Here are 6 players who could be great late-round picks.
Related: 2022 NHL Draft: Hidden Gems
1. Lucas Edmonds, RW/LW, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
Lucas Edmonds falls victim to playing on the same team as many other star players, including the consensus 1st overall pick in this year’s draft, Shane Wright. Despite all these weapons on the team, it is Edmonds who led the team in points, with 113 points and was third in the entire OHL in points. Edmonds’ shot is his greatest weapon; he has an array of shots, wrist, snap and both are heavier than a lot of slap shots and has NHL-level accuracy and power on his shots. His release is quick and deceptive as well. Besides having an excellent shot, Edmonds has quick hands and incredible puck skills; he has excellent hand-ye-coordination with tips and deflections in front of the net. Lucas is also an excellent passer as well, and is capable of setting up teammates for scoring chances; in fact, he actually led the OHL in assists this season. Despite all of his accomplishments this season, scouts are still concerned with his NHL potential, mainly because of his average skating skills. Edmonds projects to be a player to be picked after the 4th round in the draft, and he has the potential to be a top 6 caliber winger at the next level.
2. Kasper Kulonummi, D, Jokerit U20 (U20 SM-sarja)
Kasper Kulonummi had a good first of the season with Jokerit in U20 SM-sarja, notching two goals and 16 assists in 25 games. He had also been the top-scoring defender on Finland’s U18 national team, with a goal and 12 assists in 13 games. The pace of .72 points per game would be the 13th highest mark among draft-eligible defencemen in U20 SM-sarja since 2000.
Kulonummi is an offensive defenseman, that is a smooth skater with great edge work and moves the puck well in all three zones. On breakouts, he gives precise passes but what I really like is how he uses his defensive partner as an outlet to calm the play if he doesn’t have a play to make. On the offensive zone blue line, he has shown good deception and four-way mobility to make plays. He is also an efficient powerplay quarterback as he is deceptive with the puck and can move it well. Kulonummi’s hockey sense is very good and he has the awareness to make the right decision more often than not. Along with physicality, Kulonummi also lacks high-end skating speed and explosiveness but if he continues to play well and develop his game, he could develop into a top 4 defenseman at the NHL level; he would be an absolute steal in the 4th round.
3. Fabian Wagner, C/RW, Linkoping HC J20 (J20 Nationell)
Fabian Wagner had a solid season with Linkoping HC of J20 Nationell, where he put up 38 points in 43 points in the regular season; along with 5 points in 8 playoff games. Wagner is a play-driving forward with good skating and playmaking ability. He’s got good defensive abilities and his hockey sense is also pretty good as well. He didn’t get many offensive opportunities for team Sweden, as he was used mostly in a 3rd line role. However, he did show flashes of his offensive potential and played a solid two-way game. Wagner has the potential to be a 3rd line forward at the next level and would be a steal in the later rounds.
4. Tyler Duke, D, USNTDP/USNTDP Junior (USDP/USHL)
Tyler is a small offensive defenceman coming up from the USNTDP pipeline that keeps on giving and he brings some familiar characteristics as well. While he may find himself overshadowed by some of the other offensively gifted NTDP defensemen on his team, he is a very talented puck distributor and is capable of making strong plays with the puck. He is a good puck carrier and sees the ice well with his head constantly on a swivel. He brings the puck up the ice with confidence and his skating ability allows him to quickly jump up into the offensive zone, forcing the defense back on their heels, is mobile and has good vision which enables him to quarterback a powerplay, and keep the opposition pinned down at even strength. With some defensive improvement and a little more patience on the puck, Duke’s game could take a big leap forward and teams will take notice. He currently projects to be mid to late-round pick in the upcoming 2022 NHL Draft.
5. Stephen Halliday, C, Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
Stephen Halliday led the Dubuque Fighting Saints in Points, with 98 points, was second in the USHL in the overall scoring leader board; he averaged 1.53 points per game and had 30 powerplay points as well. Halliday is a very interesting prospect; standing at 6’4″, 234 lbs, he is a strong-skating center with a howitzer of a shot and great hockey IQ. This season, Halliday has also developed into a very good playmaker as well, as he just has the ability to find and set up open teammates for scoring chances. Along with his playmaking abilities, Halliday is a really solid two-way play and has shown the ability to play both center and wing. Halliday has the potential to be a top 9 forward at the next level and is projected to be a late-round pick.
6. Niklas Kokko, G, Karpat (U20 SM-sarja)
Niklas Kokko is is a big, 6’6 netminder playing for Karpat in U20 SM-sarja. He has a good tactical and mechanical skill set and has a calm presence in the crease. Kokko is a strong skater for his size, with great edgework and effortless post play. He beats a lot of plays on his feet, and I like his positional framework while exhibiting decent rebound control. He shows strong situational awareness while performing head checks for potential scoring threats at appropriate moments.
Because of this, he anticipates playing well and getting to his spots quickly and effectively with his lateral mobility/quickness. Kokko needs to improve on tracking pucks through traffic, as he loses his visual attachment easily and plays deep when this happens. He also needs to improve his stamina if he wants to play at the next level, as he tends to get tired quickly. Kokko has a lot of raw potential and could be a steal for any team who selects him late in the draft. He has the potential to be a starter at the next level.