Wright retains, Cooley rises in FCHockey’s Midterm ranking for 2022 draft
We’ve reached the halfway point.
In just five months, 224 prospects will have their names called at the 2022 NHL Draft, changing their lives in the process.
The process to this point has been interesting.
We didn’t get a full glimpse at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship, and the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game has been postponed. We still have regular season action, though there are some hiccups as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on with certain regions cancelling, postponing, and rescheduling games on the fly.
From this, scouts at FCHockey have put together a midseason ranking for the 2022 draft.
Leading off the class is still undisputed No. 1 pick in Kingston Frontenacs’ captain Shane Wright. Don’t buy into the buzz that Wright doesn’t have a firm grasp on the spot. He remains the defacto top prospect in the 2022 class.
The gap between Wright and everyone else, however, isn’t as wide as it used to be.
And the spread between the prospects below Wright is even more interesting.
From No. 2 to No. 10, the variation is tight. Any of these players could be selected second overall and no one would be shocked. It’s that close. For FCHockey’s scouts, there’s a bit of a separation between the second and third-ranked prospects and the rest, but it’s tight overall.
The midpoint in the season also means that the first round doesn’t have as many new names as the Winter ranking did. There are three new names that have been rising up many draft boards, though, in Czech sensation Jiri Kulich, OHL standout Pavel Mintyukov, and Swedish defender Calle Odelius. Each has cracked the newest top-32, leaving three former first-rounders just outside.
While this list has five months to continue to evolve, here’s FCHockey’s top-32 prospects for the 2022 NHL Draft.
Shane Wright, C, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
Previous Rank: 1 (-)
As mentioned, Wright continues to be the No. 1 pick in the eyes of FCHockey’s scouts. Every single draft year we seemingly hit a point where people look to be different and put other players at the top of their ranking. Some years, it could be a genuine discussion. While the gap is closing between Wright and the rest, his level of play continues to rise and he’s got this spot secured for now, leaving little room for anyone else at the top spot of this draft class.
Logan Cooley, C, USNTDP (USHL)
Previous Rank: 5 (+3)
Logan Cooley is one of the players entering that conversation as a potential push atop the group. He’s been a big riser this season, starting at No. 12 in FCHockey’s Preliminary ranking and now entering top-two consideration. Cooley’s play is fantastic to watch. He’s an excellent skater that brings strong two-way play. His creativity stands out, using his feet and hands to create space. He’s a fun player that any NHL team would be happy to have.
Simon Nemec, D, HK Nitra (Slovakia)
Previous Rank: 3 (-)
Simon Nemec, a strong contender to go second overall and the draft’s top defenseman at this stage, continues to impress this season in the top professional league in Slovakia. At 17, he was named the alternate captain for Slovakia after being the captain at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in the summer. On top of his leadership, he’s a puck-moving, offensive defender that is also a strong presence in his own end. He’s not the undisputed top defender of the class, but it’s very close.
Matthew Savoie, C, Winnipeg ICE (WHL)
Previous Rank: 4 (-)
Matthew Savoie continues to rack up points in the WHL and continues to impress. He’s a very intelligent player, finding lanes to the net, pulling off high-danger plays, and showing up in his own end consistently. The question that might come up as we approach the draft – and mock draft season opens up – is what position does he project as? He’s playing center now but does he end up sliding to the wing? That could impact where he goes in the draft.
Brad Lambert, C, Pelicans (Liiga)
Previous Rank: 8 (+3)
Well, Brad Lambert continues to be a difficult prospect to get a read on. His season hasn’t gone as expected to say the least. His two-game World Juniors performance was MVP-level, yet he has yet to record a point in returning to the Liiga. Still, the ceiling for the center remains high. There’s a ton of potential in Lambert’s game, highlighted by his skating ability and his puckhandling. With the right development plan, he could be a star.
Joakim Kemell, RW, JYP (Liiga)
Previous Rank: 6 (-)
Neck-and-neck with Lambert is fellow Finn Joakim Kemell. The winger is an exceptional offensive talent with excellent speed, puck control, and finishing ability. He started the 2021-22 season extremely hot but was slowed by an injury that forced him to miss all of November. That’s seemed to have impacted his play, perhaps coming back too early to play at the World Juniors. He then missed most of January as well.
Danila Yurov, RW, Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL)
Previous Rank: 4 (-3)
For some reason, the discussion around Danila Yurov seems to have tailed off in favor of some of the other top-10 contenders. Part of that is likely his lack of an eye-popping point total this season, which isn’t surprising given that he’s playing in sheltered minutes in the KHL. However he’s been strong at the MHL level, showing off his offensive ability. If you want a player that isn’t afraid to drive the net, creates space, and makes his linemates better, Yurov is your guy.
Juraj Slafkovsky, C, TPS (Liiga)
Previous Rank: 9 (+1)
There was some discussion among FCHockey’s scouts about where Juraj Slafkovsky fits into this top-10. Some wanted him much higher and he may end up there as the draft approaches. He can protect pucks with his frame and his hands, he’s so fast in open ice, he can stickhandle, shoot and pass at his top speed. It looks like there’s a lot of room for development in his game that will inevitably require patience to reach, but he could end up being one of the best players in this class.
Frank Nazar, RW, USNTDP (USHL)
Previous Rank: 12 (+3)
The first new name in the top-10, Frank Nazar has crept up the charts and might not be done rising. He’s a highly competitive player in all three zones, displaying high speed and an excellent shot in his game. He moves the puck well and has the ability to get around – or through – defenders. He’s become a fan favorite of draft enthusiasts and will quickly be a fan favorite for the team that drafts him.
David Jiricek, D, HC Plzen (Czech)
Previous Rank: 15 (+5)
David Jiricek’s slotting was another topic of conversation within FCHockey. Jiricek, who is currently recovering from a knee injury, looks to be the biggest threat to Nemec and could very well be higher up in the top-10. The defender is a strong two-way presence that moves it up the ice very well. While Nemec is a flashier player, Jiricek stands out in his consistency and intelligence. He’s not as much of a risk-taker, which could very well see him called first on draft day.
Conor Geekie, C, Winnipeg ICE (WHL)
Previous Rank: 11 (-)
Holding his spot at No. 11, Conor Geekie is a big body that has surprisingly nimble hands. He’s an excellent possession player, using his size and reach to keep the puck away from the opposition. He’s light and agile on his feet, yet can throw his size around when he wants to. He’s a player that an NHL team could snag within the top-10.
Rutger McGroarty, C, USNTDP (USHL)
Previous Rank: 10 (-2)
Rutger McGroarty seems to be a bit of a polarizing prospect as the season has gone on. Once considered the potential top player from the USNTDP, the All-American Prospects Game MVP has now fallen behind Cooley, Nazar, and others depending on where you look. He’s an offensive weapon that can burn you with a highlight-reel pass. There are some concerns in his game, such as his skating, but there’s nothing that can’t be overcome as he develops his game.
Filip Mesar, RW, HK Poprad (Slovakia)
Previous Rank: 26 (+13)
Filip Mesar, the first big riser within the first round of FCHockey’s Midterm ranking, has been demanding attention this season. The Slovak has been climbing thanks to his stellar play in the top professional league in Slovakia. He’s an extremely intelligent forward that never seems to take his foot off the gas. Mesar has a strong offensive mind, using change of pace and chance of direction to find lanes to the net. Could we see three Slovak’s drafted within the top 15 of this draft class?
Kevin Korchinski, D, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
Previous Rank: 32 (+18)
From one big riser to another, Kevin Korchinski has entered the chat. An underrated player in this draft class, the WHL defender knows the game so well, showing off his intelligence every time he hits the ice. He’s extremely mobile with an excellent stride, while keeping his head on a swivel and constantly scanning the ice. He has a big frame and knows how to use it, showing great range in his defense.
Denton Mateychuk, D, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
Previous Rank: 13 (-2)
While Denton Mateychuk is sliding back two spots, it’s less about his game and more about the rise of others. Mateychuk remains an exciting offensive defender that excels in transition. He’s able to quickly move the puck up the ice, whether that’s by carrying it himself or making a long stretch pass. His processing ability is impressive as well, making solid, quick decisions often.
Cutter Gauthier, LW, USNTDP (USHL)
Previous Rank: 25 (+9)
Another USNTDP player that has become a public sphere favorite, Cutter Gauthier is rising up boards as the season rolls on. A power forward that moves very well, Gauthier seems to be a jack-of-all-trades in the offensive zone. He can bury it or dish it around. What might stand out the most though is his calm, patient demeanor with the puck. He’s going to be highly regarded by NHL teams.
Gleb Trikozov, LW, Omskie Krylia (VHL)
Previous Rank: 30 (+13)
Count Gleb Trikozov among the rising group at FCHockey, too. The Russian winger is now the No. 2 ranked Russian on FCHockey’s board and it’s not particularly close. Trikozov reads the play so well, showing off his high hockey IQ on every shift. He can dictate the pace of play and has some explosion in his game. He’s a strong candidate to continue to rise up these rankings.
Ryan Chesley, D, USNTDP (USHL)
Previous Rank: 16 (-2)
Already the fifth USNTDP player on this list, Ryan Chesley is the first defender ranked from the program. A defensive-minded rearguard, Chesley’s protection of inside space is very impressive. He consistently drives attackers into the boards, using his stick and positioning to take away lanes to the net. He battles hard for possession and positioning while maintaining solid skating ability. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him go higher on draft day.
Marco Kasper, C, Rogle BK (SHL)
Previous Rank: 18 (-1)
Marco Kasper, the lone Austrian in FCHockey’s first round ranking, continues to look very strong while playing in the SHL. While he’s known for pulling off flashy plays that lead to opportunities, Kasper is surprisingly effective in his two-way play as well. He’s not afraid to get physical, never backing down from anything. A player like that who can also burn you offensively is going to be highly coveted by NHL teams.
Seamus Casey, D, USNTDP (USHL)
Previous Rank: 14 (-6)
Seamus Casey was the previous top-ranked defender from the USNTDP program at FCHockey, but after some discussion among scouts he now sits just below. Casey remains a high-ceiling defender but there are some very real concerns about how he projects to the NHL level. For now, his two-way presence and puck-moving ability are enough to keep him in the top-20.
Noah Ostlund, C, Djurgardens IF J20 (J20 Nationell)
Previous Rank: 21 (-)
Swedish forward Noah Ostlund continues his strong season in the J20 Nationell. He’s also had some looks at the SHL level, but with minimal minutes. Ostlund has exceptional hockey sense and is an excellent playmaker. He never seems to take his foot off the gas, consistently playing with high intensity. Arguably the top Swede in the draft, Ostlund could push up the draft board as July approaches.
Jonathan Lekkerimaki, C, Djurgardens IF J20 (J20 Nationell)
Previous Rank: 24 (+2)
Jonathan Lekkerimaki, another Swede that continues to impress this season, continues to push up draft boards and is very much in the conversation for top player in this class from his region. The forward is arguably one of the best scorers in the class, and has been showing off his ability to find the twine in both the J20 Nationell and SHL. He can get his shot with little-to-no time and space, making him a hot commodity for the NHL Draft.
Tristan Luneau, D, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)
Previous Rank: 20 (-3)
Tristan Luneau remains the top-ranked player from the QMJHL, but it’s getting extremely close. The defender is very well-rounded and excels with his stick. This includes his puckhandling, his ability to pull pucks out of scrums, and his knack for getting his stick into passing lanes. He’s strong positionally and has a physical edge to his game. He might be a little more raw than some of the other defenders in this class, but that just means he has that much more room for development.
Nathan Gaucher, C, Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
Previous Rank: 23 (-1)
Nipping at Luneau’s heels in fellow QMJHLer Nathan Gaucher. A power forward that plays hard in all three zones, Gaucher could very well jump over Luneau as the league’s top prospect as the season rolls on. He’s extremely difficult to defend against given his strength and frame, and doesn’t let anything stand in his path. He has good speed and doesn’t hold back when it comes to throwing his body around. His game could earn him an earlier call on July 7.
Ivan Miroshnichenko, RW Omskie Krylia (VHL)
Previous Rank: 7 (-18)
Ivan Miroshnichenko’s season has not been going according to plan. The biggest faller within the first round, Miroshnichenko hasn’t been anywhere near the lofty standards but there are still many traits that make him a first-rounder. His shot is a candidate to be the best in the class, and he’s a big body that knows how to use it physically and in puck protection. Granted, it does look like he’s starting to find his form in the VHL, so he may start to bounce back up draft boards.
Jiri Kulich, HC Energie Karlovy Vary (Czech)
Previous Rank: 58 (+32)
Jiri Kulich, one of the biggest risers in FCHockey’s top-100 and a new name within the first round, has been turning heads as the season rolls on. He’s a smooth-skating forward playing in the top men’s league in the Czech Republic, and he seems to do everything at a very high pace. Kulich is strong in tight areas, as he’s able to maintain or gain possession and create open space for himself. He’s very responsible and determined in his own zone, and should be a first-rounder because of the full package he brings to the ice.
Isaac Howard, LW, USNTDP (USHL)
Previous Rank: 17 (-10)
A bit of a slider as the season has rolled on, Isaac Howard started the season at No. 11 on FCHockey’s preliminary rankings. He now finds himself at risk of slipping out of the first round entirely after once being considered a contender for the top player from the USNTDP. It’s worth noting that Howard is the seventh USNTDP player within FCHockey’s first round, pointing to the strength of the program.
Pavel Mintyukov, D, Saginaw Spirit (OHL)
Previous Rank: 45 (+17)
Another big riser and the second new face in FCHockey’s first round is Pavel Mintyukov. He has continued to impress as the OHL season rolls on, showcasing himself as a smooth-skating, creative, offensive player that can pull off some high-end plays at a moment’s notice. He loves to jump up into the rush and the offensive zone, always looking to contribute. Mintyukov is a strong candidate to be higher up this list as the season nears its end.
Elias Salomonsson, D, Skelleftea AIK J20 (J20 Nationell)
Previous Rank: 19 (-10)
Elias Salomonsson entered the season as a highly-regarded defender, yet his season has seemed to bring more questions than answers. While he hasn’t taken that step forward that was expected of him, he remains a high-ceiling prospect thanks to his strong skating ability, long reach, and high-end transition game. He may bump back up the rankings if he can close the season out on a stronger note.
Filip Bystedt, C, Linkoping HC (SHL)
Previous Rank: 27 (-3)
Filip Bystedt has quietly been putting together a solid season, earning more ice time in his opportunitiy at the SHL level. He’s a promising two-way center that displays great speed, and has size to boot. His understanding of the game and his position stand out every time he hits the ice. He processes the game quickly and very rarely makes a mistake. Bystedt is a fairly safe selection, but is very much a player to keep an eye on.
Calle Odelius, D, Djurgardens IF J20 (SHL)
Previous Rank: 44 (+13)
Calle Odelius, the third and final new name in FCHockey’s top-32, was a player that FCHockey’s scouts needed within the first round. The defender sets the tempo for his team from his own zone, leading the breakout often and maintains a cool, collected demeanor as he navigates in transition. Odelius is an excellent playmaker and in his own end, he’s very difficult to gain the inside lane on. He’s a big riser who doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
Liam Ohgren, LW, Djurgardens IF (SHL)
Previous Rank: 29 (-3)
Liam Ohgren hasn’t been getting the attention he deserves mainly because he’s spent some significant time in the SHL playing minimal minutes. Ohgren is a strong, offensive presence with the ability to move the puck around or carry it himself to create opportunities. He’s worth some extra attention.
Players that dropped out of FCHockey’s first round
- Simon Forsmark, D, Orebro HK (SHL)
Previous Rank: 28 (-5)
- Ty Nelson, D, North Bay Battalion (OHL)
Previous Rank: 22 (-12)
- Lian Bichsel , D, Leksands IF (SHL)
Previous Rank: 31 (-8)