We are less than two months away from the start of the 2022 NHL Draft. As the days pass on, more mock drafts will start to appear. Draft rankings of all shapes and sizes will become a norm.
With the onslaught of mock drafts and rankings come trends. Recently, NHL Central Scouting released their final draft rankings. As is expected, there was a lot of player movement on their board. But who were some of the biggest movers on their list? That’s what we’re going to focus on in this space.
Draft Eligible Trending Upward
Draft trends are important to monitor. Why? That’s because a detailed look at trends gives some insight as to why a certain player was ranked one way early on and another way by the end. There could be any number of reasons for this. Perhaps a player was injured. Maybe some scouts haven’t had enough views of a player. Or even a player rises up almost out of nowhere and skyrockets up draft boards based on performance.
We are not going to detail the biggest movers from the Central Scouting final list. We are going to focus on those players who made a big enough jump that it could impact which round they’re ultimately taken. These are players who made enough of an impression after the midterms to position themselves well.
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Our focus will be on players who moved up or into the top-50 North American skaters, top-20 European skaters or top-10 goalies. We’ll also try to give some insight as to why they made such a jump. Our list here will consist of six from the North American skater list, one from the European skater list and three goalies.
Kevin Korchinski – Seattle Thunderbirds
- Midterm rank: 20th (North American)
- Final rank: 7th (North American)
Analysis: The debate for the third best defenseman available in this draft is a hotly contested one. Korchinski did nothing to disappoint helping lead his Thunderbirds into the WHL playoffs. He finished the season with 65 points in 67 games including 61 assists, which led all WHL draft-eligible defensemen. The question with Korchinski was his ability to defend, which has made strides. Placing him seventh in the final rankings is an indication that he could be the first defenseman not named Simon Nemec or David Jiricek to hear his name called in Montreal based on his offensive upside and improvement defensively. Already standing 6-foot-2, he still has room to grow physically which could be a scary good thing eventually.
Jagger Firkus – Moose Jaw Warriors
Midterm rank: 33rd (North American)
Final rank: 12th (North American)
Analysis: Staying in the WHL, Firkus might be one of if not the most creative players in this entire draft. He can score in a variety of ways whether it’s from distance or up close. His shot is lethal but don’t discount his playmaking. Can he finally be the one who hears his name called in the first round despite his size? Firkus sits just 5-foot-10. Central Scouting clearly believes in the skill over the size given Firkus’ jump 19 spots and into the first-round conversation. He will be the latest test in the size vs. skill debate.
David Goyette – Sudbury Wolves
Midterm rank: 35th (North American)
Final rank: 13th (North American)
Analysis: The question with Goyette isn’t if he’s good or not. The question is how good will he be at the next level. While most in the industry have him as a second-round pick or later, Central Scouting moved him up 22 spots from midterm, indicating a first-round talent. There’s no question he can score and be prolific at it. But consistency has been an issue and a frustrating one at that. This ranking clearly shows a belief in the talent and that the other questions can be worked out.
Mattias Havelid – Linkoping HC
Midterm rank: 43rd (European)
Final rank: 19th (European)
Analysis: Havelid is the latest offensive defenseman from Sweden who could make a big impact in the NHL. His skating, puck movement and confidence stand out in a way that have captured the attention of NHL teams and Central Scouting here. His upside will be determined by his development on defense. Still, a 24-spot jump shows the belief in what he could become. He led all defensemen in scoring at the last Hlinka-Gretzky tournament with 2-7-9 in five games. Expect his name called early on day two.
Reid Schaefer – Seattle Thunderbirds
Midterm rank: 85th (North American)
Final rank: 31st (North American)
Analysis: When a prospect jumps 54 spots, you take notice. When a prominent draft ranker has that prospect in the first round, you know they did something right. That is the case for Schaefer, who is the latest example of someone who experienced a major breakout. After scoring just three points in his first 25 games with Seattle, Schaefer exploded for 32 and 58 points this season while being a point per game player in the WHL playoffs. At 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, Schaefer could become a sought-after power forward teams are desperately looking for.
Cruz Lucius – U.S. Development Program
Midterm rank: unranked (North American)
Final rank: 41st (North American)
Analysis: Cruz Lucius, the brother of Winnipeg Jets’ prospect Chaz Lucius, is the classic case of an injury keeping him unranked at midterms. But then his offensive prowess came out which caused him to jump up to 41st. He finished the U18’s at over a point per game. Cruz is primed to become one of the better gambles of the middle rounds given his offensive ability. Don’t discount his ability to finish.
Christian Kyrou – Erie Otters
Midterm rank: 179th (North American)
Final rank: 48th (North American)
Analysis: As we outlined recently in our draft profile of him, Christian went from 0 to 60 in points after losing a season to the pandemic. He became the Otters’ number-one defenseman in the process. He can play in all situations and has plenty of room to grow. Don’t be surprised if he enjoys success at the next level just like his brother Jordan in St. Louis.
Ty Young – Prince George Cougars
Midterm rank: 21st (North American goalies)
Final rank: 6th (North American goalies)
Analysis: This is a case where the numbers don’t tell the story. Young split time between WHL Prince George and AJHL Calgary this season. He posted a .918 save percentage despite only posting a 4-10-3 record. Why such the rise on the North American list of goalies? He has the frame at 6-foot-3 and is one of the youngest players available in the draft. He’ll still be 17 when the draft happens.
Reid Dyck – Swift Current Broncos
Midterm rank: 26th (North American goalies)
Final rank: 8th (North American goalies)
Analysis: Despite the numbers not looking good, Dyck was good enough to play on Team Canada at the recently completed U18’s. He lost all three of his appearances, but you could see glimpses of why scouts like him. His 6-foot-4 frame stands out. He moves well and has a good glove. But at the U18’s, he left a lot of rebounds and had some misplays. He’ll need time to develop. But in the late rounds, he is worth the gamble.
Emmett Croteau – Waterloo Black Hawks
Midterm rank: not ranked (North American goalies)
Final rank: 10th (North American goalies)
Analysis: Croteau has had an interesting path to the draft seeing himself go from Canada to the United States playing high school hockey at St John Bosco. He just finished his second season with USHL Waterloo and has shown scouts why there is interest in him. Like Young and Dyck, Croteau has the size at 6-foot-4. He played well during the regular season posting an .899 save percentage. He upped his game in the Clark Cup playoffs where he helped the Black Hawks defeat Lincoln in the first round before losing in three games to Sioux City. He posted a .913 save percentage in his six playoff games. The moral for Croteau and these goalies? If you have NHL size and can move, there’s a place for you.
In each case, something about these players popped during the second half of the season for them to get a significant jump in the Final Central Scouting Rankings. Whether it was their performance or upside on display, each player made their case as to why teams should draft them if given the opportunity.
What did we learn in these trends? If you bring something good to the table, you will be noticed in a big way. These 10 players shouldn’t have to wait too long before hearing their name called in Montreal come July.
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2021-22 season will mark eight seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.