The Hockey Prospecting Top 32 (2022)

Introducing the final Hockey Prospecting rankings of the top 32 for the 2022 draft! The rankings factor in the probabilities from the model, but also age, runway left to improve (i.e., how much time do they have to make the big jumps prior to certain age milestones indicative of impactful NHLers), league-specific patterns/anomalies and reputation/rank with reliable resources. These are not scouting reports or a ranking of where we think players will actually be drafted. Rather, our rankings provide a glimpse into who we see making the NHL and becoming stars in the NHL, based on 30 years of history and distinct pattern detection.

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

Shane Wright is a unique case if ever there was one. At age 15, he was awarded exemption status in the OHL and played there as a 15/16 year old in 2019-20. His production in that year (66 points in 58 games) may not seem elite but for a 16 yo it’s very elite. It’s the stuff we see from the really elite, sometimes generational talents like McDavid, Crosby, Matthews, Stamkos and Hall. 16 year olds in most any league don’t produce an equivalency like this. Wright was showing ‘generational’ tendencies when he was 16. Hence the tremendous excitement about him.

What happens next is something we have never seen before and may never see again, especially from a top level prospect. Covid-19 shuts down the world in March of 2020 and sends us all on a tailspin of never-ending lockdowns, rule changes and uncertainty. The OHL, Wright’s native league, is shut down for the remained of the 2020 season (like every other league) but is also never get off the ground and open up for the entire 2020-21 season. It was the only major hockey league that didn’t play at least a handful of games. Wright, as a result, is forced to sit and wait for ~18 months before playing competitive hockey again (and not due to a significant injury) … and it set him back.

In the 2021-22 season, the OHL back up and running, Wright assumes a major role on the Kingston Frontenacs. His equivalency of 37 while good (99th percentile for his draft class and tops in the OHL by quite a bit) was a bit less than the generational level we were expecting (high 40s – 50). Fear started mounting about Wright… “should he still be 1st overall”.

To me, he still is the 1st overall pick of the 2022 draft. You have to consider the 18 month lay off and what it did to Wright’s development missing his whole pre-draft year (a massive year in his development). Also, while he started off slow in the OHL, by the end of the year he was producing like a highly-productive 1st overall pick does.

Last, Wright is known as much for his offense as he is his defense. He is noted as being terrific on both sides of the puck. So perhaps the generational upside isn’t there anymore, but you have to take a leap of faith and assume there’s something quite substantial still there. The floor for Wright seems to be a 60 point 2C with the ceiling being much higher than that (a 80-90 point 1C). Covid created such a unique circumstance that my gut tells me his development path is a few months off of where it should have been but he’s still an exceptional prospect that should go 1st overall.

2. Simon Nemec, D, HK Nitra (Slovakia)

I’ve spoken at length before about Nemec and his special unicorn-like profile but here’s a brief overview. Nemec played in the pro Slovakian men’s hockey league in both his pre-draft year and draft year. That’s already rare enough that a dman would be a Euro pro league at such a young age. His production and equivalency, though, was absolutely extraordinary. Like some of the best normalized production we’ve ever seen from a dman. Certainly in the past 30 years. Out of the ~2,000 defencemen drafted over the past 30 years, Nemec’s pre-draft year and draft year equivalency rank in the top 5 in both years.

He’s a defenceman so how well does this correlate to future NHL success? The answer is it correlates very well, especially for these players that find themselves at the very top like this. Nearly every player that looks anything remotely like Nemec (Nemec being at the top of the bunch) has turned into a star. DeAngelo, Quinn Hughes, Pronger, Hedman, Leetch, Housley… they all look like this and Nemec looks even a bit better.

Some have suggested Nemec is a Euro Adam Fox (with his eyes in the back of his head vision you can see it). The model, supported by 30 years of history, suggests Nemec could have that kind of offensive upside. Nemec could very well be the best player from the 2022 draft.

3. Logan Cooley, C, USDP

Logan Cooley, the center product of the US Development Program, has been talked about going in the top 3 all year and he looks the part of a Top 3 pick. Cooley’s production in his pre-draft year and draft year in the USDP/USHL was nearly elite. Couple that with him being on the younger side, late Spring-born (May 4), Cooley’s growth pattern is very good with lots of runway to improve on it.

If there is one concern, Cooley is not very big (5’10”, 181 pounds) but small players with this type of profile often hit big. It would be nice if he was 6’4” but he’s not. The talent, age, reputation/draft consensus and profile in the model give me confidence that Cooley will excel in the NHL. Some recent center comparables that look the part of Cooley include: Mat Barzal, Cole Sillinger, Nathan MacKinnon, Mikhail Grigorenko and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

4. Danila Yurov, RW, Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk (MHL)

Danila Yurov is a polarizing prospect. There’s a lot going on there and I really have no idea where he’s going in the draft. He could be a top 5 pick, a top 10 pick, a late 1st or could fall all the way to the mid-2nd or possibly 3rd round. Yurov, for one, is Russian playing in the Russian system. Given the Russian/Ukraine situation going on in the world and the sanctions levied against Russia (e.g., there’s rumors Russian players may not be able to get visas to come to N.A. how long does that last?), teams may see the talent that Yurov has but choose to shy away from him and go with a ‘safer’ bet that you can anticipate when they might come over and join the team’s system. As well, teams may shy away from Yurov because they’re not sure what to make of him in terms of his hockey abilities and potential.

When you look him up you’ll notice that he played in the KHL in his draft year as an 18 yo (also played as a 17 yo). But in two years he played 42 games and registered 2 points (important to note he may have played 100 minutes combined in those 42 games). But, what often happens with highly touted Russian players is they play in multiple leagues. Assuming they played enough across the multiple leagues, something I always look for and incorporate into the model universally is where did they show best. When we look at Yurov, you’ll find that he also played significant time in the MHL the past two seasons (23 games each year). And when we look at his production in the MHL, it was incredible. Production indicative of a star (Yurov in fact has the highest star probability of the entire 2022 class).

The next question may be why didn’t he produce in the KHL at all, isn’t that a red flag? And it can be. But the Russian system and how they ‘develop’ prospects is a bit odd. The KHL is the 2nd best league in the world, not that far off from the NHL. It is not a development league at all. So players are often brought up young but don’t play much at all. This is the case for Yurov as he only played a few minutes a game. So to me it suggests he’s just not obviously ready for the KHL or NHL yet.

There have been examples of this in the past where an elite talent doesn’t translate well to the KHL right out of the gates but show star potential in the MHL. The most significant example is Nikita Kucherov. Look up his stats from his draft year and, although being much younger than Yurov comparatively, the production he saw in the KHL vs. the MHL is almost identical. Pavel Dorofeyev (2019 draftee) is another example, he’s a bit back of Yurov and Kucherov.

Yurov’s reputation is of a high draft pick, an elite offensive talent with really good hands and vision. And that’s what his profile suggests as well in the model (based on his elite production in the MHL). Yurov may drop and may drop quite significantly in the draft. He could end up being a giant steal for which ever team pulls the trigger on him. For the teams that have multiple 1st rounders, perhaps leveraging their 2nd 1st round selection and taking Yurov is the play!

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

Mateychuk, while relatively highly touted, probably isn’t talked about enough. Mateychuk is a really young defenceman (born in mid-July) with elite level production in his pre-draft year and draft year. Only 3 players from the past 40 years share this same profile – Paul Coffey, Zach Bogosian and Rasmus Dahlin. Younger defencemen rarely produce at a level this high so early.

Defencemen develop about a year later than forwards so having this type of outlier production at age 16 and 17 doesn’t happen very often. He could be something really special. Additionally, the microstat profile from @MitchLBrown for Mateychuk paints a picture of excellence all over the ice.

6. Kevin Korchinski, D, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)

Korchinski and Mateychuk are neck and neck for me. They’re both summer born dmen (born a few weeks away from one another). Mateychuk had slightly higher production in his pre-draft year and draft year. Korchinski stands a bit taller – 6’2” vs. 5’11” and can skate like a gazelle. Torey Krug, Dougie Hamilton, Zach Werenski, Mikhail Sergachev, Thomas Harley and Luke Hughes look like this. Elite draft year equivalency at a very young age. There’s a greater sample size here from Mateychuk and the hit rate is exceptionally high. If Mateychuk and Korchinski went right after one another in any order I wouldn’t be surprised. If either one slips out of the top 10, a team could end up with a substantial steal.

7. Joakim Kemell, RW, JYP (Liiga)

Kemell is a Spring born player (born in late April) who’s already excelling and producing in the pro Euro circuit (through the Liiga). His production isn’t of the Barkov, Tarasenko or Ovechkin level in his draft year. But he’s young enough and the production is high enough. I would describe it as on a similar level to Kaprizov, Kotkaniemi, Puljujarvi and Pastrnak and how they looked at the draft.

Kemell also has the reputation of a top 10 pick, as he finds himself within the top 10 on almost every notable draft board. Kemell’s first half of the season was white hot. He was producing at an exceptional clip and seemed to be cementing himself as a top 5 pick. He cooled off in the 2nd half. He nets out just outside the top 5 but I would have no problem drafting him outside of the 6 listed above.

8. Lane Hutson, D, USDP

When the year was a few months old, I looked at Hutson’s production and size and thought he would make for a fine late 1st round pick/early 2nd round pick but I wouldn’t take him any higher than that. Since about the midway point of the season Hutson’s production went through the roof with USDP and I mean through the roof. It nearly doubled (I would liken it to the Seth Jarvis back season rise in his draft year in 2020). Hutson already had really good production in his pre-draft year and, by the end of the season, had outlier 99th percentile production in his draft year. He was the biggest riser of anybody to me. Combine this with he had a great equivalency in his D-1 year, this is not completely out of nowhere. He’s been growing into it.

Scott Wheeler from the Athletic put him on my radar early in the season and we talked at length about him a few times. Scott’s been a big fan of Hutson for a few years. And I just can’t ignore him anymore. He has the look of a player that does very well in the NHL and should be considered a top 10 pick. The one mildly concerning thing about Hutson is his height.

Hutson is only 5’8”. The average NHL dman is about 6’2”. Hutson is well shy of that. Hutson profiles like a star in the Hockey Prospecting model and we’ve seen smaller puck moving defencemen have gigantic success, especially recently (Adam Fox, Quinn Hughes, Sam Girard, Jamie Drysdale). But Hutson is even smaller than those dmen. If Hutson hits as a star, as he projects in the model, he will be the smallest star defenceman to emerge in ~40 years. Torey Krug and Jared Spurgeon (both 5’9”) are the two smallest star dmen we’ve seen over the past 4 decades.

His offense and ability to create plays are off the charts. But, from talking with Scott, he doesn’t cheat on the other end and has the hockey IQ and speed to get out of compromising situations. A big part of me thinks “he’s way too small. he’s ranked too high here” but then I think about Quinn Hughes in 2018. Hughes was more highly regarded (was thought of as a top 10 pick). But Hughes isn’t that much taller than Hutson. I think to myself would I have had Hughes that high in 2018. Yes. I did. He was a top 5 pick for me, behind only Dahlin, Svechnikov and maybe Bouchard. Hutson’s profile in the model looks very similar to Hughes (just a bit lower). Is there really a difference between 5’10” and 5’8”? You’re a very short defencemen, either way and will have little “physicality” to your game. The potential is enormous. I can’t move him. I have to have him here.

9. David Jiricek, D, HC Plzen (Czechia)

Jiricek is an interesting prospect. The pros – he’s been in the Czech pro circuit and playing significantly since his pre-draft year and took another step this year in his draft year. Not very common for a European defenceman to be in a pro Euro league by their D-1 season and again into their draft year. It only happened 20 times between 1990 and 2014 and 12 of them made the NHL. He’s big and mobile and while his skating is a bit odd he gets around the ice quickly. He’s also highly regarded and is ranked very high, almost across the board. Many even argue he should be the first dman off the board and should be taken ahead of Simon Nemec (I’m not one of them. I would take Nemec first).

The cons – Jiricek had a significant knee injury at the World Juniors which needed surgery. He’s back now but how long does it take to get back to 100% after something like that. His equivalency is good but not elite (Nemec, Mateychuk, Korchinski and Hutson all have very elite equivalencies). He’s also older, born in late November, 2003. The best success cases for star offensive defensemen in the NHL are the ones who hit an equivalency of 25 or higher before turning 19. That option is now off the table for Jiricek. The potential he’s a star is there but it’s much less so for the four other dmen featured above, who are all hitting those levels.

Jiricek is often discussed as a future top pairing dman and this could certainly be the case but there’s a bit less certainty here. But there’s a good reputation and his profile in the model is strong enough (some recent comparables include Cale Makar, Noah Hanifin, Rasmus Andersson, Charlie McAvoy, Jack Johnson, Adam Fox and Vince Dunn). The comparables, especially recently, have netted some very significant stars but more often than not, the players in this profile land as average top 4 producers, not elite ones. I’m comfortable having him at 9, he probably goes before this though.

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

Geekie is enormous (6’4”, 205 pounds) and will probably fill out to play at 20 or so more pounds. For being such a huge forward, his hands are soft as butter. And, again for being such a big guy, the skating is not too bad. Reminds me a bit of Quinton Byfield. Maybe Thornton-Lite? Geekie had really good production in his pre-draft year and saw a modest jump in his draft year. He doesn’t have the Quinton Byfield/Joe Thornton star profile in that he doesn’t have elite, star-level, production yet but he’s young enough that the runway is wide open to get there (Geekie being born in May).

Who does Geekie profile like so far? If we’re looking at big boys who profiled almost identical at the draft we’re looking at Kevin Hayes, Brett Connolly, Jesse Puljujarvi and Corey Perry. I don’t think Geekie’s ready to make an immediate impact in the NHL, especially as these types of archetypes almost never make the NHL right away. There’s nearly 50 forwards in the model that share Geekie’s profile and only Nathan Horton and Patrice Bergeron made the NHL right away. Give him another 1 or 2 years back in the WHL and he could be a serious problem. The age, size, talent and ability to let him marinate and develop slowly … I love the upside of Geekie and what he could be, and what he could look like in the model in a few years.

11. Jonathan Lekkerimaki, RW, Djugardens IF (SHL)

Lekkerimaki, who shared time between the J20 and the SHL, like Geekie, could grow into something quite substantial. He has a similar profile to Kemell (above average production in a pro Euro league) while being born at the backend of the summer (late July). The sample size of SHL games is not great with Lekkerimaki and he’s a pure goal scorer (his shot is insane, especially for such a small guy). He doesn’t get very many assists at all and never really has, very unusual for such an elite offensive talent. His draft ranking is strong but not of a top 5 variety, mostly a mid-teens pick. He’s also a bit small (5’11”).

One thing of interest to look ahead with Lekkerimaki is his development path is about to take a strange turn. I would be really surprised if Lekkerimaki makes the NHL right away. These players typically ripen for a few more seasons in their native Euro league. He’s likely going back to Sweden which is perfectly fine. However, his team (Djugardens) has been relegated from the SHL to the tier 2 league – Allsvenskan. Allsvenskan is a good, and sometimes underrated league, but isn’t as strong as the SHL.

If Lekkerimaki’s production development pattern continues to see significant jumps over the next few years (as we should expect from such a high pick that has this profile), it’ll have to increase that much more with Djugardens to keep pace. Allsvenskan is only about 70% as good as the SHL (in terms of it’s equivalency conversion). For instance, 25 points in 40 SHL games in his D+1 would be a great jump in production and have him on a “star” path. In the Allsvenskan league, that translates to about 35 points in 40 games, which is quite a bit more.

12. Gleb Trikozov, RW, Omskie Yastreby (MHL)

Gleb Trikozov another product of the sneaky MHL junior league in Russia. Trikozov had a 99th percentile equivalency among all 2022 draft eligible players. But Trikozov is also very, very young (born August 12th … a month out from being eligible for the 2023 draft). The MHL is the most popular junior league of Russia and it’s not a league that we see a lot of players drafted from each year.

The small group of players drafted from the MHL that had a similar look to Trikozov (age grouping and draft year production threshold) include Kucherov, Gusev, Gurianov, and Pashin. Trikozov also possesses good size (unlike all those players mentioned above except Gurianov). The last thing is how all the prospect enthusiasts/analysts and scouts talk about him. Everybody seems to love him with with few negatives being boundied about. MHL players seem to always sneak a bit under the radar and this seems to be another case.

12th overall may be too high of a gamble for a team to take a player like Trikozov but in a few years, especially if he starts to excel on the KHL track, Trikozov could be quite something of a prospect.

13. Frank Nazar III, C/RW, USDP

Nazar had solid, and similar, production in his pre-draft year and draft year (holding an equivalency in the 30’s in both years). Forwards that net out with equivalencies in the 30s in their pre-draft year aren’t taking huge steps forward in terms of their equivalency, like you’d like to see. But on the flip side, already being at an equivalency of 30 in one’s pre-draft year is pretty exceptional. The ones that jump up another level, hitting an equivalency in the 40s or 50s in their draft year are the ones that turn into stars almost every time. Not doing so, the odds of becoming a star are a bit less but there’s still strong potential here. Some recent draftees who share that same 30 and 30 profile include Kailer Yamamoto, Nolan Patrick, Kyle Connor, Hunter Shinkaruk, Sean Monahan and Sean Couturier.

Interestingly, Nazar mentioned that he models his game after Brayden Point and I can buy the comparable. Similar size, position, they both shoot right. They had similar pre-draft year and draft year production (standardized of course) and they play a similar style (aggressive and fast small man game). If Nazar was a few inches taller he would probably be a lock to go in the top 10.

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

I like Savoie and am typically not very bothered by size and I’m not really here either. But Savoie is very, very small. He still has the production that suggests there could be a star there but as you start to get this tiny there’s less and less stars that emerge. He’s also both on January 1st. He’s not a Summer-born short forward who’s still catching up to the rest mentally (and perhaps physically) he’s basically as old as as you can get. He’s always been one of the oldest kids on his team his whole life. There’s less runway to continue developing into an elite talent. Also, Savoie was trending even higher in the first half of the season. He looked like a certain top 5 pick. But the foot came off the gas (a bit) in the second half and his equivalency netted out great but not elite. What happened in the 2nd half? Was his game reduced when the games got harder?

All this is to say… I like Savoie as a prospect and could see him thriving. The profile in the model is good. There’s just a couple minor things that bump him out of the top 5/top 10 and lower down my rankings. Some sub 5’10” forwards that looked very similar (it’s not very common, mind you) in their first eligible draft year include: Cole Caufield, Jeremy Bracco, Mason Shaw and Brian Gionta.

15. Isaac Howard, LW, USDP

Howard seems underrated to me. He’s in the grey area of young and old (born March 30th) – the March/April born ones are the grey area. A player born in late September, October, November, January and February are older prospects. Players born in the late Spring to early Fall (May to Sep 15) are younger prospects. March/April is the spot in the middle where the players are on the fence, that’s why I call it a grey area. His production in his pre-draft year was great, nearly elite. His production in his draft year is great. This of course coming in a huge sample across the USDP/USHL games. The reputation (i.e., draft consensus) for Howard is in the mid 20s of the 1st round.

His ranking suggests that he’s at least 2 or 3 years from being NHL ready. But the profile in the model is really strong. Players like this make the NHL in a significant way 4 out of 5 times. Some of the most notable March born ones that share the same profile include Logan Couture, Jeremy Bracco, Brayden Point and Trevor Zegras. Howard has the makings of a “steal”.

16. Juraj Slafkovsky, LW, TPS (Liiga)

I’m sure you’re wondering why I haven’t mentioned Slafkovsky yet and why is he so far down when he’s the consensus #2 pick. Well Slafkovsky makes me really nervous and I fear he is ranked way too high (based on what will be on the board at #1, #2 or #3 but also beyond that). Slafkovsky has the profile in the model of a pick you’d take in the mid-teens or later in the 1st round. His production and corresponding equivalency in the Liiga was very middling. In terms of how scoring translates from the Liiga to the NHL vs. some of the more notable Euro leagues like the KHL and SHL, it’s about 70% as good as the SHL. His equivalency in the Liiga comes out to something in the mid-teens, not typically what you’d see from even a 1st round talent, let alone a top 5.

His best performance, and what I’ve used in the model, comes from his play in the junior Finnish league. But even there it only nets out to something in the mid-20s and comes off of a very small sample size (11 games).

From an age stand-point, Slafkovsky is riding the line between an “older” prospect and a “younger” prospect (he’s born March 30) – another grey area player. So there’s some runway there but not as much as a guy born in the Summer or early Fall of 2004. When you break down the data of everybody who has a profile like Slafkovsky very few of them turn into stars (and you better be getting a star at 2nd overall).

On the other side, Slafkovsky is enormous (6’4”) and uses his body well in the corners to protect the puck and move it out front to create chances. He’s the prototypical elite power forward (except for the biggest part in that he doesn’t produce like an elite power forward). He’s often discussed in the same realm as Nichushkin and Puljujarvi. Two analytics darlings who have really started to come in to their own. But, if you did a re-draft of 2013 and 2016 right now, would either one of them be taken 2nd overall, or in the top 5, or in the top 10? Probably not. They probably go in the early to mid teens. Right where I currently am with Slafkovsky.

The other thing to consider with Nichushkin and Puljujarvi, who have turned into great play driving forwards, it took them years. Nichushkin just had his best offensive season and was a driving force for the Avs in the 2021-22 season. Took him ~9 years to reach his full potential. Puljujarvi is starting to come into his own. Likely to have his best seasons within the next few years. He was drafted 6 years ago.

I just can’t find any justification for taking Slafkovsky as high as he’s ranked. I can’t even do it for the top 10. There are so many pieces when profiled in the model (which does a pretty good job at picking up on future stars… as that’s the point of it) that show so much better.

But now that we’re through most of the really, really high caliber ones… the size and sheer reputation Slafkovsky has (e.g., teams are legitimately debating taking him #1!), at this point I need to jump on the hype train and assume the model, on it’s own, is missing something big.

There’s prospects that I like more and that show much better in the model still left at this point but there seems to be something there on the eye test/intangibles front that everybody is in love with. Plus, as I mentioned, Slafkovsky is on the cusp of being on the older side but he’s right in that grey area (Lucas Raymond was in a similar grey area). The value adds up to take a swing on Slafkovsky here.

The most recent players that profiled similar to Slafkovsky in the model taken in the top 10 include: Tyler Boucher, Casey Mittelstadt, Tyson Jost, Mikko Rantnanen, Valeri Nichushkin, Mark Scheifele, Alexander Burmistrov, Benoit Pouliot and Andrew Ladd. Rantanen, Nichushkin and Scheifele jump out but not an overwhelming list.

17 Filip Mesar, W/C, HK Poprad (Slovakia)

Mesar is a very unique case. The only player in the entire database that has the exact same profile is Anton Lundell. Pops early in a pro league in Europe as an older birthdate and then treads water in their draft year (production-wise) and doesn’t take a big step forward. Mesar is born January 3, so growing up, he was always been one of the oldest players. Except when he’s playing up. Mesar has been playing well up for years.

He was on the Slovak U20 team when he was 15 (uncommon) and was playing in the pro Slovakia league by age 16 (very uncommon). Lundell had a similar path in Finland from age 15 to age 18. Lundell’s worked out pretty well for Florida, after hitting big production jumps in his D+1 and D+2 seasons. Might that be in store for Mesar as well? Mesar’s draft consensus is in the late teens. The value and the reputation all add up to have him here.

18. Rutger McGroarty, C, USDP

McGroarty saw 95th percentile standardized production in his draft year and another one of those grey area birthdates (born March 30, just like Howard and Slafkovsky). As well, in McGroarty’s pre-draft year is believed to have had Covid in early February 2021 (you can see in his game logs a two week absence from February 5th to February 19th). Prior to that moment McGroarty’s production was very good for a March-born D-1 forward and falls off a cliff right after.

Without the wrench in the spokes that is contracting Covid, McGroarty likely nets out with a notable pre-draft year to go along with great production in his draft year. In fact, he likely looks like a near replica to his USDP counterpart Isaac Howard (mentioned a few spots previous). McGroarty also has good size and plays the coveted center position. The top end of this draft is very good. There’s lots of high star probability players, more so than the average draft. In a normal year, McGroarty is probably ranked higher.

19. Alexander Perevalov, LW, Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)

We start to get into clusters at this point. Perevalov and McGroarty look very similar. McGroarty gets the edge based on his draft consensus and that he plays center. Perevalov is another prospect from the sometimes forgotten MHL league. Some 6’0” to 6’1” players that have a matching profile to McGroarty and Perevalov include: Brad Richards, Ales Hemsky, Cory Emmerton, Kyle Turris, Evander Kane, Jonathan Huberdeau and Sam Bennett. Many stars/fringe stars come from this grouping.

20. Jagger Firkus, RW, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)

Like McGroarty and Perevalov, Firkus is in the same tier. Good production in his pre-draft year, great (not elite production) in his draft year. Firkus drops behind McGroarty and Perevalov due to his height (5’10”) as well as his draft consensus being slightly behind those two as well. Although, Firkus’ stock has been rising all year. He started the year as a 2nd or 3rd round possibility and now finds himself in the 1st round on many draft rankings. Here’s some 5’10” or shorter players who have the same profile as Firkus does going into the draft were Ray Whitney, Marty St. Louis, Mike Comrie, Adam Mascherin and Bobby Brink. Just like the taller segment that has this archetype, there’s some good success here.

21. Pavel Mintyukov, D, Saginaw Spirit (OHL)

The Russian Mintyukov has been in North America for the past few years. His pre-draft year, like Wright, got wiped out in the OHL. His equivalency in his draft year in the OHL was really strong, nearly elite. When you read the scouting reports about him, they all talk about the offense that he generates. Some describing assuming the role of a 4th forward sometimes. I love the offensive ones that have a good chance of being a star.

Mintyukov could certainly be this (doesn’t quite look it yet). He missed his pre-draft year and as an older draftee especially it probably set him back a bit (just like Wright). Assuming he had a normal pre-draft year and draft year, you can probably estimate he has a good equivalency in both years, likely improving on his DY equivalency by 20% to 25%. And that would certainly be bordering the elite variety.

Bit more unknown here with the missed pre-draft year. Could see this one hitting much bigger than the typical player I would have ranked in the mid 20’s, however.

22. Cutter Gauthier, C/LW, USDP

Cutter Gauthier is a big forward with a great shot. But he’s one of the oldest players in the draft class (born January 19, 2004). His production in his pre-draft and draft year are good but on the verge of a player that is taken in the back half of the 1st round, not the top 10. If he’s a few inches shorter, I don’t think he would rank as high as he often does. He’s still a 1st round talent but probably not an elite one. 1/6 1st rounders that look like this hit as stars. Specifically, the last three 6’3” or taller 1st rounders that looked like this, Logan Brown, Steve Bernier and Landon Wilson, all missed as stars. Jason Arnott hit as one in 1993.

23. Liam Ohgren, LW, Djugardens IF J20 (J20)

Ohgren is by and large the Swedish version of Gauthier. Born 9 days later than Gauthier. A bit smaller but still good size. In both cases, their best asset is their shot. They also have the same profile in the model. These two are neck and neck to me. I’ll lean to Gauthier due to the much more favorable reputation and draft consensus. It is also encouraging that Ohgren, while producing very little thus far, is already seeing time in the SHL.

24. Jimmy Snuggerud, RW, USDP

Now we start to get into a lot of players that look similar. Good but not elite production but they’re highly thought of and there’s some runway for the players to pop and and evolve into something more substantial. Forwards that tend to make the NHL and have a substantial offensive impact tend to hit big equivalencies (40+) by age 19-20. Snuggerud has an equivalency of 26 currently and was born in June, 2004. If Snuggerud’s equivalency improves by 20% to 30% in his D+1 and D+2 seasons in college (typical of a pick that looks like this), his trajectory will improve dramatically has he will be nearing that big early equivalency.

Snuggerud is the first of this grouping that will carry us to the end of the Top 32. He’s young (born June 1), saw good production in his draft year in the USDP. His draft consensus, nearly unanimously, suggests a late 1st round pick.

25. Marco Kasper, C, Rogle BK J20 (J20)

The Austrian Kasper is very similar to Snuggerud but a bit behind. Born in the Spring, decent production in the J20 (falls off a bit for the SHL), not as high as Snuggerud but good. Similar size as well to Snuggerud. His consensus ranking is 18th but a few sources have him just outside the top 10.

26. Ivan Miroshnichenko, LW, Omskie Krylia (VHL)

Miroshnichenko is regarded as a mid-teens 1st round talent (his consensus ranking has him at #16). A couple things make me hesitant to take him in the teens, based on the talent available. He’s an older prospect (born February 4). He had near elite level production in his pre-draft year but didn’t make another jump in his draft year, staying at the same equivalency. However, news came down in March that Miroshnichenko was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. Miroshnichenko completed treatment and was cleared to start practicing in June. This situation no doubt impacted his draft year. Hopefully Miroshnichenko is passed all that now.

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

Younger (another March 30th born grey area player like Slafkovsky, Howard and McGroarty), smaller puck moving dman. Nelson has a good draft year equivalency (just a bit off his OHL counterpart Mintyukov). Consensus has him as a very late 1st round pick. Nelson is also missing the pre-draft year because of the OHL being shut down. Like Wright and Mintyukov, I’m going to give Nelson the benefit of the doubt and assume he has a pretty substantial pre-draft year and increases his draft year production by a bit if there was no Covid shutdown. With these assumptions, 27th overall is actually great value for a pick like this.

28. Noah Ostlund, C, Djugardens IF J20 (J20)

Grey area youngin’ once again (born mid March). Shared time between the J20 and SHL (good sign he’s already getting time in the SHL, although the production wasn’t there yet). His production in the J20 in his pre-draft year and draft year was good (typical of a late 1st round pick), although plateauing like Miroshnichenko. Consensus has him at 27th overall.

29. Calle Odelius, D, Djugardens IF J20 (J20)

Calle Odelius has a consensus ranking right at the end of the 1st round. Decent size. Good enough production in the J20 while also getting a bit of time in the SHL. Odelius also checks off the really young box (born May 30) and has lots of runway left to improve. Odelius is regarded as one of the most mobile dmen in the 2022 class as well. EliteProspects describes him as a modern day defensive defenceman and compare him to Jonas Brodin. Whereas his production and look in the Hockey Prospecting model suggests he has the potential to produce a bit more than Brodin, who has played a lead shutdown role his whole career providing middling or below average production. Jonas Brodin with a bit more offense could make an excellent addition to most any team.

30. Seamus Casey, D, USDP

Casey is a smaller dman (5’10”) from the US National Development program. His draft consensus places him in the mid-20s. In the model he shows like a late 1st/2nd round pick. That’s where his value is. Good production in his pre-draft year and good again in his draft year although seeing that same plateauing effect that we saw from Miroshnichenko and Ostlund. Also born January 8, 2004, so nearly as old as you can get for your draft class. Worth a shot this late in the 1st round though.

31. Adam Sykora, RW/LW, HK Nitra (Slovakia)

I’ve been a big fan of Sykora’s since I picked up on him midway through the season. Sykora is born September 7, 2004. He is literally a week away from not being eligible until 2023. That’s massive. He also was playing in the pro Slovakia league (like a few other highly ranked prospects in 2022). His production wasn’t off the charts. If it was he would probably be a consensus 1st round pick. But it was good. Not that far off Kemell and Lekkerimaki when you translate everything and standardized the production.

Then you start seeing his name pop up in draft rankings (like EliteProspects) as a 2nd round consideration. I had to put this guy in the Top 32. With that later birthday, the way he’s regarded and already playing (and producing) in a pro Euro league, he has the potential to pop big in the next few years. When I say pop big I mean start to play a lead role for his Slovakia team, becoming a p/g player and evolving into a player with significant star upside like Buchnevich, Fiala and Lundell.

Sykora likely doesn’t go until the end of the 2nd round or possibly the 3rd or 4th round. The value a team will be getting in an asset like this at pick 60-100 will be tremendous.

32. Arytom Duda, D, Krasnaya Armiya Moskva (MHL)

There’s many different ways I could have gone for the last pick of the 2022 Top 32. As I said, there’s a whole bunch of players around here that you could slot in here that have a similar good but not elite profile in the model. Duda, a MHL dman that nobody really seems to talk about, appears to be a step above all those other choices that could have been made here.

Duda is Spring born (born April 8, 2004), so there’s a good amount of runway there to evolve as a prospect. He has good size (6’1”, 181 pounds). And had really good production in that always underrated MHL league (which is on par with the OHL and USDP in terms of it’s equivalency… the players almost always go to the KHL first before coming to the NHL though). His standardized production was in the 95th percentile for the 2022 class (not all that dissimilar to Kevin Korchinski), but he’s also younger than most of the D class (also like Korchinski). You want players hitting big leaps in equivalency at younger ages. Duda is here already. Can he level up further? If he can, we might really have something.

A couple more years in Europe, and hopefully some significant and impactful time in the KHL and Duda could become a heck of a prospect. Comparables include: PK Subban, Matt Dumba, Helge Grans, Dante Fabbro, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Calvin de Haan.

Honorable Mentions: These are players that the model is high on and the reputation is good but didn’t make it into the Top 32 because we ran out of room or players, while profiling well, were mostly ranked lower and were not as highly regarded as the players listed in the Top 32 – Christian Kyrou, Luca Del Bel Belluz, Owen Pickering, Vladimir Grudinin, Jordan Dumais, Viktor Neuchev, Alex Sotek, Simon Forsmark, Daniil Ivanov, Mats Lindgren and Michael Buchinger. As well, overagers Nikita Buruyanov, Dmitri Buchelnikov, Vasili Atanasov, Jeremy Wilmer and Mikey Milne aren’t players I would entertain in the first two rounds but as late round picks. They have nice progression and have hit nice development jumps in their D+1 season.

And remember if you’re not a Hockey Prospecting member and want more details on the 2022 draftees and their probabilities of making the NHL and turning into a star, you can sign up right here! The tools include over 400 2022 draft eligible players as well as all players drafted in the first seven rounds since 1990 (~7,000 players in total).


  1. Wow…tu parle d’un evaluateur Anti Canadien Francais ce type la! Montreal devrais essayee fort d’avoir Shane Wright ton premier choix, ensuite donne des “Ben” des choix/joueurs de qualite (genre ArmiaByron ou des jeunes prospects) pour avancer dans la ronde (6 a 13) premiere pour des Cutter Gauthier/Nathan Gaucher/Reid Shaeffer/Rutger McGoarty…des defenseurs il en ont une tonne dans le systeme presentement. Montreal dois se grossir avec des avants de qualiter si tu veux faire les serie dans deux ans.

  2. Mintyukov will go top 15. He has tremendous upside with size, speed, shot and played on a very young Saginaw team.

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