It’s only been a few months since the completion of the 2021 NHL Draft but the time has come to start focusing on the upcoming draft in July of 2022. Being touted as a very strong class dating back to last season, the 2022 draft is very deep with high end talent.
With the Sabres likely having multiple 1st round selections in 2022 and one of which being a very high pick, it’s going to be exciting to track these draft eligible prospects all year long.
The Charging Buffalo’s Prospect Group does not rest when it comes to the NHL Draft and has been eager to dive into this class as the year begins. With five minds coming together to formulate these rankings, there were certainly some differences but one thing we can all agree on is how strong this class is and it will certainly be a good year for the Sabres to be selecting up high.
Shane Wright has been the favorite to be selected 1st overall in 2022 since being granted “Exceptional Status” to play in the OHL at the age of 15. Wright’s production in his first year of the OHL was on par with current NHLer’s Connor McDavid and John Tavares so he comes with lofty expectations but possesses the abilities to live up to them. The young centerman showed well at the Hlinka tournament over the summer and was a star for Kingston prior to a COVID shortened OHL season in 2020.
One thing to note is that this class is chalk full of right shot defensemen, with (7) such players making TCB’s initial Top 20 rankings. Slovak Simon Nemec leads this group of players and is looking like a lock to be drafted inside the Top 10.
At the moment, 2022 doesn’t have an Askarov or Wallstedt at the goalie position. However, a few names to keep an eye on are Sergei Ivanov and Hugo Havelid as the year goes on.
The US U18 team is also very well represented this year and figures to challenge the 2019 class for most Americans taken in the 1st round. Back in 2019, (7) Americans were taken in the first 15 picks and 9 total in the 1st round, with 8 of them coming from the U18 program.
The Top 20
- Shane Wright | C | Kingston (OHL) | 6’1″ | 187 lbs | Shoots: Right
It would be quite the shock if Shane Wright’s name isn’t the first one called at the 2022 NHL Draft in July. The Canadian Center does everything well and at a high level, showing very little need for improvement to his game with how mature and dominant it is. Wright figures to excel in the OHL this season with his elite offensive skills, most notably his shot, and overall complete game from the pivot position. Wright knows how to drive play with possession and has the makings of a 1st line center as well as one who should enter the NHL at the age of 18.
- Matthew Savoie | C | Winnipeg (WHL) | 5’10” | 181 lbs | Shoots: Right
Savoie opted to play in the USHL last season after uncertainty surrounded the start of the WHL. Now back in Canada, Savoie will lead the Winnipeg Ice and use his all well balanced game at both ends of the ice to make an impact. Savoie knows how to create scoring chances for both himself and teammates as he possesses high end vision that makes him unpredictable and difficult to defend. While not the largest player on the ice, Savoie’s hockey sense and speed are what make him such an intriguing prospect.
- Ivan Miroshnichenko | LW | Omskie Krylia (VHL) | 6’1″ | 185 lbs | Shoots: Right
Miroschnichenko is an all around offensive player with dynamic skating that enables him to make plays from anywhere on the ice at a high speed. With an incredible shot, Miroschnichenko looks to be more of a goal scorer, though he has shown the ability to be a playmaker as well. Already possessing the size and strength that is near NHL ready, Miroschnichenko knows how to use his body to protect the puck and win battles on the wall.
- Simon Nemec | RD | HK Nitra (Slovakia) | 6’1″ | 192 lbs | Shoots: Right
Arguably the top defenseman in this draft class, Simon Nemec has all of the traits of a modern puck moving defenseman. With his strong skating and top speed, confidence carrying the puck, and vision to find open ice, Nemec can dictate the pace of the game with ease at times. Already playing against men, Nemec has an offense first mentality and when he’s not leading the rush, he will join it and act as an extra forward. Nemec is active in all 3 zones of the ice and with his hockey smarts, understands how to play his position very well.
- Joakim Kemell | RW | JYP (Liiga) | 5’11” | 176 lbs | Shoots: Right
The dynamic Kemell has usurped fellow Fin Brad Lambert in our rankings as the top Finnish prospect in 2022. Driving play from the wing, Kemell is off to a hot start in Liiga where he has already collected 6 goals in just 8 games. Carrying the puck with confidence and using his excellent shot from all over the ice make Kemell a threat every time he is on the ice. With his intense style of play, Kemell is one to keep an eye on as a prospect who can continue to climb draft ranks.
- Brad Lambert | C/RW | JYP (Liiga) | 6’0″ | 179 lbs | Shoots: Right
Lambert was looking like a lock to challenge for 2nd overall in 2022 but has had slow start to his season in Liiga, causing him to fall down draft boards a bit. One thing that has never been a question about Lambert’s game is his skating as his speed and agility make him hard to contain both with and without possession of the puck. Lambert needs to improve his sense of urgency and decision making if he is to rise back up the ranks and renew the once high optimism about him.
- Danila Yurov | RW | Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL) | 6’1″ | 172 lbs | Shoots: Left
Danila Yurov has played a very minimal role in the KHL this season to start, though it’s certainly not for lack of talent. What makes Yurov such an effective player is his unique combination of high end compete level and offensive instincts. Seemingly always calm in most situations, Yurov does not get forced into bad decisions easily and understands how to get the puck into the dangerous areas of the ice. With his speed and shot, it’s not a question of if he can make an impact in the KHL, but when will he be afforded more ice time to showcase his talents.
- Logan Cooley | C | US U18 (USDP) | 5’10” | 174 lbs | Shoots: Left
Logan Cooley is just plain fun to watch as he plays at such a high pace and loves to take chances. Looking like he could be a high event hockey player in the NHL, Cooley’s skating is what will allow him to make an impact at higher levels of hockey as his constant movement helps him find open ice. Playing the game at such a high pace, Cooley processes the play equally as fast and is dangerous as both a shooter and playmaker.
- Juraj Slafkovsky | LW | TPS (Liiga) | 6’4″ | 225 lbs | Shoots: Left
The second Slovak in the Top 10, Juraj Slafkovsky is a towering power forward who loves having the puck on his stick and using his size advantage to fend off attackers. Slafkovsky will carry the puck as long as possible and has the patience to wait for a play to open up, whether that be for a shot attempt of his own, or setting up a teammate for a scoring chance in the slot. For such a large forward, Slafkovsky can stickhandle in tight areas very well and has a good blend of instincts at both ends of the ice to make him a solid 2-way player.
- Conor Geekie | C | Winnipeg (WHL) | 6’4″ | 205 lbs | Shoots: Left
A massive power forward, Conor Geekie is very aware of the physical advantage he possesses over the competition at the junior level. Geekie is capable of carrying the puck and playing keep away at times with how strong he is and how patient he is for a play to open up. Playing the WHL this upcoming season will afford Geekie the opportunity to work on the finer points of his game because he can be so physically dominant at this level.
- Isaac Howard | LW | US U18 (USDP) | 5’10” | 183 lbs | Shoots: Left
Looking to be one of the better goal scorers in the 2022 class, Isaac Howard’s greatest strength is his shot. With a quick and accurate release, Howard will shoot wherever he can and also realizes that he can help create more scoring chances by placing shots that get rebounded to high danger areas. Playing for a very strong U18 team, Howard gets to play alongside others who are just as talented as him, which is great for his development.
- Rutger McGroarty | C | US U18 (USDP) | 6’0″ | 205 lbs | Shoots: Left
McGroarty is a player who will certainly challenge to break into the top 10 of this draft class as he has very high end offensive instincts along with NHL size already. McGroarty is able to move defenders with his adjustments to speed and direction while carrying the puck, making him difficult to defend with how unpredictable he is. McGroarty has situational awareness to find open ice and ensure he’s always in a scoring position. With good agility and speed, McGroarty is already showing signs of driving play by carrying the puck and is also capable of playing a responsible shut down role defensively.
- David Jiricek | RD | HC Plzen (Extraliga) | 6’3″ | 176 lbs | Shoots: Right
A very long defender, David Jiricek skates extremely well and generates a lot of power in his stride, which he uses to his advantage when carrying the puck. Having good overall offensive instincts, Jiricek also has a good shot due in part to his good technical form to leverage that length he has. Jiricek uses his size advantage to help him defensively as it should come to no surprise that he is able to use his long reach to disrupt plays and force defenders wide.
- Frank Nazar | RW | US U18 (USDP) | 5’10” | 174 lbs | Shoots: Right
Smaller forward who has no shortage of speed or puck skills, Nazar is playing on the USA U18 team and is committed to Michigan next year. Nazar is an excellent stick handler and whose offensive instincts often put him in high danger areas of the ice. Physical strength is certainly an area he needs to improve on but the skill and hockey IQ are in the upper echelon of prospects in this draft class.
- Noah Ostlund | C | Djurgardens J20 (J20 Nationell) | 5’10” | 163 lbs | Shoots: Left
An extremely creative forward who has excellent vision, Ostlund is a master at disguising his intentions when in control of the puck. Ostlund is very mobile and uses his speed to evade attackers. The subtle moves Ostlund has in his repertoire make him difficult to contain as he’s able to move defenders with head and body fakes, creating space for himself in the offensive zone.
- Ryan Chesley | RD | US U18 (USDP) | 6’0″ | 194 lbs | Shoots: Right
Chesley’s best asset is his shot from the point which can come in the form of a heavy slap shot or a calculated wrist shot through traffic. Showing off some good 2-way defender traits, Chesley can play a hard nosed game in his own end, making life difficult for opposing teams. There’s a lot of upside in Chesley and he’s a safe prospect in the sense that a lot of his traits are very translatable to the NHL such as his passing ability and instincts to drive transition.
- Elias Salomonsson | RD | Skelleftea (J20 Nationell) | 6’1″ | 161 lbs | Shoots: Right
One of the smoothest skating defenders in this class, Salomonsson accelerates well and has good lateral mobility which allows him to change directions with ease. Processing the play in his own end, Salomonsson identifies passing lanes to disrupt and is very eager to jump up into the rush and is just as capable of making accurate outlet passes for controlled breakouts. He has the tools to be a puck carrying defender, though doesn’t use them near as often as he should at this juncture of his development.
- Tristan Luneau | RD | Gatineau (QMJHL) | 6’2″ | 174 lbs | Shoots: Right
Initially reported as having a lower body injury that would sideline him for most of his draft year season, Tristan Luneau is almost fully recovered from surgery and near ready to take the ice for Gatineau. Another very good right shot defenseman, Luneau has a very mature defensive game that he uses to shutdown his opponents and keep them on the perimeter of the ice. Luneau is an excellent skater with high end offensive instincts as well, using his composure with the puck to make an impact in transition and creating scoring chances. High awareness of the game around him, Luneau has a very translatable set of skills to get him to the NHL.
- Seamus Casey | RD | US U18 (USDP) | 5’10” | 161 lbs | Shoots: Right
Casey is a tremendous skater who uses fluid agility to generate speed quickly and also evade attackers when in control of the puck. For a defenseman who is on the smaller side, Casey will engage physically with opponents and plays a fearless style in general. Like many of the other right shot defenders in this class, Casey is at his best when he’s leading the rush and performing controlled zone exits and entries.
- Ty Nelson | RD | North Bay (OHL) | 5’8″ | 172 lbs | Shoots: Right
The former 1st overall pick in the 2020 OHL Draft, Ty Nelson is a small but elusive defenseman. With an offense first mentality and speed that makes him impossible to contain, Nelson is at his best with the puck on his stick, leading transition up ice. While his height will cause some NHL teams to drop him down their draft boards, Nelson has tremendous gifts as a puck mover that discounting him for his height, is a big mistake.
TCB Prospect Group
Curtis Schwartzkopf – @CurtisNHLDraft
Austin Broad – @Austin_Broad
Walt Zurowski – @Sabremetrix
Joe Marino – @JoeTCBNHL
Paul Zuk – @PaulZuk_81
The TCB Prospect Group has many other things in store for the upcoming season related to the NHL Draft and Sabres Prospects so keep an eye out for those as the year progresses.