2022 NHL Draft: Zator’s Top 96 April Rankings

Welcome back to my 2022 NHL Draft Rankings here at The Hockey Writers. In February, I released my first set of rankings just before the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, and just after the 2022 World Juniors were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, more players have caught my eye both in their respective leagues and in the Olympics which saw a few draft-eligible players take part. Notably Juraj Slafkovsky, but more on him later. Other players also impressed and moved up my draft board while some dropped after recent performances and more research into their games. This time, like my colleagues Peter Baracchini and Andrew Forbes, this ranking will also be expanded to 96 players, which is the equivalent of three rounds.

2022 NHL Draft Zator's Rankings Shane Wright, Logan Cooley and Matthew Savoie

Shane Wright continues his stay on the top of the mountain as my number-one prospect. Logan Cooley has done his best to unseat him (8 goals, 21 points in 12 games), but Wright has gone to a different level over the past couple of months posting 11 goals and 38 points in 23 games, which included 11 multi-point games. The dynamic two-way center is proving to everyone why he’s such a coveted prospect in this year’s draft with a total of 28 goals and 84 points in 58 games so far with the Kingston Frontenacs.

Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide

Beyond my top-two, the top-five has seen some changes with Juraj Slafkovsky taking over third spot after his amazing performance at the Olympics that saw him post seven goals in seven games for Team Slovakia. He was a bull in a china shop as he used his size, strength and NHL-caliber shot to lead his team in scoring and help them to their first-ever bronze medal, all at the youthful age of 18. Since returning to TPS in the Finnish Liiga, his production hasn’t slowed down as he has five goals and 10 points in 15 games, which included a four-game goal-scoring streak in the middle of March. He has all the tools to be a dominant power forward in the NHL, and with his maturity at such a young age, I wouldn’t be surprised if a team took him in the top five, maybe even the top three.

Juraj Slafkovsky Team Slovakia
Juraj Slafkovsky Team Slovakia (Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images)

Beyond Slafkovsky, Joakim Kemell dropped a tad from third to seventh after only three goals and five points since returning from World Juniors. He is still a threat to jump into the top five with his elite shot and goalscorer’s mentality, but as Tony Ferrari said on a recent episode of Prospect Corner, “he has this unreal shot, incredible offensive game, but he loves shooting from low danger like it’s his best friend…he’s shooting 30 percent from above the dots, there are not many players in the NHL that can do that…How much do you really want to put on a guy like Joakim Kemell for his shooting talent because there are holes in the rest of his game, that’s been my trepidation about putting him too high.”

I was one of those guys that put Kemell high on my rankings the first go-around. I admit, I put a lot of stock in his shooting talent and ignored some of the other weaknesses in his game. For him to consistently put the puck in the net at the next level, he has to start scoring from high-danger areas. Hence, the drop to seventh just behind Brad Lambert.

As for Lambert, after looking at both players’ projected ceiling in the NHL, I decided to put him ahead of Kemell. Even though he’s not producing a lot in the Liiga with his new team the Pelicans, his speed, playmaking and overall offensive package is more diverse than Kemell’s, which mostly revolves around his lethal shot. The reason for his struggles, as Tony pointed out in that same episode of Prospect Corner, is the lack of talent around him.

Related: Brad Lambert – 2022 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

“There was one play recently that I watched, where he’s cutting through the middle across the blue line, the defenders are nowhere near him and the defenceman just dumps the puck right by him”

Without skill on the back end or on his line, there are a lot of plays that die either because they are not set up for him or the player he’s passing to doesn’t put the puck in the net. The points would be there if he was on a better team, I really believe that. So, he gets the benefit of the doubt and moves up to sixth on my board.

Brad Lambert, JYP
Brad Lambert, JYP (Mandatory Credit: Jiri Halttunen)

As always, my rankings will probably change again by the time I expand this list in a couple of months or so as prospects start playing playoff games and the pressure ramps up. That’s ultimately where you see all the intangibles come to light. We will also get the Scouting Combine in Buffalo for the first time in two years, so that should give us even more information to chew on as July 7 gets closer and closer. But for now, here are my top 96 prospects for the 2022 Draft.

2022 NHL Entry Draft Rankings

First Round

1. Shane Wright, C, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)

2. Logan Cooley, C, U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)

3. Juraj Slafkovsky, LW, TPS (Liiga)

4. Simon Nemec, RHD, HK Nitra (Slovakia)

5. Matthew Savoie, C, Winnipeg ICE (WHL)

6. Brad Lambert, C/RW, Pelicans (Liiga)

7. Joakim Kemell, RW, JYP (Liiga)

8. Jonathan Lekkerimaki, C, Djurgardens IF J20 (J20 Nationell)

9. Frank Nazar, C/RW, U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)

10. Denton Mateychuk, LHD, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)

Denton Mateychuk Moose Jaw Warriors
Denton Mateychuk, Moose Jaw Warriors (Nick Pettigrew / Moose Jaw Warriors)

11. Rutger McGroarty, C, U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)

12. David Jiricek, RHD, HC Plzen (Czechia)

13. Conor Geekie, C, Winnipeg ICE (WHL)

14. Seamus Casey, RHD, U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)

15. Danila Yurov, RW, Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL)

16. Pavel Mintyukov, LHD, Saginaw Spirit (OHL)

17. Noah Östlund, C, Djurgårdens IF J20 (J20 Nationell)

18. Liam Öhgren, LW, Djurgårdens IF J20 (J20 Nationell)

19. Gleb Trikozov, RW, Omskie Yastreby (MHL)

20. Marco Kasper, C, Rögle BK (SHL)

21. Ryan Chesley, RHD, U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)

22. Filip Mesar, C/W, HK Poprad (Slovakia)

23. Alexander Perevalov, LW, Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)

24. Kevin Korchinski, LHD, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)

25. Ty Nelson, RHD, North Bay Battalion (OHL)

26. Jagger Firkus, RW, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)

27. Tristan Luneau, RHD, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)

28. Calle Odelius, LHD, Djurgårdens IF J20 (Nationell)

29. Cutter Gauthier, C/LW, U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)

30. Isaac Howard, LW, U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)

31. Jimmy Snuggerud, RW, USNTDP Juniors (USHL)

32. Ivan Miroshnichenko, LW, Omskie Krylia (VHL)

Second Round

33. Nathan Gaucher, C, Québec Remparts (QMJHL)

34. Christian Kyrou, RHD, Erie Otters (OHL)

35. Danny Zhilkin, C, Guelph Storm (OHL)

36. Owen Pickering, LHD, Swift Current Broncos (WHL)

37. Elias Salomonsson, RHD, Skellefteå AIK J20 (J20 Nationell)

38. Lian Bichsel, LHD, Leksands IF (SHL)

39. Jiri Kulich, C, HC Energie Karlovy Vary (Czechia)

40. Luca Del Bel Belluz, C, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)

41. Matthew Seminoff, RW, Kamloops Blazers (WHL)

42. Owen Beck, C, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)

43. Matthew Poitras, C, Guelph Storm (OHL)

44. Mats Lindgren, LHD, Kamloops Blazers (WHL)

45. Lane Hutson, LHD, U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)

Lane Hutson USNTDP
Lane Hutson, USNTDP (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

46. Ludwig Persson, C/LW, Frölunda HC J20 (J20 Nationell)

47. Sam Rinzel, RHD, Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL)

48. Mattias Havelid, D, Linkoping HC (SHL)

49. Rieger Lorenz, C, Okotoks Oilers (AJHL)

50. Bryce McConnell-Barker, C, Soo Greyhounds (OHL)

51. Hunter Haight, C, Barrie Colts (OHL)

52. Adam Ingram, F, Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)

53. Jack Hughes, C, Northeastern University (NCAA)

54. Matyas Sapovaliv, LW, Saginaw Spirit (OHL)

55. Maveric Lamoureux, RHD, Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL)

56. Vladimir Grudinin, D, CSKA Moskva (KHL)

57. Jordan Gustafson, C, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)

58. Filip Bystedt, C, Linkoping HC (SHL)

59. Simon Forsmark, D, Orebro HK (SHL)

60. Alexander Suzdalev, LW, HV71 J20 (J20 Nationell)

61. Topi Rönni, C, Tappara (Liiga)

62. Jack Devine, RW, University of Denver (NCAA)

63. Noah Warren, RHD, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)

64. Paul Ludwinski, C, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)

Third Round

65. David Goyette, C, Sudbury Wolves (OHL)

66. Fraser Minten, F, Kamloops Blazers (WHL)

67. Artyom Duda, D, Krasnaya Armiya Moskva (MHL)

68. Mathew Ward, RW, Swift Current Broncos (WHL)

69. Miko Matikka, RW, Jokerit U20 (U20 SM-sarja)

70. Viktor Neuchev, F, Avto Yekaterinburg (MHL)

71. Aleksanteri Kaskimäki, C, HIFK (Liiga)

72. Cruz Lucias, USNTDP Juniors (USHL)

73. Tomas Hamara, D, KeuPa HT (MESTIS)

74. Vinzenz Rohrer, RW, Ottawa 67’s (OHL)

75. Isaiah George, D, London Knights (OHL)

Isaiah George London Knights
Isaiah George, London Knights (Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images)

76. Pano Fimis, C, Niagara IceDogs (OHL)

77. Spencer Sova, D, Erie Otters (OHL)

78. Jorian Donovan, D, Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)

79. Jordan Dumais, RW, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

80. Samuel Savoie, C, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)

81. Ruslan Gazizov, F, London Knights (OHL)

82. Tyler Brennan, G, Prince George Cougars (WHL)

83. Fabian Wagner, RW, Linköping HC J20 (J20 Nationell)

84. Ludvig Jansson, RHD, Södertälje SK (HockeyAllsvenskan)

85. Antonin Verreault, LW, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)

86. Julian Lutz, LW, EHC Munchen (DEL)

87. Jake Livanavage, LHD, Chicago Steel (USHL)

88. Cole Spicer, F, U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)

89. Yoan Loshing, C, Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)

90. Cole Knuble, RW, Fargo Force (USHL)

91. Servác Petrovský, C, Owen Sound Attack (OHL)

92. Brennan Ali, C, Lincoln Stars (USHL)

93. Ryan Abraham, C, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)

94. Gavin Hayes, RW, Flint Firebirds (OHL)

95. Markus Vidicek, C, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

96. Arseni Koromyslov, D, SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)

Honorable Mentions

Jérémy Langlois, D, Cape Breton Eagles (QMJHL); Eric Alarie, LW, Moosejaw Warriors (WHL); Artyom Barabosha, RHD, Krasnaya Armiya Moskva (MHL); Tim Almgren, C, Örebro HK J20 (J20 Nationell); Thomas Milic, G, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)

Final Thoughts

To close off this version of the rankings, I want to focus on a few prospects that saw significant jumps from February to April. First, there’s Jagger Firkus, the guy everyone’s talking about after that dominant performance at the 2022 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game. He was all over the ice as he used his quick hands and laser-like wrist shot to take home Player of the Game honors along with Wright. Scoring at over a point-per-game pace in the Western Hockey League (WHL) with the Moosejaw Warriors, where he has a career-high 35 goals and 79 points in 64 games, he has vaulted himself into the first-round conversation.

Related: CHL Top Prospects Game: 5 Players Who Increase Draft Stock

Moving from 45th to 26th on my board, the somewhat undersized forward can sometimes look like Mitch Marner out there (to quote AccessNow/Regina Pats TV analyst Dale Derkatch), which is high praise since Marner already has three 20-goal seasons under his belt and is on pace for nearly 100 points in 2021-22. If the team that selects him gets that sort of production from him one day, they will be very happy.

Another player garnering a lot of attention these days is Denton Mateychuk who saw his stock rise from 22nd to 10th. The Winnipeg native has dominated the WHL this season with 11 goals and 61 points in 61 games, along with a very impressive plus-22. According to Pick224, he also leads all first-year draft-eligible defenders in even-strength primary points (29) and first-assists (21) and is tied with Hudson Thornton for even-strength goals with eight. Not to mention, he is fourth overall in defenceman scoring behind only over agers Chad Nychuk and Clay Hanus and uber-Everett Silvertip rearguard and Anaheim Ducks draft pick Olen Zellweger who leads the way with 74 points.

Pretty impressive if you ask me and well-deserving of his jump in the rankings. The two-way dynamo may lack a bit of size at 5-foot-11, but his intelligence, mobility and mature game should be able to make up for that when he makes it to the NHL.

Finally, there’s Danny Zhilkin, who I somehow looked over last time around. Along with Firkus, he impressed at the Top Prospects Game where he was aligned with Wright. The projected first-overall pick even had some praise for the big Russian pivot saying, “He thinks the game at such a high level, super skilled, and he can make plays in such small areas…definitely a fun guy to play with and a really good player.” For that and what he’s done this season (20 goals and 50 points in 60 games with the Guelph Storm), he gets on the board at 35th after going unranked in my last set of rankings.

All in all, there were quite a few changes from my February rankings to this one. There’s bound to be more as players get into the playoffs and the Scouting Combine reveals more about their physical traits. Stay tuned as I will have my final 128 out a short time after that comes to a close on June 6.

Who has caught your eye for the 2022 NHL Draft? Have your say in the comment section.


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