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2022 NHL Draft: Potential late-round gems

Is there more to a ranking than meets the eye?

KENT, WASHINGTON - MARCH 31: Everett Silvertips forward Austin Roest #14 circles back towards the puck during the second period of a game between the Everett Silvertips and the Seattle Thunderbirds at the accesso ShoWare Center on March 31, 2021 in Kent, Washington. Photo by Christopher Mast/Getty Images

All eyes are on Montreal for the 2022 NHL Draft, with the focal point of attention being the variety of players who can go in the first round. However, there are still a number of players who will develop just as well (if not better) after being selected in later rounds, and the San Jose Sharks have been known to hit gold in the back end of the draft. With such a large pool of talent coming up in this draft class, it’s only natural that gems will emerge in unexpected places.

Here are four draft-eligible players who could be key a pick-up in later rounds:

Noah Ostlund, Djurgardens IF J20 (J20 Nationell)

To be honest, Noah Ostlund could go in an early round just as easily as he could in a later round, depending on who you talk to. Though most rankings have him in the late first-round, his 0 points in 11 games with Djurgardens’ SHL team last season may cause him to drop to a mid-round pick.

The centerman’s juniors season was primarily spent setting up his linemates for goal-scoring plays, reflected quite well in his 33 assists. The overall speed and pace of Ostlund’s game is an immediate burden to the opposition, which bolsters his ability to make high-risk, high-reward plays in all situations.

Though he doesn’t have many goals to his name this past season (tallying only 9 goals in 32 games), with a little more reliance on his own play-execution abilities, Ostlund can easily become a player to fear in all aspects of his play.

Austin Roest, Everett Silvertips (WHL)

Few things are more valuable than a winger who can comfortably play center, and Austin Roest is one of them.

Though originally playing as a winger with the Everett Silvertips, Roest’s first full WHL season saw his time split between the wing and center, a position he was both familiar with and at ease in. His quick feet and forechecking abilities shouldn’t be ignored — they really just check more boxes in the broader perspective.

Being able to draft a player with multi-dimensional play that won’t need much fine-tuning would be an easy steal for teams that need to add to their roster depth.

Tomas Suchanek, Tri-City Americans (WHL)

The Czech population in the Sharks organization is slowly growing, and Tomas Suchanek would be an excellent addition to the crew. His bright personality, coupled with a unique temperament in net could prove to be a great asset for a team that needs consistency between the pipes.

Suchanek’s freshman season with the Tri-City Americans was nothing short of a battle, one that translates directly to his rankings amongst his draft classmates. Though he held steady with a .901 save percentage and 3.87 goals against average, by the end of the season, his numbers were a direct correlation to the performance of the team in front of him.

Couple a few more seasons-worth of exposure in the WHL with his prior international competition experience, and Suchanek could develop into a much stronger starting goaltender.

Marek Alscher, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)

In a (hypothetical) effort to have at least one Czech in each position, Marek Alscher answers the call for a defenseman.

Selected in the 2021 CHL Import Draft by the Portland Winterhawks, Alscher quickly found his place in the top defense pairing with captain Clay Hanus, where the two carried heavy minutes on a nightly basis. His ability to adapt quickly and play a two-way game checks off a number of boxes on any team’s laundry list of good qualities for a rookie defenseman. Coupled with his capacity to both score goals and assist on plays with ease, the young defender could grow into a reliable and versatile piece of the puzzle.