It’s that time again. The Hockey Writers is rolling out with some top-notch NHL Draft content and with that comes 2022 Draft Rankings.
While my colleagues, Peter Baracchini and Matthew Zator have released their respective rankings and broken them down on the Prospects Corner, I haven’t shifted names on my draft board since January, when I released my first set of rankings for this year’s draft class.
At the time, we had just received news that the IIHF had stopped the World Junior tournament and it seemed as though, yet again, we were going to miss out on some top-tier hockey from some of the best young players in the game.
Related: 2022 NHL Draft Guide
That, however, has now been rescheduled for the summer and while players have made names for themselves in their respective leagues, others had the opportunity to join their country’s Olympic squad and star on international stage – an opportunity that is quite rare for these young players.
Even with the World Junior tournament scratched from the books and the Olympics being the main focus for international play, the scouting hasn’t stopped as this is the closest to a regular year of hockey that we’ve had in almost two seasons. With that, players have been watched closely as teams are looking to, once again, pounce on early-round opportunities and later-round gems as they fill their pipelines with NHL hopefuls from around the globe.
Because there has been more opportunity this season, my rankings will be increasing from my top-64 in January to the top 96 players as I see it. As always, these rankings are open for debate, discussion and questions as we narrow down the best of the 2022 NHL Draft class.
Early Takes: Slafkovsky Rises While Others Fall
While many have jumped on the train saying that the top pick could be up for grabs, the simple answer is that it isn’t. It’s been Shane Wright and it will be Shane Wright. But with his up and down play this season, some have questioned his place atop this list. Let’s get it out of the way. This kid can play and his ceiling is not even close to others within this draft.
But my focus, as of late, has been on 2022 Olympic standout Juraj Slafkovsky who helped the Slovaks win their first medal in men’s hockey with a bronze at the 2022 Beijing Olympics. He led the tournament in goals and his strength on the puck was one of the main reasons for it. The fact that Slafkovsky is still mid-development should be a bonus for any team that takes him. Having watched what he did for Slovakia, using his size and power along the boards, the potential this kid has to unlock is so high that he forced my hand in moving him up my rankings.
Don’t forget, he still has the opportunity to play at the rescheduled World Juniors as well and while his place in my rankings might be debated, his chance in the summer could secure him a top-three pick in the draft.
As for Ivan Miroshnichenko, his recent diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma could be a small deterrent for some teams, but it shouldn’t be. The likelihood that he plays again is good and his skill is undebatable. His shot is at an elite level and for player that is only six-foot-one, he plays a physical game that is comparable to guys that come in at six-foot-four and 200 pounds. Health aside, Miroshnichenko is a first-round talent, no doubt. The only question is whether or not a team will take a waver on the young Russian as he tends to his health concerns – the obvious priority.
Call it the starts and stops or the postponed games that have hampered the OHL schedule at times this season, but Soo Greyhounds’ forward Bryce McConnell-Barker was one of the biggest fallers over the past two months in the top two rounds of the rankings. Not particularly because of production as he has 17 goals and 37 points in 55 games, but more around the idea of his consistency.
Even looking at his last 10 games, five of his 17 goals this season have come over that span along with three assists. The ability is there. The execution might be a factor in figuring out where he’ll end up come draft day. But size does play a factor and, as is the case with Miroshnichenko, McConnell-Barker can play with an edge which could hold him in place as a potential second-round pick. Only time will tell.
With that, here’s a look at how the 2022 NHL Draft class stacks up in the top 96 spots.
1. Shane Wright, C, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
2. Logan Cooley, C, USA U18 (USHL)
3. Juraj Slafkovsky, LW, TPS Turku (Slovakia)
4. Simon Nemec, RHD, HK Nitra (Slovakia)
5. Joakim Kemell, LW, JYP (Liiga)
6. Matthew Savoie, C, Winnipeg Ice (WHL)
7. Brad Lambert, LW, JYP (Liiga)
8. Danila Yurov, RW, Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL)
9. David Jiricek, RHD, HC Plzen (Extraliiga)
10. Conor Geekie, C, Winnipeg Ice (WHL)
11. Frank Nazar III, C, USA U18 (USHL)
12. Jonathan Lekkerimäki, RW, Djurgårdens IF J20 (Nationell)
13. Ivan Miroshnichenko, LW, Omskie Krylia (MHL)
14. Cutter Gauthier, LW, USA U18 (USHL)
15. Rutger McGroarty, LW, USA U18 (USHL)
16. Pavel Mintyukov, LHD, Saginaw Spirit (OHL)
17. Liam Öhgren, LW, Djurgårdens IF J20 (Nationell)
18. Filip Mesar, LW, HK Poprad (Slovakia)
19. Marco Kasper, C, Rögle BK J20 (Nationell)
20. Alexander Perevalov, LW, Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)
21. Seamus Casey, RHD, USA U18 (USHL)
22. Denton Mateychuk, LHD, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
23. Ryan Chesley, RHD, USA U18 (USHL)
24. Kevin Korchinski, LHD, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
25. Tristan Luneau, RHD, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)
26. Noah Östlund, C, Djurgårdens IF J20 (Nationell)
27. Isaac Howard, LW, USA U18 (USHL)
28. Ty Nelson, RHD, North Bay Battalion (OHL)
29. Gleb Trikozov, LW, Omskie Krylia (VHL)
30. Owen Pickering, LHD, Swift Current Broncos (WHL)
31. Jimmy Snuggerud, RW, USA U18 (USHL)
32. Nathan Gaucher, C, Québec Remparts (QMJHL)
33. Elias Salomonsson, RHD, Skellefteå AIK J20 (Nationell)
34. Luca Del Bel Belluz, C, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
35. Owen Beck, C, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
36. Calle Odelius, LHD, Djurgårdens IF J20 (Nationell)
37. Lian Bichsel, LHD, Leksands IF (SHL)
38. Jirí Kulich, C, HC Karlovy Vary (Czech)
39. Matyas Sapovaliv, LW, Saginaw Spirit (OHL)
40. Filip Bystedt, C, Linköping HC J20 (Nationell)
41. Matthew Poitras, C, Guelph Storm (OHL)
42. Jack Hughes, C, Northeastern University (NCAA)
43. Lane Hutson, LHD, USA U18 (USHL)
44. Mats Lindgren, LHD, Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
45. Danny Zhilkin, C, Guelph Storm (OHL)
46. Mattias Hävelid, RHD, Linköping HC J20 (Nationell)
47. Paul Ludwinski, C, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
48. Jagger Firkus, RW, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
49. Hunter Haight, C, Barrie Colts (OHL)
50. Maveric Lamoureaux, RHD, Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL)
51. Rieger Lorenz, C, Okotoks Oilers (AJHL)
52. Matthew Seminoff, RW, Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
53. Bryce McConnell-Barker, C, Soo Greyhouunds (OHL)
54. Janni Nyman, LW, Ilves U20 (SM-sarja)
55. Aleksanteri Kaskimäki, C, HIFK U20 (SM-sarja)
56. Simon Forsmark, LHD, Örebro (SHL)
57. Cruz Lucius, LW, USA U18 (USHL)
58. David Goyette, C, Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
59. Tomas Hamara, LHD, Tappara U20 (SM-sarja)
60. Alexander Suzdalev, LW, HV71 J20 (Nationell)
61. Artyom Duda, LHD, Krasnaya Armiya Moskva (MHL)
62. Vladimir Grudinin, LHD, CSKA Moscow (KHL)
63. Isaiah George, LHD, London Knights (OHL)
64. Sam Rinzel, RHD, Chaska High (USHS)
65. Ludwig Persson, C/LW, Frölunda HC (SHL)
66. Gavin Hayes, RW, Flint Firebirds (OHL)
67. Tyler Brennan, G, Prince George Cougars (WHL)
68. Kasper Kulonummi, RHD, Jokerit (U20-SM)
69. Jordan Gustafson, C, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
70. Ryan Greene, C, Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)
71. Topi Rönni, C, Tappara (SM Liiga Jr.)
72. Cameron Lund, C, Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)
73. Julian Lutz, LW, EHC Müchen (DEL)
74. Viktor Neuchev, F, Avto Yekateringburg (MHL)
75. Michael Buchinger, LHD, Guelph Storm (OHL)
76. Spencer Sova, LHD, Erie Otters (OHL)
77. Pano Fimis, C, Niagara IceDogs (OHL)
78. Vinzenz Rohrer, RW, Ottawa 67s (OHL)
79. Fraser Minten, F, Kamloops Blazers (OHL)
80. Fabian Wagner, RW, Linköping HC J20 (Nationell)
81. Otto Salin, RHD, HIFK (Liiga)
82. Jordan Dumais, RW, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
83. Antonin Verreault, LW, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)
84. Noah Warren, RHD, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)
85. Alexander Pelevin, LHD, Chaika Nizhny Novgorod (MHL)
86. Devin Kaplan, RW, USA U18 (USHL)
87. Jorian Donovan, LHD, Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)
88. Topias Leinonen, G, JYP (U20-SM)
89. Arseni Koromyslov, LHD, SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)
90. Mikko Matikka, RW, Jokerit U20 (SM Liiga Jr.)
91. Jace Weir, RHD, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
92. Mathew Ward, RW, Swift Current Broncos (WHL)
93. Jack Devine, RW, University of Denver (NCAA)
94. Servac Petrovsky, C, Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
95. Brandon Lisowsky, F, Saskatoon Blades (WHL)
96. Ruslan Gazizov, F, London Knights (OHL)
Beau Jelsma, LW, Barrie Colts (OHL); Tyler Duke, LHD, USA U18 (USHL); Cole Knuble, RW, USA U18 (USHL); Adam Ingram, F, Youngstown Phantoms (USHL); Jake Livanage, LHD, Chicago Steel (USHL)
There have been a lot of moving parts to this draft over the past couple of months. The cancellation of the World Juniors, the on-and-off schedules of some of the leagues around the world – they’ve all played a part in the consistency of these players’ seasons.
While Tyler Duke dropped outside of my top 96, players like Beau Jelsma are on the verge of cracking my list with their play this season. Jelsma is a smallish winger that has been on a tear this season for the OHL’s Barrie Colts. He’s sixth on the team in points, but leads the Colts with 24 goals — four ahead of teammate Hunter Haight who is also a fellow 2022 NHL Draft eligible player.
I’m still fairly high on Calle Odelius as a potential high second-round pick. The left-shot defenceman is able to get pucks through from the point and his skating is easily one of his strongest qualities. His speed mixed with his ability to start and stop makes him a dangerous option along the offensive line and could push him into the tail end of the first round if a team sees potential for his overall development.
Another fringe first-to-second rounder is Owen Beck. Whether it’s playing with James Hardie, who continues to be overlooked, or having Luca Del Bel Belluz working towards the same goal of being a top end prospect, Beck has been a noticeable part of the Steelheads’ offence this season. He has a deceptive shot and picks apart opposing defences with his high-end stick-handling. Again, it’ll come down to what team is willing to bite on him, but for me, he’s a bubble first-rounder with the likelihood that he goes early in the second.
Who has caught your eye so far for the 2022 NHL Draft? Who did I miss? Who should be higher? Have your say in the comment section below.
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Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.