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NHL Draft 2022 Big Board: Version 1.0

While the NHL season is just beginning but it's not too soon to begin planning for 2022's NHL Draft. Are you right, Sabres and Coyotes fans?

While there are a lot of games to play before teams can consider seriously their draft plans, establishing an initial baseline is a vital step at this point. It is the basis of what scouts are watching for as the season develops. Certain players will drastically improve their performance, whereas others may plateau or even lose their edge. What they did before the season is a crucial background to understand the player they've become as season begins and the time comes to take a call.

A 2022 class of draftees seems to be an impressive one. It certainly is more impressive than the 2021 class. The highest of this list, is a genuine franchise-changing possibility. The next group is comprised of eight, all with a legitimate chance of being second place overall.

These lists will always appear different in summer as in comparison to when they were released at the beginning of the year. However, these lists must be considered very fragile this season. Because of the COVID-19 virus the majority of prospects saw little or no action in the last season.

My list is heavily populated by Americans and Swedes This is a reflection of two countries with large numbers of qualified players, however, they also have the chance to show their worth in the past 12 months which the Canadians haven't had. But these aren't the best times and we need to make the best of what we've got. There's likely to be some risers, especially from the OHL who were able to have all of their 2020-21 seasons cut short.

Overall, it's a thrilling draft class that gives 2022's teams with the worst records an opportunity to rectify their problems as well as providing enough depth to keep teams that draft later be happy.

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

This season there are two major barriers to Shane Wright's draft standings. One is the fact that 2022's draft class looks exceptionally solid. Another reason is that he played almost none of hockey during the season because of the OHL suspending the entire season.

It's a testament in the end that Wright remains the undisputed most likely to be selected as the first pick in July. At the age of 15 player in the OHL, Wright produced 66 points over the course of 58 games. In comparison, Connor McDavid had 66 in 63 games at similar age. However, Wright will probably fall below the level of McDavid in large part due to his lack of an individual talent that ranks as a generational. He's more of a good player in all aspects. His greatest strength is his shooting and his quick release that hides well. However, he can also play the role of playmaker. He's an above average skater with an elite hockey IQ that can create opportunities without the puck and also defend. He's also earned leadership positions that are beyond what you'd expect given his age.

Concerns about his upcoming 2020-21 OHL season were quelled due to his impressive display during the U18 World Juniors in May in which Wright recorded nine points and five assists in 5 games in Canada. If there isn't a dramatic turn, Wright will be the first overall selection in 2022 and could be a top 10 NHL center.

2. Matthew Savoie, Center, Winnipeg Ice (WHL)

With the majority of the WHL season being cancelled, Matthew Savoie spent most of the 2020-21 season with his team, the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL. Although he was playing in a foreign league that had a lack of players around him Savoie was a king, scoring 17 assists and 21 goals over the course of 34 matches.

Savoie is an absolute nightmare for defenses as Savoie's hands are great and he has inexplicable speed. Savoie is a stick-handler with a unique style who is able to turn defenses out, and then drive towards the goal. He's able to score in many ways. If you look at his wrist shot it seems like there isn't much force behind it. But he's still beating goalies from a distance. He'll transform goaltenders into pretzels by advancing beyond the crease in breaks that are only partially broken. He's capable of catching and releasing or shoot slap shots from the ball. While he's on the smaller side (5'9 inches 175 pounds) and isn't a top defensive player He has good sense when he cuts off lanes and causing turnovers using his stick.

Savoie has begun his 2021-22 campaign with nine assists and three goals in seven games with his team, the Winnipeg Ice. The race for second place will be bloody but Savoie has an advantage in the first game.

3. Ivan Miroshnichenko, Wing, Omskie Krylia (VHL)

Ivan Miroshnichenko is an incredibly impressive offensive winger. He is able to carry the puck across the ice with the speed that of an enormous freight train often placing defenders on their backs however, it is also his ability to discover pockets of room laterally, when they do take a step towards the line of blue. He has a devastating wrist shot that is able to beat goalies following an assist, but more importantly, while moving. He enjoys sliding into the middle of the in the lane before unleashing a brutal wrist shot that can slam goalies even from a distance. He is a skillful stick-handler who is also able to score by executing precise moves tight, or get the defense to open and find a pass angle for teammates when he is in a scoring position.

The Russian player also plays with a full-on pace. He is relentless during the forecheck and isn't afraid to make a slam to make it difficult for players to turn the ball over. Miroshnichenko has top of the line skating and abilities with an aggressive personality that will help his well in every aspect of the game. He has the potential to be an all-star scoring winger. After a stellar performance at the Hlinka Getzky Cup and the U18 World Championship, he is entering the season riding high on momentum that he'll need to keep to compete for the second spot overall.

4. Danila Yurov, Wing, Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL)

A single of the interesting subplots in the 2022 NHL draft is the contest among Danila Yurov as well as Miroshnichenko to determine which Russian player is selected first. As the season begins the margins are razor thin.

Yurov is also an excellent offensive player with a varied abilities. His shooting isn't as effective as that of Miroshnichenko, however, he's a more skilled stick-handler who is able to frighten defensive players with inside-out dekes. He also has better vision and a keen sense of the way that plays unfold and the ability to fly passes over areas that teammates can skate to before the game is evident from a distance. Yurov is physical for his years of 6'1 inches and 180 pounds. In addition, is a hard worker on the defensive end of the puck. Yurov isn't particularly physical. However, he's persistent in pulling off the puck-carriers' space during the forecheck. He does not relent when it comes to backchecks. He's always in the game.

One of the biggest challenges for Yurov this season is the possibility. Metallurg are among the top teams in the KHL at the moment, and so far in the season, he's playing less than 8 minutes in a game. He'll require and, in my opinion, deserves more chances to show his worth and impress the scouts.

5. Simon Nemec, Right Defense, Nitra MHC (Tipos Extraliga)

Simon Nemec is an already physically mature teenager with the potential to develop further. With a height of 6'1'' and weighing 192 lbs, Nemec has a long skating stride, and can move across the ice with ease. If you have the puck in defensive mode Nemec can skate it away by himself. Nemec also has the legs to participate in transition rushes. Nemec isn't often wrong-footed defensively and closes gaps swiftly.

A player who matures physically in the early years can be fool's gold to NHL Scouts. Teenagers rely using physical tools at lower levels but never acquire the skills to solve problems on higher level. This isn't an issue for Nemec. He is a skilled player with a good sense of reading using the puck, and his instincts are excellent as is his timing defensively.

The main issue will be whether or not his hands hinder his offensive potential. He is skilled at the goal and is able to identify good passing opportunities, however, he's not equipped with the savvy puck-handling skills required to become a top-of-the-line power-play quarterback. However, with the potential for a high ceiling of top-four opportunities, Nemec is one of the most secure bets during this draft.

6. Joakim Kemell, Right Wing, JYP (Liiga)

Others also released their first mock drafts for 2022 in the summermonths, and Joakim Kemell is often somewhere around the mid teens. Kemell has since been a star in Liiga for the start of the 2021-22 seasonand has led all of Liiga by scoring points (15) and goals (10) as well as points (15) in 13 games. This has led him to be on the top of many people's lists.

Therefore, you must believe me that I identified Kemell as a top-10 player in the beginning of the season. Kemell is an experienced offensive winger that has an intense motor in all times. If he is given the ball and is given the ball, he won't take a long time standing up or evaluating his alternatives. The goal is to strike immediately towards the net. When he's got the puck in the middle and he's able to carry it across mid-section of skating ice. In that way it's an north-south player. However, he's agile enough to maneuver around opponents and push them back laterally. He'll close plays using his powerful wrist shot.

Kemell will not be the most effective player on a team that is good because he does not have the confidence to be a more comprehensive offensive player, but he is a powerful top-six goal-scoring forwards that teams aren't happy to defend against.

7. Brad Lambert, Center, JYP (Liiga)

What is the quality of the draft class of 2022? A lot of it will be decided on the part of Brad Lambert. As of one year ago, the player was just a few points behind Shane Wright for first overall. He became a star when it came to Finnish hockey, winning despite playing over his age group when he made his first professional appearance at age 16 in the 2019-20 hockey season.

His standing took a slight drop last year, as he was extremely good, but not exceptional, scoring fifteen points over 46 Liiga games, and performing well in the World Junior Championship Live Stream. He's had a difficult start to the 2021-22 campaign, however the team has only scored 1 point from nine games with JYP and has been omitted out of the squad.

If Lambert holds the puck the player has a near exceptional ability to generate offense. He's an excellent skater and is able to turn at a moment's notice. His vision is unparalleled, and he'll be able to discover or create passageways from nothing. He'll be the captain of in the powerplay out of half-wall just like Nicklas Backstrom. The problem is that he's not playing with the puck. He's not willing to put in the effort to make himself more useful and accessible on the offensive side and he's a passive player when trying to win back the puck or protecting. If he's at his best, Lambert is the easily second-best player during this round. If his struggles persist however, he's in danger of being pushed out of the top-10 , at a minimum.

8. Conor Geekie, Center, Winnipeg Ice (WHL)

It's simple, Conor Geekie is a unicorn. There aren't many athletes in the globe at any level that are as impressive as his. He's not turning 18 until May, but he is 6'4'' and weighs 205 pounds. This would suggest a powerful forward, but it's not what he does. Sure, he utilizes his size to protect the pucks on the perimeter and transferring them into the middle of the ice. And it's funny to see the defenders bounce off his body.

However, Geekie is more of a finesse player. He is an adept stick-handler that can maneuver opponents with ease. Despite his length of reach, he's skilled at playing using his hands tightly on his bodies. Geekie is a calm player on the puck by pushing the pace when required, while not rushing when he's got it. He scores by sticking his way to dangerous places around the net however, he's also a great player.

How much Geekie is able to improve his skating skills is the central issue. There's nothing major to complain about in his skills and he's rated at a level that is roughly average for his size . He specifically, has great lateral agility. If he is able to find an additional gear to his stride, it could become a thorn in the side to stop.

The necessary tools are available to allow Geekie to be an authentic All-Star However, even a modest development arc could still put Geekie in the top six NHL center.

9. Juraj Slafkovsky, Left Wing, TPS (Liiga)

Juraj Slafkovsky's appeal is quite easy to define. Juraj Slafkovsky is pretty simple to define. 6'4'' and with 225 pounds, and has amazing hands. He's an absolute beast along walls, using his body and stick to fight for supremacy and defend the puck from being sucked into the cycle or slipping into the slot to make the risk of making a potentially dangerous play. Slafkovsky is a superb puck-handler who, despite size, is able to make plays even in tight spaces, or by holding the puck close to his body on frozen ice. He'll cause defenders to miss in the open ice as well as his shots are powerful.

Slafkovsky hasn't had a lot of success in Liiga to date--just one assist over eight games. However, the Slovakian is playing well in a tough league and his draft standing is supported by his dominating results at the youth level. He scored nine points over five games during the Hlinka Gretzky Cup earlier this season, and will be a key player on Slovakia's World Junior team in December despite just 17 years old. There are the tools for Slafkovsky to be a excellent top-six winger within the NHL however, if the winger can elevate his game from a low rating to something better, it could become a huge weapon in the future.

10. Logan Cooley, Center, USA National Team Development Program (USHL)

the 2004 class of USNTDP Players has been talked for a long time this makes it more remarkable to note that Logan Cooley has unexpectedly risen to the top in the last year.

He was a player with a score of 3.5 points per game for the U18 squad last season, and was among the most surprising players of the 2021 World Junior Summer Showcase, scoring three goals in just three games. Cooley is a center player, but he can easily be mistaken as an Winger. He's quick on the skate and switches gears to upset defensemen. Even though he's a left-handed player, he enjoys taking the puck down the right side and is able to beat defensemen with his backhand. Because he's skilled in shooting with his body and he is able to beat goalies with his rush by shooting from off-side.

His size (5'10") in addition to his inclination to be a bit wide could cause questions as to the possibility of his future at the center position, however Cooley is an impressive offensive forward who is able to create himself shooting chances. The distances between him and the other most elite Americans in the draft are quite small and the battle who will be the primary chosen will be a topic that will be watched throughout the entire season. As of now, Cooley is slightly ahead of the rest.

11. Frank Nazar, Center, USA National Team Development Program (USHL)

There's nothing bad Frank Nazar's game. He's a passer and scorer, with an explosive wrist shot that is able to raise the puck from a distance and the sort of perception that lets him swiftly strike or delay the additional time required to find an opening for teammates. He's a top-of-the-line skater who is determined to return to defense and makes an attempt to prevent his partner away from the game.

What is most striking is the way he feels comfortable playing in the center of skating rink. There are those who seem to be creative and skilled when given the time and space between the walls, but fall when they're vulnerable and are defended by a tight line in an open slot or neutral zone. The ability to play within that area is crucial to unlock the potential of his game, since it doesn't just make him a threat , but opens up space and opportunities for all the other players on the skating rink.

As of now, Nazar projects as a excellent second-line center that can play in every situation and can help his head coach relax in the night.

12. Isaac Howard, Left Wing, USA National Team Development Program (USHL)

Isaac Howard is an interesting one to to figure out. The video suggests that there's an exceptional player with regards to offensive skills. A winger with a dazzling imagination who can perform passes with high-degree difficulty, he's got the ability to slash at opponents in all kinds of ways. He is adept for locating ways to score and is quick to release to the net.

Even with his tall 5'10" body, he's a sturdy player and is able to score the majority of his goals from the low slot area. Visually, he's a great player but he's not very effective in the defensive area and his players stand out more.

But his statistics suggest that he's playing at a completely different level. The 27,27 assists and 27 goals in only 34 appearances in the U.S. U17 team in the last season helped make him the top player by a large distance. Actually, in terms of scores per game, he's 10th in all time. He's a step above top offensive NHLers like J.T. Miller as well as Clayton Keller. The tape indicates that they are top six forwards, but the numbers suggest a future All-Star. What happens when Howard does against more seasoned opponents in the coming season will be instructive.

13. Rutger McGroarty Center/Left Wing USA National Team Development Program (USHL)

Rutger McGroarty's 2020-21 season began in a blaze of glory, scoring 11 goals in just 17 games. After a setback, he was unable to continue which left him without a week of rest and didn't recover, scoring only one time in his last 13 appearances. It's not the most accurate statistic, since there was a lot of hopping between two teams, the U17 team and the U18 however, the changes were significant enough to raise a lot of doubts.

As with many of his fellow teammates in the draft, McGroarty is a skilled forward. The most notable thing about him is his shooting skill. He is a masterful wrist shot, with quick release that appears to be able to get right under the crossbar both within the tight area and from a distance. He's an innovative player who makes quick touches with teammates within the neutral zone in order to generate rush opportunities.

McGroarty is also a above average skater. He stands at 6'0'' and 205 lbs, McGroarty doesn't have any concerns regarding his capacity to handle NHL strength. The USNTDP's overloaded center poses a problem for him to get enough ice time for the center position, but it could be that he is better at wing, regardless of.

This year's season is crucial for all draft-eligible players However, McGroarty particularly will be scrutinized by Scouts. He's got the talent to make his way into the top 10 however, after last year's mix of results, the responsibility lies on his shoulders to push his way to get there.

14. Seamus Casey Right Defense, USA National Team Development Program (USHL)

Seamus Casey has been compared with Quinn Hughes, though it must be noted that this is just a stylistic framework and that it's unattainable to believe that Casey to be nearly as talented as Quinn Hughes. Vancouver Canucks blueliner.

What is distinctive about Casey's play can be seen in his capacity to get away from pressure using his feet. He'll snag the puck in the defensive zone, and then effortlessly navigate through a maze of opposition. He can make strong first passes through the defensive side and usually surpasses layers forwards to locate forwards on the blue line of play.

On the other side of the ball, the player is able to walk the blue line in order to avoid the pressure. His quick feet permit Casey to hold pucks within the zone offensively while closing gaps defensively. His 5'10" size will raise mild concerns over his defensive ability at his own side during combat, but Casey has the innate skills and flexibility to become the top four defenseman in the league.

15. Tristan Luneau, Right Defense, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)

The last year's QMJHL Defensive Player of the Year Tristan Luneau's role in Gatineau in the past was one that is usually reserved for players with more experience and averaging nearly 22 minutes per In Stat. The right-handed defenseman is 6'2'', and in relation to his size, is among the top skaters in this class of draft. He can move across all directions effortlessly. He has lateral speed that is top-of-the-line because of his swift crossovers and he's able to be moving quickly from a stationary position.

As puck-carriers, he does not have any trouble avoiding his first checker. He is able to find openings for skating the puck in the neutral zone. He also has a knack of finding outlets. When he's in the offensive area, he plays often, taking his first step to be the first to pucks that are lining the walls. He keeps the game alive. He's also a well-balanced player at the point.

The biggest obstacle to Luneau from becoming a significant offensive player or power-play player in the NHL is his poor shooting skills, but other than that there's plenty to love. Luneau has the ability to be a top four defenseman who scores 25-30 points in a season and is a key player for his team.

16. Elias Salomonsson, Right Defense, Skelleftea (SHL)

In a few ways, Elias Salomonsson blends in as one of the right-handed defensive players who can move pucks during this draft. He's 6'1'' tall and skates with ease. He doesn't require a lot of runway to turn corners. Once the ball is in his direction, he's able to effortlessly glide across the neutral area without having to take numerous steps.

However, Salomonsson is a standout. He is perhaps the most effective stretch-passer among the bunch, effortlessly sending pucks down and across vast European Ice and striking teammates with his blades. Particularly, he's exceptionally confident when he makes long backhand passes. This is not typical for defensemen.

He loves to be part of the rush, and during controlled offensive plays, zone, he's always trying for a way to be lost to the side of the field and move up to the faceoff spot. In the defensive zone, he takes up space quickly and stops games that are in neutral zones. There is a tendency to make bad choices when protecting in the defensive zone however, that ability could be developed with time.

There's more salomonsson: he's one of the youngest players of the draft, and yet has already made appearances within the Swedish Hockey League. There's a an argument to believe that he has the potential to develop further literally and metaphorically. There's plenty of potential here and he's in a position to climb to among the elite 10.

17. David Jiricek, Right Defense, HC Plzen (Tipsport Extraliga)

David Jiricek is a staunch defense in his own. The 6-foot-3-inch defender weighs in at 6'3'' tall and weights 176 pounds and is a good skater that's why he's not just able to play professional hockey at the age of 17 but also consume a significant amount in time for Plzen. It's not all brute force however. He's a smart defensive player who can effectively take space away without being trapped. He has a sharp eye for reading the defensive zone and utilizes his extended reach to step into lanes in the right times and intercept passes.

The most appropriate description of his offensive style is that it's comfortable. He's not likely to split two players with his moves, but he's comfortable taking the puck north and is able to make good outlet passes. On the offensive end, the player is probably not going to be a quarterback but he's not shy of playing the puck to the line of blue and playing. Additionally, he's got a strong shot that he uses to score plenty of goals.

Jiricek is among the oldest and physically mature of players this class of draft this means he's got less work to accomplish for his chance to play in the NHL. This could mean a lower ceiling for his potential upside.

18. Ryan Chesley, Right Defense, USA National Team Development Program (USHL)

Ryan Chesley is a well-rounded defenseman who has no obvious weakness. He's a dependable player of the puck who can make smooth outlets from his defensive line and also joins in the rush. He's a skilled skater who can eat areas in the neutral zone. He is a reliable defender at his own zone who is a great job of relocating pucks behind the goal line, and taking on battles.

There are some who rank Chesley as the most outstanding American defenseman of the draft. But it's not just that Casey Casey ahead of his fellow players and teammates, but it's also not quite there yet. Chesley hasn't displayed the remarkable ability to play the way similar to the ones Casey does and it's hard to imagine how he can close this gap in any other way.

This isn't to say that you shouldn't admire Chesley However, he is a good player. He's an excellent second-pairing defenseman who is a regular contributor to secondary offense. It's a position that any team would love to have, especially on the right side of the.

19. Simon Forsmark, Left Defense, Orebro (SHL)

The arrows are pointed upwards to Simon Forsmark, one of the top risers in 2021-22's season. Simon was a good performer during the spring tournament at the U18 World Championship, and this year was a major success in Sweden's J20 league, scoring 3 goals, 14 assists over 14 games, effectively forcing Orebro to move his name for The Swedish Hockey League.

Born in October 2003. Forsmark has been one of the most senior players who are eligible for the draft in 2022 and must be taken into consideration. His game is in large part a reflection of his maturity, given that the tall man is already weighs a hefty 194 lbs. He has a long stick , which is able to break up a number of games. He's comfortable carrying the puck forward in the neutral zone. However, possibly due to his length, doesn't have much east-west mobility while playing.

He is a pretty good hit from the point, and can create exciting moves in the zone of attack, but it's not necessarily a quarterback. Forsmark has come out of the fringes and is an undisputed first-round selection, and has room to increase his selection if he can maintain the same quality of play.

20. Filip Mesar, Left Wing, HK Poprad (Tipos Extraliga)

Filip Mesar is a dynamic skater who is very lightweight in his step. He can climb up the ice fast and effortlessly change direction. In addition, with the capability to keep his stick-hand in close proximity to him, Mesar is a zone-entry machine.

When it comes to the offensive line,, he stands out as a player. He'll get teammates off the line and perform cross-seam pass plays from the wall on controlled plays. The doubts about his scoring ability could be the reason he's not among the top 20 picks of this draft, however the player appears to be a guaranteed first-rounder at this moment in the season.

If he is able to put up credible goalscoring numbers in Slovakia -- he's scored three goals in his seven games--then it could be an easy climber up any team's list of draft candidates.

21. Noah Ostlund, Center, Djurgardens J20 (J20 Nationell)

"Energia" or "energy" in hockey typically refers to players who use an athletic style of hockey. However, that's not the case for Ostlund however, he definitely is eligible. He's more akin to the image of a gnat that constantly keeps a watchful eye on your face, no regardless of the number of times that you attempt to remove it. His feet are constantly moving on the skating ice, and he's looking for a way to reach the puck and affect the play.

Ostlund is mostly an offensive player. He's quick on his feet and stops at a moment's notice, looking to make quick head fakes and pivots to confuse defenders and create the way for passing. He's scored 15 points over 13 games, and despite only two goals, his record suggests that he has goal-scoring potential.

Ostlund's progress is likely to be slow because it takes the time to get his five-foot-10", 166-pound frame reach the pro-level of strength, however, he has plenty of equipment and the mental capacity to be an average-sized NHL center who doesn't miss any time off.

22. Marco Kasper, Center/Left Wing, Rogle (SHL)

The Austrian Forward made the move to Sweden in the last season and quickly moved in the ranks. He first split his games between J20 as well as the J18 leagues before playing some SHL games. Kasper has been given a more seriously regarded spot in the premier league this season for Rogle and it's difficult to imagine him being demoted any time in the near future. Kasper has scored three assists and three goals in the 8 SHL Games as well as an impressive six points in the six Champions League games.

Kasper maintains his footing when he's in offensive mode, is hard at the cycle and has a keen eye to the net. He's scored numerous poor goals this season, by taking his time in the crease and being punished along the way. However, his position in the rankings is more based on his stats rather than any actual viewing. A continued chance to watch him compete in his SHL level will give a an accurate idea of where he sits in the ranking.

23. Ludwig Persson, Left Wing, Frolunda J20 (J20 Nationell)

Persson has been in the spotlight for several years but his value has fallen to a certain degree. He's a winger that has tremendous speed, given that he has an incredibly quick start to his steps and can speed up over opponents.

He's proficient in bringing the puck into straight lines, and can stop goalies by swift flicks of his wrists, even though the majority of his work is playmaking. The player made his SHL debut in the year 2000 as an 16-year-old with the renowned Frolunda and has seen more playing time over the past two seasons too. He's got 17 points from 12 J20 games thus far this season, and is expected to play frequently with Frolunda within the SHL.

24. Denton Mateychuk, Left Defense, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)

What Mateychuk has a problem with flash, what he makes up for with effectiveness. He's not likely blow your mind daily but he does all the small things perfectly. He has a tight gap in defense of rushes and exhibits an ability to disrupt plays both by using his body and stick. He's quick on the puck from the back and is a skilled player on offense.

Mateychuk isn't as impressive as players who have more physical skills in this defense-oriented draft however, he's a reliable two-way defensive player who could be the kind of deep minute-eater in the second or third team that can turn the team that is in the playoffs into a potential contender.

25. Nathan Gaucher, Center, Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)

A lot of ways, the Gaucher is in the profile of a typical center. The 6-foot-3 player weighs in at 6'3'' tall and weights 188 pounds. He's adept on faceoffs and is able to find how to navigate the net's in front. The puck appears to move on his stick, almost in the most unexpected way within the crease, and yet it's so frequent that it's not chance. The player also has a strong enough release to stop goalies who are further away. He's well-adjusted, even if it's not exactly exemplary in carrying the puck across the skating rink.

He is a big man with force, and potential. Gaucher scored a high point-per-game in the QMJHL in the previous season. He has returned to where he left off scoring seven points through seven contests this year. Gaucher appears to be one of the best prospects of this draft, outside the top 10, but his physical maturation and 2003 birth year are reasons to consider whether he has more potential for improvement.

26. Ty Nelson, Right Defense, North Bay Battalion (OHL)

Nelson is a fascinating player to to comprehend. He's listed at 5'10" but at 191 pounds, he's got more muscle than many players who have five inches. He's a defensive player who has an ebullient mindset. He's confident when it comes to pucks constantly looking to take it into the net and his power is evident in his hefty point shot.

As are many offensive defensive players who are his age, Nelson often gets caught up in trying to be too busy However, he's expected to be able to adjust as time passes. Since the OHL's entire season was cancelled at the end of 2020-21 Nelson remains somewhat of a mystery and it's not difficult to see his rise or down the ranks according to his performance this season. Nelson has started off well, scoring a goals and three assists in his first five games.

27. Jonathan Lekkerimaki, Right Wing, Djurgardens J20 (J20 Nationell)

Noah Ostlund's teammate both at Djurgardens in the United Kingdom and internationally with Sweden, Lekkerimaki is close to being the perfect player because he acts as the player who finishes when the two are playing on the skating. The winger has been in the spotlight this season. It started by scoring five times in just five matches in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup and has been on fire with 12 goals in thirteen J20 games.

Lekkerimaki is a prolific scorer of goals. He's one of the best shooters with one touch on the field, with the ability to swiftly catch and release from passes. He is the triggerman for power plays coming in the right faceoff area. Even when time isn't in his favor however, he is able to blow goalies out of the water by accelerating. He's also a competent player close to the goal and has the confidence to just wait for the goalie to move first and then force him to pay. Lekkerimaki isn't an all-round player, but the goal in hockey is scoring goals and he can do this.

28. Cutter Gauthier Left Wing, US National Development Program (USHL)

The current crop of Americans includes a variety of complicated forwards. Gauthier is the comfort food. The guy is 6'3'' tall and weighs 189 pounds. And his wrist shot is very heavy.

There's enough skill that he has to play with, keeping opponents in check, but Gauthier is quite easy to envision as a power forward of the future with 20 goals potential for the NHL. His somewhat limited style of his game can hurt his chances of being compared to best US forwards however, any team that drafts Gauthier will have an concept of what they're receiving.

29. Jiri Kulich Jiri Kulich Wing, HC Karlovy Vary (Tipsport Extraliga)

The following is by far my biggest ranking of players and I'm puzzled about the reason Kulich isn't getting more attention as a top first-round contender. Kulich had a mediocre U18 World Championship showing last spring, but was an outstanding athlete for Czech Republic during the recent Hlinka Gretzky tournament. He is currently doing well against the men playing in his Czech male league.

The five goals he scored in 14 games put him on track to break the scoring record from NHLers including Martin Necas and Filip Chytil at the same time. He doesn't turn 18 until mid-April.

Maybe his game isn't as diverse as those of the Czech players However, Kulich has a powerful wrist shot, and has the capacity to make defenders fight one-on-one. He'll have to perform at this level to keep a top first-round rating however, in my opinion Kulich is definitely on the radar.

30. Ruslan Gazizov. Forward London Knights (OHL)

It's a risk to hype up the performance of a player in small international tournaments, however it's impossible to overlook the feats that Gazizov achieved in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup to start the season.

The Russian forward was third at the event with a total of 10 points (three goals and seven assists) in addition to playing an integral part in Russia's gold-medal victory. While he certainly gained from playing alongside players like Miroshnichenko and the 2023 Generational Prospect Matvei Michkov however, he was not playing as a spectator.

Gazizov is one of the most powerful players in the draft. He is able to hold the stick inside an office phone booth, hold the ball for prolonged periods regardless of pressure, and discover passing lanes within the smallest of spaces all contribute to his being a powerful player who can consistently quarterback for the team's offensive zones. The other aspects of his game needs to develop and the offensive tools are certainly first-round quality. He's still waiting for an immigration visa prior to joining with the London Knights in the OHL.

31. Lane Hutson, Left Defense, U.S. National Development Program (USHL)

An excellent sign of an aspiring player is when he shines in games in spite of not being your primary concern. In the U18 World Championship last season, NHL scouts were heavily focused on 2021 draft candidates. Particularly, those who not played a single game during the COVID-19-hampered season.

But Lane Hutson forced his way into the spotlight in the surprise players of the tournament, with five assist in just five games. Hutson is a skilled puckhandler who can be found dribbling across in the neutral area. He's an excellent passer on the offensive wing, though shooting isn't his forte.

There are legitimate questions about the implications of his height of 5'7'' can mean for his ability to defend, however there are signs which suggest that he could be able to overcome this by acquiring abilities to retrieve pucks, which allow him to stay clear of board fights and contact. Another concern for him is that due to the presence of Casey and Chesley being on the U.S. roster, his chances in offensive situations could be limited this season.

32. Antonin Verreault, Left Wing, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)

The word used to define Verreault can be described as "elusive." At 5'8 and weighing 160 pounds, Verreault is definitely not going to be able to stand up to an intense encounter, but Verreault responds by avoiding contact completely.

He's agile when he's playing with his stick, and when it seems as if you've been snatched by an opponent but he is able to make the way to escape unscathed. Verreault is an excellent player who was the top player at Gatineau in assists last season.

There are plenty of legitimate questions regarding his game, including how he will be more effective when he's on the ice, if the goalie can add more scoring options to his arsenal beyond just stroking goalie's back and whether he's able to maintain his high-level of play at the size he is at as he progresses into professional hockey. In the meantime, he'll receive the benefit of doubt as a first-round borderline player based on an offensive set of skills that are difficult to replicate.


on October 20 at 11:14

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