Here are my rankings of the top 10 players from the 2022 NHL Draft as of March.
1. Shane Wright, C, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
Shane Wright is still the consensus top-ranked prospect in the 2022 Draft. Wright is the undisputed gem of the draft and is a powerful pivot with a character who can dominate at both ends of the ice. Compared to the likes of Patrice Bergeron and Jonathan Toews, he is a born leader, he is one of the most complete and intelligent players to come through the draft in recent years. His shot is excellent, and while some scouts believe he’ll have more goals than assists in any given NHL season, he’s also a very good playmaker who makes everyone he plays with better. Elite, complete center who has a command in all situations and contributes to every single area of the game. His IQ is exceptional, and he plays with a significant calm but high intensity. Wright projects as a franchise center at the NHL level.
2. Juraj Slafkovsky, LW, TPS Turku (Liiga)
A goal per game performance earned Juraj Slafkovsky, the Olympic MVP at age 17, and made him a real challenger to Wright. He is huge and has great size and tools to project him as a future star in the NHL. At 6’4/220, Slafkovsky has great hands and puck skills for a player his size and he also has a really impressive shot as well. In a class featuring several high-octane, high-skilled forwards, he stands alone as the big-bodied, highly-skilled forward who has more than just a single streak of nastiness to his game. Slafkovsky projects as a top-line forward at the NHL level.
3. Matthew Savoie, C, Winnipeg Ice (WHL)
Matthew Dynamic is a dynamic offensive weapon that can beat defenders in a variety of ways. He has elite raw skills that should make him an impact player at the NHL level. He is a shifty player with great foot speed and strength on his edges, allowing him to maneuver through checks and avoid contact along the boards. His speed keeps opposing defenders on their heels when he attacks off the rush and he utilizes elite puck handling skills to beat opponents in one-on-one situations. Savoie shot is a dangerous weapon that he releases with quickness and accuracy. Savoie has all the tools to be an offensive star and should hear his name called early on draft day in 2022. Savoie projects as a top-line center in the NHL.
4. Logan Cooley, C, USNTDP
Logan Cooley is a gifted skater who can create separation with top-notched acceleration. He is highly coachable and implements instruction instantly into his game. He is an intelligent two-way center who has very few weaknesses in his game; he reads the play extremely well in all three zones and is committed to his defensive responsibilities, getting involved down low and covering for his defensemen. He’s a dynamic center who has great offensive elements to appease the fans while also being a hard, competitive two-way center that will make him a coach’s favorite. His game has a ton of speed, skill, and playmaking in it. Cooley projects as a top-line center in the NHL
5. Simon Nemec, D, HK Nitra (Slovakia)
With David Jiricek out with a knee injury and Nemec winning a bronze at the Olympics, he now looks to be the top-ranked defenseman in this draft. Nemec is a smooth-skating, right-shot defender who can play in all situations and already has significant experience playing against men in the Slovak men’s league. Nemec is an all-situations defender who has played and produced at an advanced age-adjusted level for his position, across an extended period, at the pro level. Smart, poised, and calm under pressure but has a guile and assuredness in his play that belies his age. Very smart and skilled. Can play it any way the game dictates. Nemec projects to be a top-pair defenceman.
6. Joakim Kemell, LW, JYP (Liiga)
Joakim Kemell is a very skilled and dangerous winger who possesses a lethal shot and he will definitely fill the net with a lot of pucks. He has natural goal-scoring predatory instincts and can score in many different ways. Kemell just wants the puck on his stick so he can be the difference-maker and rightfully so as he is a very creative and confident player. The Finnish winger is a strong skater with great speed and edgework and you can regularly see him carrying the puck through the neutral zone. Kemell is also a versatile player with very strong off-puck skills and is not afraid to play with an edge to his game.
He projects as a top-six NHL winger.
7. Brad Lambert, C, Pelicans (Liiga)
Brad Lambert has played for a number of teams the past couple of years, and switching Liiga teams mid-season isn’t the best look. From a pure-play perspective, there’s everything to like about his speed, playmaking ability, and creativity. There is no doubting the pure talent level. He’s a dynamic skater and puckhandler. On a given rush Lambert can differentiate himself with his speed and evasiveness. He can make plays and do so with pace. “Lambert is a dynamic skater who can be disruptive on the forecheck and a dangerous shooter when he has the puck on his stick. He’s played both center and wing and the scouts seem somewhat divided on which position he’ll be most effective at in the NHL. Lambert has all the attributes to be a top-line winger in the NHL.
8. David Jiricek, D, HC Plzen (Extraliiga)
As more defencemen emerge as first-rounders, Jiricek still remains at or near the top of almost every list. Jiricek is a big, offensive-minded defenseman with one of the hardest shots in the draft. For a player his size, he is a fantastic skater with good edgework. He can lead the team on the man advantage as the powerplay quarterback by helping develop the play from the back end. He has great awareness of what is happening, so he can see plays unfolding before they happen. As you would expect from a player his size, he has a very heavy shot and he does a lot of damage with it. The Czech defender looks confident overall and plays an active game in all three zones. David plays a physical brand of hockey and has the potential to contribute in a variety of ways as an NHL defenseman. Jiricek projects as a top-pair defenseman at the NHL level.
9. Danila Yurov, RW, Magnitogorsk (KHL)
Danila Yurov is a very smart two-way player, who reads the game a couple of steps ahead of his opponents. His best tool is his brain and he is always scanning the ice, making sure he is in the proper position to provide his team success. Another good tool for Yurov is his motor; it always seems to be on high, consistently providing help all over the ice. He combines his motor with strong straight-line speed to help his team in the transition game. He also plays very physically, not afraid to battle in the corners. His physicality is a reason why he is playing in the KHL because he can keep up with the physical aspect of playing against men. Danila Yurov is someone to keep your eye on throughout the draft as he has top 5 talent. He’s got the talent to be the top 6 forward at the NHL level.
10. Jonathan Lekkerimaki, RW, Djurgarden (SWE U20)
Jonathan Lekkerimaki is a driver of play with elite finishing ability. He’s a pure goal scorer who can create his own opportunities with an array of deadly shots in his arsenal. Lekkerimaki is a highly-skilled winger who reads the game well and plays at a high pace with impressive intelligence and situational awareness. He is a huge threat on the powerplay and is eager to shoot the puck as much as he can. Defenders better look after him properly, because Lekkerimäki is a cold-blooded killer who will fire heavy one-timers to terrorize opposing goaltenders. His shot is a dangerous weapon and he doesn’t miss the net very often. The Swedish winger has great hands and you can usually see him making nice dekes in every game. He really doesn’t care about how many opponents are around him, he knows he has the ability to cut through them like a hot knife through butter. Lekkerimaki has the potential to produce at an elite level in a top-six role in the NHL.