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Shane Wright still the choice for first pick in the 2022 Draft

Shane Wright: Robert Lefebvre | OHL Images

Shane Wright: Robert Lefebvre | OHL Images

Robert Lefebvre | OHL Images

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On Monday, McKeen’s Hockey released their preliminary top 32 ranking for the 2022 NHL Draft. You can read about our process, some trends emerging, and other notes of interest in the accompanying article. You do not need to be a subscriber to read it and you can find it here.

For this week’s Prospects Report, Director of Scouting, Brock Otten goes further and provides notes on all 32 ranked prospects.

The McKeen’s team are scouting and writing about prospects all season long and provide in-depth reports on our website.

Prospects in the News: McKeen’s 2022 NHL Draft Preliminary Ranking Player Notes

By Brock Otten.

The turnaround to the 2022 scouting season was short, yet in a way that is refreshing. The 2021 Draft was such a difficult one to scout with so many leagues on condensed or non-existent schedules. So far, the 2022 scouting season has seemed, well...normal and that is what is refreshing about it.

Other than a lack of Canadian participation, the 2021 Hlinka/Gretzky cup was held to kick off the season. The OHL has returned and the entire CHL is playing a full schedule. The Swedish junior leagues are back, and the country looks to have a strong crop again. Every league being scouted across the globe is operating as per usual and it has made our job that much easier.

Our first 2022 NHL Draft ranking takes into account some international performances, in addition to league start-ups. The McKeen’s scouting team has been hard at work behind the scenes and we feel very confident in this early assessment.

Here is a short rundown of our preliminary Top 32:

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

Wright is worth the hype. The comparisons to the likes of Patrice Bergeron and Jonathan Toews are apt. A born leader, he is one of the most complete and intelligent players to come through the draft in recent years. After a bit of a slow start, he is starting to heat up and recently took home the OHL’s player of the week award.

You can read more about Shane Wright from an earlier feature by Brock Otten on Oct. 26, 2021:

2. Matthew Savoie, C, Winnipeg Ice (WHL)

After playing last year in the USHL on loan, Savoie has returned to the WHL as a man on a mission. Among the league’s scoring leaders, he is playing phenomenal hockey for one of the CHL’s elite teams. Savoie combines competitiveness with elite level skill, something that should make him a future first line fixture and potential fan favorite for whatever NHL team ultimately drafts him.

You can read more about Matthew Savoie and Conor Geekie from the Manitoba ICE from an earlier feature by Vince Gibbons on Nov. 9, 2021.

3. Joakim Kemell, W, JYP (Liiga)

As of writing this, the speedy Kemell is leading the top Finnish men’s league (Liiga) in goal scoring as a 17-year-old. No U18 player has ever finished the season averaging over a point per game, but Kemell is on pace to do so. He is threatening Florida Panthers star Aleksander Barkov’s U18 scoring record and for that reason he has passed Brad Lambert as the top player available from Finland. Kemell is just so electric in transition because of his speed, creativity, and finishing ability.

4. Juraj Slafkovsky, W, TPS (Liiga)

The hulking Slovak winger has played in Finland the last few years and has already suited up for the Slovak men’s team at the World Championships as a teenager. His production in Liiga has not been outstanding, but he is still an impressive prospect because of his blend of power and skill. All eyes will be on him at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Edmonton/Red Deer in December/January, as scouts are hoping he can lead a talented group of young Slovaks to the medal round.

5. Simon Nemec, D, Nitra MHC (Slovakia)

Another talented young Slovak player (one of three on this list), Nemec is a smooth skating, right shot defender who can play in all situations and already has significant experience playing against men in the Slovak men’s league. Like Slafkovsky, scouts are hoping to see Nemec play well at the World Juniors next month. A strong performance could help secure his place at the draft’s top defender.

You can read more about Simon Nemec from an earlier feature by Matej Deraj on Nov. 2, 2021.

6. Danila Yurov, W, Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL)

Yurov burst onto the scene at this year’s Under 18’s, where he was terrific for the silver medal winning Russians. The late born 2003 winger is a load to handle in transition because of his quickness, skill, and strength on the puck. His lack of ice time in the KHL this year does have scouts frustrated, but this is not uncommon for young players trying to break into the top Russian men’s league.

7. Conor Geekie, C, Winnipeg Ice (WHL)

Geekie is that prototypical, big (6’4), power center that all NHL teams are coveting these days. He can control the pace of play and he can dominate down low because of his ability to protect the puck. He and the aforementioned Matthew Savoie have the Ice at the top of the WHL’s standings currently. His skating ability is a major talking point in the scouting community and scouts will be looking for that to improve over the course of the WHL season.

8. Logan Cooley, C, U.S. U18 NDP (USHL)

A University of Notre Dame commit, Cooley appears to be the cream of the crop for this year’s U.S. U18 team. He is an intelligent two-way center who has very few weaknesses in his game, other than lacking the kind of size scouts usually look for from the dominant two-way types. However, he skates well, is a tireless worker, and has more skill and creativity than perhaps given credit for.

9. David Jiricek, D, HC Plzen (Czech Republic)

At this point, Jiricek is definitely in the running to be the draft’s top defensive prospect. A late born 2003, he has been playing in the Czech men’s league the last two seasons and performing at an extremely high level. Also, a right shot defender (like Nemec), mobility and quickness is the highlight of Jiricek’s game as it allows him to be aggressive offensively. His performance at various international events this year will likely dictate his draft position.

10. Brad Lambert, W, JYP (Liiga)

It has not been an ideal start for Lambert this year, as he has struggled to replicate his success from a year ago in Liiga action. Additionally, his uninspiring performance at the U18’s in April/May this year left a sour taste in the mouth before the year began. The much-hyped winger with Canadian roots is a dynamic offensive player because of his speed and skill, however there is no question that he needs to play better to hold his spot in the Top 10.

11. Ivan Miroshnichenko, W, Omskie (VHL)

A big power winger capable of dominating down low, Miroshnichenko has drawn comparisons to Carolina Hurricanes star Andrei Svechnikov. He captained Russia to a gold medal at the Hlinka/Gretzky cup this summer. There was some thought that he would head to the CHL this year, but thus far he has stayed in Russia to play in the secondary men’s league (VHL).

12. Frank Nazar, W, U.S. U18 NDP (USHL)

Scouts love the combination of speed and skill that Nazar demonstrates on a nightly basis. The University of Michigan commit has significant upside as an offensive player and is a huge favorite of our video scouting team.

13. Noah Ostlund, C, Djurgardens IF (SHL/J20)

Thus far Ostlund has split his season between the SHL and the J20 league in the Djurgardens program. He is a strong two-way center with a tireless work rate. If you believe the offensive upside is legitimate, he is someone you rank highly and obviously our scouts have that belief.

14. Elias Salomonsson, D, Skelleftea (J20 Nationell)

Salomonsson’s blend of size, mobility, and passing touch, in combination with his right-handed shot, has him firmly in the running for top defender available this year. His performance internationally thus far has been a little underwhelming, but he has been playing well in the Swedish junior leagues.

15. Tristan Luneau, D, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)

Luneau recently returned to action earlier than expected from offseason surgery on a lower body injury, so scouts will need to be patient with him as he regains his form. However, Luneau is a potential top four defender who can play in all situations because of his well-rounded skill set.

16. Seamus Casey, D, U.S. U18 NDP (USHL)

The Florida born and raised defender is not big, but he sure is fun to watch because of how well he skates and because of his ability to create in transition. The University of Michigan blueliner is another favorite of our video scouting team.

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17. Jonathan Lekkerimaki, C, Djurgardens (J20 Nationell)

A shoot first center who is rising fast on draft lists because of his elite shot and goal scoring instincts. Lekkerimaki currently leads the Swedish junior circuit in goal scoring, averaging a goal per game.

18. Marco Kasper, C, Rogle (SHL)

Kasper is a big, power center from Austria who is playing in his second year in Sweden and his first full year in the SHL. He seems to get better every game and has recently played tremendous at the Champions League tournament where he has helped Rogle finish first in their division in the group stage, while averaging a point per game.

19. Ryan Chesley, D, U.S. U18 NDP (USHL)

The offensive production has not quite been at the level some had expected so far this year, but Chesley’s floor as a defensive player is still high because of his combination of IQ, mobility, and physicality. He could fall over the course of the season, however, due to concerns about his ceiling as an NHL player if his offensive game does not develop further.

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

The third of three Slovak players in the Top 20, Mesar is a dynamic forward in transition who consistently produces scoring chances when playing with pace. The Kitchener Rangers of the OHL are still holding out hope that he comes to the OHL after the World Juniors, however he is seeing regular time in the Slovak men’s league.

21. Nathan Gaucher, C, Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)

A late born 2003 player, Gaucher is a leader for the Quebec Remparts, one of the top teams in the QMJHL this season. He is a potential shutdown, two-way center thanks to his competitiveness, size, and ability to dominate the high traffic areas of the ice. Scouts wonder about his high end offensive potential due to average puck skill.

22. Alexander Perevalov, W, Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)

Out of the shadow of the ultra-talented Matvei Michkov (the two have played together through their minor hockey careers until this year), Perevalov has exploded offensively and is currently leading the Russian junior league in scoring. His well-rounded offensive skill set is impressive.

23. Rutger McGroarty, C, U.S. U18 NDP (USHL)

Blends power and skill together to dominate through the middle of the ice. His skating ability is a highly debated topic in the scouting community due to some awkward mechanics, however his effectiveness when protecting and producing with pace would suggest it is a nonissue. McGroarty recently decommitted from Notre Dame to join the army of talented players headed to the University of Michigan.

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

A University of Denver commit, Lorenz is an intriguing offensive package. He has the raw physical tools (size, quickness, skill) that intrigue scouts and he has been excellent in the AJHL this year. A longer-term project, Lorenz could slowly climb draft boards this year, as is often the case for players out of the Canadian Tier 2 circuit.

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

The answer to the question “Who is the best OHL’er behind Shane Wright this year?” could accrue about a dozen different answers depending on who you ask. If you ask us, it’s currently Guelph center Matthew Poitras, who is a highly skilled play creator who has the speed and vision to be a top six center at the NHL level.

26. Ty Nelson, D, North Bay Battalion (OHL)

Nelson may not have ideal size to play defense in the NHL, however he makes up for his lack of stature by being an intense physical competitor and an absolute gym rat. An elite powerplay QB because of his powerful point shot and strong four-way mobility, Nelson is currently a divisive prospect depending on how you view his role at even strength at the next level.

27. Ludwig Persson, W, Frolunda (SHL)

A high-end skater with a solid work rate, Persson is a late born 2003 forward who has split the season between the SHL and the Swedish junior leagues in the storied Frolunda program. He has a high floor because of his quickness and intensity, but there may also be lots of room for development as a skilled complementary scorer.

28. Denton Mateychuk, D, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)

Mateychuk is a highly intelligent and smooth skating two-way defender who currently finds himself inside the top five of defensive scoring in the WHL. He played a bit role with Canada at last April’s World Under 18’s as an underager and has transformed himself into one of the better defenders in the Western Hockey League this year.

29. Mats Lindgren, D, Kamloops Blazers (WHL)

In a day and age where skating ability is king, Lindgren may just be the best skating blueliner available in 2022. The son of former Islanders forward Mats Lindgren (senior), junior is an effortless mover, and it allows him to impact the transition game in an extremely positive manner. As such, his upside is extremely high.

30. Isaac Howard, W, U.S. U18 NDP (USHL)

A dynamic offensive player, Howard is an extremely skilled and shifty winger who is a go-to spark plug for the U.S. U18 team. The University of Minnesota-Duluth commit needs to get better off the puck and become stronger to be a more consistent player.

31. Liam Ohgren, W, Djurgardens (SHL)

Ohgren is a complete and intelligent winger who is the third Djurgardens player to crack our preliminary first round ranking. He skates well. He shows great offensive instincts. He can finish off plays just as well as he sets them up. There is definitely a “safeness” to his projection as a future NHL player.

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

At the request of our video scout team, Ludwinski squeaks into our first-round ranking. He started the year on the wing with Shane Wright and Martin Chromiak but looks way more comfortable now that he has shifted back to center. He brings speed, touch, and high-end vision to the ice and projects as a competent middle six center at the NHL level.