Everyone loves to talk about the lottery picks every year, but NHL All-Stars can be found on Day 2 of the NHL Entry Draft. There are plenty of players who were selected on Day 2 that went on to have historic and legendary careers. A few examples of successful players selected in the second or third round include Mark Messier, Pat Verbeek, and Nicklas Lidstrom, as well as active players like Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
Related: 2022 NHL Draft Guide
For this article, I specifically looked at centers selected during rounds 2 and 3 and chose three that I believe have the highest potential. Let’s take a closer look at the three centers that could go on to have successful NHL careers. There’s one common denominator between the three players: explosiveness.
There are a lot of skills and intangibles that most highly skilled centers exhibit, such as being highly skilled distributors or having above-average “ice vision,” but one skill I believe can separate the good from the great is pure explosiveness. Connor McDavid is the best center in the game and I believe it is in large part to his incredible skating and explosiveness. While it is important to have high hockey intelligence, I would argue that raw speed and explosion are two of the keys to becoming an elite center in the NHL. I selected three prospects selected on day 2 of the 2022 NHL Draft who I believe possess this skill and can utilize it to go on to have very successful careers.
The St. Louis Blues selected Aleksanteri Kaskimaki with the 73rd pick in the third round of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. Kaskimaki is a 6-foot, 183-pound Finnish center who plays for HIFK U20. He is a crafty playmaker offensively with a lot of tools, including explosive skating ability. The biggest hole in his game is in the defensive end, where he is less consistent than he is offensively.
Shawn Wilken of THW spoke about Kakimaki’s explosiveness in his prospect profile earlier this year. “Kaskimaki’s skating is exceptional among his draft class, as he is explosive, has good acceleration, and his first few steps are a marvel to watch,” Wilken wrote. That explosiveness should allow him to adapt quickly at the next level, I wouldn’t be surprised if he found his way to the St. Louis roster within a couple of years.
Kaskimaki should be an excellent addition to the Blues’ forward prospect pool. Given time to adjust to the professional level of play and improve his defensive consistency, he has the potential to be a very successful NHL center. I love this pick by St. Louis.
The Seattle Kraken selected David Goyette with the 61st pick in the second round of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. Goyette is a 5-foot-11, 174-pound Canadian center who plays for the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL. He is very skilled with the puck and displays above-average skating ability that allowed him to produce 73 points (33 goals, 40 assists) in 66 games last season. Not only is he skilled with the puck on his stick but he reaches top speed very quickly when heading up the ice thanks to his explosiveness. Like most young playmakers, he has plenty of room to improve on defense and passing, which could help him make a big jump overall.
While Goyette may seem undersized, it’s important to remember that the Carolina Hurricanes drafted an undersized forward in the second round of the 2015 Draft that has turned into a two-time NHL All-Star in Sebastian Aho. Could Goyette become a second-round steal for the Kraken? I would not be surprised if that were to come to fruition.
The San Jose Sharks selected Cameron Lund with the 34th pick in the second round of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. Lund is a 6-foot-2, 192-pound American center who played for the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL last season. His pre-draft rankings were all over the map, with some scouts ranking him in their top 50 while others had him outside of their top 100. He is an explosive skater when the puck is on his stick and displays an affinity for making plays offensively. Like the prospects mentioned above, he could benefit from improving his defensive play.
Devin Little of THW detailed the explosiveness that Lund exhibits when he has the puck, in a prospect profile on the Massachusetts native earlier this month.
“Not only does he like to make plays, but it’s almost as if his feet find another gear when he possesses the puck,” Little wrote. “He’s the type of player that defensemen will look to hit with a breakout pass because once he has the puck, the play is heading north in quick fashion.”
His size is very impressive, and he has room to grow; he just needs a little time in the gym to put on muscle. A large-framed creative forward with playmaking abilities could be a nice addition to the Sharks’ prospect pool. I expect him to find success relatively quickly at the next level, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we look back in 10 years and consider him the steal of the draft.
Time Will Tell for Day 2 of the 2022 Draft
It will be interesting to see how the careers of these three players turn out. Will they all three find success at the highest level? Could one of them go on to be an NHL Hall of Famer? Only time will tell.