Josh
Bell
December 3, 2021

2022 NHL Draft Winter Rankings: 5 Fallers

With FCHockey releasing our Winter rankings for the 2022 NHL Draft, that means one thing – it’s time to pour over the changes.

Some prospects moved up in big ways in this edition, which means other prospects had to fall down the board in the top-100 – or possibly out of it altogether. To take a closer look at some of the biggest changes, we’ve highlighted five players that have made sizeable slides down FCHockey’s Winter ranking for the 2022 draft.

Brad Lambert, C, JYP (Liiga)

Preliminary Rank: 3

Winter Rank: 8

Difference: -5

We’ve come a long way from once discussing Brad Lambert and Shane Wright in the same conversation. Lambert has been struggling this season, making it worse when teammate and fellow draft-eligible Joakim Kemell has been outplaying him on a consistent basis. The Finnish forward is the biggest slider within the top-10 and runs the risk of falling out of the top-10 altogether. He’s picked up just five points (two goals, three assists) in 19 games this season, a slower pace than last season. He’s also been sent down to the U20 SM-sarja for one game, something that didn’t happen once last year. He’ll need to pick up his play to remain a top prospect in this class.

“Lambert’s struggles continued through the months of October and November, highlighted by a snub from the U20-team for the Four Nations tournament (even though he later replaced Kemell on the squad) and a one-game suspension for unsportsmanlike conduct,” explained Finnish scout Rasmus Tornqvist. “As his offensive numbers have not been close to what was expected, the flaws in his overall game have become more apparent. The high-end skill is still there but he needs to work on his game off the puck, both in the offensive and defensive zone.”

Brandon Lisowsky, C, Saskatoon Blades (WHL)

Preliminary Rank: 52

Winter Rank: 91

Difference: -39

Brandon Lisowsky just hasn’t been reaching the full potential that was hoped of him entering the season. The Saskatoon Blades forward has 13 points (nine goals, four assists) in 22 games, a slower pace than he achieved in the shortened 2020-21 season. Hopes were definitely higher for him than he’s performed this season, resulting in his grasp on the top-100 weakening. He’ll need to show some improvements moving forward or risks slipping out of the top-100 in the next update.

“Lisowsky is an easy guy to like because he plays with a lot of gumption and he can be fairly dangerous as both a passer and a shooter when he gets the puck and has a little bit of space to operate,” said head Western Canada scout Derek Neumeier. “However, he’s going to need to get quicker and better at hanging onto pucks to keep creating opportunities for himself and his teammates. His job is to contribute offense, so it’s hard to not be disappointed by his production so far this season, especially since he’s getting a good opportunity on that Saskatoon team.”

Max Namestnikov, C, Sarnia Stong (OHL)

Preliminary Rank: 34

Winter Rank: Not Ranked

Difference: -67

WhileMax Namestnikov was a fringe first-round prospect in the Preliminary ranking, his year has not been what was expected and for that, he’s the biggest slider of this ranking. The American-born forward was expected to be one of the top rookies in the league but has struggled out of the gate and through the first two months. He’s collected 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 19 games, a far cry from what was once hoped of the young forward. It’s been interesting to gauge the OHL prospects this season, after a year of no league play, players have drastically changed from where they stood at the end of 2019-20. There is still time for Namestnikov to turn it around, but he’ll need to do it soon.

“Namestnikov had the pedigree (younger brother to NHLer Vladislav) and draft resume (3rd overall, 2020 OHL Draft) to expect a strong OHL rookie season despite missing the entirety of last year,” started OHL scout Joseph Aleong. “However, his year got off to a rough start, as he was cut from USA’s Hlinka Gretzky roster and has struggled to produce despite a large role with a middling Sarnia team. Due to his diminutive frame, Namestnikov will need to show another level to his offensive game to be a sure-fire NHL Draft prospect despite a consistent level of physicality and energy that makes him hard to miss on the ice.”

Ludwig Persson, C, Frolunda J20 (J20 Nationell)

Preliminary Rank: 26

Winter Rank: 60

Difference: -34

It’s a big slide for Ludwig Persson, once considered among the top Swedish prospects available in this draft. While he was a candidate to stick in the SHL this season after playing 13 games last year, he’s played eight games there without recording a point, while playing mainly in the J20 Nationell, where he has 23 points (nine goals, 14 assists). He is still a promising young prospect, but the ceiling doesn’t appear to be as high as it once did.

“Persson is a speedy forward that knows what to do with the puck,” said Swedish scout Fredrik Haak. “His offensive awareness is overall really good but when he does not have ‘the day’ he can be a bit invisible on the ice. After World Under-18 Championships last season, I thought he was going to take the next step, but unfortunately, he has not done that this year yet. I do not see the full potential to be a first-round pick at the moment.”

Markus Vidicek, C, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

Preliminary Rank: 36

Winter Rank: Not Ranked

Difference: -65

Finally, FCHockey’s second-biggest faller in the ranking, Markus Vidicek hasn’t taken the step forward that was hoped. He’s playing at the same pace he was last season, with 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in 22 games. He’s seemed to lose confidence in his play as the season has rolled on, resulting in a regression rather than a step towards becoming an NHL player. This has resulted in him going from in the first-round conversation to outside of the top-100 altogether. He’s still in the top-100 discussion but he’ll need to find his game again to warrant that placement.

“Vidicek’s recent fall in rankings is the result of other players getting on the radar and a little uncertainty in what I’m seeing in his approach,” said head QMJHL scout Shaun Richardson. “When the season started, I saw Vidicek as a player who was always on the puck with an abundance of confidence and trying to make things happen, but in recent weeks some parts of his game have prompted questions about his play. He hasn’t been bringing pucks into dangerous offensive areas the way I had expected him to and although he clearly sees the ice and moves the puck well, his recent work as a playmaker hasn’t been as effective as it was earlier in the season”

Other big fallers

  • Gavin Hayes, RW, Flint Firebirds (OHL) (36 to unranked, -65)
  • Pier-Olivier Roy, D, Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL) (67 to unranked, -34)
  • Pano Fimis, C, Niagara IceDogs (OHL) (20 to 53, -33)
  • Luke Woodworth, C, Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL) (68 to unranked, -33)
  • Ilya Kvochko, C, Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk (MHL) (69 to unranked, -32)

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