2022 NHL Draft Rankings: Zator’s Top 128 Final Rankings

Welcome back to my 2022 NHL Draft Rankings here at The Hockey Writers. As of this writing, we are now just a few days away from the annual fun that is the NHL Entry Draft. For the first time since the 2019 iteration in Vancouver, friends and family will be able to attend the festivities and see their loved ones pull on the jersey of an NHL team live on stage. Due to the pandemic that ravaged the globe, the 2020 and 2021 classes had to do it virtually over Zoom or in some cases, not at all. So, it’s going to be exciting to finally get some normalcy when it comes to the draft floor.

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

Now onto my expanded final rankings. Since I released the midseason top-96 back in April, there were a few events that gave scouts and experts more viewing opportunities, such as the IIHF U18 World Championship, junior and European playoffs, Memorial Cup and of course, the Scouting Combine in Buffalo which made its return for the first time since 2019. As a result of these respective events, I had to adjust my rankings accordingly, but not by much – at least not when it came to my top 10, anyway.

Related: THW’s FREE 2022 NHL Draft Guide

Despite all the smoke around the Montreal Canadiens not choosing Shane Wright first overall, he still remains on top of my mountain of prospects for this draft. He just has that “it” factor that will propel whatever team selects him to a Stanley Cup one day. He may not be the generational talent Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews was during their draft year, but he is the two-way glue guy every general manager and coach wants on their team to create a winning culture. So whether it is the Canadiens, New Jersey Devils, Arizona Coyotes or possibly another team entirely, he will be the class of the NHL for years to come.

Next is Slovak defenceman Simon Nemec, who leapfrogs Logan Cooley and Juraj Slafkovsky for second overall. His combination of size, poise and two-way skill will make him a top-pairing monster one day. After standout performances internationally for Slovakia at the truncated World Juniors, U18s, World Championship and an MVP-like run in the playoffs where he accumulated five goals and 17 points in 19 games for HK Nitra, he’s impressed me enough to take the second spot on the podium.

Rounding out my top three is another two-way dynamo in Logan Cooley. The 5-foot-10 American pivot was in contention for first overall many times throughout the season, and could still conceivably be the first name called on July 7. He drops one spot, but that’s in no way an indictment of his skill or future in the NHL. His ceiling remains in the stratosphere as a top-line center that can play in all situations, and affect the game in many different ways from a key faceoff win or shot block to a great defensive play or big goal in the final minute.

2022 Draft Showdown: Wright vs. Cooley
Shane Wright, Logan Cooley (The Hockey Writers)

Beyond the top three, there were a few changes, as Juraj Slafkovsky dropped to 4th, David Jiricek rose from 12th to 5th and Cutter Gauthier jumped all the way from 29th to 7th. Unlike many of the experts out there, I am not high enough on Slafkovsky to anoint him as a top-three prospect at this point. Yes, he’s excelled on the international stage with and against men, but that’s still too small of a sample size to justify spending a first or second overall pick on him.

Related: Juraj Slafkovsky – 2022 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

As for Gauthier, I might have missed the boat when I put him at the bottom of the first round in my earlier rankings. Having said that, there weren’t a lot of people pegging him as a top-10 pick throughout the season, not until the Scouting Combine when it was revealed that he could play center. In fact, when Cooley was trying out for Team USA’s World Juniors squad, he actually shifted from his left-wing position to play down the middle for a while. He, of course, excelled and is now considered a versatile power forward that can play two positions, which is obviously massive for his potential in the NHL. Thus the jump to 7th in my rankings.

Cutter Gauthier USNTDP
Cutter Gauthier, USNTDP (Rena Laverty / USA Hockey’s NTDP)

Finally, we have Jiricek, the second pillar of strength when it comes to defenceman in this draft. After missing a chunk of the year to an injury suffered at the World Juniors in December, he returned to play for Czechia at the World Championship and ended up winning a bronze medal. While he’s not as well-rounded as Nemec, he’s going to be a stud for whoever gets him in the top five (I’m looking at you Seattle). Honestly, the only reason he dropped to 12th was the uncertainty around what he would look like after the injury. Now that he’s back, he’s firmly in the conversation again for the top of this class.

The rest of my top 10 stayed relatively the same, except for Brad Lambert and Denton Mateychuk dropping mostly due to the rise of Jiricek and Gauthier. But enough of the preamble, here are my final top 128 prospects for the 2022 Draft.

2022 NHL Entry Draft Rankings

First Round

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

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

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

4. Juraj Slafkovsky, LW, TPS (Liiga)

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

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

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

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

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

10. Joakim Kemell, RW, JYP (Liiga)

Joakim Kemell JYP
Joakim Kemell, JYP (Photo: Jiri Halttunen)

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

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

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

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

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

16. Marco Kasper, C, Rögle BK (SHL)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Second Round

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

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

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

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

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

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

39. Adam Sykora, C, HK Nitra (Slovakia)

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

41. Mattias Havelid, RHD, Linkoping HC (SHL)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

51. Reid Schaefer, LW, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)

Reid Schaefer, WHL, Seattle Thunderbirds
Reid Schaefer, Seattle Thunderbirds (Photo credit: Luke Durda/OHL Images)

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

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

54. Logan Morrison (O/A), C, Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)

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

56. Devin Kaplan, RW, U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)

57. Tomas Hamara, LHD, Tappara (Liiga)

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

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

60. Vladimir Grudinin, LHD, CSKA Moskva (KHL)

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

62. Topi Rönni, C, Tappara (Liiga)

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

64. Simon Forsmark, LHD, Orebro HK (SHL)

Third Round

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

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

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

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

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

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

71. Artyom Duda, LHD, Krasnaya Armiya Moskva (MHL)

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

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

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

75. Aleksanteri Kaskimäki, C, HIFK (Liiga)

Aleksanteri Kaskimaki Team Finland
Aleksanteri Kaskimaki, Team Finland (Photo by RvS.Media/Monika Majer/Getty Images)

76. Cruz Lucias, C, USNTDP Juniors (USHL)

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

78. Isaiah George, LHD, London Knights (OHL)

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

80. Spencer Sova, LHD, Erie Otters (OHL)

81. Jorian Donovan, LHD, Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

94. Nicholas Moldenhauer, C/RW, Chicago Steel (USHL)

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

96. Marek Hejduk, RW, USNTDP (USHL)

Fourth Round

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

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

99. Kocha Delic, C, Sudbury Wolves (OHL)

100. Arseni Koromyslov, LHD, SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)

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

102. Artyom Barabosha, RHD, Krasnaya Armiya Moskva (MHL)

103. Thomas Milic (O/A), G, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)

Thomas Milic Seattle Thunderbirds
Thomas Milic, Seattle Thunderbirds (Brian Liesse/Seattle Thunderbirds)

104. Mikey Milne (O/A), LW, Winnipeg ICE (WHL)

105. James Hardie (O/A), LW, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)

106. Ben King (O/A), C/RW, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)

107. Zachary Bookman (O/A), RHD, Brooks Bandits (AJHL)

108. George Fegaras, RHD, North York Rangers (OJHL)

109. Hugo Havelid, G, Linkoping Jr. (Sweden-Jr)

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

111. Connor Hvidston, LW, Swift Current Broncos (WHL)

112. Elias Pettersson, LHD, Orebro HK J20 (J20 Nationell)

113. Beau Jelsma, LW, Barrie Colts (OHL)

114. David Spacek (O/A), RHD, Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)

115. Eric Alarie, LW, Moosejaw Warriors (WHL)

116. Tim Almgren, C, Örebro HK J20 (J20 Nationell)

117. Sandis Vilmanis, LW, Lulea HF J20 (J20 Nationell)

118. Gustav Karlsson, C, Orebro HK J20 (J20 Nationell)

119. Brayden Schuurman, RW, Victoria Royals (WHL)

Brayden Schuurman Victoria Royals
Brayden Schuurman, Victoria Royals (Kevin Light Photography)

120. Avery Hayes, C/RW, Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)

121. Stephen Halliday (O/A), C, Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)

122. Jérémy Langlois, LHD, Cape Breton Eagles (QMJHL)

123. James Stefan, RW, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)

124. Connor Kurth (O/A), RW, Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)

125. Jeremy Wilmer (O/A), C, Tri-City Storm (USHL)

126. Hudson Thornton, LHD, Prince George Cougars (WHL)

127. Tucker Robertson, RW/C, Peterborough Petes (OHL)

128. Marco Costantini, G, Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)

Honorable Mentions

Luke Mittelstadt, LD, Madison Capitols (USHL); Nolan Joyce, RD, St. Sebastian’s School (USHS-Prep); Cole Kessler, F, Culver Military Academy Prep (USHS-Prep); Matt Maggio, RW, Windsor Spitfires (OHL); Connor McGrath, C, Humboldt Broncos (SJHL); Reid Dyck, G, Swift Current Broncos (WHL); Jack Sparkes, RHD, St. Michael’s Buzzers (OJHL); Theo Rochette (O/A), C, Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)

Final Thoughts

To close off this final version of the rankings, I want to focus on a few prospects that saw significant jumps from April to July. Apart from Gauthier rising into the top-10, Lane Hutson, Owen Beck, Nathan Gaucher and Owen Pickering found themselves leaping into Day 1 territory after hanging out in Day 2 in my last two sets.

In Hutson’s case, it was a dominant performance at the U18s which saw him record eight assists in six games and take home best defenceman honors. He was also named to the All-Star Team and was a top-three player alongside Cooley and Rutger McGroarty. The 5-foot-8 dynamic blueliner is undersized in stature, but you wouldn’t know it by the way he plays.

“Lane is so elusive and crafty with the puck,” Central Scouting senior manager David Gregory said. “He invites pressure because he knows with his mobility and puck skills, he can avoid defenders and create offense. Despite being undersized he competes hard and is not afraid to play the game in traffic. High-end vision and an ability to process quickly allow him to see opportunities that other players don’t.”

I’ve said this on a few podcasts and YouTube shows now, but Hutson reminds me a lot of Quinn Hughes. His skating and edges are something to behold as he makes everything look so easy coming out of his own zone. Like his American counterpart, he is a one-man transition machine who will single-handedly change the dynamic of any defence core he joins in the future. He is definitely deserving of a first-round distinction in these final rankings.

Beck sat out for an entire season in 2020-21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that didn’t seem to stunt his development, as he returned with a bang in 2021-22. The slick centerman who thinks the game as fast as he can skate scored 21 goals and 51 points in his “rookie” season and six points in 10 games in the playoffs en route to winning both the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) and Ontario Hockey League (OHL) Scholastic Player of the Year Awards. As such, look for him to become a great top-nine center in the NHL one day.

As for Gaucher and Pickering, they both increased their stock because of their performance in the playoffs and U18s respectively. Gaucher had a great regular season with 31 goals and 57 points in 66 games but followed that up with another nine points in the postseason as the Quebec Remparts got dispatched in the second round by the eventual Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion, Shawinigan Cataractes. The 6-foot-3 right-handed pivot has the size every team wants down the middle, not to mention speed and physicality. He also has a motor that doesn’t quit (from ‘2022 NHL Draft Guide – Nathan Gaucher’, Elite Prospects).

Nathan Gaucher Quebec Remparts
Nathan Gaucher, Quebec Remparts (Photo: Jonathan Roy)

Finally, there’s Pickering, the 6-foot-5 tower who plays for the Swift Current Broncos. Despite not making the playoffs, they could have a handful of prospects selected on July 7 and 8. Pickering will definitely be the first one off the board though. In addition to his size, he’s got great mobility, formidable passing skills and the hockey IQ needed to thrive on an NHL blue line. His toolbox may be all over the place right now, but that’s what makes selecting him all the more exciting because once he puts everything together, look out.

With that, another year of draft rankings is in the books. Thanks for following along all season, and enjoy what promises to be an interesting couple of days in Montreal.