There is a lot of anticipation about the 2022 NHL Draft, which is why teams such as the Buffalo Sabres and Arizona Coyotes are tanking in hopes of getting winning the lottery. Not only does the 2022 Draft have the Superstar talent at the top of the draft, it is a very deep draft as well, and it could end up being as good as the 2015 draft, which included Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel.
Shane Wright is the consensus number 1 pick in the draft; he plays for the Kingston Frontenacs and broke Connor McDavid’s OHL records for points as a 15 year old. At the U18 World Juniors, Wright was the Captain of team Canada, and led them to the Gold Medal, scoring 9 goals and 14 points in 5 games. He is a bonifide Superstar, and the player that teams are tanking for.
Similar to the 2015 draft, where teams were tanking for Connor McDavid, teams are tanking now hoping to get a future superstar and franchise player in Shane Wright.
This draft isn’t only about Shane Wright though, there are two other star caliber players at the draft: Matthew Savoie and Brad Lambert. Matthew Savoie and Brad Lambert are both star talents; Savoie is a bigger name because of the exposure he gets in North America, but Lambert also made a name for himself by tearing up the Finnish U20 league as a 16 year old. In the 2019-20 season, Matthew Savoie was drafted by the Winnipeg Ice, but struggled in the WHL. In the 2020-21 season, he joined the Sherwood Park Crusaders of the AJHL for 4 games and put up 6 points in those games, then was picked up by the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL, where he scored 21 goals and 38 points in 34 games. Brad Lambert played for JYP in the Finnish Liiga during the 2020-21 season, and put up 15 points in 46 games. Lambert was 17, and was amongst the youngest players playing the the Liiga. Despite this, he still played a prominent role on JYP this season. Lambert represented Finland at both the U20 and the U18 World Juniors; at the U20s, he scored 4 points in 7 games, and at the U18s, he scored 5 points in 5 games. Savoie and Lambert are ranked 2 and 3, but the order of the two is still up for debate as the year goes along. In comparison to the 2015 draft, neither of these two are as good as Eichel, but I think Savoie and Lambert both have better potential than Dylan Strome.
After the three headed monster of Wright, Savoie, and Lambert at the top of the draft, there are several other notable forwards with star potential such as Rugter McGroarty, Juraj Slafkovsky, Jack Hughes, Frank Nazar, Isaac Howard, Joakim Kemell. All of these forwards are have the potential to put up high offensive totals and be top line forwards in the NHL. Rugter McGroarty split time started the season on the U.S National U17 team but finished the season an important part of the U18 team. McGroarty scored 17 goals and 35 points in 34 games with the U18 team, and also scored 12 goals and 19 points with USNTDP Juniors in the USHL. Juraj Slafkovsky is a player who has massive potential as a playdriving forward; he is 6’4/218, and
is barely starting to scratch the surface in terms of harnessing his skillset. Jack Hughes and Isaac Howard are a pair of US Born forwards that both played the U.S National U18 team, and the USNTDP Juniors last season. Hughes had better production with the U18 team, while Howard had better production in the USHL. Frank Nazar has immense potential as a point scoring winger, but not everyone is sold on him at this point. From the early mock drafts
I have seen, Nazar slipped outside of the top 10. Joakim Kemell was the youngest player playing in the Liiga in the 2020-21 season; he played on JYP, the same team as Brad Lambert, so Kemell will definitely generate a ton of buzz as the year goes on. None of these are as good as Mitch Marner at the time he was drafted, but McGroarty has the potential to be point producer in the league, much like Marner. Juraj Slafkovsky, Jack Hughes, Isaac Howard, Joakim Kemell are all better at this point than Pavel Zacha, Timo Meier, Lawson Crouse, Denis Gurianov, who were some of the top forwards drafted after Mitch Marner. Mikko Rantanen was only European skater that year that was a top 10 talent. in comparison to the 2022 draft, there are at least 3 European forwards that could possibly be top 12 talents.
This draft has a couple of defenseman that could be taken in the top 15 of the draft: Simon Nemec, Elias Salomonsson, David Jiricek, Seamus Casey. Nemec really stood out when playing Slovakia at the World Juniors; Nemec scored 4 points in 5 games, and also represented Slovakia at the World Championships, and didn’t look out of place at all. Elias Salomonsson, along with Nemec with be the two top defenseman in this draft; Salomonsson is the defenseman that all teams covet; a two-way defenseman with great puck moving ability, and is strong on both ends of the ice. David Jiricek is another Slovak defenseman, that has top 10 potential; although he might not go in the top ten, if the team that is drafting needs a strong skating defenseman, he would be a great option. Seamus Casey could end up falling outside of the top 15, but he has great potential as a puck moving defenseman and a power play quarterback. There were three defenseman drafted in the top 10 in the 2015 draft: Noah Hanifin, Ivan Provorov, Zach Werenski, all three are now top 4 caliber defenseman and two are considered franchise defensemen. Noah Hanifin was the best defenseman available at the time of the 2015 draft, Elias Salomonsson and Simon Nemec both seem to have higher potential than him. Ivan Provorov and Zach Werenski were selected back-to-back, we could see something similar in this draft, if Salomonsson gets drafted first then Nemec and Jiricek get drafted back-to-back. Seamus Casey is comparable to Thomas Chabot in terms of his skillset, and he was drafted 18th overall, so we will have to see what happens.
Back in 2015, there were many impact players drafted in the mid to late first round and in the second round. Players such as Matt Barzal, Kyle Connor, Brock Boeser, Travis Konecny, Anthony Beauvillier were all selected in the mid to late first round. Sebastian Aho, Brandon Carlo, Erik Cernak, Roope Hintz, Jordan Greenway, Vince Dunn, and MacKenzie Blackwood were some of the notable players drafted in the 2nd line. Likewise, the 2022 draft has many players that are slated to go in the mid to late first round but could be very good NHL players. Ivan Miroshichenko, Logan Cooley, Jack Devine, Maddox Fleming, Danila Yurov, Conor Geekie, Noah Ostlund, Noah Grueter and Cruz Luciuz are all forwards who have first round caliber talent. Defenseman such as Ryan Chesley, Tristan Luneau, Ty Nelson, and Charlie Leddy all have
potential to be first round picks.
There will still be a good amount of talent left to pick in the second round in this draft, which is the reason you see teams like the Arizona Coyotes loading up with second round picks in 2022. Tim Almgren, Devin Kaplan, Jere Lassila, Filip Bystedt, Marco Kasper, Ludwig Persson, and Ryan Greene are amongst the forwards who are slated to be second round picks at the current moment, but they could move up to the first round if they have good years. There are a bunch of defenseman who will still be available in the second round like Simon Forsmark,
Elmeri Laakso, Tomas Hamara, Tyler Duke, and Lian Bichsel; all these defenseman have top 4 potential and first round talent, if they have great years.
The one area of weakness in this draft is goaltending; at this point, there isn’t any particular goalie that stands out, whereas in the 2015 draft Ilya Samsonov was a first round talent, and Mackenzie Blackwood also had really good potential. It will be interesting to see if any goalie in this draft manages to stand out as this draft, similar to how Sebastian Cossa did in 2021.
There is bound to a lot of movement with the prospects slated to go in the late first round and early second round, so it will be interesting to see how the rankings of these players change as the next season progresses.