2022 NHL Draft: Grading Every Team’s Picks

After months of preparation with mock drafts, profiles, features and much more, the 2022 NHL Entry Draft flew by and it’s now over. For first the time in two years, it was held in person. To see the media, teams, players, families and fans all together at the Bell Centre in Montreal felt like things were actually becoming normal after the pandemic put a halt on everything.

Like every draft, it was great to see the players called up and put on their team’s jersey for the first time in hopes of making it to the NHL. It was also entertaining and surprising in regards to some of the picks. After being ranked first overall for the entire season, Shane Wright dropped to Seattle Kraken and Juraj Slafkovsky was taken first overall by the Montreal Canadiens

Related: 2022 NHL Draft Tracker

Now that the draft is over and everything has settled down, it’s time to grade every team’s draft. There’s definitely going to be some debate as to how everyone thinks their team did. As in previous years, I will be giving a grade for every team’s draft. This is all based on how I think the team did, looking at the quality of the prospects taken, addressing needs and even if teams had minimal picks, if they made them count. 

Grading Every Team’s Picks 2022 NHL Draft Juraj Slafkovsky, Simon Nemec and Logan Cooley
Juraj Slafkovsky, Simon Nemec and Logan Cooley

If you disagree with my grades, that’s okay. Give your takes in the comment section below. Without further ado, let’s dive into the grades for the 2022 NHL Draft.

Anaheim Ducks

The Ducks had a really strong draft back in 2021 and they managed to leave Montreal with another decent haul of prospects. If there was one commonality with their picks, it’s that they went with a blend of size and skill. Every prospect was 6-foot-2 or taller. 

Pavel Mintyukov is a high-flying offensive defenseman, but is developing to round out his defensive game as well. With his speed and physicality, he has top-pairing potential. In the second round, the Ducks took Gatineau Olympiques teammates in Noah Warren (42nd) and Tristan Luneau (53rd). Warren is a physical, two-way defender while Luneau has a lot of offensive upside and mobility while having strong defensive awareness. All three join Jamie Drysdale and Olen Zellweger as their blue line is very promising. 

They added some great forward depth as well. Nathan Gaucher is a physical, two-way centre with decent speed and the ability to drive hard to the net. Ben King and Connor Hvidston have the potential to be great late-round selections as they both have great IQ and offensive skillsets. 

Grade: A-

Arizona Coyotes

The Coyotes immediately addressed the middle of the ice, selecting Logan Cooley third overall and Conor Geekie 11th overall to fill out their centre depth for the future. I would’ve taken Shane Wright seeing he was available, but that’s just me. I wasn’t a big fan of Maveric Lamoureux with their 29th pick as he seems to have only the size and physicality going for him, but the Coyotes did an excellent job in kickstarting the rebuild.

Logan Cooley USNTDP
Logan Cooley, USNTDP (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Taking Artyom Duda, Julian Lutz, Miko Matikka and Jeremy Langlois with their next four picks addresses both their wing depth and blue line. Duda is a strong two-way defenseman who is great in transition and Langlois is a steady puck-moving defenseman. Those seven picks alone are going to be important pieces for the Coyotes future.

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Keep a close eye on Matthew Morden as he could be one of those prospects that flies under the radar as he’s a smart defender with a powerful shot.

Grade: A-

Boston Bruins

The Bruins’ draft was kind of average. Their top-two picks were Matthew Poitras and Cole Spicer. They’re great in their own right, but there were other names that probably had higher upside that they should’ve selected. In the second round, they could’ve taken Rieger Lorenz or even David Goyette and could’ve taken a swing with Tucker Robertson than Spicer in the fourth. Reid Dyck and Jackson Edward have potential but are long term projects. The Bruins already don’t have a strong prospect pool and this draft really didn’t give them any high-end names. 

Grade: C-

Buffalo Sabres

With Owen Power already making strides in the NHL, Jack Quinn finishing with 61 points in 45 games in the American Hockey League and JJ Peterka making great progress, the Sabres are in a great spot with their top names coming up in the system.

Matthew Savoie Buffalo Sabres
Matthew Savoie, Buffalo Sabres (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

This draft just made them deeper and their first-round selections proved it. Taking a “multifaceted weapon” in Matthew Savoie, Noah Östlund and Jiri Kulich already makes them an instant winner in this draft. While it wasn’t a deep draft for goalies, selecting Topias Leionen in the second was a bit of a reach but he was one of the top goalies with his size and lateral movement. Viktor Neuchev could prove to be a real offensive threat with his upside as he was a dominant point producer in the MHL. Mats Lindgren and Gustav Karlsson were also great selections as mid to late round picks.

Grade: A+

Calgary Flames

The Flames tried to go all in for a deep playoff run. That didn’t work out as expected and it didn’t help that star winger Johnny Gaudreau signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets in free agency. With only three picks they took Topi Ronni with their first selection. He’s not the quickest but does have some upside to his game. Parker Bell is an interesting selection, but again his upside may not be as high as names like Vladimir Grudinin, Josh Filmon and Fabian Wagner who were also available at that point. 

Grade: D-

Carolina Hurricanes

It seems like no matter where they are in the draft, the Hurricanes always seem to do a fantastic job at the NHL draft. Despite not having a first rounder in 2022, they replicated their success like in 2021 in identifying great talent in the later rounds.

Taking Gleb Trikozov, high-scoring winger Alexander Perevalov, a steady two-way defender in Simon Forsmark and a highly competitive Cruz Lucius with their first four picks is great value given where they were. Three of the four were in my top-64 in my final rankings and the Hurricanes were able to get them at different spots throughout the draft. It also helps that they drafted a deceptive skater and steady defender in Grudinin in the fifth round, which surprised me to see him fall. That could potentially be a steal. 

Grade: B+

Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks are no doubt heading for a rebuild after they traded star winger Alex DeBrincat to the Ottawa Senators before the draft. After a sub-par draft in 2021 where their top pick was a major reach in Nolan Allan, they made up for it this time around.  

Kevin Korchinski Chicago Blackhawks
Kevin Korchinski, Chicago Blackhawks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Drafting the highly mobile playmaker Kevin Korchinski with the pick received in the DeBrincat trade and one of the most creative players in the draft with Frank Nazar is definitely a great start. Sam Rinzel is definitely a pick that could work out in their favour as he’s another offensive defenseman to have in the system, but could look to work on his defensive game. Drafting the highly energetic centreman in Paul Ludwinski also helps out with their forward depth as his motor just doesn’t stop.

Grade: B

Colorado Avalanche

When you’re the reigning Stanley Cup Champions, the draft doesn’t mean a whole lot at this point. The Avalanche only had two picks in the draft, with their first being Chris Romaine in the sixth round and then Ivan Zhigalov in the seventh. I hate to give them a low grade, but who cares, they’re out celebrating with the Cup. 

Grade: D-

Columbus Blue Jackets

With 2021 selections Kent Johnson and Cole Sillinger already making a strong impact for the Blue Jackets up front, the Blue Jackets went and continued to bolster their blue line depth at the 2022 Draft.

Related: Blue Jackets Now Boast Elite Prospect Pool

David Jiricek was the next best defender in the draft and the Blue Jackets didn’t hesitate at the opportunity. He has top-pairing potential with his skating, shot and physicality. While he should’ve been a top-five pick, the Blue Jackets are definitely happy that they got a future star on the blueline.

David Jiricek Columbus Blue Jackets 2022 Draft
David Jiricek, Columbus Blue Jackets (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Drafting the high-octane offense that Denton Mateychuk brings, also gives them great balance and drafting a smart and skilled centre Luca Del Bel Belluz in the second round will be a great addition for their forward unit in the future with his blend of smarts and creativity. The Blue Jackets are stockpiled for the future and this draft was the icing on the cake.

Grade: A

Dallas Stars

The Stars had a phenomenal 2021 draft and look to have a major steal in Wyatt Johnston after his 2021-22 season. The 2022 draft didn’t provide the same upside but the Stars made some great selections to fill out their blue line.

Taken 18th overall, Lian Bichsel has a great skillset and mobility for his size. Christian Kyrou shot up many draft rankings after his second half and George Fegaras was a name that I thought to be a third-round pick. The Stars made that happen. Maxim Mayorov definitely has some upside in goal and Matthew Seminoff was a great pick in the sixth round given how he could’ve been a third or fourth round selection. 

Grade: C

Detroit Red Wings

Even with the Ville Husso deal to try and give them more consistency in net, it was still a great draft for the Red Wings. They’re already deep with their prospect pool and they got even deeper at the 2022 Draft.

Marco Kasper Detroit Red Wings 2022 Draft
Marco Kasper, Detroit Red Wings (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Marco Kasper being a top-10 selection was one that I thought was going to happen as he has terrific energy and work ethic as top-six centreman for the future. He has great strength and is relentless when hunting down pucks. Dylan James had a great season as a rookie in the USHL and the Red Wings took note of his play to take him 40th overall, excelling in all aspects of the game. I was a big fan of the Tnias Mathurin pick as he has a steady defensive game, but an underrated offensive side. Brennan Ali has great energy, hands, speed and shot. 

Grade: B

Edmonton Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers haven’t had much success in the past when it comes to the draft. It’s either hit or miss and this year was a miss. Despite having four picks in the draft, they didn’t make their first-rounder count. It seemed as if they were just going for need instead of best player available, which isn’t always the best thing to do. Reid Schaefer has a great power forward mentality but the pick was a bit of a reach for me. They didn’t elect to take players with higher upside like Owen Beck, Jagger Firkus or David Goyette when they were still on the board. Even the later picks could be hit or miss. 

Grade: D+

Florida Panthers

Much like the Flames, the Panthers went all in this season to make a deep run by trading away futures and picks. With no picks until the third round where they took Marek Alscher, the pickings were slim when the Panthers came up.

They did manage to make some good selections after that with Ludvig Jansson and Sandis Vilmanis as both have great good ceilings, but still some uncertainty as to how they will transition to the next level. Liam Arnsby and Jack Devine were also great picks in the later rounds, but their upside might be less that Jansson and Vilmanis. 

Grade: C-

Los Angeles Kings

After taking major strides over the past few years to draft and develop their prospects, and making the playoffs last season, the Kings are now in a spot where they will be drafting to fill out their depth as they’ll be in the middle of the pack. Even though they didn’t have a first-round pick, they made their picks count. Jack Hughes is a strong middle-six playmaker with great hands, Angus Booth is a great two-way defenseman with a developing offensive game and I really liked the Jack Sparkes pick as he uses his size to his advantage and plays an aggressive and physical game.

Grade: C

Minnesota Wild

Even though the Wild made the playoffs, they probably had the best draft out of all the playoff teams, especially with their first-round selections. 

Liam Ohgren Minnesota Wild
Liam Ohgren, Minnesota Wild (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Liam Öhgren possesses a lot of NHL-like qualities at such a young age including his compete level and work ethic. Danila Yurov was a potential top-10 player and fell to 24th overall, seeing his playmaking abilities and NHL speed and skating drop down to that range is a steal in itself. The missed season in the Ontario Hockey league showed in Hunter Haight’s game, but possesses a lot of upside and potential. Rieger Lorenz is a versatile offensive player with great hands, shot and awareness. David Spacek and Ryan Healey were also great late-round picks to fill out their defensive depth. 

Grade: A

Montreal Canadiens

No one saw Juraj Slafkovsky being taken over Wright, as it took everyone by surprise. It’ll be a few years before we decide if it was the right move, but their overall draft was a great starting point for their rebuild. Slafkovsky did look great at the Canadiens development camp displaying his speed and ability to drive to the front of the net. 

Juraj Slafkovsky Montreal Canadiens 2022 Draft
Juraj Slafkovsky, Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

While they had a great first round, taking Slafkovsky’s fellow countryman in Filip Mesar towards the end of the first, it was their second round and later selections that made them a winner at the draft. Taking Owen Beck to start the second was a wise decision with his IQ and they could possibly have a steal in Lane Hutson who has limitless upside and potential. His size is a non-factor whenever he plays as he’s very evasive with his skating and speed. Vinzenz Rohrer, Adam Engstrom and Cedrick Guindon are also great mid-round selections.

Grade: A+

Nashville Predators

Joakim Kemell fell pretty far from being a potential top-10 pick in the 2022 NHL Draft. Things played out well for the Predators as they got a dynamic scorer with a powerful shot. He could look to drive more to the high danger area but he has great offensive awareness. 

Adam Ingram could be a very strong middle-six option if he continues to improve with his development and showcase his work ethic. Kasper Kulonummi is a player that I really liked with his playmaking abilities and patience throughout the season. A smart two-way defenseman with the ability to be quick in transition will benefit the Predators blueline in the future.

Grade: B-

New Jersey Devils

The Devils prioritized defense and when you select the best defenseman in the draft and another mobile defender in the second, you’re probably going to earn a good grade. Simon Nemec has top-pairing potential with his ability to attack with force offensively and be sound positionally when playing defense. Seamus Casey is one of the better puck carriers in the draft who likes to lead the attack from the backend. Both players join Luke Hughes as the future for the Devils blueline, which is going to be fun to watch.

Simon Nemec New Jersey Devils
Simon Nemec, New Jersey Devils (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Tyler Brennan was one of the top goaltenders and the Devils could use some stability and hope for the future at that position. Daniil Orlov and Charles Leddy provide great balance and depth as they can shut things down and provide some offense. I had Josh Filmon as a fourth-round selection and with his skating and offensive instincts, the Devils got a really great prospect in the sixth round. 

Grade: A

New York Islanders

The Islanders have two strong potential top-four defenders in Calle Odelius and Isaiah George. Odellius’ patience, breakout passing and ability to carry the puck in transition are his strengths and George plays a solid two-way game. His strength lies more on the defensive side, but he isn’t afraid to take his chance when he sees an opportunity to lead or join the rush. 

The reason they get a low grade is trading the 13th overall pick to acquire Alexander Romanov from the Canadiens and then having that pick flipped to the Blackhawks as part of the Kirby Dach trade. While Romanov is still trying to find his footing in the NHL and still has potential, trading your first-round pick after a disappointing season isn’t what I would’ve done. Losing out on Frank Nazar could come back to bite them. 

Grade: C-

New York Rangers

Despite not making a selection until the end of the second round, I thought the Rangers did a great job at making their picks count. 

Bryce McConnell-Barker Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds
Bryce McConnell-Barker, Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds (Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images)

Adam Sykora (63rd overall) is a highly energetic and aggressive winger with second line potential in his career. Think of Ondrej Palat and the skillset that he brought to the Tampa Bay Lightning. I’m a big fan of Bryce McConnell-Barker from the start of the season as he possesses a steady two-way game and a powerful shot to boot. To get him late in the third round could be a high value pick for them. Those players with high upside could be key contributors to the Rangers’ success in the future.

Grade: B-

Ottawa Senators

The Senators made a splash bringing in DeBrincat, costing them their first-round pick. While they probably should’ve kept it, it’s hard not to pass on his goal scoring abilities.

Related: Senators Focus on the Now with the 2022 Draft Picks

I like Filip Nordberg as a player given his well-rounded two-way game. Taking him in the second-round was a bit of a reach as I would’ve gone with Tomas Hamara and his playmaking abilities. In the end, it doesn’t matter as they managed to get both players. Stephen Halliday had a very productive season after being passed over in 2020 and 2021 and was a great selection in the middle portion of the draft. 

After a questionable draft in 2021, the Senators made some better decisions this time around.

Grade: C

Philadelphia Flyers

There’s no doubt that the Cutter Gauthier selection caught the eyes of many. While it definitely wasn’t a bad selection given his ability to be a versatile forward and playing a well-rounded 200-foot game, passing on David Jiricek is definitely a major head scratcher. I probably would’ve prioritized defense as they’re very weak in that department now that top defensive prospect Cam York is making the jump.

Devin Kaplan has great smarts, patience and the ability to setup and create an attack. He’s a big factor in battles along the boards and was a great pickup at 69th overall. Alex Bump could be a very underrated selection as he plays with pace, displays great puck control and a quick release.

Grade: C+

Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins haven’t had much success in the draft lately as a result of trading picks to try and keep their Stanley Cup hopes alive with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang.

Owen Pickering Swift Current Broncos
Owen Pickering, Swift Current Broncos (Candice Ward / Swift Current Broncos)

The lone selection that stands out is Owen Pickering at 21st overall. He’s a raw defender shows limitless potential and upside as a two-way defender. He’s great in transition, he processes the game well and doesn’t panic with the puck while showing great poise when protecting it. Aside from this selection, there wasn’t a whole lot to be excited about. 

Grade: C-

San Jose Sharks

I would say it was a great first draft for general manager Mike Grier. As much as I like Filip Bystedt, taking him in the first round is a bit of a risk. He has great upside and speed for his size, but is definitely a work in progress and there were better names available. Though, I’m confident he’ll develop well. Cameron Lund was also a great selection with his shot and ability to drive to the net.

Defensively, the Sharks came away with some great names. Mattias Havelid is among one of the top puck movers and offensive defensemen in the draft and Michael Fisher is a smooth skater who defends well against the rush and even Jake Furlong has some upside. 

Grade: B-

Seattle Kraken

This draft for the Kraken definitely deserves a high grade. When Wright fell, you can tell that the Kraken were extremely happy as now they have a dynamic centre duo for the future with Matty Beniers and Wright.

Shane Wright Seattle Kraken
Shane Wright, Seattle Kraken (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

But the good fortune didn’t stop there. On Day 2, the Kraken took Jagger Firkus early in the second with his scoring abilities and a potential steady power forward in Jani Nyman. Then there’s the David Goyette selection at the end of the second round and stealing Ty Nelson to start the third. Tucker Robertson is a name that continues to gain attention with his energy and shot. Taking a swing on him in the fourth round could pay off.

Grade: A+

St. Louis Blues

It seemed like the Blues played it safe with all their picks and that’s not a bad thing. Jimmy Snuggerud has great strength and shooting abilities but lacks in other areas of the game. Even in the later rounds, Aleksanteri Kaskimaki possesses a great skillset and Michael Buchinger has top-four upside on defense. They could go above and beyond if they develop properly, but their ceiling might be limited. 

Grade: C+

Tampa Bay Lightning

Of course, the Lightning had to scoop up the high-flying, scoring winger in Isaac Howard 31st overall. He’s quick and is always dancing with the puck on his stick in the offensive zone. It was meant to be as he instantly becomes their top prospect who has top-six potential. Taking a swing on Lucas Edmonds 86th overall is a selection that could pay off as he was absolutely dominant for the Frontenacs this season with 113 points in 68 games.

Grade: B

Toronto Maple Leafs

Despite moving their first-round pick to offload Petr Mrazek’s contract, the Maple Leafs did fairly well accumulating picks and finding talent outside of the first round. While there were names like Paul Ludwinski, Noah Warren and Julian Lutz, they took a smart two-way centre with Fraser Minten at 38th overall and the highly skilled Nicholas Moldenhauer 95th

Fraser Minten Toronto Maple Leafs
Fraser Minten, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Once again, they did a great job to identify late-round talent. Dennis Hildeby is an over-age goaltender with great potential as a name to draft and develop in a system where they’ve had a hard time doing so. Nikita Grebenkin was described as “machinelike” with his size, skill and compete level. Brandon Lisowsky looks to be an underrated selection in the seventh round as he put up 33 goals with the Saskatoon Blades last season.

Grade: B-

Vancouver Canucks

How Jonathan Lekkerimäki dropped to 15th is beyond me. But the Vancouver Canucks got an early Christmas present as he’s one of the top goal scorers in this draft. He has great power and strength behind his release, the ability to sneak in and go undetected by defenders and the patience to curl back and attack quickly. The Elias Pettersson pick (yes, there’s another one) could provide some great upside to their blue line along with Jackson Dorrington and Kirill Kudryavtsev.

Grade: B

Vegas Golden Knights

When you continue to move picks and prospects to win, it can come back to bite you. It looks like that’s starting to happen with the Golden Knights. While Matyas Sapovaliv and Jordan Gustafson are great centres that bring their own skillsets to the table, this draft was very underwhelming for a team that’s looking to bolster their prospect pool. 

Grade: C-

Washington Capitals

The Capitals had a great draft weekend. While there’s some risk in taking Ivan Miroshnichenko 20th overall after he completed his treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, he was viewed as a top-10 prospect on his physicality, goal scoring and mentality alone. 

Ivan Miroshnichenko Washington Capitals
Ivan Miroshnichenko, Washington Capitals (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

On top of that, they got an ultra-competitive and physical two-way defender in Ryan Chesley in the second round, a scoring and crafty winger in Alexander Suzdalev in the third round and Jake Karabela in the fifth round, who I think is very underrated with his playmaking and puck control. The Capitals did a great job building for the future. 

Grade: B

Winnipeg Jets

As soon as the Jets took Rutger McGroarty 14th overall, I knew it was going to be a good draft for them as he’s a highly competitive, goal scoring power forward. Drafting Brad Lambert 30th overall could be the biggest steal of the draft. After talks about his inconsistencies and play away from the puck, if the Jets are betting on his potential and upside this would be a massive win.

Brad Lambert Winnipeg Jets
Brad Lambert, Winnipeg Jets (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

I wasn’t as high on Elias Salomonsson as he needs to work on his defensive game, but he’s an effective puck mover for his size. Danny Zhilkin at 77th overall could be a high value pick as he had second round potential due to his skating and compete level alone. Wagner and Dominic Divincentiis in the late rounds could be great additions as well. 

Grade: A

What do you think of your team’s grade? Do you agree or disagree? Have your say in the comment section below.

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