Bleacher Report's Updated 2022 NHL Mock Draft for June

Lyle Richardson@@SpectorsHockeyFeatured Columnist IVJune 17, 2022

Bleacher Report's Updated 2022 NHL Mock Draft for June

0 of 32

    Claus Andersen/Getty Images

    The 2022 NHL draft will be held in Montreal, with the first round taking place on Thursday, July 7, followed by Rounds 2 through 7 on July 8.

    Save for the last two spots, we know what the final order will look like. As our previous mock drafts were based on the regular-season standings, it's time to revise our most recent installment, which came after the 2022 trade deadline.

    A draft lottery on May 10 determined the top 16 spots, with the Montreal Canadiens winning the right to select first overall. The order of postseason elimination determined the remaining slots.

    The outcome of the Stanley Cup Final will also decide whether the Colorado Avalanche or Tampa Bay Lightning finish last in the draft order. For now, we're basing their placement in the final two spots of our mock draft on where they finished in the overall standings.

    Our selections were based on Central Scouting's final rankings and the requirements of each club. Players' stats and additional information are provided by Elite Prospects, CapFriendly, The Athletic's listing of its top 127 prospects and its annual ranking of each NHL team's prospect pool, and Daily Faceoff's final draft rankings.

    It's unclear if Russia's war with Ukraine will make NHL clubs reluctant to draft Russian prospects. We will continue to include those players in this mock draft.

1. Montreal Canadiens: Shane Wright

1 of 32

    Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images

    NHL Central Scouting's final rankings had Shane Wright of the Kingston Frontenacs as its top prospect among North American skaters. And the Montreal Canadiens will pounce on him. After COVID-19 restrictions shut down the OHL in 2020-21, Wright finished eighth in 2021-22 among the league leaders with 94 points in 63 games.

    The Canadiens have an ongoing need for skilled depth at center. Nick Suzuki has developed into a solid first-line center, while Christian Dvorak's two-way skills and experience put him into their No. 2 position. Jake Evans, 26, and Ryan Poehling, 23, have established themselves as checking-line centers but haven't shown the skills to suggest they can move up.

    Wright could provide a big boost at the position. He's a gifted two-way center who plays a complete game. On May 9, The Athletic's Corey Pronman reported some scouts compared the 6'0", 199-pounder to Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron. Pronman considers him comparable to the New York Rangers' Mika Zibanejad.'s Mike G. Morreale cited Wright's comments about his desire to win during a March interview on the NHL Draft Class podcast. “My mindset is not to win scoring titles. It's not to win MVPs. It's to win Stanley Cups.” That's the type of winning attitude the Canadiens will need as they rebuild their roster.

2. New Jersey Devils: Juraj Slafkovsky

2 of 32

    Joshua Bessex/NHLI via Getty Images

    The New Jersey Devils moved up to second overall courtesy of the draft lottery. General manager Tom Fitzgerald told reporters he's open to trading this pick for immediate help. If Fitzgerald retains this selection, Juraj Slafkovsky from TPS of Liiga in Finland could be the pick.

    Ranked by Central Scouting as the top European skater among this season's prospect class, the 6'4", 229-pound Slafkovsky is a Slovakian skating in Finland's top league. Per Morreale, NHL Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb said the big left winger played well on TPS' second line this season, finishing with 10 points in 31 games to go with seven points in 18 playoff contests.

    Slafkovsky possesses tremendous speed for a player of his size along with outstanding offensive abilities. Stubb praised Slafkovsky's performance at the 2002 Beijing Winter Olympics. He was named tournament MVP after leading all scorers with seven goals, helping Slovakia win the bronze medal.

    The Devils already have considerable depth in talented young centers in the form of No. 1 overall picks Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes as well as 2020 first-rounder Dawson Mercer.

    What they need is a game-breaking scoring winger to skate alongside Hischier or Hughes. They have a promising right winger in Alexander Holtz. Slafkovsky could be just what they need on the left wing.

3. Arizona Coyotes: Logan Cooley

3 of 32

    Joshua Bessex/NHLI via Getty Images

    The Arizona Coyotes have been engaged in a major roster rebuild and could grab Logan Cooley of the U.S. National Team Development Program (USNTDP) to build depth among their prospect centers.

    Cooley sits second on Central Scouting's ranking of North American skaters. The 5'10”, 180-pounder finished second on the NTDP with 75 points in 51 games. He also had 10 points in six games for Team USA at the 2022 IIHF World Under-18 Championship.

    Director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr believes the margin between Cooley and Shane Wright narrowed during the season, per Morreale. Though Wright got the nod as the top North American prospect, Marr praised Cooley's abilities. The Athletic's Pronman singled out his speed, skill and high hockey IQ.

    Cooley has committed to playing for the University of Minnesota next season. That will give him an opportunity to hone his skills at the NCAA level. He would be a terrific fit with the Coyotes' long-term plans. The young center could be ready to make the jump to the NHL within a couple of years.

4. Seattle Kraken: Simon Nemec

4 of 32

    Jari Pestelacci/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

    A skillful puck-moving defenseman, Simon Nemec spent the past two seasons with Slovakia's HK Nitra. Central Scouting listed him third among European skaters, which should make him enticing for the Seattle Kraken at the fourth pick.

    The 6'0", 199-pound Nemec's two-way skills would make him a fine addition to the Kraken's shallow prospect pool. His performance against adult players in Slovakia over the past two seasons could speed his path to the NHL.

    Nemec made considerable strides in his development this past season, finishing with 26 points in 39 regular-season games and 17 points in 19 playoff contests. He also has experience in international competition, including six points in eight games with Slovakia in the 2022 IIHF World Championship.

    The Kraken could use a talented, mobile first-pairing defenseman as they continue to build. It could take Nemec a couple of seasons to make their roster, but he could become a key piece of their long-term future.

5. Philadelphia Flyers: Matthew Savoie

5 of 32

    Chris Tanouye/Getty Images

    The Philadelphia Flyers could be looking for a high-quality center with this selection. Morgan Frost's elevation into the lineup last season leaves them thin at that position among their top-10 prospects. Matthew Savoie of the Winnipeg Ice in the Western Hockey League (WHL) could be on their radar.

    Savoie might not be ready to make the jump into the Flyers lineup. Nevertheless, he could be a solid choice to build their long-term depth at center, especially if Frost fails to become more than a third-liner.

    This past season saw Savoie make tremendous strides, and he ranked fourth among North American skaters. A talented goal scorer with strong playmaking ability, the 5'9”, 170-pound center finished seventh among the WHL's scoring leaders with 90 points (35 goals). He also had six goals and 12 points in 10 playoff games for the Ice.

    “Savoie has great wheels and is a dynamic player,” John Williams of NHL Central Scouting said, per Morreale. Those attributes could make him a fine addition to the Flyers one day.

6. Columbus Blue Jackets (from Chicago Blackhawks): Joakim Kemell

6 of 32

    RvS.Media/Basile Barbey/Getty Images

    The Columbus Blue Jackets received this pick from the Chicago Blackhawks as part of last July's trade that sent Seth Jones to Chicago.

    Joakim Kemell from JYP of Liiga in Finland would make sense here, as he could help the Blue Jackets address their need for a right winger with top-six potential among their prospect pool.

    Kemell had a strong start to this past season but struggled to regain his form after missing a month with a shoulder injury. Nevertheless, his potential was good enough to rank second among this season's top European prospects.

    The 5'10”, 185-pounder is a swift-skating winger with solid offensive skills, including a powerful shot that he uses to good effect. He tallied 15 goals and 23 points in 39 games with JYP, as well as 12 goals and 15 points in 12 games during the 2022 IIHF Under-18 World Championship.

    Kemell's injury could raise concern about his performance and perhaps send him dropping a bit during the draft's opening night, but his talent and fit in the system could be enough to overcome that.

7. Ottawa Senators: David Jiricek

7 of 32

    Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

    On June 8, the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reported Senators general manager Pierre Dorion is open to trading this pick for an impact player, perhaps a right winger for Tim Stuetzle's line. If Dorion retains the pick, he could use it to select David Jiricek of HC Plzen in the Czech Extraliga.

    A 6'3”, 189-pound right-shot defenseman, Jiricek won't address the Senators' need for a right winger to skate alongside Stuetzle. However, he could provide an additional boost to their long-term depth on the right side of their blue line.

    Jiricek finished fourth among Central Scouting's ranking of the top European skaters. He had 11 points in 29 games with HC Plzen until a knee injury suffered during the 2022 World Junior Under-20 Championship sidelined him for the second half of the Extraliga season. However, he did skate for Czechia at the 2020 World Championships, picking up two points in five games.

    Pronman compared Jiricek to Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, praising his skill at both ends of the rink and his physical play. That would make him an excellent addition to the right side of the Senators defense.

8. Detroit Red Wings: Conor Geekie

8 of 32

    Chris Tanouye/Getty Images

    The Detroit Red Wings have done well with their first-round selections under general manager Steve Yzerman, choosing Calder Memorial Trophy finalist Moritz Seider in 2019, winger Lucas Raymond in 2020 and promising defenseman Simon Edvinsson last year. With the eighth pick this year, he could choose Conor Geekie of the WHL's Winnipeg Ice.

    Geekie is the younger brother of Kraken center Morgan Geekie. A big center at 6'4” and 190 pounds, he finished fourth among Ice scorers with 70 points in 63 games and chipped in 11 points in 15 playoff games. He's ranked fifth among North American skaters by Central Scouting.

    John Williams of NHL Central Scouting believes Geekie has plenty of upside. “He's got a lot of elements," he said, per Morreale. "He's obviously a big kid who can make plays, thinks the game well and is smart. His ceiling is really high.”

    The Red Wings could use a potential top-six center in their prospect ranks. Joe Veleno has promise, but there's no certainty he'll become more than a third-liner. Geekie's size and scoring skills could make him a good fit in Motown.

9. Buffalo Sabres: Cutter Gauthier

9 of 32

    Mike Mulholland/Getty Images

    A core of young forwards featuring Tage Thompson, Peyton Krebs, Dylan Cozens and Casey Mittelstadt is providing some hope for the future for long-suffering Buffalo Sabres fans. Having chosen defenseman Owen Power with the first pick last year, they could add another promising forward this year by selecting the USNTDP's Cutter Gauthier.

    Ranked third among North American skaters, the 6'2”, 200-pound Gauthier garnered praise from Central Scouting's senior manager David Gregory, per Morreale. “As soon as you see him step on the ice, you see an NHL player,” said Gregory, who singled out the left winger's size, speed and powerful shot.

    Gauthier finished second among the USNTDP's under-18 skaters with 34 goals and fifth with 65 points in 54 games. A versatile forward, he can also skate at center as well as left wing. He'll play for Boston College next season.

    The Sabres could use some extra long-term scoring depth on the left side as 30-year-old Jeff Skinner's scoring skill inevitably declines. Gauthier could be a terrific addition once his university career is over.

10. Anaheim Ducks: Pavel Mintyukov

10 of 32

    Chris Tanouye/Getty Images

    Under new general manager Pat Verbeek, the Anaheim Ducks are undergoing an overdue rebuild. Having dealt veteran defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson at the trade deadline, Verbeek could be looking for long-term blue-line depth in this year's draft.

    Perhaps he'll consider choosing Pavel Mintyukov of the OHL's Saginaw Spirit.

    The Moscow-born Mintyukov finished third among OHL defensemen with 62 points in his first season playing North American junior hockey. The 6'2”, 194-pound left-shot blueliner was ranked sixth among North American skaters.

    The Athletic's Corey Pronman singled out Mintyukov's skating and offensive skills, especially his hard point shot. He also noted that the young Russian plays a solid defensive game, using his size and long reach to break up plays.

    Mintyukov could benefit from another season in the OHL before making the leap to the pro ranks. The rebuilding Ducks would give him all the opportunity he needs to develop his game and realize the goal of becoming a top-four defenseman.

11. San Jose Sharks: Jonathan Lekkerimaki

11 of 32

    Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

    With the San Jose Sharks searching for a replacement for long-time general manager Doug Wilson, their plans for the future are unclear. If that role is filled before the draft, the new GM could look at shoring up the Sharks' long-term scoring depth. One option could be Jonathan Lekkerimaki of Djurgardens IF in Sweden.

    A teammate of Sharks 2021 first-rounder William Eklund, the 5'10”, 171-pound right winger is ranked sixth among European skaters. He had 20 goals and 35 points in 26 games with Djurgardens' Under-20 squad, along with seven goals and nine points in 26 games with its main club.

    Pronman compared Lekkerimaki to Kraken winger Jordan Eberle. Daily Faceoff's Chris Peters praised the young Swede's offensive abilities, including his quick, accurate shot.

    Whether the Sharks' next general manager rebuilds or retools the roster, they'll need to maintain a pipeline of good, young players for the long term. A combination of Eklund and Lekkerimaki could one day give them a formidable one-two offensive punch.

12. Columbus Blue Jackets: Danila Yurov

12 of 32

    In recent drafts, the Columbus Blue Jackets have stocked up their prospect depth at center and left wing with such notables as Kent Johnson, Cole Sillinger and Liam Foudy. However, Yegor Chinakhov is the only right wing among their top-10 prospects. They could turn to Danila Yurov of Metalurg Magnitogorsk of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).

    Yurov was held scoreless in 21 regular-season games and 19 playoff games in his first season seeing limited playing time against KHL professionals. However, he put up big numbers with Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk in Russia's junior league, tallying 13 goals and 36 points in 23 games.

    Ranking seventh among European skaters, the 6'1”, 178-pound Yurov possesses considerable offensive potential despite his KHL struggles. Daily Faceoff's Peters considers the young Russian winger a top-tier talent, praising his hockey smarts and lower-body strength.

    Yurov will require another year or two of seasoning in the KHL before he'll be ready to make the jump to the NHL. Nevertheless, he could prove worth the wait as the Jackets continue to bring more young talent into their ranks in the coming years.

13. New York Islanders: Marco Kasper

13 of 32

    Lacking a first-round pick in the 2021 draft, New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello chose center Aatu Raty with his second-round selection. Lamoriello could continue to shore up depth at center by selecting Marco Kasper of the SHL's Rogle BK.

    Sitting fifth among this year's top European skaters, the 6'1”, 187-pound Kasper had 13 points in 12 games with Rogle BK's Under-20 squad. Moving up to the main club, he had 11 points in 46 games, showing steady improvement by netting six points in 13 playoff games.

    The Athletic's Pronman praised Kasper's strength, speed and skill. Daily Faceoff's Peters considers him among the most well-rounded two-way centers in this year's draft class.

    Lamoriello needs to look ahead to when he may have to replace Brock Nelson when his contract expires in 2025. A skilled center such as Kasper could be a solid fit as a second-line center for the Islanders.

14. Winnipeg Jets: Kevin Korchinski

14 of 32

    Christopher Mast/Getty Images

    Kevin Korchinski of the Seattle Thunderbirds enjoyed a good first full season in the WHL, finishing fourth among all defensemen with 65 points in 67 games. Those offensive skills could make him enticing to the Winnipeg Jets with the 14th pick.

    The Jets have been lacking a proven puck-moving defenseman since Dustin Byfuglien's departure in 2019. The team has two promising young blueliners in Ville Heinola and Dylan Samberg, but they don't appear to have Korchinski's offensive potential.

    Ranked seventh among North American skaters, the 6'2”, 185-pound Korchinski performed well during his first WHL postseason, sitting fourth among the Thunderbirds with 19 points in 25 games. The Athletic's Pronman and Daily Faceoff's Peters had praise for his offensive abilities.

    Since Heinola and Samberg are likely to see larger roles next season, the Jets won't have to rush Korchinski's development. Once he's ready in a couple of years, he could join those two in perhaps forming the nucleus of a revamped Jets defense corps.

15. Vancouver Canucks: Lian Bichsel

15 of 32

    At 6'6” and 225 pounds, defenseman Lian Bichsel is hard to miss as he skates for the SHL's Leksands IF. His size and skills could draw the attention of the Vancouver Canucks as they attempt to build up a prospect pipeline ranked 28th by The Athletic's Scott Wheeler in his annual prospect pool rankings.

    A native of Switzerland, Bichsel had seven points in 11 games with Leksands IF's Under-20 team. Moving on to the main club, he had three points in 29 games in his first season skating against SHL professionals.

    Bichsel's efforts earned him ninth place among this year's ranking of the top European skaters. The Athletic's Pronman singled out his skating and defensive abilities, projecting him as a top-four blueliner.

    The Canucks will eventually need replacements for veteran defensemen such as 30-year-old Oliver Ekman-Larsson and 32-year-old Tyler Myers. They could try to find more immediate help through trades or free agency, but it could prove more beneficial having someone of Bichsel's potential within their prospect ranks.

16. Buffalo Sabres (from Vegas Golden Knights): Luca Del Bel Belluz

16 of 32

    Graig Abel/Getty Images

    The Buffalo Sabres acquired this pick from the Vegas Golden Knights as part of the return in last November's Jack Eichel trade. They could use it to select Luca Del Bel Belluz of the OHL's Mississauga Steelheads.

    Del Bel Belluz made his OHL debut with the Steelheads in 2019-20 and scored six points in 56 games. Like a number of OHL players, his 2020-21 season was wiped out by Ontario's COVID precautions. The long layoff from competitive hockey didn't hurt his development, and he finished this past season with 30 goals and 76 points in 68 games to sit second among Steelheads scorers.

    The 6'0", 179-pound Del Bel Belluz steadily climbed the rankings of North American skaters, finishing eighth. Daily Faceoff's Peters noted that his skating is average but praised his puck skills and shot, projecting him as a middle-six forward.

    In his prospect pool rankings, The Athletic's Wheeler indicated the Sabres have just one center (Peyton Krebs) among their top-15 prospects. Del Bel Belluz could help provide some much-needed depth and carries the promise of one day joining their roster on a full-time basis.

17. Nashville Predators: Jiri Kulich

17 of 32

    Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images

    Ranked 13th among European skaters by Central Scouting, Jiri Kulich drew praise from The Athletic's Pronman via his performance with Czechia in the IIHF Under-18 World Championship. The Nashville Predators could have him in their sights with the No. 17 selection.

    Kulich led the Under-18 World Championship with nine goals and was named tournament MVP. A versatile forward who can play center or left wing, the 5'11”, 178-pounder also saw action with pros while skating with HC Energie Karlovy Vary in the Czech Extraliga, tallying 14 points in 49 games.

    Pronman considers Kulich a well-rounded prospect. He singled out his ability to make plays on the rush with his powerful skating and his terrific shot.

    The Predators need to look ahead to when they'll eventually have to replace veteran centers such as Ryan Johansen, 29, and Mikael Granlund, 30. They could benefit from adding a promising forward with Kulich's skills.

18. Dallas Stars: Denton Mateychuk

18 of 32

    Chris Tanouye/Getty Images

    With only one defenseman among their top-10 prospects, the Dallas Stars could be looking at building the depth among their prospect blueliners. Denton Mateychuk of the WHL's Moose Jaw Warriors could be among their options.

    Ranked 14th among North American skaters, the 5'10”, 194-pound Mateychuk performed well for the Warriors in his first full WHL campaign. He finished fifth among all defensemen with 64 points in 65 games and third among the Warriors. The young blueliner also had 10 points in as many playoff games.

    Daily Faceoff's Peters considers Mateychuk a high-end playmaking defenseman who has excellent skating and mobility. He's adjusted well to the adverse effect of the COVID-19 pandemic upon the WHL over the past two seasons.

    Stars defenseman John Klingberg could depart this summer via free agency. Mateychuk won't be an immediate replacement, but he could go on to become a solid addition in a few years.

19. Los Angeles Kings: Isaac Howard

19 of 32

    Mike Mulholland/Getty Images

    Ranked ninth among North American skaters, Isaac Howard enjoyed a terrific season with the USNTDP. After leading the Under-18 team with 82 points in 60 games, the 5'10”, 180-pounder could draw the interest of the Los Angeles Kings.

    The Kings sat second overall on Wheeler's annual ranking of the 32 NHL teams' prospect pools. However, they carry just two left wingers among their top-20 prospects, with only one of those among their top 10.

    Howard could become a good fit here. Daily Faceoff's Peters singled out his quick, deceptive hand and foot speed, which make him difficult to defend. He also praised his advanced hockey sense and timing.

    Committed to the University of Minnesota-Duluth next season, Howard will benefit from seeing action in the NCAA. He could be ready to make the jump to the Kings within the next two or three years.

20. Washington Capitals: Liam Ohgren

20 of 32

    Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images

    The Washington Capitals have just one left winger among their prospect pool. They could boost their depth at that position by choosing Liam Ohgren of Djurgardens IF of the SHL.

    Ohgren was the leading scorer on Djurgardens IF Under-20 team with 33 goals and 58 points in 30 games. The 6'1”, 201-pounder saw limited action with the parent club, collecting two points in 25 games. He also had nine points in six games for Sweden at the IIHF Under-18 World Championship.

    Central Scouting has Ohgren sitting eighth among its top European skaters. Daily Faceoff's Peters calls him a gifted two-way player who excels on offense. The Athletic's Pronman singled out his heavy shot, strength and competitive nature.

    Skating with professionals in the SHL should help Ohgren develop his skills. He could be ready for the North American game within the next two years.

21. Pittsburgh Penguins: Brad Lambert

21 of 32

    Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

    A center who can also play right wing, Brad Lambert of the Lahti Pelicans of Liiga in Finland is ranked 10th among European skaters by Central Scouting. The 6'0", 183-pound center could draw the attention of the Pittsburgh Penguins at this stage in the draft.

    The Penguins lack a center among their top-five prospects. That could become a long-term issue, especially if Evgeni Malkin departs as a free agent this summer. Adding Lambert could help shore up their depth at that position among their promising youngsters.

    Lambert joined the Pelicans after parting company with JYP earlier in the season, managing a combined 10 points in 49 games between the two clubs. However, he had five points in just two games for Finland at the 2020 Under-20 World Championships before a COVID-19 outbreak canceled the tournament.

    Despite Lambert's inconsistent play, The Athletic's Pronman considers him to be a high-end athlete, praising his explosive skating and offensive potential. With maturity and perhaps another year or two in Liiga, he could develop into a reliable top-six forward.

22. Anaheim Ducks (from Boston Bruins): Jimmy Snuggerud

22 of 32

    RvS.Media/Basile Barbey/Getty Images

    The Anaheim Ducks acquired the Boston Bruins' first-round pick as part of the return in the Hampus Lindholm trade. They could use this selection to add a right wing such as the USNTDP's Jimmy Snuggerud.

    He is ranked 11th among North American skaters. The 6'1”, 188-pound winger tallied 24 goals and 63 points in 59 games this season with the Under-18 national team. He also had three goals and seven points while playing for the USA at the IIHF Under-18 World Championship.

    Daily Faceoff's Peters considers Snuggerud a well-rounded, committed player, praising his size, strength and heavy shots. He will attend the University of Minnesota next season.

    The Ducks have just one bona fide right wing among their top-10 prospects. Snuggerud could be a good fit, especially after he spends time building his skills in the NCAA.

23. St. Louis Blues: Ryan Chesley

23 of 32

    Mike Mulholland/Getty Images

    The St. Louis Blues have just one right-shot defenseman among their top-15 prospects. Ryan Chesley of the USNTDP could be a fine option to help them bolster their depth at that position over the long term.

    Chesley garnered praise from Daily Faceoff's Chris Peters as one of the most well-rounded defensemen in this year's draft. He was impressed with the 6'0", 201-pounder's skating, defensive abilities and good hockey sense.

    Though he didn't put up big offensive numbers, Chesley still had a respectable 29 points in 59 games with the USNTDP this season. Ranked 18th among North American skaters, he will attend the University of Minnesota next season.

    Skating in the NCAA will enable Chesley to build on his defensive abilities while also working on his offensive game. He could prove to be a solid addition to the Blues' defense corps once he's ready to move on from university hockey.

24. Minnesota Wild: Jagger Firkus

24 of 32

    Chris Tanouye/Getty Images

    Jagger Firkus made significant improvement among the top North American skaters, climbing from No. 33 at the mid-term to No. 12 in the final ranking. The right winger for the WHL's Moose Jaw Warriors could become a first-round target for the Minnesota Wild.

    Skating in his first full WHL campaign, the 5'10", 151-pound Firkus led the Warriors with 36 goals and 80 points in 66 games this season. He was also their leader in playoff goals with six and second in points with 12.

    Despite Firkus' slender size, Daily Faceoff's Chris Peters singled out his quickness and offensive skills. At 18, he still has time to fill out his frame. Regardless, he wouldn't be the first undersized forward to go on to achieve success at the NHL level, as the Calgary Flames' Johnny Gaudreau can attest.

    The Wild lack depth among their prospect right wingers. The possibility of Kevin Fiala becoming a salary-cap casualty could bring more urgency to filling that position. Firkus' offensive skills could prove enticing.

25. Toronto Maple Leafs: Owen Pickering

25 of 32

    Chris Tanouye/Getty Images

    Ranked 15th among North American skaters, Owen Pickering netted a respectable 33 points in 62 games in his first full season with the WHL's Swift Current Broncos. The 18-year-old defenseman could be a solid addition to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    The Maple Leafs lack a left-shot defenseman among their top-15 prospects. With his 6'4” frame, the 180-pound Pickering has the size, skills and potential to address that need.

    Corey Pronman of The Athletic pointed out Pickering skates well for a big player and can generate offense. Daily Faceoff's Chris Peters believes he could one day become a top-four NHL defenseman with more confidence.

    Pickering's size and skating ability will make him an attractive option for a club like the Leafs. Another season or two in the WHL will enable him to mature and develop his skills.

26. Montreal Canadiens (from Calgary Flames): Ivan Miroshnichenko

26 of 32

    RvS.Media/Robert Hradil/Getty Images

    The Montreal Canadiens acquired this pick from the Calgary Flames as part of the return in the Tyler Toffoli trade. If they chose a center with the first overall pick, they could use this pick to select a winger with top-six potential such as Ivan Miroshnichenko of Omskiw Krylia of the VHL in Russia.

    Ranked 11th among European skaters, Miroshnichenko seemed destined to become a top-10 pick until sidelined by Hodgkin's lymphoma. The 18-year-old Russian winger has completed his treatments and has been given the green light to resume training.

    Prior to his diagnosis, Miroshnichenko was garnering a growing reputation as a power forward. The 6'1", 185-pound left winger had 10 goals and 16 points in 31 games with Omski Krylia. He was also captain of Russia's gold-medal squad at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, finishing third among their scorers with nine points.

    Daily Faceoff's Chris Peters acknowledged selecting Miroshnichenko could be a risk given his condition but thinks the potential for reward is high. He's a talented scorer whose powerful skating and deadly shot make him tough to defend. With a potentially sure thing with their first-round selection, perhaps the Canadiens will be willing to take a gamble here.

27. Arizona Coyotes (from Carolina Hurricanes via Montreal Canadiens): Frank Nazar

27 of 32

    Mike Mulholland/Getty Images

    The Arizona Coyotes received this pick from the Montreal Canadiens as part of the conditions of last summer's Christian Dvorak trade. While we have them selecting Logan Cooley with the third-overall selection, they could continue bolstering their depth of prospect centers by choosing USTDP center Frank Nazar.

    The 5'10”, 180-pound Nazar slipped down to 21st among North American skaters. Nevertheless, Daily Faceoff's Chris Peters considers him among the most exciting and entertaining players in this draft, admiring his speed, playmaking skills and two-way game.

    Nazar enjoyed a fine season with the USNTDP Under-18 squad, finishing third with 70 points in 56 games. He also had nine points in six games played for the USA in the IIHF Under-18 World Championship.

    Starting next season with the University of Michigan, Nazar's skills will only improve in the NCAA. He could prove a solid addition to the Coyotes when his university career is over.

28. Buffalo Sabres (from Florida Panthers): Owen Beck

28 of 32

    Chris Tanouye/Getty Images

    The third pick in this round for the Buffalo Sabres was acquired from the Florida Panthers last summer as part of the conditions in the Sam Reinhart trade. They could use it to select Owen Beck of the OHL's Mississauga Steelheads.

    Beck's first season with the Steelheads was wiped out when the OHL was shut down by the province of Ontario's COVID-19 restrictions. He made up for it in 2021-22, finishing third among the Steelheads with 51 points in 68 games, along with six points in 10 playoff games.

    That performance pushed Beck into 10th place among North American skaters in Central Scouting's rankings. The Athletic's Corey Pronman observed that the 5'11”, 187-pound center had NHL-level skating while praising his playmaking abilities.

    Beck will likely spend at least another season honing his skills in the OHL. He has the potential to become a solid second or third-line center with the Sabres down the road.

29. Edmonton Oilers: Rutger McGroarty

29 of 32

    Mike Mulholland/Getty Images

    The Edmonton Oilers have an ongoing need for reliable scoring at right wing. They won't be able to fill that need immediately through this draft but could land a promising youngster in Rutger McGroarty from the USNTDP.

    A versatile forward who can play right wing or center, McGroarty had 69 points with the USNTDP Under-18 team this season, leading them with 35 goals. He also tallied a team-leading eight goals for the USA in the 2022 IIHF Under-18 World Championship.

    The Athletic's Corey Pronman and Daily Faceoff's Chris Peters praised the 6'1”, 204-pound McGroarty's work ethic, character and scoring skills. Both agreed his foot speed is a drawback, which would account for him slipping to 22nd in Central Scouting's rankings of North American skaters.

    Committed to the University of Michigan for 2022-23, McGroarity will have ample opportunity to burnish his offense while working on his speed. He could be a worthwhile gamble for the Oilers if he's still available by this stage of the first round.

30. Winnipeg Jets (from New York Rangers): David Goyette

30 of 32

    Chris Tanouye/Getty Images

    As part of the conditions of the Andrew Copp deal at this year's trade deadline, the New York Rangers were supposed to send their 2022 second-round pick to the Winnipeg Jets. By reaching the Eastern Conference Finals with Copp appearing in over half their playoff games, they must instead send their first-rounder to Winnipeg.

    We predicted the Jets could choose a puck-moving defenseman with their own selection earlier in this round. They could opt to go with a forward with this pick, such as David Goyette of the OHL's Sudbury Wolves.

    The 5'10”, 175-pound Goyette enjoyed a fine OHL rookie campaign. He led the Wolves in scoring with 33 goals and 40 assists for 70 points in 66 games.

    That performance accounts for Goyette jumping from 35th among North American skaters in Central Scouting's midterm rankings to 13th in their final rankings. His speed and offensive skills could make him an enticing choice by this stage of the first round.

31. Tampa Bay Lightning: Filip Mesar

31 of 32

    Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

    The Tampa Bay Lightning lack a true right wing among their top-10 prospects as per The Athletic's Scott Wheeler's 2022 prospect pool rankings. Filip Mesar of HK Poprad in Slovakia could be a suitable option at this stage in the first round.

    Mesar has completed his second season skating with Poprad against professionals, finishing with 16 points in 37 games as well as four points in six playoff games. The 5'10”, 174-pounder can play right wing and center. He also starred for Slovakia at the 2021 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, helping them to a silver medal with eight points in five games.

    While Mesar slid down Central Scouting's rankings from 15 to 20 among European skaters, he still has considerable potential. Daily Faceoff's Chris Peters believes the youngster's speed and skill could one day make him a top-six scorer.

    Mesar will likely return to HK Poprad for another season or two to work on his game, including improving his strength and play away from the puck. If he can build on his scoring potential he could one day find himself skating with the Lightning.

32. Arizona Coyotes (from Colorado Avalanche): Sam Rinzel

32 of 32

    Mike Mulholland/Getty Images

    The Arizona Coyotes got their third pick in the first round from the Colorado Avalanche as part of the conditions of last summer's Darcy Kuemper trade. With this selection, they could choose Sam Rinzel of Chaska High School and the Waterloo Blackhawks of the United States Hockey League.

    Scott Wheeler's ranking of the Coyotes prospect pool shows only one right-handed defenseman among their top 10. They could benefit from adding a promising youngster such as Rinzel, who sits 19th among Central Scouting's ranking of North American skaters.

    In his final season with Chaska High, Rinzel finished second among their scorers with 38 points in 27 games. The 6'3”, 181-pound blueliner also acquitted himself well in the USHL, finishing with 10 points in 21 regular-season contests.

    Daily Faceoff's Chris Peters was impressed with Rinzel's USHL performance, praising his skating and physical ability. He'll be developing his game starting next season in the NCAA with the University of Minnesota. His size and potential could be attractive to the Coyotes.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.