The Puck Authority released its first edition of their 2022 NHL Draft rankings in late November. Below, you will find a player description for each prospect ranked in the first round and some honourable mentions who are on the outside looking in.
1. Shane Wright, C – Kingston (OHL)
The widely regarded top prospect is among the more NHL-ready in recent years. He is a smooth skater, meticulously responsible defensively and possesses the “It factor” many teams search for in players. He missed last season due to the pandemic, and he looked slow early on in 2021, but he has gotten out of that hole and has shown a lot more of who he was in his first year, where he scored 66 points in 58 games with the Kingston Frontenacs at 15-years-old. He’s expected to remain at the top if he continues to play the way he has all year, and is projected to solidify the top spot by year’s end.
2. Matthew Savoie, C – Winnipeg (WHL)
Part of a loaded Winnipeg Ice team, Matthew Savoie leads them in many different areas. For one, he’s a strong net driver from the blue line in. He has a great puck protecting ability, with his lower center of gravity compared to other players on the ice. Even with his small stature, Savoie is not overwhelmed when in tough areas and it’s a strong sign of durability. While he is a good play generator on the rush, he can also do wonders on the power play, where he scored 21 of his 44 points in his first 27 games. His stock has consistently gone up in recent months and could cement his position in the top three by the draft.
3. Ivan Miroshnichenko, LW – Omskie Krylia (VHL)
Ivan Miroshnichenko is among the more volatile ranked prospects over the last few drafts. Many scouts value him enough to have him at the top of the draft, while other talent evaluators feel uneasy about that idea. The talent and ability to take over games is there. He does, however, lack the commitment to continuously do so and elevate his game consistently. He was left off of the U20 junior squad for the 2022 World Juniors due to “poor physical condition,” according to Head Coach Sergei Zubov. He’s a candidate to fall down the rankings moving forward
4. Danila Yurov, RW – Matallurg (KHL)
The Russian winger from Chelyabinsk has one of the best stick handling abilities among any forwards in the draft. His crafty puck moving technique and creative puck rush is what elevates his potential to another level. He possesses a wide range of qualities, but it’s his offensive drive that is always in the spotlight every time he hits the ice. Another aspect of his game that raises his potential output his his physical strength when he’s moving the puck and utilizes it to a power forward level to drive into danger areas. He’s very hard to check as an opposing player. His stock should stay within 1-2 rankings from this spot.
5. Logan Cooley, C -USNTDP (USHL)
There are a few draft eligible prospects who fly under the radar every year, and it seems that this year, it’s Logan Cooley. The five-foot-ten centerman plays for U.S. National Team Development Program and is regarded as a cerebral player who reads plays and defensive structures well. Many teammates, coaches and talent evaluators regard him as a high IQ center with excellent offensive generating abilities and a well developed defensive awareness. His overall game is well balanced, but he has that next gear to impact games in all three zones. Expect him to continue to progress through the 2022 calendar year.
6. Brad Lambert, RW – JYP (Liiga)
Much like Miroshnichenko, Lambert’s rankings are also volatile. Many believe in him being a top tier winger, and others see many holes in his game that shouldn’t be keeping him back the way they have in recent memory. What Lambert does well, he does well. He’s a dynamic player who could be in any of the 32 systems in the NHL. His play with the puck is fast paced and increases tempo when entering the zone. His international play has been good, but his Liiga performances leave followers wanting more. Teams know he’s capable of better play. His performances moving forward will have to be better overall for him to stay in the top 10.
7. David Jiricek, D – HC Plzen (CZE)
Jiricek is an energetic defenseman who’s play anticipation and puck distribution is regarded as one of the best in the NHL Draft. Standing tall at six-foot-three and weighing 190lbs, he takes up a lot space on the ice and has strong range, whether he’s skating backwards, cross ice, or on a diagonal. He gets to areas of the ice with efficiency and speed. On top of being a good skater, which is one of his biggest traits, he’s a quality piece to any offensive play, whether as a main factor or used for quick give-and-go passes. His scoring and passing abilities do not rival the best skaters in the draft, but as a defenseman, he does it well and has gotten better and crisper in recent years. He has competition for the title of top defenseman in 2022, but has an edge on some who trail closely behind him.
8. Conor Geekie, C – Winnipeg (WHL)
The second Winnipeg Ice center in the draft is a towering forward with an impressive offensive touch and transitions the puck well without top end speed. He impacts game with and without the puck. When he has it, he manoeuvres the puck well through all three zones and is hard to knock it off of. He utilizes his full frame to fend off opponents and to drive into areas with ease. He’s also great at retrieving the puck, as his forechecking is consistent and aggressive and it forces the other team to rush plays that turn into turnovers in some cases. His draft stock has stayed constant and is expected to moving forward.
9. Juraj Slavkovsky, LW – TPS (Liiga)
Slafkovsky’s blend of speed and size is an attractive mix that teams search for in every draft and rarely are they this consistently effective against opposing players. His ability to attack the danger zones with long strides is hard to defend against. Adding to this, the power forward exemplifies a quick release that comes off his blade with whip and accuracy. All these things, combined together alongside his big frame, make it really hard not to rank him in the top 10. No other player has this combination of traits.
10. Joakim Kemell, RW – JYP (Liiga)
The Finnish winger is an offensive play driver. He can both create and finish plays with his quick playing style and is often found in the middle of scoring plays. He anticipates plays, whether the puck is free, or in the middle of a scrum and engages them to retrieve pucks and get things going. Kemell’s primary trait is his scoring ability and everything that comes with it. He can shoot from anywhere on the ice and that’s something teams can’t defend against because of that ability. His scoring comes in different ways through one-timers, snap shots and controlled drives to the slot and in-and-around the net. Kemell is among the top candidates to rise in The Puck Authority’s draft rankings.
11. Simon Nemec, D – HK Nitra (Slovakia)
Nemec is a defenseman with good vision, a quality skating technique and prides himself on being positionally sound when defending. He’s also good at getting the puck out of his zone, whether it’s by clearing it, passing it to a teammate or moving it to the neutral zone himself. Nemec’s panic meter is almost none-existent. He never seems overwhelmed with oncoming pressure and finds ways to neutralize a dangerous plays with calm and collective decision making. His greatest asset is his awareness and it gets him to another level in all three zones. His physical abilities are up to par with the top defensemen in the draft, but his understanding is what elevates his potential. He’s likely to move up with a strong 2022 calendar year.
12. Seamus Casey, D – USNTDP (USHL)
The Florida native relies a lot on his skating and puck moving and is one of the more creative players in this draft. He loves having the puck on his stick and often does all the hard work in order to buy his teammates time for better opportunities in danger areas such as in the slot. Casey often jump starts breakouts with good rushing and tape-to-tape passes, while fending off forecheckers and anyone trying to separate him from the puck. He’s a player that focuses on the details, and that’s why he tends to keep the puck on his stick longer, faking out players in order for lanes to open up and create a strong scoring chance. His stock has potential to rise, as teams covet mobile defenders with offence.
13. Isaac Howard, LW – USNTDP (USHL)
Howard has donned the American jersey since his U16 days and continues to excel in the U.S. National Team Development Program in his draft year. The five-foot-ten forward from Hudson is a dual threat player when on the ice, as well as a play generator and finisher. His versatility makes him easy to plug in anywhere in the lineup and basically the same way on the power play. He also possesses great puck moving skills and has good range when rushing up ice. There’s a good chance he moves up in the mid-season rankings by The Puck Authority.
14. Elias Salomonsson, D – Skelleftea (J20 Nationell)
Salomonsson is another modern-type defenseman who shows strong lateral and straight line mobility, a good first pass and an initiative to join scoring plays. His game revolves around creating offence, both from the cycle and via the rush, and contributes in many ways as the primary playmaker, or a secondary presence. Though he is a defenseman, it’s that part of his game that could use work and it’s what is keeping him from a higher ranking. He’s a little passive when he needs to be more engaging and it’s magnified more often than it should. He’s probably in the right ranking area, and might move up or down a few spots as 2022 comes around.
15. Frank Nazar, RW – USNTDP (USHL)
I brought up Frank Nazar in an article regarding certain U.S. players to monitor last month. Even though he’s undersized, he is a versatile winger who’s extremely noticeable on the ice. That versatility allows him to play with various different type of players in multiple situations. He consistently drives the puck to the net and his primary skating path is down the middle. He’s not afraid to get into crowded areas with bigger and stronger opponents, and that’s one aspect of his game that coaches and members of management love about him. Nazar scores high in both intangible and tangible charts, and personifies a strong character. He’s a candidate to move up in the rankings.
16. Nathan Gaucher, C – Quebec (QMJHL)
Gaucher is a big body forward who can play different styles of hockey and has a responsable two-way game. His top qualities are his compete level and his hockey IQ, and both are used on every shift. He’s able to read plays and make quick decisions based off of what he sees, often shifting and adjusting on the ice and better positioning himself to anticipate and check opposing puck handlers. He doesn’t have great speed like some of the players ranked around him, but he does have a powerful stride and it’s hard to keep up when he’s committed to a path. He’s considered a scorer, but he does have the ability to play a balanced offensive game. A better second half in the QMJHL will be valuable to his ranking in 2022.
17. Jonathan Lekkerimaki, C/RW – Djurgadens (J20 Nationell)
Lekkerimaki has a knack for scoring goals and he does it from various different areas of the ice. He can do it in tight areas, such as the crease and around it, as well as scoring from range such as either face-off circle and the point. His scoring isn’t limited to just shooting, as he possesses a quality stick handling ability and maneuvers the puck to his liking until he can find an opening and bury the puck. Moreover, he can skate well and sees lanes open to transport it in and start a cycle. His play away from the puck is what magnifies his offensive production, as he fades into areas and blind spots, where he can become a scoring option. He’s a candidate to move up in the next rankings.
18. Rutger McGoarty, C – USNTDP (USHL)
McGoarty is easy to spot on the ice, as he plays with skill and intensity on every shift. The six-foot, 205 pound center from Lincoln uses his body and his balanced offensive style to create scoring chances, often charging the net and slot area for scoring chances. Rutger has been a consistent point producer at every level and has shown growth in areas such as such as puck protection and puck retrieval, which he previously lacked consistency in. He’s always been a balanced forward, and adding size and the ability to play a straight line game makes him a dangerous player on every shift. Teams scramble to add skill and size to the center position, and since he has both, he might jump up a few rankings, as he progresses after the new year.
19. Ryan Chesley, D – USNTDP (USHL)
The six-foot, 194 pound defenseman from Minnesota is a steady skater, keeps things simple and has a low turnover playing style. There are blue-liners on every team in the NHL that keep things stable, and Chesley plays that kind of way. He’s a defender who likes to defend in tight and close to the opposing puck handler, limiting space and options for them. He’s among the better defenders in this draft. An aspect of his game that’s overlooked is how quickly he gets the puck up the ice to his teammates to start a rush, or simply to exit the zone and give his partner and goalie some time to breathe. He’s not a high level offence creator, but he does possess a strong shot and isn’t afraid to use it. Expectations have him staying in range unless he proves more offensively.
20. Filip Mesar, Forward – HK Popad (SVK)
Slovakia is sending a solid crop of first-round talents to Montreal for the draft and that list includes Flilip Mesar. Mesar is an enigmatic forward who’s always in motion, as he uses one of his greatest abilities, his skating, to impact plays, whether on offence or defence. His mobility makes him a multi-faceted skater who can rush the puck or flank the puck mover on either side. He’s a strong puck mover who excels at creating offence and does well rushing into different parts of the offensive zone. To add, he’s strengthened his positioning on defence and it’s become apparent that he takes both ends of the ice seriously.
21. Pano Fimis, C – Niagara (OHL)
The five-foot-ten center from Richmond Hill, Ontario is among the more aggressive skaters in this draft. Fimis does a lot of things right, but the ones that stick out are his skating, puck control, as well as his natural instincts. His skating and puck control get him around defenders and into danger areas and provides him an advantageous scoring opportunity. His instincts help him when trying to retrieve loose pucks and when getting into open areas offensively. On top of all these things, he’s as a player who adapts to his assignments and still contributes when he’s not producing. His future rank could go either way.
22. Jack Hughes, C – Northeastern (NCAA)
Another Jack Hughes enters the draft, this one from Westwood, Massachusetts. He is among the more mature players eligible this year, being developed by the highly praised Northeastern program. He is a responsible two-way centerman that does not give up offensive production in order to have that complete game. Though he is in fact sound defensively, he generates a lot of high danger scoring chances with his abilities. He’s primarily a puck possession player who trasitions well and does most of the work on the ice. He enjoys being the catalyst. In addition to his tangible abilities, Hughes plays with heart and passion, and it’s validated by his commitment to details and seeing plays through until the end. The potential is there to see him rise in the rankings.
23. Ty Nelson, D – North Bay (OHL)
The former first overall pick in the OHL Draft is considered to be a new age defenseman. He’s a strong and mobile skater who moves the puck out well and has an offensive touch. One thing that has translated from Junior A to CHL hockey is his ability to take over games. He can do it at even strength, down a man or on the powerplay. He’s become a solid power play quarterback and it’s a big part of North Bay’s game. He’s strong at distributing the puck, as well as getting shots on net and creating scoring chances from rebounds. He’s worked on his shot since joining the Battalion, and that’s projected to only get better moving forward. This X-factor is a potential reason for a higher rankings in 2022.
24. Noah Ostlund, C – Djurgadens (J20 Nationell)
Ostlund is one of those prospects who excell in both open ice and in tight areas. His shiftiness and high motor keep him in constant motion, regardless of how much space he has, and can weave through levels of defenders. One of the things he does well is his drive from the face-off circle to the net given how hard it is to keep up with and stop him. His speed and acceleration is how he separates himself from coverage since he lacks pure strength compared to those around him. He’s going to have to perfect his game based off of his skill because he’ll lose a lot of what makes him great by adding significant weight. If teams want more skill in their organizations, he’ll be among the hot commodities in July.
25. Ludwig Persson, C/LW – Frolunda (J20 Nationell)
The Goteborg native is a high flying skater with quality puck handling and a balanced scoring touch. Persson has developed an adaptive playing style where you can slot him in with anyone, and he’ll get the most of them. He can create and produce on his own, but raises his level of compete with better line-mates, especially players who can get him the puck in open areas. As mentioned before, he moves up the ice quickly and it’s his greatest asset, as he gets by waves of defending players while keeping control of the puck. He’s a new age player, and with that, could see his stock rise as we get closer to the draft.
26. Denton Mateychuk, D – Moose Jaw (WHL)
Mateychuk is a defenseman who plays the game with his brain and makes plays as a result of calculated decisions. His intelligence is what makes him a first-round talent and it’s what jumps out when you watch him play. He uses it in both defending and attacking scenarios where he can read and intercept passes, or use his body to separate the puck from the puck mover. He also uses his intelligence to start a rush and joins the rush, and beyond that, it helps him when he controls the puck during a cycle. He’s often stretching out plays to get pucks around defenders and into precise parts of the ice for his teammates. He’s not the best puck distributer in the draft, but he’s pretty good and finding his teammates. He’s having a strong season in the WHL, having tallied 28 points in 31 games for Moose Jaw. He could move up the rankings if he stays consistent.
27. Cutter Gauthier, LW – USNTDP (USHL)
Another member of the U.S. National Team Development Program finds his name listed among the top 32 propsects. Cutter Gauthier is a strong-skating forward who presents good size and a powerful release. His ability to impact games from the hashmarks to the net is a major attraction for scouts and talent evaluators. He’s shown tremendous progression from his first games in the American development system and has refined a lot of kinks in his game that kept him from going to the next level on the ice. His commitment to his strengths is a reason he’s regarded as a first-round talent and among the better power players in the draft. His stock could go up in the next draft rankings for The Puck Authority.
28. Marco Kasper, C – Rogle BK (SHL)
The Austrian forward plays a mature and refined game and uses his body in order to make plays. He’s not elite at anything, but does a lot of things well and is involved in many facets of the game. He’s a very strong net front presence and excels at deflecting shots and winning loose puck battles in front of the net by outsmarting his opponents. His perimeter game is also decent, and he can play well in different parts of the offensive zone. All these qualities are usually sign of a strong and developed hockey sense, which tends to translate to higher levels of competition. His stock is harder to project into the new year.
29. Simon Forsmark, D – Orebro HK (J20 Nationell)
Forsmark is a mobile defender with good size who can play at both ends of the ice. His playing style is a direct result of his two-way understanding, where he can lend a hand offensively and contribute to the cycle, or keep up with opposing players and defend the zone entries. His decision making and mobility are his biggest qualities and they show up in every shift. His mobility allows him to maintain consistent positioning without being overwhelmed, while his decision making gets him to take risks and pinch when he sees fit. Those two things could translate to the NHL, and that could see him move up and solidify a spot in the rankings.
30. Alexander Perevalov, LW – Lokomotiv Yaroslav (MHL)
Perevalov is skilled forward with creative vision and a nose for producing offence. He’s done a lot of things well at the junior level and has played well internationally for Russia, as he’s hoping for it to translate at the pro level in the KHL. He’s a dual threat winger, being able to both distribute and shoot the puck at any given time, and because of that, he ends up producing well. He’s not an elite player by any means, but he does most of the important things well and is stable defensively when it comes to battles and puck retrieval. With that being said, his stock is set to rise.
31. Tristan Luneau, D – Gatineau (QMJHL)
The six-foot-two defenseman is a key part of the Gatineau Olympiques. His demeanour and poise on the ice, as well as his playing style, tend to translate to the NHL; strong play defensively, with the ability to move the puck and be depended upon in any and every situation. He has also become an excellent power play quarterback, as he can smoothly distribute the puck to his teammates, or choose to shoot it when he sees an opening. He has the potential to move up in the draft rankings.
32. Jimmy Snuggerud, Forward – USNTDP (USHL)
The last prospect ranked in the first round also comes from the U.S. National Team Development Program. Snuggerud is a relentless forward who presents with strong scoring capabilities and is always in the right position to net the puck. His playing style can compliment any set of players, and makes it very easy to ice him in various situations. It’s evident that he’s better suited for a more skilled role with high-end players, as he elevates his performance with better talent surrounding him. Another aspect of his game that scouts love is his play and puck protection around the crease, where he has found a ton of success over the last few years. He can also score from further out. He is one of the top candidates to move up and possibly into the mid-round of the rankings.