When prospects including Shane Wright, Matthew Savoie, and Pavel Mintyukov step on the ice, scouts and fans take notice. Such was the case at the 2022 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.
The 40 players in that game, however, aren’t the only CHL talents who will hear their name called at the 2022 NHL Draft. Last year, 87 players from the CHL were selected by NHL teams.
Beyond the “Top 40,” the CHL is filled with valuable prospects, many of whom will eventually suit up and thrive at the NHL level.
Here are some players to watch from the OHL, WHL, and QMJHL who were not invited to the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.
Ontario Hockey League
Entering the 2022 season, Sova was looked at as a potential first-round pick. A strong skating left-shot defender, Sova was the 38th-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting. He plays the game with pace, but has struggled defensively at times this season causing some scouts to cool on his hype. On talent alone, Sova is a top prospect. With seasoning, he still projects as an NHL defender.
The Slovak forward has good vision, and is equal parts goal scorer and set up man. He scored 5-points in 5-games for Slovakia at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, and his draft status, and perhaps a spot in the Top Prospects Game could have benefitted from a full World Junior tournament. He’s adjusted well to North American ice in his first season with the Owen Sound Attack. Projects as a mid-round pick.
Played well for Team USA at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, before finding himself down on the Flint Firebirds forward depth chart to start this season. As the year progressed, Hayes started pushing the pace with his 6’2” frame and willingness to play in traffic. Through that, he earned opportunities and started producing. If he can carry his recent play into the OHL playoffs, Hayes could be one of the OHL’s biggest climbers for the draft.
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
A good passer, Booth has proven himself capable on both sides of the puck with the Shawinigan Cataractes this season. With that said, he does not create many scoring opportunities for himself from the blueline. Booth is responsible in his own zone, rarely taking defensive risks. As a mid-pairing defender capable of killing penalties, Booth’s reliability and versatility could benefit an NHL franchise.
Defensively steady, Furlong rarely finds himself out of position. He’s been a stalwart on the Halifax Mooseheads blueline, driving possession and standing heads and tails above of his teammates in +/-. As his year progressed, so have Furlong’s offensive contributions. Furlong may not garner the attention of other defenders in the draft, but he is a proven contributor at both ends of the ice.
A 6-foot-3 forward out of Czechia, Hujer is a project. He uses his frame well, and forechecks hard, but has not produced to the level of his peers while playing on a weak Rouyn-Noranda Huskies team. Perhaps surrounded by more skill, Hujer would have better numbers, as Rouyn-Noranda counts on his presence down low on the power play. Hujer will need time to develop but remains an interesting prospect.
Western Hockey League
He’s a 6-foot-2 right-shot defender. That alone will earn Weir looks. At times last season as a rookie, Weir looked nervous, but then again, he was a rookie on an inconsistent Red Deer Rebels team. This year, Weir has shown himself as a good first pass puck mover, but could still use his frame to be more physical. His continued improvement should be promising in the eyes of scouts.
As a top-tier talent, Lisowsky’s omission from the Top Prospects game is a bit perplexing. He is small (5’9”), but passed the 30 goal mark with the Saskatoon Blades and is one of the WHL’s top threats. Lisowsky sees the game faster than most, distributes the puck well, and has an excellent release. Defensively his game is improving. In the new NHL, a player with Lisowsky’s shot, and offensive instincts will get opportunities to play. Expect to see Lisowsky’s name discussed between the 3rd and 4th round of the draft.
A small player with big talent. At 5-foot-8, Ward oozes competitiveness, and never plays small. Calm with the puck, Ward’s hockey IQ and vision allow him to find success beyond his stature. He is dynamic, and that alone will earn Ward a shot at the NHL someday.