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2022 NHL Draft tracker — Round 1: Slafkovský and beyond

Some years, it’s painfully obvious who will be picked first overall in an NHL Draft. Heading into the first night of the 2022 NHL Draft, there was instead plenty of intrigue. In the end, the Montreal Canadiens selected Juraj Slafkovský overall to kick off the 2022 NHL Draft.

Of course, “Who goes No. 1?” wasn’t the only reason why there was intrigue heading into Round 1 of the 2022 NHL Draft. Hockey fans also feasted on trade rumors, and actual trades on Thursday.

The splashiest pre-draft trade featured the Senators landing Alex DeBrincat, sending the Blackhawks three picks, including No. 7 in 2022.

While the defending champion Avalanche might not be so focused on Round 1 of the 2022 NHL Draft, they also made a trade, acquiring goalie Alexandar Georgiev from the Rangers. There was also a key signing, as the Penguins locked down Kris Letang.

So, it’s already been a fascinating start to 2022 NHL Draft week(end). Stay tuned at PHT as the fun continues.

On that note, keep track of each pick from Round 1 of the 2022 NHL Draft with PHT’s tracker. This post will be updated as picks roll in on Thursday.

1. Montreal Canadiens: Juraj Slafkovský, LW, TPS (Liiga)

In PHT’s Mock Draft, Brock Otten of McKeen’s Hockey wrote this about Slafkovský, the first Slovakia native to go No. 1 overall:

Slaf is the draft’s most NHL-ready prospect thanks to his size, speed, and skill combination. What he has been able to do playing against high caliber competition at the Olympics and at the World Championships is mighty impressive.

Slafkovský brings size and skill to the Canadiens. He’s basically as big as the pressure he’ll face if Shane Wright and other potential top 2022 NHL Draft picks end up being consistent high-level players.

It’s a fascinating move, and could have interesting ripple effects on other picks.

2. New Jersey Devils: Šimon Nemec, D, HK Nitra (Svk)

Slafkovský ended up the first prospect from Slovakia to go first overall. Šimon Nemec went second, which happens to be the second-highest a prospect from Slovakia has ever gone (Marian Gaborik held the previous mark, third overall in 2000).

On plenty of draft lists, Nemec ranked as the top defenseman in the 2022 NHL Draft. Some, however, might prefer David Jiříček. However that debate plays out, the Devils address a serious need on defense.

3. Arizona Coyotes: Logan Cooley, C, USN U18 (USNTDP)

Will Scouch of McKeen’s Hockey connected Cooley with the Coyotes in PHT’s Mock Draft. This is some extremely glowing praise of a player who could very well create some excitement for a franchise that sorely needs it:

Cooley has an excellent combination of skill, creativity, dynamic pace and impressive offense tools and if Arizona can draft other skilled, high pace players who can finish and chip in defensively a bit on Cooley’s wing, he could be one of the most productive players in the draft. One of the most efficient offensive transition players I’ve tracked with a heck of a playmaking mind, Cooley is a great building block to get the Coyotes pointed in the right direction with an exciting streak to his game putting bums in seats.

4. Seattle Kraken: Shane Wright, C, Kingston (OHL)

For a long time, Shane Wright topped boards as the expected No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft. As the draft week approached, intrigue bubbled up. Between Wright and Matty Beniers, the Kraken’s two top prospects both have been described as “two-way centers.”

Via Sam McGilligan of McKeen’s Hockey:

... There’s a reason he was deemed the potential first overall for the years leading up to this draft and it’s because of his impeccable understanding of the game, killer release and the most pro-ready playstyle of the entire draft. There’s a level of safety and projectability in every one of his strengths and while weaknesses do exist, they aren’t anything significant enough to reasonably predict Wright struggling in the NHL. The floor here is a low level second line center, and some may wince reading that knowing this is a first overall pick who is supposed to alter a franchise ...

5. Philadelphia Flyers: Cutter Gauthier, LW/C, USN U18 (USNTDP)

See that LW/C designation? Depending upon whom you ask, there’s a belief that Cutter Gauthier could move to center, instead of playing wing. Some believe that development pushed him up the 2022 NHL Draft ranks.

Either way, he brings obvious perks that appeal to the Flyers: size and snarl to go with his skill.

More from Brock Otten:

His game is tailored to having a long and impactful NHL career thanks to a well-rounded skill set. He is one of the better goal scorers available this year and his off-puck play is strong. The jury is still out on whether he can play down the middle, but if you are drafting him this early, you envision that.

6. Columbus Blue Jackets (from CHI): David Jiříček, D, HC Plzeň (Cze)

Some believe that David Jiříček is the most promising defenseman in the 2022 NHL Draft, not Nemec. Otten opined that Jiříček “may offer the largest boom potential of any defender available this year.”

7. Chicago Blackhawks (from OTT) – Kevin Korchinski, D, Seattle (WHL)

Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson emphasized that Korchinski was the player he had in mind when making the DeBrincat trade.

From Otten:

One of the draft’s biggest risers over the course of the year, Korchinski is a terrific puck mover and powerplay quarterback. There are some concerns over his decision making and defensive play, but his improvement over the course of the season was encouraging. Plus, it is rare to get a high-end puck mover with his size and athleticism.

8. Detroit Red Wings – Marco Kasper, C, Rögle BK (SHL)

The Red Wings added Kasper to their already-deep prospect pool. Plenty of scouts covet his competitive style.

9. Buffalo Sabres – Matthew Savoie, C, Winnipeg (WHL)

Scouch believed that the Sabres would pick Savoie at ninth overall. While Scouch noted concerns about Savoie’s speed, he noted underrated defense, and plenty of pluses.

He’s one of the most agile and daring players available in the draft, showing me an ability to create plays as well as generate chances for himself over the season. He’s exciting, could play center or wing, and would provide a great offensive boost to the Sabres’ future to complement the more well-rounded forwards they drafted in 2021.

10. Anaheim Ducks – Pavel Mintyukov, D, Saginaw (OHL)

Otten acknowledges that Mintyukov needs to refine his defensive game, but “his offensive upside is through the roof due to his creativity and playmaking abilities.”

11. Arizona Coyotes (via SJS) – Conor Geekie, C, Winnipeg (WHL)

The Coyotes traded up for a center prospect who created some debate among different scouting staffs. Sam McGilligan described the range of possibilities for Geekie as “a fringe bottom six physical presence on one end and a polished top six monster with skill and size on the other.

12. Columbus Blue Jackets – Denton Mateychuk, D, Moose Jaw (WHL)

Denton Mateychuk could be an even bigger mystery. He’s one of the most polarizing prospects of the 2022 NHL Draft. Otten explains it succinctly.

It comes down to whether you think he can defend at the NHL level, because there is no question that his offensive abilities should translate well.

13. Chicago Blackhawks (from MTL) – Frank Nazar, C, USN U18 (USNTDP)

Yet another player who inspires some real debate in scouting communities. Will Scouch captures some of the push-and-pull about Frank Nazar:

Nazar is a great straight-line skater, one of the fastest blueline to blueline that I tracked of high end talents this year, with excellent individual chance generation offensively. I’d like to see a bit more intensity and physical strength away from the puck, but Nazar plays a strong offensive grinder’s game and with crossover/agility improvements, you could unlock a ton of potential from Nazar over time.

14. Winnipeg Jets – Rutger McGroarty, LW, USN U18 (USNTDP)

If nothing else, the Jets added a top-flight name to their mix. Otten described Rutger McGroarty as a “true power forward who can play in any situation” and become a fan favorite.

15. Vancouver Canucks – Jonathan Lekkerimäki, RW, Djurgårdens (SWE J20)

Habs Eyes on the Prize’s Jared Book put together a “consensus” mock draft for the 2022 NHL Draft, collecting 15 lists. Lekkerimäki averaged out as a possible ninth pick, and was in that 9-12 range in general.

Rob Howard showered Lekkerimäki with praise:

He is young, just turning 18 in July, and needs to add strength but has not shied away from traffic in the Swedish men’s league. He brings the unteachable instincts of a goal scorer, along with the best shot in the draft.

16. Buffalo Sabres (from VGK) – Noah Östlund, C, Djurgardens (SWE J20)

Howard describes a player who brings a lot to the table, if he can overcome size limitations.

A very intelligent playmaker and offensive creator, there are not many players with as solid a skill set, combining elite vision with clever stickhandling, precise passing and a gift for finding opportunities. Size registers as a concern, and his ability to handle the physical game at a higher level, but the home run potential at this stage of the draft is just too tempting to pass up.

Consider Östlund another key part of the Jack Eichel trade alongside Peyton Krebs and Alex Tuch.

17. Nashville Predators – Joakim Kemell, RW, JYP (Liiga)

At different times, Joakim Kemell seemed primed to go quite a bit higher than No. 17. Book’s aggregated consensus averaged him out to sixth.

Most of the nitpicking seems to revolve around Joakim Kemell as a higher pick. In this spot, seems like promising value for the Predators.

18. Dallas Stars – Lian Bichsel, D, Leksands (SHL)

While Kemell slipped, Bischel might have climbed a little higher than expected?

19. Minnesota (from LAK) – Liam Öhgren, LW, Djurgårdens (SWE J20)

In the PHT Mock Draft that tabbed Öhgren to the Wild at 19, Sam McGilligan of McKeen’s Hockey wrote the following:

Öhgren is a real 5v5 phenom that contenders want in their top six, and he’s one of the easiest picks you can make in this range with a smile on your face.

20. Washington Capitals -- Ivan Miroshnichenko, LW, Omskie Krylya (VHL)

Brock Otten called Miroshnichenko “the ultimate” wild card in the 2022 NHL Draft. Otten explained why:

You have the Russian factor. You have his cancer diagnosis (which looks incredibly encouraging, thankfully). You have his mysterious VISA issues in regard to entering the United States and Canada. However, you also have a big, power, goal scoring winger with good wheels who is a top ten talent this year.

21. Pittsburgh Penguins – Owen Pickering, D, Swift Current (WHL)

A few days ago, The Athletic’s Corey Pronman wrote that Owen Pickering “projects as a second or third pair defenseman depending on how much the offense translates.”

22. Anaheim Ducks (from BOS) – Nathan Gaucher, C, Québec (QMJHL)

Brock Otten described Nathan Gaucher as “ideal pro player for today’s playoffs” and possibly a “perfect lockdown third-line center.”

23. St. Louis Blues – Jimmy Snuggerud, RW, USN U18 (USNTDP)

Another wonderfully named player, Jimmy Snuggerud is someone Otten pegs as a possible “middle-six fixture in the future.”

24. Minnesota Wild – Danila Yurov, RW, Stalnye Lisy (MHL)

Brock Otten viewed Danila Yurov as “a top five talent this year when you eliminate politics” and that was if it was at No. 14. So, the Wild grabbing Yurov here at 24 looks like impressive work.

25. Chicago Blackhawks (from TOR) -- Sam Rinzel, D, Chaska (HIGH-MN)

An interesting call by the Blackhawks after receiving a pick to take on Petr Mrazek’s contract in a trade with the Maple Leafs.

26. Montreal Canadiens (from CGY) – Filip Mešár, C, HK Poprad (Svk)

The Slovakia - Montreal Canadiens connection continues with Filip Mešár. Brock Otten described him this way:

The Slovak winger loves to push the pace of play and is a skilled transitional attacker. How the rest of his game comes together remains to be seen.

27. Sharks (multiple teams, last from Coyotes) -- Filip Bystedt, C, Linkoping (SWEDEN)

Look out, it’s a run on Filips. Anyway, Bystedt didn’t make the top 32 in the PHT Mock Draft, but averaged to 43 by Habs Eyes on The Prize’s consensus. Some ratings put Bystedt even lower:

28. Buffalo Sabres (from FLA) – Jiří Kulich, C, Karlovy Vary (Cze)

Rob Howard broke down what he brings to the table:

He is tenacious and aggressive and plays with pace, hustling for loose pucks, working along the boards and can be difficult to separate from the puck. He can play center or wing and is solidly built and makes for a projectable pick with a reasonable floor, but also the ability to find the back of the net.

29. Coyotes (from EDM) -- Maveric Lamoureux, D, Drummondville (QMJHL)

The Coyotes fixated on size with Maveric Lamoureux.

Then again, maybe they’re counting on the entertainment value of his parents?

30. Winnipeg Jets (from NYR) – Brad Lambert, C, JYP-Pelicans (Liiga)

One of the most dramatic drops in Round 1 of the 2022 NHL Draft, this side of Shane Wright.

Will Scouch vouched for Brad Lambert, opining that “nobody combines skill and speed better, and nobody had as unlucky and mystifying a season as Lambert.”

Could be interesting to see how Lambert turns out.

31. Tampa Bay Lightning – Isaac Howard, LW, USN U18 (USDP)

The Lightning only get so many first-rounders, but it’s possible they really made it count. Isaac Howard carries some heavy “steal” potential.

No, this isn’t just because of his outfit.

32. Oilers (from Coyotes via COL) -- Reid Schaefer, Seattle (WHL)

Finally, the Oilers closed out Round 1 of the 2022 NHL Draft with Reid Schaefer. It seems like he wasn’t expected to go in the first round: