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DP Scouting Team’s Final Rankings for the 2022 NHL Draft – DobberProspects & More Trending News

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We have reached the conclusion of what has been another long draft cycle but this one felt far more normal than the last couple of years did. For the most part, leagues around the world returned to their regular schedules, providing draft-eligible players with ample opportunity to improve their draft stocks over the course of the year. As a result, our board has evolved and gone through significant changes since the beginning of the season with some players making significant gains and others failing to maintain their standing.

Collectively, our team has spent hundreds of hours attending games, watching film, discussing players, and filing reports in order to bring you a ranking that best represents the opinions and views of our entire group.

Eetu Siltanen | Head of Scouting/Director of European Scouting (@siltaneneetu)

Nick Richard | Director of North American Scouting (@_NickRichard)

Hadi Kalakeche | QMJHL Regional Scout (@HadiK_Scouting)

Kyle Watson | OHL Regional Scout (@kyle_nw)

Evan Pace | WHL Regional Scout (@evanpace17)

Alexander Annun | USA Regional Scout (@Annun_Scouting)

Alexa Potack | Swedish Regional Scout (@alexa_potack)

Samuel Tirpák | Czech/Slovak/Central European Regional Scout (@SammyT_51)

Sebastian High | Crossover Scout (@high_sebastian)

Colin Hunter | Goaltending Scout (@colinhunter0)

Dave Hall | Managing Editor/Crossover Scout (@hall1289)

Pat Quinn | Associate Editor/Crossover Scout (@FHPQuinn)

Without further ado, the DP Scouting Team’s Final Rankings for the 2022 NHL Draft:


C | Kingston (OHL) | 6-0 | 198 lbs | Shoots: R

Nick Richard: Wright put together an impressive season, leading all OHL draft-eligible players in scoring by a wide margin. Though Juraj Slafkovsky and Logan Cooley made strong cases of their own for the number one spot on our team’s list, Wright’s body of work and his projectability at the NHL level won out in the end.

Wright plays a refined, complete game built upon outstanding hockey sense. He sees things unfolding ahead of time and consistently makes strong reads to be in advantageous positions, both offensively and defensively. Wright is more powerful than he is explosive but he has a clean stride and takes intelligent routes with possession as well as in support of the play. He will engage down low in the defensive zone and has the ability to disrupt opposing possessions and send play in a positive direction for his team. In the offensive zone, he is a dual-threat who can manipulate passing lanes with his slick hands to find open teammates, but his biggest weapon is his shot. It comes off his blade with power from multiple release points and he doesn’t need much time to find twine. All of these skills are accentuated by his ability to quickly process what is happening in front of him and then execute under pressure from the opposition.

He may not be the most dynamic, game-breaking talent in the class but Wright’s well-rounded game and potential as a lethal finisher give him a pretty safe floor as a top-six pivot who can play in all situations. If he continues to add pace to his game and he reaches his offensive ceiling, he has all the makings of a franchise player down the middle.

W | TPS (Liiga) | 6-4 | 218 lbs | Shoots: L

Eetu Siltanen: Slafkovsky climbed our team’s rankings throughout the whole season, due in part to his outstanding National Team performances both in the Olympics and in the men’s World Championships. We had many concerns about different aspects of his game, but his strong performances and great overall development over the season helped to ease them. Over the season, he notched 17 points in 49 Liiga games, on top of 18 points in 11 U20 SM-sarja games.

Biggest concerns our scouts had were with his pace and processing speed, but he has been excellent in high-tempo international games as well, representing Slovakia. While he still isn’t the greatest skater, the developmental leap he’s taken over the season has been great. He has strong posture, and he went from having a very short stride to having a solid, powerful stride. Slafkovsky’s biggest strengths are definitely around his offensive game. He’s a great puck handler with a strong stick, who can flash some great skill moves. While he isn’t the most diligent shooter, he has a great wrist shot which he should use even more. Maybe his hesitancy shooting has something to do with the fact that he has shown some minor problems with shooting from tight spaces. However, our team has seen improvement in that area as well this season. With his good skill and improved skating, he has become a great transitional player, who is creative after zone entries. I love Slafkovsky’s ability to do great hook passes and use creativity for offensive play. In the offensive zone, he is adept at creating chances for his teammates and he has great ability to protect the puck with his big body. He’s a good net-front player as he has great hand-eye coordination to make re-directions and the ability to bury rebounds.

While his production in Liiga wasn’t amazing, he showed solid potential there and was excellent in all Men’s National Team games he played. On top of his excellent offensive toolkit, Slafkovsky’s physical maturity and European pro experience make him a high-end prospect.

C | NTDP U18 (USNTDP) | 5-10 | 181 lbs | Shoots: L

Nick Richard: Cooley was a driving force for the NTDP all season long and led the team in points per game, finishing with 27 goals and 48 assists in just 51 games. He also suited up for Team USA at the abbreviated World Juniors, and again at the U18 World Championships where he notched 10 points in six games on the way to a silver medal finish.

Cooley is an electrifying offensive talent who does everything with outstanding pace. He is a phenomenal skater with quick feet and a powerful stride that he utilizes to burn defenders off the rush or win short-area races to contested pucks. He also has great agility and edge work to weave through traffic and get to middle ice for scoring chances, always keeping defenders on their heels. Cooley is always around it, intelligently supporting play in all three zones to ensure he is in a position to pounce on loose pucks or disrupt possession for the opposition. He has incredibly slick hands and the vision to turn those quick-change situations into offense with his ability to identify his options in short order and make plays under pressure. He is equally dangerous as a passer and as a shooter and can run a powerplay from the half-wall as well. For all his strengths on the offensive side, Cooley is an impactful defensive player too because of the way he reads the game and uses his combination of speed and stick skills to get into lanes or pressure opposing players.

Other than his below-average size, there aren’t any real holes in Cooley’s game and he might just be the most dynamic offensive weapon from this class when all is said and done.

C | NTDP U18 (USNTDP) | 5-10 | 181 lbs | Shoots: R

Alexander Annun: Frank Nazar capped off another fine season with the NTDP as he finished third in team scoring at well over a point per game – proving once again that he is one of the top offensive among even this extremely talented crop of NTDP prospects. 

Nazar’s game all starts with his elite skating ability, a combination of high-end speed and sharp edgework that makes him a slippery player on the puck – his skating makes him an extremely dangerous puck carrier. Being a highly skilled player, he does a lot of his work by driving into the middle of the ice and taking the fight to the opposition head-on instead of playing to the outsides. Nazar’s dual-threat ability forces the defense into making difficult decisions and allows him to quickly react and capitalize on any slight hesitation in the opposition. His work on defense is commendable as he plays with a raring motor and forechecks aggressively and maintains a nice defensive structure, though he still lacks the consistency on defense at the moment. Nazar shows incredible skill and has the potential to turn into a star player, but ironing out some consistency issues at both ends of the ice can prove to be key for him to unlock that potential. 

D | HK Nitra (Tipos Extraliga) | 6-1 | 192 lbs | Shoots: R

Samuel Tirpák: Nemec put up a record season in terms of production with Nitra in the top Slovak league, both in the regular season and especially in the playoffs where he collected 17 points in 19 playoff games to set a new record for all defensemen in Tipos Extraliga.

Nemec is a highly intelligent two-way puck-mover who has been in the conversation to be the first defenseman taken in the 2022 draft for over a year, and rightfully so. He is a transitional beast with a solid, well-rounded game at both ends of the ice. He can quarterback a powerplay well and can also defend a rush well with his smart gap control. He needs to work on defensive zone positioning and especially the consistency of his in-zone coverage but the belief is that there have been great signs of development throughout his draft year and prior viewings. Nemec will probably need another year at a higher level of professional hockey, such as the AHL, after being selected.  He could probably handle NHL minutes right away but another year of development would be beneficial. If he continues to progress, he could be an excellent two-way NHL defenseman.

D | HC Plzen (Tipsport Extraliga) | 6-3 | 190 lbs | Shoots: R

Samuel Tirpák: Jiricek is a pure shot-heavy, aggressive, offensive blueliner. He has been battling with Simon Nemec all year long for the position of the best defenseman in the draft and all things considered, it was a close battle with the result being only a matter of preference for each scout or team. If you are doing a proper breakdown on Jiricek, you are not pointing at defense first, as he is an offense-first defenseman that lacks defensive basics which makes him hard to envision as a shutdown option at any point in his career. But what he lacks on defense, he has on offense. Jiricek is excellent with the puck on his stick, a great puck distributor, and even a better shooter. We fully expect him to lead his team’s first powerplay unit to great success with that Burns-esque shot from the blue line. He spent his whole life in HC Plzen’s system and is playing at the professional level for a second year in the Czech Extraliga. He put up really good numbers and showed great signs of developmental progress in key areas of his game, such as shot selection, transition skills, and entry defense, where he is more calculated than before.

C | Winnipeg (WHL) | 5-9 | 179 lbs | Shoots: R

Evan Pace: Savoie’s play over the final months of the season was impressive enough to consider him still one of the top players in the entire draft class. However, he’s ‘slipped’ from fifth to seventh on our rankings, partially due to the potential of others like Jiricek and Nazar, but it’s not much to worry about with Savoie. His elite talents have been on display all season long, and he showed off those abilities remarkably well towards the end of their playoff run.

Savoie’s an excellent skater, playmaker and scorer, and a flashy player with the puck on his stick. He thinks the game extremely well and isn’t afraid to go to the dirty areas on the forecheck. For someone of smaller stature, it’s been difficult for him to manage board play along the walls and in the corners, but like many other highly skilled smaller players, he’ll improve his strength. Savoie’s an extremely fun player to watch, as he can create magic in the offensive zone and in transition, with blazing speed, shifty footwork and hands, and a tremendous release and playmaking ability.

His production began mostly on the powerplay this season, but after some questions about his even-strength production, Savoie silenced any critics with stellar performances. Down the road, he’s most likely a better fit on the wing, but he’s proved he can play center with his dynamic skating and physical intentions. He’ll be an exciting prospect to follow next season, most likely back in the WHL.

D | Moose Jaw (WHL) | 5-11 | 194 lbs | Shoots: L

Evan Pace: Denton Mateychuk took his game to another level during the final months of the season and into the playoffs, leading to his rise to 8 in our rankings from April. While Moose Jaw was eliminated in the second round, Mateychuk still ended the year strong, especially in round one, where he had three multi-point games and was crucial in their victories. He’s only improved as the year went on, constantly showing off his high-level tools.

His skating truly separates him from all defenders in the class, and it’s his best asset on the ice. He’s able to use his speed to get involved offensively, but his agility is likely the most impressive element of his skating. Mateychuk can shake defenders easily with his shifty yet controlled skating, using head fakes and his elite edges to manipulate forecheckers.

Among the smartest players in the class, his vision and playmaking abilities are excellent, showing poise to find the right play. Mateychuk’s versatility is really exciting as well, as he’s proved he can play either side of the ice. His speed and energy allow him to act as a fourth forward all over the ice, jumping up in the rush and being one of the first guys back. Playing multiple roles on the powerplay is another element of his versatile game, as he’s worked as both a bumper and quarterback on the man-advantage.

While Mateychuk still needs to work on building his physical frame, as he sits below 6-0, he’s able to manage at the junior level due to his excellent back-skating, speed, and energy. Improvements in his defensive zone coverage are necessary as well before he can make the jump to the pros. Mateychuk looks the part of a high-end offensive top-four defenseman in the future, and it’s sooner rather than later until we see him make his debut in the NHL.

C/W | NTDP U18 (USNTDP) | 6-3 | 201 lbs | Shoots: L

Nick Richard: Gauthier was another key piece on a strong U18 squad for the USNTDP, playing top-six minutes and finishing second on the club with 34 goals in 54 games before adding another nine points in six games at the U18 Worlds. He played wing for most of the season but NHL teams reportedly view him as a center at the pro level and that is where he is expected to line up when he begins his NCAA career at Boston College next season.

With a well-rounded game, deadly shot, and great size, Gauthier is one of the more NHL-ready prospects in the 2022 class. He skates well for a big kid, covering plenty of ice with a long stride and good posture. He isn’t going to consistently run guys through the boards but he will finish his checks and knows how to use his body to protect pucks along the wall or create space with strong net drives. Gauthier gets himself into the dirty areas but he can also beat goaltenders from distance with a heavy and accurate wrister that comes off his blade quickly. While he is more of a shooter, he also has decent vision and can make plays to create chances for his teammates. There is power in his game to be sure but he doesn’t lack finesse either.

The ceiling might not be as high as some other players in this range but those players don’t offer the same level of NHL projectability that Gauthier does either. His versatility, middle-driven game, and scoring upside will be hard to pass up in this range.

W | JYP (Liiga) | 5-9 | 176 lbs | Shoots: R

Eetu Siltanen: Joakim Kemell started the Liiga season with a historical point-producing pace, but got injured playing his typical physical game. After that his production slowed in the second half, including a 16-game scoreless drought, bringing about questions regarding the sustainability of his early-season run. In the end, he finished with a good statistical profile in Liiga and was Finland’s leading player – as expected – at the U18 Worlds.

Kemell’s shooting and overall goal-scoring abilities are among the best in the class, and he has one valuable attribute that only a few players have – he’s a real shooting threat on the powerplay. What he has against many other great shooters is his repertoire of shots. He can fire a quick wrist shot off while skating or blast a hard one-time slapshot from the left half-wall. While Kemell is primarily a sniper, his overall game is more well-rounded than that. He competes very hard and despite being listed under 5-10 at the combine, he loves to throw his weight around, engage in battles, and definitely isn’t afraid to go to tight spaces. As one scout pointed out in our meeting, he also has a tendency to be a bit of a jerk, which is something we consider to be a positive attribute in this business. Kemell won’t wow you with his vision or high-IQ playmaking, but he finds his way to the scoring areas, which is important for his style of play. He is a good skater with good balance, and he has been improving his transitional game, finding players with quick passes and carrying the puck up ice with his speed and agility. He controls the puck well and has the ability to create his own shots, but will need to continue to refine that part of his game.

Our team thinks Kemell has very valuable tools and he sits 10th overall in our rankings. He has shown that translating his game to higher levels hasn’t been a problem and we think that his game suits the North American style well. He has all the tools to be a versatile, goal-scoring winger at the NHL level if he reaches his potential.

W | Djurgårdens (SHL/J20 Nationell) | 5-11 | 172 lbs | Shoots: R

Alexa Potack: Despite missing over a month of play prior, Jonathan Lekkerimäki finished off his fantastic season by leading all players at the U18 World Championship in points. With 15 points in six games, Lekkerimäki cemented his spot as a top prospect in this year’s draft class. His stellar play has been consistent, whether at the junior, professional, or international level. His almost seamless transition to SHL play was evidenced by his point totals and his ability to play at the pace of men’s hockey.

Lekkerimäki’s most notable skill is his shot. His shot is one of the hardest in the draft, beginning with his rapid release. Lekkerimäki loves to shoot the puck and he averaged six shots, with 3.5 of them being on goal per game this season. He appears patient but when shooting the puck that frequently, some lack a clear path or angle. If he opts to pass, his strong vision is on display. In addition to using his vision for passing, he also puts it to use when receiving one. He almost never looks checked out and stays active trying to create the next piece of the play, no matter which end of it he is on.

Overall, Lekkerimäki’s game is marked by his strong offensive skills, especially his shot, and rapid adaptation to professional hockey. It’s easy to imagine top-six upside with Lekkerimäki, as well as a future on an NHL power play. At this point, it would be unsurprising if a team were to select the winger before the end of the top ten.

W | Magnitogorsk (KHL/MHL) | 6-1 | 179 lbs | Shoots: L

Dave Hall: Given the lack of consistency in his utilization, pinpointing Yurov’s true place among this crop remains one of the more challenging tasks. Either he was dominating the Junior levels amongst his peers or riding the bench in the KHL, eclipsing the 10-minute mark just once over his 21-game stint. His talents came to life over his time in the minors, finishing fifth in points-per-game (1.57) among MHL skaters with 20 or more games played. He totaled 13 goals and 36 points over 23 games in that span.

His main weapon is in his playmaking and the ability to forecast plays well in advance. He plays the game with tremendous pace and even at top speeds, is able to process situations effortlessly. Although he may not hold the softest of hands, he protects pucks well and does not shy away from going into the dirty areas. It is uncommon to find his feet stationary, as he brings a tenacious, workhorse demeanor, and loves to pressure the puck carriers to seek out turnovers.

Overall, Yurov offers top-six upside and brings added value with his ability to play in all situations. Given his willingness to play hard-nosed hockey, his overall floor appears to be relatively safe, and he could slot in nicely as a middle-six option at the NHL level.

D | Saginaw (OHL) | 6-1 | 192 lbs | Shoots: L

Hadi Kalakeche: Mintyukov has continued to climb up draft boards throughout the 2021-2022 campaign, culminating at 13th on our June rankings and earning it well. The left-handed Russian defenseman led his entire team in scoring with 62 points in 67 games, including a whopping 17 goals. He finished the season as the highest draft-eligible point producer among defensemen in the OHL, and the third-best overall. 

Part of why Mintyukov is so productive offensively is how aggressive he is with his activations. I’ve seen him chase down his own dump-ins in the offensive zone — successfully. He led the forecheck on more than one occasion this season. He hangs onto pucks and protects them extremely well which helps him in that regard while having a polished and powerful skating stride to carry him through checks and across all three lines. Despite his offensive aggressiveness, he is almost always the first player back when things go south and the puck ends up on the opponent’s stick. His defensive stick is solid, closing gaps with the same aggressiveness that sees him end up behind the opponent’s goalie offensively. His angles of approach, his adaptive edgework, and his tendency to defend while skating forwards make him a tremendous rush suppressor, and he picks up on threats well in his own zone.

The Russian factor might affect his ranking and see him slip down — he’ll likely miss out on most important international tournaments, whether due to boycotts or to Russian managers preferring MHL players to him — but the raw skill and physical tools are undeniable. Reeling him in might be necessary, but it’s easier to do that than to ask for more out of a prospect. He has top-pair potential if his game is properly developed.

W | Djurgårdens (SHL/J20 Nationell) | 6-1 | 201 lbs | Shoots: L

Alexa Potack: Öhgren plays a well-rounded game and has a very high floor. His production levels in the J20 Nationell were off the charts. He played at a 2-point-per-game pace, including 33 goals in 30 games. He’s got a quick release, which proved to be an issue for J20 goaltenders this season. Öhgren also is a strong skater who uses his hands and feet deceptively. He passes the puck creatively and executes with precision through tight defense.

Complimenting Öhgren’s solid offensive toolbox is his defensive abilities. While he shouldn’t be classified as a two-way forward, Öhgren is aggressive and opportunistic in the defensive zone and puts his work ethic on display. Öhgren dominated J20 play but faced struggles at the professional level. His ice time was limited, averaging less than 8 minutes a game and practically 0 minutes on the power play. Öhgren is great at many things but doesn’t quite excel with one specific trait, especially at the professional level. There are some doubts about how elite or translatable his play is but given time to develop, it’s not hard to envision his future in the NHL. It may not be on a top line but if he’s able to add a little more muscle, Öhgren will bring depth and a balanced skillset to the lineup.

D | Seattle (WHL) | 6-2 | 185 lbs | Shoots: L

Evan Pace: It would appear to many that Kevin Korchinski could be among the next great wave of offensive defensemen in the NHL, and there is certainly a good chance for this to happen. Korchinski leading Seattle to the WHL finals has been magnificent, but it would be wrong to ignore some of the hindering areas of his game.

The first things you’ll notice about Korchinski are his skating ability and his puck skills. As he bounds down the ice for a self-breakout or as he walks the blue-line and baits defenders, he’s constantly manipulating defenders and exploiting their mistakes in pressure. Elusiveness isn’t necessarily his strong suit, but he’s usually able to handle the puck through traffic or make passes to bail himself out of trouble. His long reach aids him in puck protection, and he is one of the highest users of the cutback in this class, always baiting defenders one way before turning and cutting back to find open space. Still, he struggles to gain good separation with these crossovers, but mostly when it comes to his behind-the-net play.

Where Korchinski excels the most is on the powerplay and in the offensive zone. He’s able to activate as a fourth forward, carry the puck using his elite edges, open hips, and long reach to protect and then use his vision to find the best available play. Too many times though in the WHL postseason, Korchinski forced a bad pass or tried to do too much, leading to turnovers and goals against. However, this experimentation will continue and his game will grow by learning from his mistakes.

While there is room for improvement in his decision-making, and there is growth needed for him to develop his all-around game, we still believe he is worthy of near-lottery consideration.

W | Moose Jaw (WHL) | 5-10 | 154 lbs | Shoots: R

Nick Richard: Firkus steadily climbed draft boards all season long and ended the campaign as the second-highest scoring draft-eligible player in the WHL with 36 goals and 44 assists in 66 games.

An undersized but extremely talented winger, Firkus competes hard and attacks opposing defenses with a purpose. He is elusive as a carrier, combining quick cuts with deft hands to dodge checks and get into scoring areas. Firkus has the skill and the will to create his own scoring opportunities and a shot that is among the best in the class. It pops off his blade and he changes up the release point depending on the situation, adding a layer of deception to an already deadly shot. He also has a good understanding of spacing in the offensive zone and works into open pockets where he doesn’t need much time to get a puck on net. Firkus’ skill and shooting prowess draw defenders toward him and he has the patience to find teammates through open seams around the net, adding to his offensive versatility.

His lack of size and strength will be obstacles as he progresses toward the professional ranks but he has adapted just fine at the junior level and his package of offensive skills is worth betting on.

C | Djurgårdens (SHL/J20 Nationell) | 5-11 | 163 lbs | Shoots: L

Alexa Potack: Östlund’s stock has certainly received a boost due to his stellar U18 World Championship performance. Finishing fifth in points in the tournament (four goals, six assists), this was the best look at what Noah Östlund is capable of that we’ve seen all year. He is dynamic and aggressive, so he appears to end up on every inch of the ice during the game. He’s very creative in both his stickhandling and passing. He keeps his head up and is always looking for a pass option. Another asset of Östlund’s is his reach. While he’s somewhat undersized, he is great at using his stick far out from his body while maintaining control. This gives him the advantage in a variety of situations, such as puck battles and offensive rushes.

In the last ranking, it was noted that during the season, many of Östlund’s goals were net-front. That is not a skill to discount but at the U18 World Championship, his goals were the opposite. Batting in his own shot out of the air or finishing off a rebound from farther back, the flashier Noah Östlund was on full display. While his true game falls somewhere in the middle, he has thoroughly demonstrated his versatility as an offensive threat.

A drawback with Östlund is his strength. Weighing just over 160 pounds, Östlund needs to add muscle in order to round out his game. That said, an NHL training regimen will likely solve this problem.

C | Rögle (SHL/J20 Nationell) | 6-1 | 187 lbs | Shoots: L

Eetu Siltanen: Marco Kasper has played more professional hockey than most of this class and that is the factor that makes him a solid first-round talent. Regular season and playoffs combined, he scored 17 points in 59 SHL games, plus also 6 points in 12 Champions HL games. In May, he got to represent his country Austria in Men’s World Championship, where he had a positive showing, despite only notching 2 points in 7 games.

What stands out in every game is Kasper’s competitiveness and his effort in all three zones. While his skating is a bit clunky, he gets to a good speed with his fast feet. He plays the game at a high pace, which was one of the big reasons he was able to play high-pace SHL the whole season. Especially in the Men’s Worlds, his transitional game was impressive as he was able to carry the puck up to the offensive zone with his good speed. Kasper doesn’t really excel as a goal-scoring threat but can generate scoring chances for his teammates. He has a solid 6-1 frame and an ability to create havoc around the opposing net, providing net-front screens and the ability to deflect incoming shots with his good hand-eye coordination. Kasper has some great push-back, and he can throw solid hits and never quits a battle. His hockey sense has been a topic of discussion, and it certainly is great. For example, in the defensive zone where he shows excellent awareness on zone exits, as he is patient and shows nice perception to not hurry with the puck but instead find a way to carry it out of the zone and start a rush. Sometimes Kasper tends to be a bit too ambitious with his skill moves and might turn the puck over. Also, while he has solid size, there is still some “Jr. physicality” as he was knocked off the puck quite easily in some situations – however not very often.

However, Kasper’s honest work ethic and competitive mindset will be important on his way to the NHL. While the lack of goal-scoring threat and high-end skills do limit his upside and drop him out of the top-15 discussion, he is a player with relatively high NHL certainty, having the upside of a two-way, playmaking middle-six center with occasional production. He’s not your go-to powerplay generator but he could be a net-front guy and provide value on the penalty kill.

D | Swift Current (WHL) | 6-5 | 179 lbs | Shoots: L

Evan Pace: With his towering size, high-energy style of play, and enticing tools, it’s now no longer a surprise to find Owen Pickering amongst the first round of our draft rankings. He slides back a bit into the mid-first on our rankings, after nearly eclipsing the lottery back in April. There’s no question about it, he’s going to need a little time before he can make an impact at the NHL level. However, the powerful skating defender commands the game as not many other 6-4+ players can.

He demonstrates power in his crossovers and strides and is able to burn down the ice at a rampant pace when he gets going. His hands, edgework, and agility will need some more refinement, as at his tremendous size he can tend to lose control. Defensively, Pickering is able to handle physicality, reads the play well, and has quite the reach, so it’s just a matter of time before he develops his game in his own end. While his height is there, his strength can improve as he is a bit too light for the professional game.

Pickering is due for a breakout season in the WHL at some point soon, as we are on the lookout to witnessing it all come together for him. He’s got the tools and build of a promising young defensive prospect and will intrigue many teams as draft day looms.

W | HK Poprad (Tipos Extraliga) | 5-10 | 172 lbs | Shoots: R

Samuel Tirpák: Tenacious, two-way winger is a player that is a wild card in terms of when he would actually be selected in the upcoming draft. He is smallish and plays in a league that doesn’t have a big name yet. But he is extremely fearless, goes into every battle and works extremely hard. His skating is top-notch, both in terms of speed and four-way motion. He uses it to his advantage after good defensive work in the neutral zone. What I love about him is his ability to protect the puck in positions where he can make plays and influence the game down low in the offensive zone. Has a good shot, but the belief is that he would be primarily a playmaker on the next level. The expectation for his selection is anywhere between top-20 and early second round.

D | Djurgårdens (SHL/J20 Nationell) | 6-0 | 185 lbs | Shoots: L

Sebastian High: Calle Odelius is among the draft class’ most mobile and best skating defensemen. He moves around the ice effortlessly, and this mobility is the foundation for the rest of his game.

He is talented in the breakout, especially as he can both carry the puck up ice himself or hit short and long-range passing options with great accuracy. This passing ability is equally valuable in the offensive zone, as he is often Djürgardens’ main distributor in possession, especially on the powerplay. Pair this quarterbacking ability with his skill while walking the blueline, and you have yourself a defenseman who can do just about all you want on the powerplay other than shoot, as his shot isn’t much of a threat since it lacks real power. Playing on the powerplay alongside players as skilled as the Djürgardens trio for so long has certainly helped Odelius develop high-end vision, learn how to create space for them on the man advantage, and how to hit them with perfect passes when they’re ready to shoot.

Odelius is generally a strong defensive player, but there were some consistency issues that came up throughout the season. His mobility allows him to close gaps quickly and cover a large area in the defensive zone, but he also missed some key reads, especially in his SHL play. His physicality was another inconsistent ability. There were moments when he leveraged his weight to win puck battles, and looked like a fairly physical defenseman, but there were others where he was really overwhelmed by more mature opponents. We still see this as a long-term asset, however, as he has shown the willingness to play physically and will be increasingly able to do so with every year he fills out his frame. All in all, Odelius projects as a two-way second-pairing defenseman with upside on the power play.

C | Mississauga (OHL) | 6-0 | 190 lbs | Shoots: R

Nick Richard: Beck’s production in the OHL doesn’t jump off the page but when you watch him play, the pro-level traits in his game are evident.

Beck plays a mature, straight-line game that pushes the pace and helps to tilt the ice in his team’s favor. He has a good first step and top gear to put opposing defenders on their heels and he occasionally flashes decent skill to play pucks around them. He has a habit of playing on the inside and takes smart routes to the middle of the ice to create space while staying between the puck and his check to make himself available for a pass or to be in position to jump on a contested puck. Beck has some scoring touch around the net but his offense mostly stems from his work ethic and hockey sense as opposed to overwhelming skill. Away from the puck, he competes hard all over the ice and provides support defensively without overextending himself or getting caught out of position. He is also a trusted penalty killer who wins a ton of faceoffs in key situations.

He might never develop into a big-time offensive contributor but Beck is a mature player who can be trusted in all situations with enough skill and intelligence to be an effective complementary player up the lineup or to be a focal point in the bottom-six for an NHL team.

W | NTDP U18 (USNTDP) | 6-2 | 185 lbs | Shoots: R

Alexander Annun: After putting together a decent season with the NTDP U17 squad last season, Snuggerud took a huge step forward in his development with a highly productive season at the U18 level, finishing tied for sixth in points with 63 in 59 games. 

Snuggerud progressed very well from last season to this, but even as the season went on he was making strides in his development. Just at a glance, there is a lot to like about Snuggerud as he brings an “NHL frame” to the table, and his ability to use it effectively is something that can be easily projectable at the NHL level. This goes further than his frame though, Snuggerud plays a very effective game that blends together speed, skill, and size enabling him to mesh well with any combination of players. He is quick in a straight line to burn guys down the boards but has the quickness to sharply cut inside and attack up the gut. He processes play well and is able to pick out the best option to advance the attack, and he quickly moves after dishing the puck to get into the next position to help. He possesses a good shot and can use his physicality to get in tight where he can fire it off and cleanly beat the netminder. Snuggerud’s contributions don’t stop there, on the defensive side of the puck he is a responsible player who is able to make key interceptions and win physical battles along the boards to come away with the puck.

He has a lot of tools that NHL teams will find attractive and easily translatable at the next level, and he could be viewed as the perfect complement to a high-skill line.

W | NTDP U18 (USNTDP) | 5-10 | 181 lbs | Shoots: L

Sebastian High: Isaac Howard plays a game marked by high speed and high skill. As a puck carrier in transition, Howard has deception in spades and can go end to end when he has some runway, getting around both USHL and NCAA defenders with ease when he’s on his game.

Howard is a strong skater, constantly employing crossovers to gain speed, and he has the hands to keep up with his feet as well. Despite this speed and skill, inside the offensive zone, Howard is at his best off the puck as he’s far more a finisher than a playmaker, and his ability to sneak into defenders’ blind spots and find soft ice in and around the slot as a shooting threat is among the best in the draft class. That shot is a really good one, while it lacks the power of the best shots in the class (think of Lekkerimäki, Kemell, Wright, and Öhgren) he gets it off quickly and can really pick his corners. He does need to work on improving his scanning habits for passing options, as he often shoots the puck when the better play would have been the pass, but the passing tools are there for him to develop into a good playmaker. His passes are quick and accurate, much like his shot, but it is his one-touch game that is most impressive in this regard.

While Howard lacks the defensive ability of some of the other USNTDP forwards, the transition and offensive upside more than make up for this weakness and cement him well inside our first round. Howard may not have much of a fall-back game, but if he’s developed correctly, he could become an impactful top-six scorer who complements high-skilled linemates very well.

W | Omsk (VHL/MHL) | 6-1 | 185 lbs | Shoots: R

Eetu Siltanen: Mirosnichenko had an extremely horrible twist to his season – and whole life – as he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in the middle of the season. Fortunately, he completed his treatments and was cleared to return to training a few weeks ago. Before his diagnosis, Mirosnichenko played 31 games in his nation’s second-highest men’s league, scoring 10 goals and six assists. In August, he notched nine points in five games at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, being one of the most impressive forwards there.

Mirosnichenko has serious skill and while he has dropped in pretty much all rankings during the season, his raw offensive skillset is probably still top-10 in this draft class. He has great hands and the ability to pull off nice skill moves, combined with pretty good skating speed and an elite shot. He’s a dangerous powerplay player with his goal-scoring ability and can move the puck as well. He also has good size and he can flash some physicality and protect the puck along the boards. While Mirosnichenko’s offensive toolkit is great, he lacks a lot in other areas of the game. He could’ve been even higher in our rankings, but he has red flags around his game as well. His game is heavily based on skill but it lacks a lot of consistency and competitiveness. However, inconsistency might be a thing that was visible also due to his illness, as well as his poor physical condition before the World Juniors, which was the reason he was left out of the team.

As mentioned, Mirosnichenko has serious offensive talent – some of the best in the whole draft class. However, there have been a lot of unfortunate red flags beyond his control. Our team sees Mirosnichenko as a top-six winger with primary powerplay upside, and he will produce a lot of points, but the question is whether he produces them in his home country or in the NHL.

C/W | Omsk (VHL/MHL) | 6-1 | 185 lbs | Shoots: R

Hadi Kalakeche: One of the most intelligent prospects in this class, Trikozov has the uncanny ability to scan and identify incoming pressure in a split second. The Russian center also boasts an explosive release, which led him to score 23 goals in 35 games for Omskie Yastreby in the MHL regular season, as well as 10 in 13 contests in the playoffs. In 11 games in the VHL, Russia’s second division of pro hockey, he only scored two points, but his ice time was severely limited and he was deployed in support roles, surrounded by teammates who didn’t gel too well with the forward.

Trikozov’s shot is his greatest offensive weapon, as he leverages his mechanics and edgework to create a slingshot-type release that doesn’t even require all of his strength to beat a netminder from afar. His scoring versatility is impressive as well, as Trikozov can wrist, slap, snap, backhand, one-time or tip shots past goaltenders with ease. His playmaking is no weakness either, as he uses his vision and processing to identify soft ice to play area passes into. His give-and-go game is hit-or-miss, however, primarily because he sees passing as an end to a means, rather than an opportunity to triangulate and get the puck back in better ice. He’s the type to always look for an opportunity for a prime scoring chance rather than playing the long game. Defensively and effort-wise, Trikozov showed some impressive flashes in the VHL but the lack of consistency could cost him, especially in MHL viewings. He would puck-watch at times, or get passive when contested battles made themselves available.

Trikozov is another prospect who might be hurt by the Russian factor, but his outstanding vision and shot are solid building blocks upon which a team can build an impactful top-six, 200-foot center with scoring upside.

W | NTDP U18 (USNTDP) | 6-1 | 205 lbs | Shoots: L

Nick Richard: McGroarty captained the NTDP’s U18 team this past season and finished as the team’s leading goal scorer with 35 in 54 games. He added another eight goals in just six games at the U18 World Championships to close out the year on a strong note.

McGroarty is a well-rounded, hardworking forward who can do a little bit of everything for his team. He has the versatility to play all over the lineup and the skill to create offense and read off of other skilled players. He has great hands in tight and can pull off slick dekes to get himself into scoring areas but he also has a strong release on his wrist shot to beat goaltenders from range. McGroarty is strong along the wall, will lay the body on the forecheck, and can make plays off the boards into middle ice with refined puck protection skills and dextrous hands. The only real knocks on McGroarty are his heavy feet and lack of high-end pace but he has the IQ and work ethic to continue improving in those areas.

There is a good chance that McGroarty gets selected higher than where we have him ranked and if he is able to add a bit of quickness as he develops, he should provide a solid return on that investment.

D | Linköping (SHL/J20 Nationell) | 5-10 | 172 lbs | Shoots: R

Alexa Potack: Hävelid has a well-rounded game as an offensive defenseman. He is a certain threat on the power play, and on offense in general, due to his accurate passes and hard shot. He’s quick, agile, and often joins the rush. Both inside and outside of the offensive zone, he makes use of his vision, completing precise passes. In addition to this, Hävelid is able to snipe from the point and does it frequently. Though his most impressive goals are scored from afar, he’s not afraid to drive deep into the offensive zone.

His size is a detriment to his ability as a defenseman but he has still proven talent in the defensive zone. While he doesn’t have an overwhelmingly physical style, he does not shy away from blocking a shot or using his body to separate an opponent from the puck. Though, as a 5-10 defenseman, his stick is his greatest asset. He often uses poke checks, and when he does use his body, he looks to move the puck quickly. Size is a valid concern for Hävelid but his upside in all zones is more than enough reason for him to be a late first or early second-round pick.

D | NTDP U18 (USNTDP) | 6-0 | 201 lbs | Shoots: R

Alexander Annun: After finishing as the second-highest scoring defender last season for the U17 NTDP, Chesley’s game saw some offensive regression finishing at just under 0.5 points per game – good for third amongst the defenders. 

Looking at point totals it would be easy to say that Chesley had himself a down year and his draft stock went down as a result, but that is far from the full story. Chesley’s drop in production can be linked to just how effective of a shutdown defender he developed into as the year progressed. Paired up with Lane Hutson for stretches, Chesley was able to focus on the defensive side of the puck – a role he took to very well. With his excellent skating ability and understanding of how to effectively use his body, he became the go-to shutdown defenseman for the U18s. His sharp edges and long strides allow him to keep pace with rushers as they enter the zone and maintain good defensive positioning to take away the shooting and passing lanes and he shows no hesitation to lay his body on the line to block shots. Among the main roster, Chesley led the team in hits per game – his physical prowess on the back end is impressive and he can comfortably knock players off the puck and come out with controlled possession. He shows a keen understanding of where the offense will look to attack and he can anticipate well and quickly act to snuff out the opportunities or put himself in position to handle it. Chesley does a nice job transitioning the puck up the ice by leading rushes himself and he is not averse to jumping into the rush as the fourth attacker. He has a heavy shot from the point and likes to use it when he can, occasionally being the anchor on the powerplay and providing the scoring or playmaking option from the point.

Chesley’s game is not one that will make you jump out of your seat, but what it will do is give teams peace of mind knowing he is back on defense and is fully capable of quashing offensive chances coming his way. 

C/W | Pelicans (Liiga) | 6-0 | 183 lbs | Shoots: R

Eetu Siltanen: Lambert has been dropping steadily in our rankings throughout the season and for our scouts, the reasons were pretty evident. While there’s no question about his pure offensive talent, which is even top-10 caliber, he struggled to improve his game throughout the season. He might be even the best skater in this class, as he has good posture, stride, very good edge work, and can utilize crossovers to gain speed. Lambert’s puck control is great as well and he can also control it at top speed. This combination makes him an excellent transitional player as he can carry the puck over the neutral zone very well. However, after the zone entries, he can’t do much with the puck and lacks a lot of creativity. Because of that, his upside is not great as you can see him doing good plays and giving solid passes but many times, he does very questionable decisions. He also has next to zero intention to battle physically, which is the most concerning area in his game. At lower levels and junior national games, he was able to dominate the offensive zone just with deking players and skating past everyone but playing at the higher levels like Liiga and in the future, North America, he needs to expand his toolset, and both simplify and improve his game a lot.

While our team sees that Lambert’s red flags and flaws are too much to rank him in our top-25, his offensive toolkit, especially his overall skating ability and puck handling are great. It’s hard to see him becoming a top-line forward, but I could see him becoming a good second line playmaking winger. He could be useful on the powerplay, especially to carry the puck to the offensive zone, even though his shot is definitely not NHL powerplay caliber.

C | Winnipeg (WHL) | 6-4 | 205 lbs | Shoots: L

Evan Pace: With many traits that NHL scouts covet in a high-end centerman, but some major concerns to his projectability, Conor Geekie lands at the end of the first round in our rankings. There’s plenty to like about Geekie’s play; his size, shot, passing and two-way abilities are all top-notch, but the one crucial factor that many other prospects have, which he doesn’t, is dynamic skating ability.

Geekie’s most obvious issues are his agility and his stride, yet he’s still able to produce and dominate at the junior level. It’s projecting his future in the NHL that is difficult, as it’s a much faster league than the WHL, and if he’s unable to clean up his skating, he’ll fall behind.

However, Geekie’s got many valuable tools, as mentioned. His two-way ability is solid, as he uses his size and long reach to his advantage when defending, and he has the offensive abilities to score and set up his teammates. His shot is impressive in both velocity and accuracy, as he generates lots of power behind it. These abilities could tempt teams to select Geekie much higher than our ranking, but our team believes its safest to pencil him into the end of the opening round.

 C | HC Karlovy Vary (Tipsport Extraliga) | 5-11 | 179 lbs | Shoots: L

Samuel Tirpák: Kulich is an electric sniper. Two words to describe him as a player for me. When you watch him play, that shooting bravado absolutely jumps out right away. He is a great skater, a strong player overall in terms of just creating space for himself against defensemen. He put up very high goal-scoring totals both in Czech Extraliga and on the international level for the under-18 team. He is not as well-rounded as we would like him to be in order to have him ranked higher. However, his shooting and offensive toolset is giving scouts a very good look into what could be his primary role at the next level, which is that of a sniper on the wing position of a play-driving center. He finds open spaces in defensive zone coverage and executes on the smallest mistakes by defending players.

D | Gatineau (QMJHL) | 6-2 | 190 lbs | Shoots: R

Hadi Kalakeche: Probably the safest pick on defense in this draft, Luneau’s combination of physical tools and good processing make him a highly projectable defender. His 12 goals and 43 points in 63 games were the fifteenth-best tally in the QMJHL (second-best when only taking draft-eligibles into account), and the prospect was one of the best defenders in transition this past season.

Luneau’s ceiling is high due to how polished his physical game is. He isn’t the hardest hitter, but he shields pucks well and can bounce off checks effectively. He handles board battles effectively, using his frame to cut off opponents’ hands and escape with the puck. These assets help him defend as well, as the prospect rarely gets outmuscled in front of the net. He has a great first pass and reads the game fairly well. The issue with Luneau is the lack of standout puck skills. Although he makes good decisions with the puck, his playmaking isn’t high-end, and neither is his shot. His stickhandling is average at best, and can sometimes seem clunky.

Luneau is a safe bet to make the NHL, but it’d be surprising to see him be anything more than a second- or third-pair defender with value on the penalty kill.

C | Québec (QMJHL) | 6-3 | 207 lbs | Shoots: R

Hadi Kalakeche: Gaucher’s massive frame and puck protection mechanics make him very easy to project to the NHL. The Remparts forward took a step back production-wise after a solid Draft -1 year, scoring 31 goals and adding 26 assists for 57 points in 66 games. He also added nine points in 12 playoff matches, finishing fourth on his team in that regard.

Gaucher’s shot is powerful and accurate, and he can shoot in-stride just as well as from a standstill. His speed combined with his size was often too much for QMJHL defenders to handle, but he can lag behind on high-pace, back-and-forth plays due to a lack of high-end agility and average processing. When it comes to puck battles, however, I’m not sure there’s a better player than him in this draft. He gets opponents off balance and takes their stick out of the play very effectively, cutting off their hands and leveraging his weight to ensure that he not only gets to the puck first but does so with as much space as he can make for himself. Once he has it, his short-ice passing helps him reach teammates off the boards quickly and effectively.

Expect Gaucher to reach an NHL middle-six at some point, using his frame and board game to free up ice for more skilled linemates. He would make a great net-front option on the power play as well.

D | Leksands (SHL/J20 Nationell) | 6-5 | 225 lbs | Shoots: L

Alexa Potack: Bichsel is an attractive prospect due to his mobility and size combination, especially as a defenseman. He’s 6’5”, 225 lbs, and although he isn’t the fastest, he has a good stride and can move laterally. He’s able to shut down an oncoming rush and has proven an ability to backcheck due to his smart reads. Given his frame, physicality is one of Bichsel’s greatest strengths. Even as a rookie in the SHL, Bichsel had no issue throwing his weight around. His role in the SHL was playing bottom-pairing minutes but he did receive time on Leksand’s penalty kill. When shorthanded, Bichsel stations himself responsibly, often just outside the crease. He’s aggressive in his portion of the zone but does not overcommit and lose his positioning.

Bichsel has produced offensively at the junior level but those capabilities haven’t translated to professional hockey so far. During his junior stints in his native Switzerland and now in Sweden, he demonstrated effective passing and power on his shot. Bichsel isn’t expected to blossom into a two-way defenseman but if he can find his offensive touch again, he can provide some depth from the blue line. Looking forward, Bichsel will likely continue to use his size as his biggest advantage in being a shutdown defenseman, and offensive production should be viewed as a bonus.

C | Guelph (OHL) | 6-0 | 196 lbs | Shoots: L

Kyle Watson: Zhilkin possesses that lightning-in-a-bottle energy that makes him a threat from almost anywhere on the ice when he gets the puck on his stick. There are few things scarier for OHL defenders than the Canadian rushing at them with a full head of steam. With a solid frame and excellent puck skills, he is able to shred through traffic and drive for the net constantly. This strategy has worked well for Zhilkin thus far in his career but there is a lack of variety in his offensive game. He clearly has tremendous raw skill and ingenuity but doesn’t cause a lot of trouble from a standstill. He can really rip it when given the space but has not consistently been able to find or make room for himself.

The December 2003-born forward improved defensively as the year went on, becoming more deliberate in his man coverage and more proactive in his own zone. He was also relied upon heavily for Guelph, taking big faceoffs with the game on the line, and got more defensive zone starts as the year went on.

However, as one of the oldest players available, his consistency and relatively modest production are concerning. A team might take a swing on him in the mid-to-late first round, but he will have to continue to work on playing with pace and rounding out his game to ensure a spot in the NHL.

D | Waterloo (USHL) | 6-3 | 181 lbs | Shoots: R

Sebastian High: Sam Rinzel is a player you only pick high if you trust your development team. He needs a lot of refinement and will likely not touch the NHL for four or five seasons. Rinzel dominated the Minnesota High School circuit this season, and in his 27 USHL games demonstrated that he has tremendous tools and very good upside, but he also continuously tried and failed to do the things he got away with against the weaker competition he was used to. He is a big offensive defenseman who will be well and truly imposing once he fills out his frame. Rinzel also knows how to use his physicality, he clears the net-front effectively, likes to go for a big hit when he has the option to, and uses his strength and length to protect the puck. And it’s with the puck when his value really shines. Rinzel is deceptive and skilled; when carrying the puck up ice, he easily gets around the first defender, and in the offensive zone, he can create high-danger chances when he chooses to activate. He is also an excellent skater. He’s highly mobile in all four directions, has strong edgework, and uses crossovers well to build up speed when he has a runway; but his acceleration still needs improvement. Rinzel’s defensive game remains a work in progress. His gap control is inconsistent and he has a tendency to get burned by the USHL’s more skilled players in transition by biting on their moves and giving them the inside lane. In his own zone, his scanning habits need quite a bit of work, he gets caught puck watching a fair amount, but his stick is active and the net-clearing ability is projectable. While his defensive game may never be his strength, Rinzel’s skill and deception make him a high-upside player in transition and offensively, meriting him a top-40 spot on our board despite the amount of development he requires.

W | HK Nitra (Tipos Extraliga) | 5-10 | 172 lbs | Shoots: L

Eetu Siltanen: Adam Sykora was one of the steady risers at pretty much all draft rankings throughout the year. He played a full season for Nitra in Slovakia and notched total of 22 points in 65 games, regular season and playoffs combined. He also represented his country at U18 level, as well as in Men’s Worlds at May, where he managed to score 3 points in 6 games played. You could see that for a player in his role, his numbers were good and the season was positive.

Sykora is a speedy winger with a solid offensive toolkit who plays at a high pace, utilizing his great footwork and speed. At the transition, he can carry the puck to the offensive zone but isn’t necessarily a play driver or the most creative offensive creator. His effort is relentless at all zones and it almost seems that his energy never runs out. He’s an intense forechecker and while he lacks high-end skill, he can flash some nice on-puck decisions as well and might surprise with good wrist shots, even though he mostly scores “dirty” goals. He doesn’t have a big frame, but plays way bigger as he is definitely not afraid of physical play and with his relentless effort, he is good in puck battles. He works hard and shows good awareness at the defensive zone as well, making him a solid two-way winger.

Sykora won’t be a big-time producer in the NHL but his occasional production and solid skill combined with good speed and relentless effort and competitiveness make him a very promising prospect. Our team thinks that he doesn’t have top-six -upside, however he could become a very good, energetic third liner in the NHL if he reaches his potential and because of that, we see him as a second-round pick. We could see Sykora killing penalties but not playing powerplay in the NHL.

C | Linköping (SHL/J20 Nationell) | 6-4 | 205 lbs | Shoots: L

Alexa Potack: Bystedt is a playmaking forward with nifty hands and creative passes. He is typically a center but did spend time on the right wing this season. Bystedt accelerates a lot in his straight-line skating and often drives play into the offensive zone. His first step is relatively slow, but as a player that carries the puck through large stretches of the ice, he’s able to generate a lot of speed. Many of Bystedt’s goals can be attributed to this because he drives hard to the net in transition which creates odd-man-rush or breakaway opportunities. In terms of puck skills, Bystedt has fast hands, which he uses to beat opponents while looking for a shot or pass option. He occasionally turns over the puck with excessive movement or risky passes, but typically has reliable hands.

Being 6-foot-4, Bystedt is typically one of the larger players on the ice. Despite the clear size advantage, there is work to be done with Bystedt’s physicality level. His playmaker role prioritizes creating space rather than charging into congested areas on the ice. However, with a middle-six ceiling, he would benefit from adopting a slightly more physical play style.

D | North Bay (OHL) | 5-10 | 196 lbs | Shoots: R

Sebastian High: It was a tale of two seasons for Ty Nelson – the skill, offensive involvement, and defensive ability he demonstrated in the first half seemed to cement him as a can’t miss first-round talent. He carried the puck up the ice with confidence and was the fulcrum of the North Bay power play, distributing the puck with crisp passes and being a constant shooting threat.

But the second half of the season saw a far more reserved and conservative player who lacked the flair that had made Nelson so special. He dumped the puck in almost every time he crossed center ice, and he shot the puck whenever it touched his stick inside the offensive zone. He may very well have been limited by the system North Bay plays, which gives the forwards the entire responsibility of carrying the puck in transition, and Nelson is far more effective when carrying the puck up the ice than he is when passing it. One thing that did remain consistent, however, was his transition defense, which is among the best in the class. Nelson keeps a very tight gap, matches the footwork of the forward, and extinguishes entries within ten feet of the puck crossing his blueline by forcing the attacker to the outside and pinning him against the boards. He is very skilled at steering play away from the middle lane, and he protects the slot quite well. While he is an undersized defenseman, he as built like a tank, you will not find a defenseman more sturdy per inch in the draft class.

There is risk in selecting Nelson, as his development could really stagnate in North Bay, but the offensive skill, shooting ability, and transition upside, both offensively and defensively, make him a worthwhile swing in the second round.

C/W | Northeastern University (NCAA) | 6-0 | 170 lbs | Shoots: L

Sebastian High: Jack Hughes may not be nearly as skilled as the current NHL player whose name he shares, but he is as well-rounded a prospect as you’re likely to find outside the top-15 of the NHL draft.

He plays an intelligent and diligent 200-foot game which is built upon the quickness of his reads, processing, and execution. Hughes understands the game very well, and this allows him to make his plays very quickly; he makes fast passes in transition, he quickly finds soft ice in the offensive zone, and he quickly attacks the gaps defenders give him. While he may not get around the ice all that quickly, this high-paced brain and the quick execution of the reads gain him the trust of his coaches very quickly, especially when paired with his defensive work rate and intelligence. Hughes is more of a playmaker than a shooter and he prefers to drive the net off-puck to drive defenders back and create space for his teammates than to drive the net with the puck. He does have the ability to pull off highlight-reel plays, often due to his creativity and handling ability, but he is not an offensive dynamo.

Hughes will likely make the NHL someday, but it will most likely be in a bottom-six capacity. He is a natural center, and with proper development could turn into a valuable third-line center with upside on the penalty kill and on a second powerplay unit.

C | Mississauga (OHL) | 6-1 | 179 lbs | Shoots: L

Kyle Watson: The 2003-born centreman led all 2022 draft eligibles in the OHL in scoring in the first half of the season. Del Bel Belluz took large strides in his game this year and looked dominant at times.

He formed one of the most effective duos in the league with James Hardie, being relied upon in all situations for the Steelheads. He thrives in the tight areas of the game where he can hold the puck up and find his teammates in space – but he also had 31 goals on the year. Del Bel Belluz can score from the outside with a hard and accurate shot but he also has the skill to create his own opportunities around the net. Although he lacks speed, he is a tenacious forechecker and isn’t afraid to get physical. He has succeeded at center thus far but may end up higher up the lineup as a winger at the pro level.

C/W | Green Bay (USHL) | 6-2 | 192 lbs | Shoots R

Nick Richard: After a slow start to the season, Lund was moved over to the wing and that move helped to free him up offensively. He produced at just under a point per game through the final 50 contests of the season and finished the year with 25 goals and 25 assists in 62 games with Green Bay.

Lund is an exciting offensive talent with good size and skating ability. He is a scoring threat off the rush, not only because of his great release that can beat goaltenders cleanly but because of his ability to execute skilled moves at high speed. Lund takes intelligent routes in transition and can string plays together to create clean entries into the offensive zone where his skill often takes over. He has decent vision and can make plays for his teammates but he is at his best when he is attacking and creating his own opportunities. On the powerplay, he offers a bit of dual-threat capability as the extra time and space give him more runway to choose his best option, whether it be a backdoor pass or a heavy wrister from the circle.

There are things he will have to work on – namely consistency and his play off the puck – but Lund’s size, speed, and skill give him a chance to become a top-six forward at the NHL level.

D | Gatineau (QMJHL) | 6-5 | 225 lbs | Shoots: R

Hadi Kalakeche: Warren had a decent season with Gatineau in the QMJHL, but mostly played in the shadow of fellow draft-eligible Tristan Luneau. The massive right-handed defenseman scored five goals and added 19 assists in 62 games for the Olympiques, adding a lone assist in seven playoff games as well.

Effectiveness is the name of the game for Warren. Everything he does on the ice serves the purpose of prolonging offensive sequences or shortening defensive ones. His board game is aided by his frame but mostly supported by outstanding habits. He limits puck battle losses with great stick and body positioning, and facilitates breakouts coming out of those battles by making good decisions under pressure and finding open teammates in favorable areas. His gap control off the rush makes him just as efficient when facing fast-paced players, and his stick positioning is refined. His puck skills aren’t much to write home about, but his solid and efficient game, especially off the puck, makes him a very projectable defenseman.

Expect him to make the NHL in the next couple of years and stick to it, and if his smarts can be complemented by improving his puck skills, Warren could very well be a top-four mainstay.

C/W | Frölunda (SHL/J20 Nationell) | 6-0 | 179 lbs | Shoots: L

Alexa Potack: Speed is Ludwig Persson’s best asset. With a quick first step and acceleration, he outskates opponents, whether over a short or long distance. In the offensive zone, Persson is a very hard worker. He shoots the puck a lot, which is where he reels in his high points totals. He displays a level of creativity in finding scoring opportunities. On these plays, he often has a backup option should his shooting lane remain blocked. On the powerplay, Persson was very successful with creating redirection chances. His competitiveness in the offensive zone is evident, especially with his forecheck. Persson is strong and aggressive, which in addition to his skating makes him a force in the offensive zone, no matter the play type.

In the defensive zone, Persson visibly lacks the same compete level. He does not demonstrate the instinctual behavior as he does on offense, which leads to frequent positioning errors. This is certainly the biggest downside to Persson’s game. He received few opportunities with Frölunda this season, scoring zero points in his professional matches. Next season, Persson will be playing in HockeyAllsvenskan, which should be a great way to spark his scoring once again. He did not look out of place in the SHL, especially with the pace, but a slightly lower level of competition helps to ease the adjustment.

D | NTDP U18 (USNTDP) | 5-8 | 159 lbs | Shoots: L

Sebastian High: There may be no defender available in the 2022 draft class more dynamic than Lane Hutson. The undersized defenseman plays with high-end deception, skill, and planning.

He reads the ice offensively extremely well, processes those reads quickly, and executes upon them with his smooth hands and crisp passes, his shot is a real tool as well, despite his stature. Hutson activates in the offensive zone more often than any defender in the class not named Denton Mateychuk, and he has the patience and vision to create dangerous scoring chances from these plays. He is also a valuable player in offensive transition, he manages the puck well and creates zone exits and entries both by passing and carrying the puck, though he can try to do a little bit too much at times.

His defensive game isn’t poor, as his positioning is sound, gap tight, and his active stick blocks passing lanes. However, his entire projectability rests on his ability to play under physical pressure. Undersized defensemen need to be able to retain the effectiveness of their games under increased pressure and physicality at the professional level.

Lane Hutson is as slight of a player as you’ll find in the NHL draft, and this obstacle is a large one, but if he can surmount it and keep improving the things that make him one of the most entertaining players available, he could turn into a real steal. He is the definition of a boom or bust prospect – if he cracks an NHL top-four, he will be tremendously valuable and electrifying, but if he doesn’t, he won’t be an NHLer at all. The risk will put off a lot of teams, but he could be a high-value selection on day two of the draft.

C | Sudbury (OHL) | 5-11 | 174 lbs | Shoots: L

Dave Hall: If prospects were graded purely on their offensive upside, Goyette likely enjoys a significant boost to his final ranking. Unfortunately, there are elements to his game that do beg questions about his future projection at the NHL level.

Leading the OHL rookie field, the Quebec native contributed 73 points, carrying a large weight of responsibility as a top-six center with the Quinton Byfield-less Sudbury Wolves. A good chunk of his success stems from above-average skating. While he may not be considered a “burner”, per se, his initial acceleration enables him to reach his top speed within the first few strides. Furthermore, his hands are crafty, and he’s able to activate them while performing at those top speeds. He’s a duel threat producer and offensively speaking, should bring top-six upside with an obvious home on the powerplay.

Unfortunately, his points of concern arise at the other end of the ice. His 174-pound frame makes him an easy target to outmuscle, while his defensive motor shows an inconsistent lack of drive. There is a tendency to make poor decisions with the puck on his stick, as he attempts to “do too much” at times. With these all being areas that can be worked on, Goyette looks to add solid value at this point in the draft.

D | Kamloops (WHL) | 6-0 | 176 | Shoots: L

Evan Pace: After some impressive performances offensively throughout the end of the regular season, Mats Lindgren’s offensive production fell off a bit during the playoffs. He went seven straight games without a point in the postseason, and while he’s absolutely a pass-first defender, his team was still scoring a good amount.

Lindgren is an offensive defenseman with decent size and mobility, who’s at his best as a quarterback on the powerplay. While his production tailed off, he still shows excellent vision, mobility with the puck, and is able to hold his own physically. Even though he’s not the best skater, he has solid awareness of the ice and great edgework.

The main concern with Lindgren is his one-dimensional play since he’s not very good in his own end. He’s able to step up and make hits, physically out-battle opponents in the corners, and escape using good first steps and hitting a teammate with a pass. However, he lacks awareness in coverage and can make poor decisions. Similarly, he can make risky passes or do too much with the puck on his stick, leading to turnovers.

He’s got the tools to develop into a solid bottom-pairing offensive defenseman, and in the right situation, he could become a top prospect in the future. Our team feels he needs seasoning at the junior and professional levels before making the jump to the NHL.

D | Skellefteå (SHL/J20 Nationell) | 6-1 | 183 lbs | Shoots: R

Eetu Siltanen: A year ago, Salomonsson was considered a potential early first-rounder, but his draft year didn’t really go as expected. He mostly spent the season in the J20 Nationell, but also played in 10 SHL games. His season was a bit underwhelming and his 22 points in 35 J20 games didn’t meet expectations, considering his offensive upside.

Salomonsson was identified earlier as an offensive-minded defender as he likes to support his team’s offense and doesn’t really shine in his own end. However, this year he didn’t show great production and that raised a question about his real offensive upside. Despite a lack of explosive speed, the big-bodied defender skates well for his size and can give good first passes on the breakout. He can control the offensive zone blue line occasionally but wasn’t the offensive-minded dynamo he was expected to be. However, he has a hard shot, and he can score goals when gets a good chance on the blue line. His defensive game is more concerning for our scouts. While he controls the gap well utilizing his reach off the rush, he has a tendency to make bad defensive zone reads which causes him to be late to his spots. He can’t compensate for that as he lacks some explosive speed, as mentioned. Salomonsson, however, has good size and he can flash some solid physical play as well, which helps him in his own end.

While our team saw Salomonsson as a top-four, offensive-minded defender before the season, we don’t quite believe that anymore. We see his potential as a bottom-four, puck-moving defender who could flash some offensive skills with the possibility to earn a secondary powerplay role.

D | NTDP U18 (USNTDP) | 5-10 | 172 lbs | Shoots: R

Alexander Annun: Seamus Casey has seen his draft stock slowly drop after a season in which he failed to match his point tally from his previous campaign with the U17s, but he is still one of the better offensive defensemen available in this draft – and he’s a right-hand shot to boot, so there’s plenty to like.

Casey is an outstanding skater and uses his quick first step and excellent edgework to maintain good defensive positions in his own end, but it also provides him with great mobility in transition at the other end of the ice. He is able to keep up with anyone he’s faced with and that makes him difficult to beat to the outside in one-on-one situations. His defensive game isn’t necessarily his calling card, but he isn’t a poor defender and furthermore, he actually improved over the course of the year. He made fewer errors per game leading to goals this season compared to last year, and his stick checking and positioning have been paramount to his improvement in his own end. He doesn’t engage physically too much as he is on the smaller side, but his stick work is so impressive that he can get away with it for the time being. Offensively, Casey is a great puck mover and is decisive on the puck, he operates with confidence from the blue line and he is capable of leading rushes himself. He is a patient player on the puck and has good vision to assess his options to avoid forcing plays instead of finding the easy route. Despite being more of a playmaker from the back he is capable of cleanly beating goaltenders with his shot and must be treated as a threat when in a shooting position.

Casey is very talented and could go anywhere from late first round to late second round, but he should be a solid pick for whichever team ends up selecting him.

 

51 | Alexander Perevalov | W | Loko (MHL) | 6-0 | 192 lbs | Shoots: R

Dangerous offensive winger with a great shot and strong all-around offensive toolset.

52 | Hunter Haight | C | Barrie (OHL) | 5-10 | 172 lbs | Shoots: R

Two-way forward who can play in all situations. Has a decent release and good vision in the offensive zone, showing decent producing potential.

53 | Simon Forsmark | D | Örebro (SHL) | 6-2 | 194 lbs | Shoots: L

A two-way defenseman that also brings size, mobility, and grit to the table. Reliable with the puck on his stick and when passing.

54 | Kasper Kulonummi | D | Jokerit (U20 SM-sarja) | 6-0 | 179 lbs | Shoots: R

Smart two-way defender with good offensive instincts combined with very strong puck-moving abilities, great decision-making, and breakout game.

55 | Reid Schaefer | LW | Barrie (WHL) | 6-3 | 214 lbs | Shoots: L

Power forward who plays a tough, physical game, but can score and make plays.

56 | Tomas Hamara | D | Tappara (U20 SM-sarja) | 6-0 | 185 lbs | Shoots: L

Two-way defender with good offensive instincts combined with good puck skills and puck-moving abilities.

57 | Maveric Lamoureux | D | Drummondville (QMJHL) | 6-7 | 198 lbs | Shoots: R

Massive, physical defender who skates well for his size and shows flashes of offensive creativity.

58 | Adam Ingram | C/W | Youngstown (USHL) | 6-2 | 174 lbs | Shoots: L

Intelligent and crafty forward with good vision. Lacks outstanding pace but shows good offensive instincts to go along with a quality release.

59 | Matthew Poitras | C | Guelph (OHL) | 5-11 | 176 lbs | Shoots: R

Hardworking two-way forward with great stick skills to force turnovers. Has offensive skill but didn’t produce outstanding numbers.

60 | Vladimir Grudinin | D | CSKA Moscow (MHL/KHL) | 5-10 | 159 lbs | Shoots: L

Undersized, offensive-leaning blue-liner with the puck skills and mobility to man a power-play unit at the NHL level.

61 | Christian Kyrou | D | Erie (OHL) | 5-10 | 172 lbs | Shoots: R

One of the biggest risers of the draft. Looks a lot like his brother and possesses a similar toolkit of smooth-skating, hands, and a fantastic shot. Finished two points behind Mintyukov for the lead in scoring amongst draft-eligible defensemen.

62 | Topias Leinonen | G | JYP (U20 SM-sarja) | 6-5 | 234 lbs | Catches: L

Colin Hunter: In my eyes, Leinonen is the top goaltender in this class. He has the size and most of the technical ability to succeed professionally. Spending most of his year in Finland’s U20 league, he posted a .916 save percentage, good for third among U18 goaltenders. Leinonen plays a very strong positional game, adjusting to the play seamlessly. However, his movements aren’t as smooth as they could be, and he will have to clean up his footwork to succeed at the next level.

63 | Devin Kaplan | W | NTDUP U18 (USNTDP) | 6-3 | 198 lbs | Shoots: R

Kaplan is a big-bodied forward who plays a 200-foot game and shows some offensive upside with nice playmaking ability.

64 | Matyas Sapovaliv | C | Saginaw (OHL) | 6-4 | 190 lbs | Shoots: L

Skilled playmaking forward with great size and refined puck protection skills. Will need to continue to add pace as he develops.

65 | Paul Ludwinski | C | Kingston (OHL) | 5-11 | 183 lbs | Shoots: L

Competitive forward who brings speed and energy to each shift. Questions remain about his offensive upside.

66 | Michael Fisher | D | St. Mark’s (USHS-Prep) | 6-2 | 198 lbs | Shoots: R

Fleet-footed, slippery offensive defenseman with a pro frame, decent hockey sense, and good defensive habits. Boom-or-bust.

67 | Rieger Lorenz | W | Okotoks (AJHL) | 6-2 | 185 lbs | Shoots: L

Offensive-minded forward with some two-way utility and a high-end shot. Will need to improve his overall pace but plays a well-rounded game.

68 | Bryce McConnell-Barker | C | Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) | 6-1 | 187 lbs | Shoots: L

Skilled forward with dual-threat offensive ability. There is a completeness to his game but he will need to work on his heavy feet.

69 | Julian Lutz | W | München (DEL) | 6-2 | 185 lbs | Shoots: L

Versatile, energetic two-way forward with some pace and puck skills. Honest worker who always plays with a good motor.

70 | Matthew Seminoff | W | Kamloops (WHL) | 5-11 | 183 lbs | Shoots: R

Plug-and-play, skilled forward who can fill nearly any role in a lineup.

71 | Jani Nyman | W | KOOVEE (Mestis) | 6-3 | 214 lbs | Shoots: L

Big-bodied winger with a great wrist shot and good offensive toolkit. Lacks creativity and skill and can’t really utilize his big body.

72 | Beau Jelsma | W | Barrie (OHL) | 5-10 | 174 lbs | Shoots: L

Energetic forward who pushes the pace and can capitalize on turnovers. Lacks size and high-end offensive skill.

73 | Jordan Dumais | W | Halifax (QMJHL) | 5-9 | 165 lbs | Shoots: R

Undersized forward with standout puck skills and a nose for the net. Skating and physicality are major issues, but the skill level is undeniable.

74 | Jordan Gustafsson | C | Seattle (WHL) | 5-11 | 174 lbs | Shoots: L

Speedy forward with two-way potential and a raw offensive skillset.

75 | Vinzenz Rohrer | C/W | Ottawa (OHL) | 5-11 | 168 lbs | Shoots: L

Intelligent forward with slick hands and good vision. Works hard but lacks size and strength.

76 | Ryan Greene | C | Green Bay (USHL) | 5-10 | 161 lbs | Shoots: R

A center who plays a defense-first game, Greene shows occasional flashes of offense with some crafty playmaking skills that make him effective at both ends of the ice.

77 | Alexander Suzdalev | W | HV71 (J20 Nationell) | 6-2 | 179 lbs | Shoots: L

A crafty winger with great puck skills and vision. Likely a long-term project for the team he lands on.

78 | Nicholas Moldenhauer | C | Chicago (USHL) | 5-11 | 170 lbs | Shoots: R

A forward with great skating ability and skill to make plays in the offensive zone, Moldenhauer could prove to be a catalyst with some added consistency to his game.

79 | Topi Rönni | C | Tappara (U20 SM-sarja) | 6-1 | 181 lbs | Shoots: L

Above-average sized two-way center with good puck skills, flashes of offensive skill, and willingness to battle hard and compete.

80 | Ilya Kvochko | C | Magnitogorsk (MHL) | 5-9 | 159 lbs | Shoots: L

Undersized forward who plays a high-paced defensive game. Offensive tools are a work in progress, but could very well become strengths with time.

81 | Isaiah George | D | London (OHL) | 6-1 | 194 lbs | Shoots: L

One of the best skaters in the draft – has a long, powerful stride and just glides out there. Excellent at closing his gaps and transitioning play into the opponent’s zone. Logged minutes in all situations for a London team that usually doesn’t give a lot of minutes to young defensemen.

82 | Elias Pettersson | D | Örebro (SHL) | 6-2 | 185 lbs | Shoots: L

Above-average sized two-way defender with no high-end abilities but a solid all-around game.

83 | Dylan James | W | Sioux City (USHL) | 6-0 | 176 lbs | Shoots: L

Has a good shot and is able to work his way into dangerous areas of the ice where he can create his own chances. Good on the powerplay, fights hard for the puck.

84 | Brandon Lisowsky | C | Saskatoon (WHL) | 5-9 | 172 lbs | Shoots: L

Undersized, yet physical winger with scoring and two-way abilities.

85 | Tyler Brennan | G | JYP (U20 SM-sarja) | 6-5 | 234 lbs | Catches: L

Colin Hunter: Another big goalie at 6-4, Brennan moves extremely well for his size. Although his numbers this year in the WHL don’t wow you (.899 save percentage in 39 games), Brennan is a pleasure to watch as a scout due to his smooth skating and athleticism. His positional decision-making and tracking will need some work, but it’s hard to teach the out-of-the-box saves that Brennan is capable of.

86 | Gavin Hayes | W | Flint (OHL) | 6-1 | 176 lbs | Shoots: R

Skilled, net-driven forward with power elements to his game who has the potential to slot up and down an NHL lineup.

87 | Servác Petrovský | C | Owen Sound (OHL) | 5-10 | 181 lbs | Shoots; L

Well-rounded forward with good playmaking skills in the offensive zone.

88 | Cruz Lucius | W | NTDP U18 (USNTDP) | 6-0 | 183 lbs | Shoots: R

A shoot-first forward, who has an accurate and powerful shot that can beat goalies cleanly. Handles the puck well and is able to slip past players with speed or skill.

89 | Michael La Starza | LW | Sioux Falls (USHL) | 5-11 | 185 lbs | Shoots: L

A speedy skater, and a well-rounded forward who is effective at both ends of the ice. An all situations player that can be trusted to make smart decisions at both ends, shows offensive creativity, and has a quick shot release.

90 | Cole Knuble | RW | Fargo (USHL) | 5-10 | 174 lbs | Shoots: R

Speedy forward who plays a high-energy game. Has good playmaking skills, gets into dangerous areas where he can fire off shots and makes intelligent decisions on and off the puck.

91 | Cole Spicer | C | NTDP U18 (USNTDP) | 5-10 | 174 lbs | Shoots: L

Perpetual motor on the ice, whose high work rate forces turnovers on the forecheck and on offense he is able to use his physicality and relentlessness to generate plays and get good chances in tight.

92 | Michael Buchinger | D | Guelph (OHL) | 6-0 | 185 lbs | Shoots: L

Smooth-skating defender who moves the puck efficiently and knows when to activate offensively.

93 | Aleksanteri Kaskimäki | C/W | HIFK (U20 SM-sarja) | 6-0 | 196 lbs | Shoots: L

Smart forward with good puck skills and a pretty good wrist shot. Production was good but his physicality and pace need a lot of work if he wants to get to the NHL.

94 | Fraser Minten | C | Kamloops (WHL) | 6-1 | 185 lbs | Shoots: L

Two-way centerman with a strong work ethic, upside, and character.

95 | Ryan Healey | D | Sioux Falls (USHL) | 6-1 | 179 lbs | Shoots: R

A two-way defender who maintains good gap control and uses his sharp edgework to maintain defensive position. Reads the play well and shows some offensive ability, but needs to make better passing decisions at times, and show more awareness of the play around him.

96 | Markus Vidicek | C | Halifax (QMJHL) | 5-10 | 154 lbs | Shoots: L

Undersized but intelligent playmaking pivot. Needs to add pace to his game as he matures physically.

97 | Miko Matikka | W | Jokerit (U20 SM-sarja) | 6-3 | 187 lbs | Shoots: R

Big-bodied power forward with a powerful shot and a solid offensive toolkit with good passing abilities. Could’ve been even higher, but an injury affected his season as his game didn’t really show much improvement from the last season.

98 | Fabian Wagner | W | Linköping (J20 Nationell) | 6-0 | 181 lbs | Shoots: L

His two best traits are his passing and decision-making but can use his shot if needed.

99 | Josh Filmon | W | Swift Current (WHL) | 6-2 | 159 lbs | Shoots: L

Tall, but thin winger with raw tools and a solid offensive base.

100 | Viktor Neuchev | W | Avto (MHL) | 6-2 | 165 lbs | Shoots: L

Electrifying with the puck and a dynamic skater, and has the fall-back game as an intense forechecker. His greatest offensive weapon is his shot, but he is a volume shooter and will need to work on his identification of passing options in the offensive zone.


Honorable Mentions

Antonin Verreault | W | Gatineau (QMJHL) | 5-8 | 163 lbs | Shoots: L

Small winger with plenty of offensive skill and decent skating ability.

Brayden Schuurman | F | Victoria (WHL) | 5-9 | 192 lbs | Shoots: R

Undersized forward with a good shot and goal-scoring instincts. Needs to clean up his stride and round out his game away from the puck.

Otto Salin | D | HIFK (U20 SM-sarja) | 5-11 | 205 lbs | Shoots: R

Offensive-minded defender with good mobility. Showed promising potential with his offensive game, but struggled with injuries and didn’t have positive showings against his peers at U18 National Team games.

Hugo Hävelid | G | Linköping (J20 Nationell) | 5-10 | 174 lbs | Shoots: L

Had good success at every level he’s played at, notching the top goalie award in both J20 Nationell and at the U18 Worlds. Size concern which drops his stock. Very poised, and improved his positional game markedly as the year progressed.

Jake Livanavage | D | Chicago (USHL) | 5-10 | 161 lbs | Shoots: L

A smooth-skating defenseman, Livanavage likes jumping into the offense when he can, shows patience with the puck, and moves it quickly. He has nice size and does well to throw a nicely timed hit, uses his stick well to keep attackers at bay.

Alfred Aalto | C | Västerås IK (J20 Nationell) | 5-11 | 165 lbs | Shoots: L

Clear offensive instincts and finishing ability but plays an unrefined game. A very obvious honest worker.

Jimi Suomi* | D | TPS (Liiga) | 5-10 | 154 lbs | Shoots: L

Went undrafted last year – probably because of small size and defensive game struggles. Offensive-minded defender with great puck skills and excellent skating ability, who likes to jump in a rush and dance on the offensive blue line.

Lucas Edmonds* | W | Kingston (OHL) | 5-11 | 185 lbs | Shoots: R

Skilled offensive forward who can create in a variety of ways and displays an attacking mindset off the rush.

Tucker Robertson* | C/W | Peterborough (OHL) | 5-10 | 190 lbs | Shoots: R

Tenacious forward with good hands around the net. Plays with energy and has enough skill to grow into a depth scorer at the NHL level.

Lukas Gustafsson* | D | Chicago (USHL) | 5-10 | 190 lbs | Shoots: L

A skilled passer in transition and playmaker in the offensive zone, he knows when to activate to support the attack, but is responsible defensively as well. His smooth skating and aggressive transition defense are two real strengths.

Tyler Duke | D | NTDP U18 (USNTDP) | 5-9 | 179 lbs | Shoots: L

The most underrated piece on the USNTDP blueline. He may be undersized, but he is a sturdy defender who consistently forces play to the perimeter and protects the slot. Offensively, he can create chances when he activates and his shot is a real threat.

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