The 2022 NHL Draft class is looking to be very deep, and it has many heavy hitters that can potentially become franchise changers or elite players. This draft outclasses the bizarre one in 2021, and fans should be absolutely excited for the top end of draft eligibles especially. Before we get into the rankings, I’d like to point out that I separated the 15 players in my rankings into groups. Group A is the tier for franchise players that can vastly improve an NHL team almost immediately. Usually, one to three players are in this tier every year as they are far past the rest in a draft class in terms of offensive upside and skill level. Group B has the players that will positively impact a team in a role, such as a top six forward or top four defensemen but aren’t game-changers.
- Shane Wright, Centre , Kingston ( OHL )
Shane Wright is pretty much a lock to become the first overall pick in the draft. He gained exceptional status in 2019 and put himself on the map with his fantastic rookie season in the OHL. He potted 39 goals and 27 assists for 66 points with the Kingston Frontenacs and won the CHL Rookie of the year award in 2019-2020. After a brief hiatus due to Covid-19, Shane Wright captained Team Canada at the U18 World Junior Championship, where they went on to win the gold medal over a very talented Russian team with the likes of Matvei Michkov (2023 Eligible), Nikita Chibrkov (WPG), Ivan Miroshnichenko (2022 Eligible), and more.
Let’s talk about what Wright brings to the table for whoever selects him this season. His Franchise level upside will make tanking NHL GMs drool. When you first watch Wright, it’s tough not to notice his NHL-level shot as he can pick corners and shoot in a matter of seconds. This forces defenders to attempt to close him down quicker than they may like, which lets him use his exceptional hockey IQ to locate and find open teammates on the ice to dish them the puck and give them prime scoring opportunities. Wright is also a smooth and speedy skater, allowing him to create space to either fire a wrister or make a play. Wright’s comparison to me is Nathan Mackinnon with added defensive awareness. He can be a franchise/generational talent; however, he picks him up in the draft.
Shane Wright Stat Line in 2020-21: GP l G l A l TP l PIM l +/ –
Footage from Instat
2.) Brad Lambert – C – JYP (Liiga)
This man is built on the transitional game. The 6-foot, 179-pound centre’s skating is probably one of the best in the draft because his acceleration, strides, and overall mobility are top-notch. While skating at high speeds, Lambert can simultaneously control the puck efficiently, which makes him very unpredictable and dangerous. Skating and stickhandling aren’t the only traits that Lambert excels at, as his vision is also off the charts. He’s able to find open teammates with ease and feed them with his excellent passing ability. Although at times in the lower levels, such as the SM-U20 Liiga or international play, he can be a little selfish and try to do everything himself. His shot isn’t anything to scoff at either. He disguises his shot to the point where goalies don’t even know what he’s doing.
Although his physicality and the defensive game needs work, Lambert has the potential to become an elite player in the NHL, and Lambert’s comparison to me is Jack Hughes with even more offensive upside.
Brad Lambert 2020-21 Stat Line: GP l G l A l TP l PIM l +/ –
3.) Matthew Savoie – C – Winnipeg (WHL)
If he reaches his full upside, Matthew Savoie will be a top five player in the NHL, no doubt at all. His game is just high-tempo and fast-paced. He’s an intelligent offensive threat who plays with a massive amount of flash & confidence in his game. He’s an agile and speedy skater who blows past competition with his speed with ease. He’s an excellent puck distributor as he can create plays out of thin air with his superb hockey IQ and boasts a lethal wrist shot that fools the majority of goalies he goes up against. His hands are very silky as he often leaves opposing defenders on their asses with his arsenal of creative dangles.
His play off the puck is also looking promising, as he’s able to pick off passes with precision and use his explosiveness to generate breakaways constantly. Savoie’s comparison to me is Mitch Marner with a more dangerous shooting ability.
Matthew Savoie Stat Line in 2020-21: GP l G l A l TP l PIM l +/ –
Footages from InStat
4.) Ivan Miroshnichenko – W – Omsk (VHL)
Ivan Miroshnichenko is the best shooter in this draft, hands down. He’s a fast-paced, dynamic winger with an NHL-caliber shot, elite hockey IQ, and filthy hands. He can pretty much score from anywhere on the ice and possesses a one-timer that is eerily similar to a particular Russian sniper in the NHL (Cough, Cough* Alex Ovechkin). Miroshnichenko can release the puck easily off the rush or in Ovechkin’s office, and most goalies are helpless when facing his shot. The big problem with his game is pretty similar to the problem rookie Ovechkin had where he’s very inconsistent in the defensive zone and away from the puck.
He’s like a different player when he doesn’t have the puck as he looks to be giving a low effort at times on defense. The good news is that he can easily tweak up his defensive game in the KHL for his D+1 year, and his comparison to me is an Ovechkin-type player who has 40-50 goal upside.
Ivan Miroshnichenko Stat Line in 2020-21: GP l G l A l TP l PIM l +/ –
Footages from InStat
5.) Juraj Slafkovsky – W – TPS (Liiga)
Juraj Slafkovsky is a highly skilled offensive winger who, despite being 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, can skate like the wind. He’s constantly in a good skating stance which enables him to skate efficiently. He’s a very skilled stickhandler as his toolbox is filled with deceptive moves that will fool just about any opposing defender making them look silly. The Slovakian winger demonstrates excellent playmaking ability as he can distribute the puck pretty well. If that’s not enough to get you excited, let me also mention that Slafkovsky is also a goal-scoring machine as he makes his money by redirecting incoming shots, capitalizing on rebounds score goals. Honestly, he is becoming one of my favorite players in this draft, and I think he’s a one-of-a-kind player you can’t make comparisons to.
Juraj Slafkovsky Stat Line in 2020-21: GP l G l A l TP l PIM l +/ –
Hlinka Gretzky Cup
Footages from InStat
6.) Šimon Nemec – D – Nitra (Slovakia)
Šimon Nemec is the first defenseman on this list, and he very well deserves the sixth spot on my rankings. He’s an intelligent two-way defenseman with a high hockey IQ who excels at the offensive and defensive game. His offensive game stands out as Nemec utilizes his passing ability to control the game’s pace and demonstrates his excellent shot selection as he can asset when it’s the right time to take a clapper from the point to cause a rebound out front. His defensive game is something NHL teams should be salivating at, as he’s always in a good position to intercept passes and limit offensive chances for the opposing team. His gap control and stick positioning are also exemplary as he can use his stick to lead opposing forwards in a position where they can’t make any plays. He projects to be a Top two defenseman on a team, and his comparison would be like a Quinn Hughes type player but with better defensive awareness.
Šimon Nemec Stat Line in 2020-21: GP l G l A l TP l PIM l +/ –
Rounding out the Top 15 in my rankings.
7.) Danlla Yurov – Magnitogrosk (KHL)
8.) Logan Cooley – U.S. U18 (USNTDP)
9.) Issac Howard – U.S. U18 (USNTDP)
10.) Rutger Mcgroarty – U.S. U18 (USNTDP)
11.) Joakim Kemell – JYP (Liiga)
12.) Tristan Luneau – Gatineau (QMJHL)
13.) Ryan Chesley – U.S. U18 (USNTDP)
14.) Frank Nazar – U.S. U18 (USNTDP)
15.) Conor Geekie – Winnipeg (WHL)