Slafkovsky, Korchinski rise in FCHockey’s Spring ranking
In just three short months, the 2022 NHL Draft will kick off at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec.
Hockey seasons across the globe are winding down, the 2022 CHL Top Prospects Game shined a light on some top Canadian talent, and the 2022 Beijing Olympics gave one NHL Draft-eligible a major stock boost.
Keeping a close eye on all corners of the hockey world, the scouts at FCHockey have updated their ranking for the 2022 draft, releasing the annual Spring edition.
While there’s no change within the top three, with Kingston Frontenacs’ captain Shane Wright still very much leading the pack along with U.S. Under-18 National Team star Logan Cooley and Slovak stud defender Simon Nemec.
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The No. 4 spot has a new name with Juraj Slafkovsky rising up. Even before his standout Olympic performance, there was a strong push within FCHockey’s discussions to see him rise up the board. Being named MVP of the men’s side of hockey at the 2022 Beijing Olympics made it a very easy decision to move Slafkovsky up.
Another big riser within the top-10 is Seattle Thunderbirds defenseman Kevin Korchinski. The blueliner has entered the conversation for the top defender available in this class and is nipping at the heels of the top five. He’s showing no signs of slowing down, either.
The changes continue throughout the top-32, with four new names cracking FCHockey’s first round.
In the second-last edition of this ranking before the 2022 NHL Draft, here’s how FCHockey’s top-32 is looking.
Shane Wright, C, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
Previous Rank: 1 (-)
The king remains king. Wright has had some questions about whether or not he’ll hold onto this spot down the stretch but the center’s play on the ice has silenced those critics. Wright leads all first-year OHL draft eligibles in points this season and was named one of two top players at the Top Prospects Game. If it wasn’t automatic before, the top spot in the 2022 NHL Draft looks to be locked in at this point.
Logan Cooley, C, USNTDP (USHL)
Previous Rank: 2 (-)
Holding onto the No. 2 spot, Cooley continues to impress this season, racking up points in nearly every single game he plays in. He’s one of the most dynamic players in this class, an absolute offensive dynamo. His skating and creativity are among the top in this draft. He’s a ton of fun to watch and already looks like a future fan favorite for the NHL team that lands him.
Simon Nemec, D, HK Nitra (Slovakia)
Previous Rank: 3 (-)
Nemec remains the top defender in the class in the eyes of FCHockey and holds onto his third overall ranking. He was a member of the bronze medal-winning Team Slovakia at the Olympics – granted he played minimal minutes as the tournament went on. Nemec’s not a lock for the first blueliner off the board on draft day, but he remains the strongest contender.
Juraj Slafkovsky, C, TPS (Liiga)
Previous Rank: 8 (+4)
The first riser on FCHockey’s Spring board, Slafkovsky hadn’t been getting the respect or attention he deserves this season until his performance at the Olympics. On the international stage, the Slovak led the team in goals and points with seven, helping lead the team to their bronze and earning both a spot on the All-Star Team and tournament MVP honors. The remarkable performance showed a glimpse of what Slafkovsky can do at the next level.
Matthew Savoie, C, Winnipeg Ice (WHL)
Previous Rank: 4 (-1)
Matthew Savoie may be sliding a spot here, but this is more about the rise of Slafkovsky than the play of Savoie. The young star has continued to dominate play in the WHL, bringing an exceptional level of impact in all three zones, while shining offensively. His size – 5-foot-9 and 179 pounds – may lead to him sliding down the board slightly on draft day, making him one of the early potential steals to keep an eye on.
Danila Yurov, RW, Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL)
Previous Rank: 7 (+1)
Danila Yurov is another player that hasn’t been getting enough attention all season, despite spending some significant time in the KHL. This is due to the fact he’s been playing minimal, sheltered minutes in Russia’s top league. When he’s been in the MHL, he’s shown flashes of dominance at both ends of the ice. He needs to be in the discussion more as the draft approaches.
Kevin Korchinski, D, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
Previous Rank: 14 (+7)
The lone new name in FCHockey’s top-10, Korchinski’s play in the WHL has had scouts drooling. The defender has improved a great deal over the course of the season and currently looks like a very real challenger to be the first defenseman off the board. He’s also in the conversation for best skater in this class, all drastically improving in his own end this season. If you’re not already on the Korhinski hype train yet, the train has left the station.
Brad Lambert, C, Pelicans (Liiga)
Previous Rank: 5 (-3)
If you just take a quick look at Brad Lambert’s numbers this season, it’s not hard to tell that he’s struggled with production. However, when you watch him play, you can see why he’s remained in FCHockey’s top-10. He plays the game at such a high speed, excelling in transition to help lead his team’s attack. He shows the ability to dictate the pace of play and just exudes intelligence on the ice. He’s not in the No. 1-2 conversation that he was entering the season, but he’s still an intriguing option near the top.
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Joakim Kemell, RW, JYP (Liiga)
Previous Rank: 6 (-3)
Joakim Kemell started the season a man on fire in Liiga. Yet after missing the month of November to injury, we haven’t seen that same level of production from the Finnish winger. Still, he remains an exciting offensive talent with the ability to take over games. He has a knack for finding the back of the net and will be the target of many teams when July rolls around.
Frank Nazar, RW, USNTDP (USHL)
Previous Rank: 9 (-1)
Similar to Kemell, Frank Nazar is one of the most exciting prospects in this class. A strong playmaker, he can also hit you with a goal, keeping defenders on their toes at all times. He’s a strong skater with long, powerful strides. He does need to show improvement in the defensive end, but the offensive potential is enough to help mask the flaws with Nazar.
David Jiricek, D, HC Plzen (Czechia)
Previous Rank: 10 (-1)
David Jiricek was climbing up draft boards until an injury at the 2022 World Junior Championship put a hold on his season. He has yet to play a game since then, and while it was recently announced that he won’t play in the men’s World Championship, it looks like he will resume his efforts with the U20 team once again at the 4 Nations tournament later this month.
Rutger McGroarty, C, USNTDP (USHL)
Previous Rank: 12 (-)
Rutger McGroarty isn’t getting the love he deserves this season. The USNTDP forward is a big body that might just be one of the most impactful forwards in this class. He can burn you with a highlight-reel goal, trick you with a tape-to-tape pass, or lay you out with his size and strength. His skating needs to improve, which can be significantly helped through development. Could this be a player that goes higher than expected?
Cutter Gauthier, LW, USNTDP (USHL)
Previous Rank: 16 (+3)
Cutter Gauthier has been slowly but surely climbing FCHockey’s draft board throughout this season. He started the Preliminary ranking at the No. 25 spot, working his way up to be a top-10 challenger. A power forward with high-end skill, he consistently makes his presence on the ice felt, forcing turnovers and dictating play. His skillset allows him to play up and down the lineup, making him a very desirable asset.
Conor Geekie, C, Winnipeg Ice (WHL)
Previous Rank: 11 (-3)
Conor Geekie has been a bit of a frustrating player to watch this season for FCHockey’s scouts. While the talent level and size are there, the effort level does seem to come and go at times, leaving a great deal to be desired. This has led to a particularly inconsistent season from the center. If the team that drafts him can work on getting the same player night-in, night-out, there’s a very strong prospect here.
Gleb Trikozov, LW, Omskie Krylia (VHL)
Previous Rank: 17 (+2)
Another steady riser this season, Gleb Trikozov impresses with his ability to control the pace of play. He can keep you on your heels or slow things down and beat you with his patience. He’s an extremely intelligent player, with a full arsenal of offensive tools. His play in his own end is hit or miss at times, but the potential that the young Russian brings is still very high-end.
Jonathan Lekkerimaki, C, Djurgardens IF J20 (J20 Nationell)
Previous Rank: 22 (+6)
Jonathan Lekkerimaki is one of the best goal-scorers in this class. While his shot is excellent, the real testament to his ability to put the puck in the net is his knack for finding space. He can sneak behind defenders or drive into the high-danger areas to let it rip. Besides his sniper mentality, Lekkerimaki brings intelligence, improved skating, and strong puck control to his game, resulting in him looking like the top Swede available in this class.
Denton Mateychuk, D, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
Previous Rank: 15 (-2)
Denton Mateychuk is an interesting prospect. His play has been described as “unorthodox” by FCHockey’s scouts, as his game is built around his flexibility, creativity, and general quickness in mental processing. It’s different from the average NHL defender, but he’s made it work this season in the WHL, looking like one of the most exciting prospects in the league. He’s an extremely dangerous player that should excite NHL teams.
Marco Kasper, C, Rogle BK (SHL)
Previous Rank: 19 (+1)
Austrian prospect Marco Kasper has had quite the season playing in Sweden, helping Rogle BK to a Champions Hockey League title, and leading all SHL rookies in points with 11. While he’s been noticed for some high-end passes and goals, his two-way play, elite competitiveness, competitiveness, and the leadership qualities he possesses stand out to FCHockey’s scouts.
Filip Mesar, RW, HK Poprad (Slovakia)
Previous Rank: 13 (-6)
The third Slovak on this list, Filip Mesar looks to be a big slider in this edition of FCHockey’s rankings, but it’s more of a course correction. Starting the season ranked No. 39, he climbed to 26th before shooting up to 13th. This seems to be a bit of a better range for him in the eyes of FCHockey’s scouts, but it wouldn’t surprise to see him go higher or lower. He’s had a very strong season in the top men’s league in Slovakia thanks to his well-rounded, versatile play.
Pavel Mintyukov, D, Saginaw Spirit (OHL)
Previous Rank: 28 (+8)
Pavel Mintyukov proved to be one of the most discussed prospects in this edition of FCHockey’s rankings. He was pushed up from the previous rankings but did have some mentioning him as a top-10 contender. He is a rare talent, with a highly desirable skill set of dictating the pace of play from the back end and being able to take over a shift. He’s a strong candidate to continue to climb FCHockey’s rankings in the final edition.
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Noah Ostlund, C, Djurgardens IF J20 (J20 Nationell)
Previous Rank: 21 (-)
Noah Ostlund has put together a solid season this year and seems to have done it fairly quietly. The Swedish prospect has stood out at the J20 Nationell level while getting a taste of the SHL in the process. His hockey sense and playmaking are through the roof. He always knows where to be on the ice, which has translated to a solid stat line this season. He’s not talked about nearly as much as most others on this list, but that should change down the stretch.
Jiri Kulich, LW, HC Energie Karlovy Vary (Czechia)
Previous Rank: 26 (+4)
Czech forward Jiri Kulich has forced his way into first-round consideration and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. The prospect spent the majority of his season in the top men’s Czech league, with his 14 points (nine goals, five assists) putting him sixth all-time among U18 players in the league. A speedy, two-way forward that plays with a high motor, Kulich is an exciting target for the back half of the first round.
Seamus Casey, D, USNTDP (USHL)
Previous Rank: 20 (-3)
Seamus Casey, the top defender for the USNTDP, is a strong two-way presence on the ice with a slight lean to the offensive side of the puck. He moves the puck through transition well, either with his feet or a pass. He has excellent vision. He has strong awareness and great range with his stick. The ceiling is very high for Casey, however, the floor is fairly low as well. He’s a bit risky, but is very much worth a gamble.
Ivan Miroshnichenko, RW, Omskie Krylia (VHL)
Previous Rank: 25 (+1)
It’s been a very tough year for Ivan Miroshnichenko who was recently diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. The Russian prospect has stepped away from the game while he undergoes treatment in Germany. Miroshnichenko’s play this season wasn’t near what was expected, which makes complete sense now given this diagnosis. He may slide significantly on draft day, but the team that does select him gets a player with the skillset and potential to be a high-end contributor at the next level. This will be an intriguing storyline to follow entering the NHL Draft.
Lian Bichsel, D, Leksands IF (SHL)
Previous Rank: 39 (+14)
After a brief dip out of the first round in the midseason ranking, Lian Bichsel is back inside the top-32. The Swiss defender has spent nearly all season in the SHL, showing off strong two-way play and fearlessness in jumping up offensively. The 6-foot-5 rearguard showed off this offensive acumen at the J20 Nationell level. With the package that he brings, it wouldn’t be surprising to see an NHL team reach for Bichsel early.
Elias Salomonsson, D, Skelleftea AIK J20 (J20 Nationell)
Previous Rank: 29 (+3)
Elias Salomonsson hasn’t had the season that was expected of him, entering the season as a potential top-10 name. However, the prospect is still a first-round talent thanks to his exceptional skating and his greatly improved awareness through the course of the season. He’s had a taste of SHL action this season, granted in minimal minutes. Don’t sleep on the puck-moving defender.
Lane Hutson, D, USNTDP (USHL)
Previous Rank: 40 (+13)
Lane Hutson is back in the first round. The undersized defender has been a talking point among FCHockey’s scouts all season, with his borderline elite skating and processing pitted against his size and defensive shortcomings. After months of discussion, the upside is too hard to ignore. It will be an uphill battle for Hutson to find success at the NHL level but looking at his potential, he’s worthy of a first-round pick.
Ryan Chesley, D, USNTDP (USHL)
Previous Rank: 18 (-10)
Ryan Chesley is almost the full opposite of Hutson. Chesley excels in his own end of the rink, doing well to keep attackers to the outside, getting his stick in the lanes, and both jumping into and winning puck battles often. His lack of awareness can be an issue at times and could see him slide out of the first on draft day. There also isn’t a ton of offensive upside here, but the defensive game is enough to intrigue scouts.
Calle Odelius, D, Djurgardens IF J20 (J20 Nationell)
Previous Rank: 31 (+2)
Swedish prospect Calle Odelius is an exceptional defender, with an affinity for the offensive side of the puck. He has very strong hands, leading to excellent puck control and great passing. His awareness is high-end as well and combined with his impressive patience, makes him a very promising young defender. At the bottom of the first or top of the second, he’s very much one to target.
Liam Ohgren, LW, Djurgardens IF J20 (J20 Nationell)
Previous Rank: 32 (+2)
Liam Ohgren has turned heads this season, thanks to his 58 points (33 goals, 25 assists) in just 30 games at the J20 Nationell level. He finished fifth in the league in points – despite playing 10-20 games less than those above him – and leading the league in points-per-game with 1.93. Ohgren looks like a first-rounder after the season he’s had. The question will be how high he can go.
Owen Beck, C, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
Previous Rank: 47 (+16)
A new name to FCHockey’s top-32 this season, Owen Beck has been impressing scouts all season long thanks to the consistent impact he makes on the ice in all three zones. He’s a smooth skater that plays the game at a high pace and never takes his foot off the gas. He’s an all-situations player that will be an NHL coach’s dream. He may not have the highest offensive upside, but this is a player that will make his presence felt shift in and shift out.
Owen Pickering, D, Swift Current Broncos (WHL)
Previous Rank: 37 (+5)
Another new name to FCHockey’s first round this season, Owen Pickering is a rangy defender that brings high-end offensive skills and a smooth, fluid stride to his game. He has a solid, well-rounded base in both zones, but it’s his offensive play that will likely carry him to the next level. Pickering has taken big strides (pun intended) in his game this season, and shows room for tremendous growth still.
Players that dropped out of FCHockey’s first round
- Tristan Luneau, D, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)
Previous Rank: 23 (-11)
- Nathan Gaucher, C, Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
Previous Rank: 24 (-13)
- Isaac Howard, LW, USNTDP (USHL)
Previous Rank: 27 (-11)
- Filip Bystedt, C, Linkoping HC (SHL)
Previous Rank: 30 (-9)