Once again, we have gathered the SBN NHL sites together to put on our general manager caps and play pretend for the first round of the league’s annual entry draft. This year, the Montreal Canadiens hold the first-overall selection and center Shane Wright is expected to don the bleu blanc et rouge come fall.
Here are the first seven selections of our 2022 Mock Draft:
1. Montreal Canadiens — Shane Wright
From Eyes On The Prize:
There were several quality options on the board, as you’d expect when having the choice of any draft-eligible player in the entire class. Logan Cooley has the potential to be an exciting top-end centreman in the NHL. Juraj Slafkovsky was perhaps the most notable draft-eligible player this season for what he was able to achieve in international competition. And there are two very good defencemen at the top in David Jiricek and Simon Nemec as well. In the end, however, Shane Wright was simply too complete a package to pass up with the opening selection for a team trying to build a contending roster.
There are no weaknesses in Wright’s game. Many analysts regard him as the best two-way forward in the class. There are teams who would spend a relatively high pick to select a guaranteed third-line player; Wright’s floor is that of a second-line centre with defensive prowess and offensive ability that will serve him well in the NHL.
2. New Jersey Devils — Logan Cooley
From All About The Jersey:
If you have a shot at taking the best in the draft class, then just take him. I do not worry about the position. Zach Parise was drafted as a center and played left wing his entire time in NJ. Same for Patrik Elias until the Devils needed him to play center. Dawson Mercer was picked as a center and spent plenty of productive time at wing last season. Cooley just needs to be on the ice with others who can make things happen on offense; the potential for magical hockey to be made is real. Let the Devils coaching staff worry about that.
I will also point out that Cooley being picked does address a need in the pool. It is light on centers at the moment. Granted, Pavel Zacha, Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes, and Dawson Mercer jumped relatively quickly into the NHL. It is not a position with a lot of age on the squad. Still, the team has just Aarne Talvitie signed and a bunch of at least somewhat long shots in the system in Patrick Moynihan, Samu Salminen, Artem Shlaine, Jaromir Pytlik (who needs to be signed by 2024, not this year. My bad on that), and Nikola Pasic. Adding a listed center would not hurt the pool.
3. Arizona Coyotes — Juraj Slafkovsky
From Five For Howling:
The Kosice, SVK native, is a highly ranked player. The Athletic’s Corey Pronman had him at number 1 in his May 31st prospect ranking, noting, “Slafkovsky has all the assets you’re looking for in a top NHL forward. He’s a 6-foot-4 winger who can beat opponents with speed and skill. He possesses outstanding puck skills and can put pucks through legs and sticks at a very high rate.”
Juraj Slafkovský already has the size and speed of an NHL player. He is listed as 6’4”, 218 pounds, and is already an established power forward. General Manager Bill Armstrong seems to prefer heavy players, and I’m sure head coach André Tourigny will love deploying Slafkovský after next season.
4. Seattle Kraken — Simon Nemec
From Davy Jones’ Locker Room:
The common refrain around Nemec is that he is good at just about everything he does. More importantly, he has looked like a great all-around defender at every level to this point in his career, which includes over two seasons in the top Slovakian men’s league, two IIHF World Championship appearances, and an Olympic bronze medal, all before he’s turned 19 years old. It’s safe to say that his game will translate well to the NHL.
Nemec’s offense is perhaps a bit underrated, as he only notched one goal in 39 games with HK Nitra of the Slovakian Tipos Extraliga. But he excels at getting the puck to his teammates, and as such finished tied for fourth among defenders in the entire league with 25 assists.
5. Philadelphia Flyers — David Jiricek
From Broad Street Hockey:
Jiricek is a very good and exciting player in isolation, but perhaps even more exciting is how good of a fit he would be with the Flyers. We know they’re thinner on the defensive side of their prospect pipeline, and even thinner still with very skilled, potentially high-impact defensemen, and Jiricek would give them a real boost in that department. This season was a pretty clear look at what happens, how quickly things can go sideways, when a team doesn’t have enough defensemen who are able to move the puck, so that’s a pretty clear and present stylistic need, and Jiricek would address that as well.
Just last night, Gabriel Landeskog joked that the key to winning a cup was finding yourself a Cale Makar, and while Jiricek is unfortunately not that, he shores up a position of need for the team and helps them take a step towards becoming faster and more skilled. Not a bad addition, if we do say so ourselves.
6. Columbus Blue Jackets — Cutter Gauthier
From The Cannon:
I had my heart set on getting one of those two right-handed defensemen, but both went off the board right before our pick. After that, it was time to turn our attention to getting a center. Gauthier played wing this past season, but is expected to play center at Boston College this fall. He certainly has the size you would want there, but even if he ended up sticking in the NHL as a top 6 power winger, that would be a great result. Basically, he can be the next Pierre-Luc Dubois or the next Josh Anderson.
7. Ottawa Senators — Joakim Kemell
From Silver Seven Sens:
This year, Kemell got off to a scorching hot start going over a point per game well into November before cooling down. What’s important to note is that, while he did certainly come back to earth in the back half of the season, this 18 year old posted 23 points (15 goals) in 39 games in Finland’s best league.
Compared to the other notable draft eligible player out of Liiga this year, Kemell outproduced Juraj Slafkovsky in primary points per game with 0.49, relative to Slafkovsky’s 0.32. Kemell also was more productive than the Slovak winger at even strength. Relative to other notable players drafted out of this league, Kemell’s primary points per game production is higher than Anton Lundell (0.45) and Jesperi Kotkaniemi (0.40) in their draft years but behind 2019 second overall pick Kaapo Kakko (0.76).