically missing an entire season due to the pandemic, Wright came into 2021-22 as the undisputed No. 1 pick and managed to hang onto that status wire to wire. “I think the COVID break really hurt him in the first half, like it did a lot of Ontario kids,” said one scout. “Clearly, he’s the No. 1 guy, and I think there’s a gap again. He’s not a generational guy, but he can play next year with his IQ and his ability to play away from the puck.” Wright was his team’s MVP at the CHL Top Prospects Game and poured on the points as the season progressed, finishing top-10 in the OHL and best among first-year draft-eligible players. “He had a very good (final quarter) of the season, kind of what you expected all year long,” said another scout. “He’s being compared against expectations rather than being compared against the field. He’s an easy No. 1 pick. He’ll play next year. He plays a complete game, and he won’t have to learn the defensive side.” With his size, skating and smarts, Wright should have an easy transition to the pro game and can be trusted in all situations. (From The Hockey News’ Draft Preview)

5. Philadelphia Flyers: Cutter Gauthier, C/LW: A big riser of late thanks to his redesignation as a center instead of a left winger, Gauthier is set to play down the middle as a freshman with Boston College next year. He's a big power forward with a wicked shot who can play in all situations. (Ryan Kennedy)

6. Columbus Blue Jackets (from CHI): David Jiricek, D: A serious knee injury sustained in the world juniors derailed much of Jiricek’s season. Which was a shame, because his stock was definitely on the rise when he got hurt in what turned out to be a meaningless tournament. Jiricek only returned to the Plzen lineup in mid-April, but he did play for Czechia in the World Championship. Scouts love his physicality, snarl and all-round ability on the defensive side. “He’s probably the most complete defenseman in the draft,” said one scout. “He’s not going to be an offensive superstar, but he’s able to make plays. Defensively, he’s solid, and he’s got some nasty to him. You’re not drafting him to run your power play, but he’s a guy who’s going to be out in the last minute when you’re up by a goal.” (From The Hockey News’ Draft Preview)

7. Chicago Blackhawks (from OTT): Kevin Korchinski, D: In his first full season in the WHL, Korchinski broke out in a big way and finished second among defensemen in assists. And according to some scouts, he was on the verge of posting even gaudier numbers. “He’s a big defenseman who skates like the wind and moves the puck pretty well,” said one scout. “He might lead the league in third assists. He can get the rush started, but in the offensive zone, he doesn’t create a lot of quality chances. He doesn’t shoot. He’s a passer who follows the rush.” (From The Hockey News’ Draft Preview)

8. Detroit Red Wings: Marco Kasper, C: It's a double-edged sword playing for a smaller international program like Austria: you’re going to get opportunities, but your team is going to take some beatings. That’s been Kasper’s experience so far, but talent hawks saw his high potential nonetheless. “He played at the world juniors but barely touched the puck because they played Finland and Canada,” said one scout. “I think he goes high because he has that motor and competes like hell. He goes to the front of the net and has sneaky skill. Every shift, he does something positive. He’s a high-compete guy who helps you in the playoffs.” (From The Hockey News’ Draft Preview)

9. Buffalo Sabres: Matthew Savoie, C: With the WHL playing a limited schedule last year, Savoie headed down to the USHL and dominated for Dubuque. And it wasn’t just the points he put up that impressed talent hawks, it was also the bloody-mouthed drive he brought to every shift. Back in Winnipeg this season, Savoie was one of the WHL’s leading scorers on one of the best teams in major junior. “He’s a terrific player,” said one scout. “Really good skater. He’s got an excellent shot, and he can be tenacious on loose pucks. He has high-end abilities, and he’s opportunistic on pucks, which is what you want. He anticipates where the puck is going to be, and he’s like a hound tracking it down. He can make high-end plays at high speed, and he’s got great shooting accuracy.” (From The Hockey News’ Draft Preview)

10. Anaheim Ducks: Pavel Mintyukov, D: Mintyukov made the commitment to North America last year, only to see his first OHL campaign wiped out by provincial COVID-19 regulations, so he was a bit of a curiosity once he finally took to the ice for Saginaw this season. “He had to adjust, and that took time, but he’s been good,” said one scout. “He had flashes on the power play or 4-on-4 where you understood why the team got him, then 5-on-5 he got better, as did the team.” (From The Hockey News’ Draft Preview)

11. Arizona Coyotes (from SJ): Conor Geekie, C: Playing on a juggernaut Ice team, Geekie was overshadowed at times by high-scoring teammates such as Matt Savoie, Connor McClennon and Mikey Milne, but as the only member of that grouping with size, he holds a lot of intrigue. “He’s a big rig,” said one scout. “He’s a dominant player at this level, and he makes great plays. It’s not just his size but his skill and skating. He’s got the high-end puck skill, really noticeable 5-on-5 and on the power play.” The important thing to remember about Geekie – whose older brother Morgan plays for the Seattle Kraken – is that there is still a lot of upside for him to tap into. Centers with size tend to take longer to develop, and Geekie can improve on his faceoff work in the coming years. The potential is exciting. (From The Hockey News’ Draft Preview)

12. Columbus Blue Jackets: Denton Mateychuk, D: Playing for a Moose Jaw franchise that has consistently developed high-end talent over the years, Mateychuk is the latest one to watch for the Warriors.

He was among the highest-scoring defensemen in the WHL this season and a solid performer at the CHL Top Prospects Game. “He’s super smart, loves to play offense, impacts the game every night,” said one scout. “He needs to settle himself down once he gets to the pros because right now he’s all over the ice, and that’s not the way things work. His hockey sense drives his game, and he wants to make an impact.” In an era where you don’t need to be a hulk on the back end to be a star, the 5-foot-11, 186-pounder gets it done with skating and other tools. (From The Hockey News’ Draft Preview)

13. Chicago Blackhawks (from MTL via NYI): Frank Nazar, RW: For Nazar, it’s all about the drive. “I love him,” said one scout. “He plays with so much energy, his motor is relentless, and he can skate like crazy. He darts, he reaches his top speed in two strides, and because of that, when he’s going east-west or picking up a bad puck off the wall, he gets there so quick. He’s pretty cerebral and can do a bit of everything.” A Michigan commit, Nazar can play physical and help on both special teams. Thanks to his stick skills, he can play the bumper on the power play or be a shooter. And with his battle level, he can also be productive as a net-front presence. (From The Hockey News’ Draft Preview)

14. Winnipeg Jets: Rutger McGroarty, C: McGroarty has been on the radar for a while, thanks to his excellent youth hockey career and an early stint with the NTDP’s under-18s when he was still in his under-17 year. The only knock is his skating, and it’s still a work in progress. (From The Hockey News’ Draft Preview)

15. Vancouver Canucks: Jonathan Lekkerimaki, RW: A number of scouts have described Lekkerimaki as the Swedish version of Joakim Kemell. He’s been described by many as a shooter, but in a very successful performance at the world under-18s, he began to show a more well-rounded game. But he’s definitely seen as more of a goal-scorer than a set-up man. It’s difficult for draft-eligible teenagers to play in the veteran-laden Swedish League at the best of times, but it’s even more difficult when they’re undersized. But scouts were impressed to see Lekkerimaki was unafraid of going to the difficult areas of the ice and playing in tight quarters. (From The Hockey News’ Draft Preview)

16. Buffalo Sabres (from VGK): Noah Ostlund, C: A very smart playmaking center, Ostlund makes scouts wonder if his size and style will result in him excelling at the NHL level, even in an era when small but talented players have a better chance to succeed than ever before. (From The Hockey News’ Draft Preview)

17. Nashville Predators: Joakim Kemell, RW: Eyes were popping everywhere Kemell went early in the season. He had 10 goals in the Finnish League after only 13 games and was a star on the league’s highlight reels. But it was unrealistic to expect him to maintain that pace, and an injury was followed by a bit of a mid-season funk. He finished strong, however, and scouts are still high on Kemell because of his shot and his ability to find the back of the net. “He’s proven himself to be a goal-scorer, and those are hard guys to find,” said one scout. “He’s a volume shooter, quick release, hard shot, good skater. He’s not like a Pavel Bure who can take the puck and blow by people, but he finds open holes in the offensive zone, and he can get the puck and is good.” Early in the season, one scout compared Kemell’s shot to that of Alex Ovechkin. That was probably hyperbole, but it’s definitely elite. (From The Hockey News’ Draft Preview)

18. Dallas Stars: Lian Bichsel, D: When NHL scouts talk about Bichsel, you can hear the excitement in their voices. Playing in his first pro season in Sweden, the Swiss national was a physical force, playing the bullying, throwback style that’s more in demand lately due to its scarcity. (From The Hockey News’ Draft Preview)

19. Minnesota Wild (from LA): Liam Ohgren, LW: Ohgren spent half the year up in the SHL, and while he didn’t post numbers, that experience is good for a teenager. Unfortunately, Djurgarden was relegated, so his next action with the team would be in the second-tier Allsvenskan. Nonetheless, he has a great skill package. The only question is what his ceiling will be. (From The Hockey News’ Draft Preview)

20. Washington Capitals: Ivan Miroshnichenko, LW: It’s been a very trying year for Miroshnichenko, and frankly, the draft is probably not top of mind after he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Beyond the illness, he’ll have to fight the stigma of being Russian and playing overseas. The kid came into the year as a top-10 talent, and has a ton of potential still. (From The Hockey News’ Draft Preview)

21. Pittsburgh Penguins: Owen Pickering, D: “You have to do a lot of projection with Owen Pickering that he’ll fill out and be able to grow into his body and improve his skating, which is just average right now,” said one scout. “He has a lot of potential, but he has to realize that potential. He’s good at everything, but he’s not elite at anything.” (From The Hockey News’ Draft Preview)

22. Anaheim Ducks (from BOS): Nathan Gaucher, C: If You’re Looking for a guy who can be a reliable third-line center for a long time, Gaucher could be your man. But if you’re looking for something a little more dynamic, you’re probably not inclined to use a high pick on him. Some scouts think he’s better suited as a winger at the pro level rather than center. (From The Hockey News’ Draft Preview)

23. St. Louis Blues: Jimmy Snuggerud, RW: "He's still a little raw, but he's piecing it together and has improved," one scout said. "He's been working on his skating for three years." Snuggerud is heading to the Golden Gophers, where he'll be surrounded by talent and have the chance to take his game to the next level.

24. Minnesota Wild: Danila Yurov, RW: Yurov was an offensive demon with Magnitogorsk in Russia’s top junior league but got scant ice time and opportunity in the KHL, well into Metallurg’s long playoff run. “He can play a big, heavy, powerful game,” said another scout. “There’s discussion as to whether he’s a center or winger, I think he can do both. (From The Hockey News’ Draft Preview)

25. Chicago Blackhawks (from TOR): Sam Rinzel, D: He was really good at the beginning of the year in the USHL," a scout said. "His defense was good, he really played to his skating, really played to his size. I think the Minnesota high-school league gives you a false sense of his ability. I like him better when he plays simpler. (From The Hockey News’ Draft Preview)

26. Montreal Canadiens (from CGY): Filip Mesar, RW: Before this season, there was some talk among scouts that Mesar might be a high first-round pick, but a somewhat disappointing year dropped him down. He has a high-end hockey IQ and offensive skill, but he’s seen more as a two-way player than a big-time producer. (From The Hockey News’ Draft Preview)

27. San Jose Sharks (from ARZ via CAR via MTL): Filip Bystedt, C: A big-bodied center, Bystedt is a pain to clear around the net and showed he can physically hang with men in the top Swedish league. "You can't teach size" is a bit cliche, and he might have been picked a little earlier than projected, but he's a nice pickup for the Sharks. (From The Hockey News’ Draft Preview)

28. Buffalo Sabres (from FLA): Jiri Kulich, C: Going into the world under-18s, scouts were looking forward to seeing what Kulich could accomplish against his peers. And with a tournament-leading nine goals, he did not disappoint. Some scouts had a sense Kulich had more offensive upside than he displayed in the Czech League this season, and it seems they were right. (From The Hockey News’ Draft Preview)

29. Arizona Coyotes (from EDM): Maveric Lamoureux, D: The native of Hawkesbury, Ont., is several years away, but he might be the most intriguing player in the draft. First, he’s huge. Second, he skates very, very well for a big man. That’s about all that can be quantified at the moment, but scouts very much like what they see. (From The Hockey News’ Draft Preview)

30. Winnipeg Jets (from NYR): Brad Lambert, RW: This year’s wild card is Lambert, the half-Canadian, half-Finn with tons of potential, but still has some question marks. “The best skater in the draft, and maybe the best hands,” said one scout. “But his hockey sense is a question mark. His compete level and work ethic is so bad at times, too, 90 percent of the time, it’s not there. But the hands and feet are special.” (From The Hockey News’ Draft Preview)

31. Tampa Bay Lightning: Isaac Howard, LW: The top scorer with the NTDP’s under-18s, Howard continued his offensive ways at the under-18 worlds. “What a waterbug,” said one scout. “I love the way he plays. I wish he were bigger, but so do 31 other teams. He has high-level quickness, and it’s amazing how many times he gets the puck behind defenders. He had more open chances than anybody I’ve seen this year. His quickness and instincts really allow him to put defensemen on their heels.” (From The Hockey News’ Draft Preview)

32. Edmonton Oilers (from ARZ via COL): Reid Schaefer, LW: A big forward, Schaefer had a fantastic first full season in the WHL after a tough short campaign last year. He's a typical power forward, and one of the better draft risers late in the year, and the Oilers hope he can be more than just a big body. (From The Hockey News’ Draft Preview)

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