The 2022 NHL Draft has come and gone and it was definitely one to remember. It was very eventful to say the least with a lot of moves and choices that caught everyone by surprise.
The Montreal Canadiens shocked the hockey world by taking hulking winger Juraj Slafkovsky first overall instead of the talented two-way centre in Shane Wright. Kevin Korchinski (Chicago Blackhawks) was the next best defenseman behind Simon Nemec (New Jersey Devils) and David Jiricek (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Maveric Lamoureux (Arizona Coyotes), where his size and physicality is a big asset, made his way into the first round even though there were better names.
Related: 2022 NHL Draft Live Tracker
In the end, while many teams made their selections that would benefit their team for the future, there are bound to be those went above and beyond and some who didn’t fare as well. This article will focus on the winners as some teams always have a better draft than others, so be sure to stay tuned for the losers post that’ll come out soon. Without further ado here are the winners from the 2022 NHL Draft.
It was definitely a mixed bag of reactions when the Canadiens called Slafkvosky’s name. You could tell that the Canadiens decision wasn’t well received when they selected Slafkovsky, given some questions about his consistency in league play and small sample of success in senior tournaments.
However, Slafkovsky did deserve to be in contention after his performance against men in both the Olympics and World Hockey Championship. He is still poised to be a steady power forward with top line potential, as he’s able to bully his way to the middle of the ice and excel in battles along the boards and in the corners.
But the Canadiens ended up being winners with the selections that came after that as that’s where they managed to build their prospect depth. They took Slafkovsky’s Slovak teammate in Filip Mesar who possesses a great motor and energy 26th overall, they selected the highly competitive and high IQ Owen Beck to start the second round and the extremely talented puck-moving defenseman Lane Hutson to finish the round off. Then there’s players with great potential in Vinzenz Rohrer, Adam Engstrom and Cedrick Guindon in the middle rounds.
Guindon stands out the most as he had a great rookie season despite not playing in the Ontario Hockey League in 2020-21. Miguel Tourigny is a great addition in the seventh round as he has great mobility and a strong offensive game.
Speaking of Wright, the Kraken come out as winners alone drafting the number one ranked North American skater by Central Scouting when he fell to them.
This might bode well for him as he now has a chip on his shoulder to prove the Canadiens and the other two teams that passed on him wrong. The way he thinks and processes the game is already at a pro level, playing a responsible two-way game with decent offensive output. Having a one, two centre tandem of Matty Beniers and Wright is definitely something that the Kraken are anticipating for years to come.
Though, Ron Francis and company didn’t stop there as they made some really great selections later on. It wouldn’t be long before Jagger Firkus, who had first round potential, would be taken as the Kraken swopped in and took the high-octane scoring winger. They continued to add to their centre depth with the highly talented and crafty playmaker in David Goyette to finish the second round. To start the third-round, they appear to have a steal in the highly mobile Ty Nelson, who plays a bigger game than his 5-foot-10 size suggests.
An underrated pick was the Kraken selecting an over-age player in Tucker Robertson as he had a breakout season with the Peterborough Petes with 41 goals and 81 points. He’s extremely competitive and has a great work ethic to go with his shooting and accuracy. This could be a really great addition as a fourth-round pick.
It’s amazing what a surprising midseason turn around and two drafts can do. There’s no question that the Sabres appear to be on the right track in regards to their future. Owen Power has already made the jump to the NHL and Jack Quinn had an outstanding season in the American Hockey League.
When your second draft of a rebuild includes a centre trio of Matthew Savoie, Noah Östlund and Jiri Kulich, all with top-six upside, that is a major win in itself. Savoie is a versatile offensive threat, Östlund possesses great hands and playmaking abilities and Kulich plays a sound all-around game while having an accurate shot.
While it wasn’t a strong class for goaltenders, the Sabres added Topias Leinonen who has great size and mobility in the crease in the second round, as he was the first goalie to go. Adding an offensive dynamo and goal scorer in Viktor Neuchev in the third round could be a big payoff as he has great size, shot and offensive awareness.
Mats Lindgren has some offensive upside and would also be a great player down the line if he’s able to work on his consistency within his own end. Gustav Karlsson is similar to Neuchev as he can be a dynamic goal scorer as he has a powerful release on his one-timer. Finding this kind of talent in the later rounds will benefit the Sabres greatly.
When you see a playoff team in the winner category of the draft, that means you’re definitely doing something right. The Minnesota Wild definitely made the most of their picks at the 2022 NHL Draft as they went forward heavy.
With two first-round picks, the Wild didn’t miss at all. They kicked off their draft selecting Liam Öhgren– who possesses a lot of pro-like qualities including his work ethic and drive– 19th overall and dynamic Russian playmaker Danila Yurov 24th definitely makes them winners in that regard. Both players have great potential to be top-six contributors down the line as they have great speed, hands and IQ.
The Wild managed to hit the mark on two players on Day 2 of the draft in Hunter Haight and Rieger Lorenz. Haight didn’t have a strong first season in the OHL, but the potential is there as he has great speed and plays with a high level of pace. Lorenz is a very well-rounded player, as he can display his offensive tool kit or defensive responsibilities.
Adding Ryan Healey who plays a very steady defensive game and David Spacek who can play a strong two-way game will really boost their defensive depth as they join Ryan O’Rourke, Carson Lambos and Daemon Hunt on the back end. The Wild seem to be stock piled for years to come or even trade assets away to go into “win now mode”.
Honourable Mentions: Arizona Coyotes, Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils, Anaheim Ducks
Who were your top winners of the 2022 NHL Draft? Have your say in the comment section below.
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Peter is in his third year with The Hockey Writers, covering the Toronto Maple Leafs and heading the Draft and Prospects section. He has previously interned at The Hockey News and worked on Toronto Marlies broadcasts for Rogers TV. He currently is the co-host of the podcast Sticks in the 6ix and a frequent guest on Maple Leafs Lounge. Aside from hockey, he also enjoys drumming, animation and impressions/ voices.