September 17, 2021

Introducing the 2022 NHL Draft class

Let’s go.

With seasons getting underway all over the world, NHL Draft season is officially kicking off at FCHockey. The 2022 NHL Draft class has a lot of buzz surrounding it with the potential of a lot of high-end talent available, particularly in the first round.

And while there is that talent available, make no mistake. This is Shane Wright‘s draft. And his wire-to-wire defense of that title will be underway soon. But there’s more to it than just Wright.

Welcome to the 2022 NHL Draft.

Shane Wright’s Draft

He’s the crowned jewel of the 2022 NHL Draft. There is little doubt that Wright will be the top prospect available, and he should find his name atop the rankings all year long. By now most people know who he is, he shredded the Ontario Hockey League apart in his rookie year scoring goals at a historic pace.

Now after losing an entire season — outside of an incredibly impressive performance at the 2021 IIHF World Under-18 Championship — to the pandemic, the 17-year-old will look to continue where he left off.

For anyone who may have some worries about him missing a season, just look back at that Under-18s performance, where he slotted in as Canada’s captain and produced 14 points (nine goals, five assists) in only five games.

“Arguably the most elite element of his skillset is his hockey IQ and understanding of tactical fundamentals, like timing and puck support routes,” FCHockey scout Shaun Richardson wrote in a scouting report. “He is often projected to go first overall in the 2022 draft, but regardless of when he is actually selected, Wright has the potential to be a first line franchise center that any organization would want to build around for years to come.”

While people suggested the 2021 NHL Draft lacked a ‘franchise player’ of sorts, there aren’t many who debate against Wright being just that and whoever drafts him will be getting an elite caliber first-line center for years to come.

Other Contenders

They’ll have a lot of work to do, but the 2022 class does have some potential contenders. Still, that hill is large to climb.

Not long ago, Brad Lambert was widely thought of as a surefire consolation prize for the 2022 Draft, but the battle behind Wright is really just getting started. Lambert is an elite level skater who can drive play for his team. While a lot of offensive players tend to be either scoring or playmaking focused, Lambert is the true definition of a dual threat player. He can beat you with his shot or use his playmaking ability to set up teammates for easy scoring chances. 

“He has great vision and is able to find teammates almost anywhere in the offensive zone with a hard pass,” FCHockey scout Mat Sheridan noted. “He has a great ability to find open space in the slot and is a threat to score if his teammates are able to find him.”

He brings a ton of skill to the table and has the potential to be a high-end forward for 10-plus years once he makes it to the NHL. Lambert will be one of the most interesting names to watch in Europe this season, and will look to show why many think he was almost a lock to be the second overall selection at one point. 

Ivan Miroshnichenko is one of a few capable Russians who will be available at the top end of the 2022 NHL Draft.

He combines the high-end skating with elite offensive instincts that make him a threat to score from anywhere once he crosses the opposing blue line. Miroshnichenko brings a physical element to the game as well, if you have the puck and see him skating towards you, prepare yourself for a collision because he certainly will put his full strength into knocking you off the puck.

“Miroshnichenko is a pure shooting forward who is constantly hunting for soft ice in the offensive zone to make himself available for shooting opportunities,” FCHockey scout Brandon Holmes said in a report. “His shot release remains quick and powerful, and he very seldomly passes up an opportunity to unleash his elite one-timer.”

After an excellent showing at the Under-18s and the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, Miroshnichenko hopes to continue his momentum into the season in Russia and cement himself as one of the top prospects available.

Matthew Savoie spent last season in Dubuque of the USHL because of the Western Hockey League’s delayed start, and he seemingly fit right in.  Savoie scored 38 points (21 goals, 17 assists), leading all 2004-born players in the league in both goals and points in 2020-21.

He’s an electric player with the puck on his stick, capable of making something special happen every time he jumps onto the ice. He has a deadly combination of speed, puck skills and shooting ability that make him a multidimensional threat when attacking on the rush.

“Savoie showed off his skating ability and vision against the Gamblers, he has a great low base and is able to generate speed with powerful stride extensions,” Sheridan said in a scouting report. “ Savoie has a lot of great aspects to his game that makes him a difference maker whenever he steps out onto the ice.”

Sleepers To Watch

While the top of the class is loaded with high-end forwards and some great defensive prospects, there are a few names that have flown under the radar that could really make a splash during their draft years.

Finnish forward Joakim Kemell, is a player that really shined at the Hlinka, and has the potential to end up pushing for a top-10 or even higher spot by the time the draft comes around. With his elite caliber shot and ability to understand the nuances of his defensive game there’s a lot to like in Kemell’s skillset.

Another name that people need to watch out for is North Bay defenseman Ty Nelson, the first overall selection in the 2020 OHL Priority Selection lost out on his rookie season because of the pandemic but should not be forgotten about. This class is full of two-way defensemen, and Nelson has the potential to be a special player now that his playing career will resume after a year off. 

Another potential sleeper is Austrian center Marco Kasper. The 17-year-old plays with Rogle and played 10 SHL games last season. He seems primed to take a step forward and really show what he’s capable of. He’s a perfect candidate to try and sneak into the latter portion of the first round, or push to be one of the first players taken in the second round.

Goalkeepers To Watch

While the last three drafts have been loaded with high-end goalie talent with four goalies total going within the first round, we might not see that trend continue in 2022.

Jesper Wallstedt, Sebastian Cossa, Yaroslav Askarov and Spencer Knight were all special goalie prospects, and while there isn’t an ‘elite’ goalie prospect as of right now, there are a few names to keep an eye on.

Slovakian goalie Rastislav Elias will be playing for the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL this year and after a fun showing at the Hlinka, even if his numbers weren’t the greatest, he looks to show that he can be an NHL caliber prospect.

Russia always seems to have high-level goalies entering the NHL draft, and while he may not be Askarov, 2022 NHL Draft prospect Sergei Ivanov is a name that has caught my attention. He had a strong Hlinka Gretzky Cup and has started off his MHL season with decent numbers despite the below .500 record and I think he has potential going forward. 

Who’s next?

How will the entirety of the 2022 draft class unfold over the course of the next 10 months?

Watching is where the fun begins.

Welcome to the 2022 NHL Draft.

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