A right winger can completely change a franchise. Players like Patrick Kane, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Nikita Kucherov are all right wingers who have led their teams to a Stanley Cup victory. Now, the next generation looks to do the same thing, as there are plenty of talented right wingers available in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.
To qualify for this list, a player’s designated position in the NHL Central Scouting database must be right wing. As is the case with some junior players, some on this list may have played center or left wing during their season but still is listed as right wingers in the database. Without further ado, here are the top-10 right wingers of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft
10- Mikko Matikka, Jokerit U20 (U20- SM- sarja)
NHL Central Scouting: 32nd (EU Skaters)
If teams are looking for a powerful winger that can carry the puck into the offensive zone, then they should be paying attention to Mikko Matikka. The 6-foot-3, 187-pound winger spent the season with Jokerit’s J20 team in the Finnish J20 league. In 30 games, he scored 19 goals and finished with 33 points.
Related: 2022 NHL Draft Guide
Matikka thrives in the offensive end based on his strong shot and the sheer amount of pucks he put on the net. In his final seven games this season, he never had a game where he produced under six shots on goal with the total being 53 shots during that span. He had a shot in every game he played this season, eclipsing five shots on goal in 21 of the 30 games he played in. While he most likely won’t average over five shots a game in the NHL, he has shown he is not afraid to get the puck on the net which is an asset for any draft-eligible player.
9- Nicholas Moldenhauer, Chicago Steel (USHL)
NHL Central Scouting: 39th (NA Skaters)
It has not been an easy road for Chicago Steel winger Nicholas Moldenhauer. From missing games due because of illness to having a skate cut him across the face less than a minute into his first shift of the season, the recently turned 18-year-old prospect has continued to fight so he can get to where he is today, a draft prospect that should go in the first three rounds.
This past year, Moldenhauer played 41 games for the Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League (USHL). During that time, he scored 18 goals and registered 43 points. He was also part of Team Canada’s U18 team, registering three points in four games. A speedy, high skilled winger, he is not afraid to get to the front of the net and can use his strong hand-eye coordination to deflect pucks in the air. Whichever team drafts him is getting a player who is strong in all three zones and doesn’t show signs of quitting on the ice.
8- Kirill Dolzhenkov, Krasnaya Armiya Moskva (MHL)
NHL Central Scouting: 22nd (EU Skaters)
One of the biggest prospects in the draft, Kirill Dolzhenkov stands 6-foot-6 and weighs 236 pounds. The giant winger is the perfect combination of size and skill, as he rarely loses a board battle and can make solid passes to open teammates. He also can read the play well which allows him to get into open scoring areas and use his strong shot to put the puck in the net. The most impressive part of his game, however, is his skating. For a player his size, it is impressive how he can get around the ice with ease and not drag behind the play. This adds another layer to his game which should be intriguing to general managers around the NHL.
This past season, Dolzhenkov played most of the season with Krasnaya Armiya Moskva of the Molodyozhnaya Hokkeinaya Liga (MHL) in Russia. There, he finished with 14 goals and 28 points in 33 games. Before moving to the MHL, he was the captain of CSKA Moskava’s team at the U16, U17, and U18. If he comes over to North America, he has the potential to be a force in the league for a long time.
7- Jagger Firkus, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
NHL Central Scouting: 12th (NA Skaters)
Jagger Firkus is a gifted winger that can take over a game if he wants. During the Western Hockey League playoffs, he pulled off a lacrosse goal in the first round versus the Saskatoon Blades. He posted 12 points in 10 playoff games after finishing the regular season with 36 goals and 80 points in 66 games.
Where Firkus can burn the opposition is with his high hockey IQ. He is able to slow down the game and move around the ice to get the best positioning possible. Not only is his shot deadly accurate, but so is his passing. Every season, he seems to get better, so do not be surprised if he is near the top of the WHL scoring lead at the end of the 2022-23 season.
6- Filip Mešár, HK Poprad (Slovakia)
NHL Central Scouting: 20th (EU Skaters)
A potential first-round pick, Filip Mešár has all the tools to be an effective winger in the NHL. This past season in the Slovakian top division, he scored eight goals and added eight assists in 37 games. He also added four points in six playoff games before HK Poprad’s run came to a close. Back in January, he was part of Slovakia’s World Junior team and should be reinvited when the tournament restarts after the draft.
Whoever selects Mešár is getting a speedy winger who is an all-around offensive threat. He can beat goalies with his shot or set up teammates in scoring positions. Lastly, his transition game from defence to offence is strong. It leads to odd-man rushes due to his speed and stick-handling. Definitely, a name to watch out for near the end of the first round.
5- Rutger McGroarty, USA U18 (USHL)
NHL Central Scouting: 22nd (NA Skaters)
Rutger McGroarty is one of the most complete players in the draft. He is a goal scorer who can skate, doesn’t lose the puck, and can lead a team. He was fantastic in the USHL this past season and was named captain of Team USA’s submission for the U18’s where he led them to a Silver Medal. Overall, he is a prospect that teams should covet, as he is always willing to work on his game and try to become the best player he can be on the ice.
One area of McGroarthy’s game that isn’t talked about enough is his defensive work. He seems to always be in the correct position which allows him to cut off passing angles or steal the puck. Once he gets the puck on his stick, his strong transition game comes through and usually leads to a chance at the other end of the ice. He has all the tools needed to make it in the NHL, and whichever franchise’s fan base selects him should be ecstatic with the selection.
4- Jimmy Snuggerud, USA U18 (USHL)
NHL Central Scouting: 11th (NA Skaters)
Jimmy Snuggard is one of the top scoring wingers in the draft. He possesses a strong shot and is not afraid to use it. During the U18’s this past year, he finished with three goals on 22 shots in six games for Team USA. He finished eighth overall in shots during the tournament.
Overall, Snuggard is a high-end scorer who isn’t afraid to drive the net thanks to his 6-foot-2 frame. He is not afraid to get the puck on the net which is a big asset to have and will have time to develop his game next season at one of the top programs in the NCAA, the University of Minnesota. The school has a long history of helping right wingers take their game to the next level including Phil Kessel and Blake Wheeler.
3- Danila Yurov, Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk (KHL)
NHL Central Scouting: 7th (EU Skaters)
Danila Yurov is a strong, two-way winger twho has shown strong offensive talent. Over the past two seasons with Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk of the MHL, he had 26 goals and registered 61 points in 46 games. He has participated in 42 Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) regular-season games and 22 playoff games. Although during his KHL time he did not see the ice much, he has shown he can compete against older competition with some levels of success.
Yurov is arguably the most promising player in this draft, as he has all the traits to be an elite player in the NHL. His shooting is strong, and he can find open teammates with passes and has elite-level skating. If he is put in the right development program, he could develop into the top right winger from this draft.
2- Jonathan Lekkerimäki, Djurgårdens IF (SHL)
NHL Central Scouting: 6th (EU Skaters)
Jonathan Lekkerimäki is best known for lighting up the U18’s this past year with 15 points in six games en route to the gold medal. The top prospect was also named to the All-Star team, becoming the first Swedish forward named to the team since Washington Capitals forward Johan Larsson back in 2010. He was dynamic in the finals, as he scored once and recorded three assists to help Sweden claim gold.
What makes Lekkerimäki special is that he knows how to finish in the offensive zone. Every game, he is firing pucks on the net with high levels of accuracy and power. He thinks the game at such a high level and is able to get into the perfect position to either receive a pass or set up a teammate for a chance. At 17, he put up nine points in 26 games including seven goals. It shows he can compete against older and tougher competition with some success. A top-10 expected pick, he has the potential to be the next great sniper in the NHL.
1- Joakim Kemell, JYP (Liiga)
NHL Central Scouting: 2nd (EU Skaters)
The number one right winger in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft is Finnish star Joakin Kemell. At 17, he spent the entire season in Finland’s top division, Liiga, where he finished with 15 goals and 23 points in 39 games. He led all U18 players in Liiga including projected second-overall pick, Juraj Slafkovský in games, goals, assists, and points while finishing fifth amongst all U20 players.
Kemell has shown he is ready for the next step thanks to his dynamic skating, ability to rip a shot with accuracy, and his willingness to play a physical game if needed. He also shows high levels of awareness in the offensive zone as he always seems to be in the right position to create a scoring chance. With the World Juniors upcoming, he is expected to be a major part of Finland’s team and could put on a show as he did at the U18’s when he posted six goals and eight points in six games. He is a can’t-miss prospect that any team would be lucky to add to their organization.
Overall, this year’s group of right wingers is strong. There could be seven from this list drafted in the first round alone. There are also some players slated to go later like Cruz Lucius, Oskar Pettersson or Matthew Seminoff. Expect right wingers to be called early and often as this class has the potential to be special.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at area51sportsnet.com where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.