Bleacher Report's Final 2022 NHL Mock Draft

Lyle Richardson@@SpectorsHockeyFeatured Columnist IVJuly 5, 2022

Bleacher Report's Final 2022 NHL Mock Draft

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    The 2022 NHL draft will be held at the Bell Centre in Montreal, with the first round starting at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday. Rounds 2-7 begin at 11 a.m. ET on Friday.

    This will be the first draft since 2019 with the respective managements and scouts of all 32 teams in an NHL arena with player prospects and fans in attendance. It should bring back a level of excitement and anticipation among NHL fans that was missing from the last two drafts, which were held remotely because of COVID-19.

    While the lottery on May 10 included the 16 teams that missed the playoffs, only the first two picks were determined. The Montreal Canadiens won the first overall pick, while the New Jersey Devils won the second selection. The 14 teams that left empty-handed were slotted based on the regular-season standings. The order of the remaining 16 teams was determined by elimination from the 2022 playoffs.

    On June 17, we conducted a mock draft detailing each player and explaining their potential destinations. There's been only one change in our selections since then after the Minnesota Wild acquired the Los Angeles Kings' first-rounder as part of the Kevin Fiala trade.

    The following is a brief synopsis of our predictions for the upcoming 2022 NHL draft. It's based on NHL Central Scouting's final rankings of the top North American and European players and the requirements of each club. Additional player information is provided by Elite Prospects.

    It remains uncertain what effect Russia's invasion of Ukraine will have upon the NHL teams' willingness to select Russian prospects. Nevertheless, we have included those players in this final mock draft.

    Do you agree or disagree with our selections? Is there someone you feel would make better first-round selections for your team? Feel free to express your thoughts on this topic in the comments section below.

Nos. 1-5: Canadiens, Devils, Coyotes, Kraken and Flyers

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    1. Montreal Canadiens: Shane Wright

    NHL Central Scouting has Shane Wright sitting first among their final ranking of North American skaters. The 6'0", 199-pound center from the Kingston Frontenacs finished eighth among Ontario Hockey League (OHL) scorers with 94 points. His two-way style has been compared to the Boston Bruins' Patrice Bergeron. Wright should provide a significant boost to the Canadiens' depth at center.


    2. New Jersey Devils: Juraj Slafkovsky

    The 6'4", 229-pound Juraj Slafkovsky is a Slovakian left-winger skating for TPS of Liiga in Finland and the top European skater in Central Scouting's rankings. He rose to prominence in this year's draft class thanks to his MVP performance at the 2022 Beijing Olympics helping Slovakia win the bronze medal. His size and offensive skills should make him a good fit with Devils centers Jack Hughes or Nico Hischier.


    3. Arizona Coyotes: Logan Cooley

    Logan Cooley finished second this season among U.S. National Team Development Program (USNTDP) scorers with 75 points. He's a fast, smart and skillful player who finished a close second to Shane Wright among Central Scouting's North American skater rankings. The 5'10", 180-pound Cooley should be a solid addition to the rebuilding Coyotes, given their need to shore up their prospect depth at center.


    4. Seattle Kraken: Simon Nemec

    The Seattle Kraken could use a talented, mobile defenseman such as Simon Nemec as they build up their limited prospect depth. The 6'0", 199-pounder completed his second full season with Slovakia's HK Nitra, finishing with 26 points in 39 regular-season games and 17 points in 19 playoff games. That experience against adult players should help him adjust more quickly to the North American game.


    5. Philadelphia Flyers: Matthew Savoie

    A need to stock up their depth among their prospect centers could see the Flyers choose the 5'9”, 170-pound Matthew Savoie. The Winnipeg Ice center is a swift skater with excellent playmaking skills and had 35 goals and 90 points to finish seventh among Western Hockey League (WHL) scorers. His offensive abilities could one day make him a top-six NHL forward.

Nos. 6-10: Blue Jackets, Senators, Red Wings, Sabres and Ducks

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

    Despite a shoulder injury that hampered his performance, Joakim Kemell of JYP of Liiga in Finland finished the season ranked second by Central Scouting among European skaters. The Blue Jackets could choose the 5'10", 185-pound right winger to boost their prospect depth at that position. He's a speedy forward with a powerful shot and netted 15 goals and 23 points in 39 games with JYP.


    7. Ottawa Senators: David Jiricek

    The 6'3", 189-pound David Jiricek is a big defenseman who plays a solid two-way game and uses his size to shut down opposing forwards. A knee injury limited him to 29 games with HC Plzen in the Czech Extraliga, but he skated for Czechia at the 2022 IIHF World Championships. He could help the Senators improve their depth on the right side of their blue line.


    8. Detroit Red Wings: Conor Geekie

    Conor Geekie of the WHL's Winnipeg Ice could provide the rebuilding Red Wings with a future top-six center. The younger brother of Seattle Kraken center Morgan Geekie finished fourth among Ice scorers with 70 points in 63 games. At 6'4" and 190 pounds, he's a big, smart, playmaking forward who was ranked fifth among North American skaters by Central Scouting.


    9. Buffalo Sabres: Cutter Gauthier

    The Sabres could add to their promising core of young forwards by selecting Cutter Gauthier. Praised for his size, speed and powerful shot, the 6'2", 200-pounder is a versatile forward who can play at center or left wing. He finished second among the USNTDP's U18 skaters with 34 goals and was fifth with 65 points.


    10. Anaheim Ducks: Pavel Mintyukov

    Born in Moscow, Pavel Mintyukov performed well in his first full season of North American hockey. The Saginaw Spirit defenseman used his big shot and offensive abilities to finish third among OHL defensemen with 62 points. At 6'2” and 194 pounds, Mintyukov uses his size to his advantage in his own zone. He could be a solid long-term addition to the rebuilding Ducks' defense corps.

Nos. 11-15: Sharks, Blue Jackets, Islanders, Jets and Canucks

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    11. San Jose Sharks: Jonathan Lekkerimaki

    The San Jose Sharks could be seeking offensive depth in this year's draft. Jonathan Lekkerimaki of Djurgardens of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) might be on their radar. Ranked sixth among European skaters, the 5'10", 171-pound winger has a quick shot that helped him tally 20 goals and 36 points in 26 games this season with Djurgardens' U20 team.


    12. Columbus Blue Jackets: Danila Yurov

    With their second pick in the first round, the Columbus Blue Jackets could add to their prospect depth at right wing. Danila Yurov of Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL would fit the bill. He put up 13 goals and 26 points in 23 games with Magnitogorsk's junior team. The 6'1", 178-pound Yurov uses his speed and puckhandling skills to drive the play and generate scoring chances.


    13. New York Islanders: Marco Kasper

    Marco Kasper of the SHL's Rogle BK sits fifth among European skaters and could be an enticing selection for the New York Islanders. The 6'1", 187-pound center is a solid all-around center who skates well and possesses good puckhandling abilities. The young Austrian had 11 points in 46 games in his first season in the SHL and steadily improved throughout the season.


    14. Winnipeg Jets: Kevin Korchinski

    The Winnipeg Jets could use a skilled mobile defenseman among their prospect pool. Kevin Korchinski of the WHL's Seattle Thunderbirds could be a good addition. He finished fourth among WHL blueliners with 65 points in 67 games. The 6'2", 185-pound Korchinski also acquitted himself well in the postseason with 19 points in 25 games.


    15. Vancouver Canucks: Lian Bichsel

    Lian Bichsel of the SHL's Leksand could be a tempting option for the Vancouver Canucks if they seek depth in left-shot defensemen. He possesses impressive size at 6'6" and 225 pounds, using his long stride and reach to outrace opponents and strip them of the puck. Bichsel's offensive game still needs work but his defensive abilities should make him a future NHL top-four blueliner.

Nos. 16-20: Sabres, Predators, Stars, Wild and Capitals

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

    Luca Del Bel Belluz finished eighth among North American skaters in Central Scouting's rankings and tallied 30 goals and 76 points in 68 games with the OHL's Mississauga Steelheads. The 6'0", 179-pounder's puck skills could provide the Buffalo Sabres with additional prospect depth at center as a middle-six forward.


    17. Nashville Predators: Jiri Kulich

    Jiri Kulich was named MVP at the IIHF U18 Championship with a tournament-leading nine goals. The 5'11", 178-pound forward from Energie Karlovy Vary in the Czech Extraliga can play center or wing. He's strong on his skates and possesses a terrific shot. Kulich could provide the Nashville Predators with valuable long-term depth at center.


    18. Dallas Stars: Denton Mateychuk

    Skating with the Moose Jaw Warriors, Denton Mateychuk finished fifth among all WHL defensemen with 64 points in 65 games. He could draw the attention of the Dallas Stars if they're looking for additional depth among their blue-line prospects. The 5'10", 194-pound Mateychuk is a skilled puck-mover who reads the game well.


    19. Minnesota Wild (via Los Angeles Kings): Jagger Firkus

    The Minnesota Wild acquired this pick when they shipped Kevin Fiala to L.A. They could use it to bolster their depth among their right-wing prospect by choosing Jagger Firkus of the WHL's Moose Jaw Warriors. Despite his slender frame, the 5'10", 151-pounder is a gifted playmaker who led the Warriors this season with 80 points in 66 games.


    20. Washington Capitals: Liam Ohgren

    Liam Ohgren of the SHL's Djurgardens is a talented two-way forward with a competitive nature and a hard shot. The 6'1", 201-pound left winger led Djurgardens' U20 team with 33 goals and 58 points in 30 games and also limited action with their parent club. He could help the Washington Capitals boost their prospect depth on the left side.

Nos. 21-26: Penguins, Ducks, Blues, Wild, Maple Leafs and Canadiens

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    21. Pittsburgh Penguins: Brad Lambert

    The Pittsburgh Penguins could use more centers among their top prospects. Brad Lambert of the Pelicans of the Finnish Liiga could help them address that issue. The 6'0", 183-pound center can also skate on the wing. He's had his struggles in Liiga but has the raw offensive talent and impressive skating of a future top-six NHL forward.


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

    With their second selection in this round, the Anaheim Ducks could look at adding more offensive punch among their right-wing prospects. The USNTDP's Jimmy Snuggerud tallied 24 goals and 53 points in 59 games with its U18 team. The 6'1", 188-pound winger has a big-time shot and isn't afraid to drive to the net for scoring chances.


    23. St Louis Blues: Ryan Chesley

    Ryan Chesley could address the St. Louis Blues' need for more right-shot defensemen within their prospect pipeline. The 6'0", 201-pound blueliner put up 29 points in 59 games with the USNTDP this season. He skates well and plays a responsible defensive game. Chesley has the potential to become a second-pairing NHL defenseman.


    24. Minnesota Wild: Isaac Howard

    The Minnesota Wild could be looking for a talented left winger to add to their prospect pool with their second pick in this round. USNTDP forward Isaac Howard could be a fit here. The 5'10", 180-pound forward can give defenders fits with his quickness and offensive abilities. He'll be attending the University of Minnesota starting in 2022-23.


    25. Toronto Maple Leafs: Owen Pickering

    The 6'4", 180-pound Owen Pickering of the WHL's Swift Current Broncos could help the Toronto Maple Leafs add more size and skill among their defense prospects. He moves the puck well for a big blueliner, netting 33 points in 62 games in his first extended stint in the WHL and steadily improved as the campaign progressed.


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

    Earlier projections had Ivan Miroshnichenko as a top-10 pick before he was sidelined by Hodgkin lymphoma. The 6'1", 185-pound winger had 10 goals and 16 points in 31 games with Omskie Krylia of the VHL in Russia before his diagnosis. He's completed his treatments and has resumed training. His potential as a power forward could draw the interest of the Montreal Canadiens with their second pick in this round.

Nos. 27-32: Coyotes, Sabres, Oilers, Jets, Lightning and Coyotes

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    No. 27: Arizona Coyotes (from the Carolina Hurricanes via Montreal Canadiens): Frank Nazar

    With their second pick in this round, the Arizona Coyotes could opt for USNTDP center Frank Nazar if he's still available at this stage. The 5'10", 180-pound Nazar is a speedy, two-way player with terrific playmaking abilities at forward and can also skate at right wing. He had 70 points in 56 games with the USNTDP's U18 team.


    No. 28: Buffalo Sabres (from the Florida Panthers): Owen Beck

    Owen Beck enjoyed a fine season with the OHL's Mississauga Steelheads, finishing with 51 points in 68 games. At 5'11" and 187 pounds, he's a smooth-skating center who finished 10th among North American skaters in Central Scouting's final rankings. Beck could be a good addition to the Buffalo Sabres' prospect pool.


    No. 29: Edmonton Oilers: Rutger McGroarty

    The Edmonton Oilers' long search for a top-six right wing could have them eyeing the USNTDP's Rutger McGroarty. The 6'1", 204-pounder is a hard-working, two-way forward who can play wing or center. He doesn't shy away from generating plays along the boards and in front of the net.


    No. 30: Winnipeg Jets (from New York Rangers): David Goyette

    David Goyette is a talented playmaker with improving goal-scoring skills and led the OHL's Sudbury Wolves with 30 goals and 40 assists for 70 points in 66 games. The 5'10", 175-pound center is a nimble forward who can fake out opponents with his clever stickhandling and shifty style. Those skills could make him a good fit with the Winnipeg Jets.


    No 31: Tampa Bay Lightning: Filip Mesar

    The Tampa Bay Lightning could be looking for a promising right wing with this selection, and Filip Mesar of HK Poprad in Slovakia would make a good choice. He's already spent two seasons skating against adults. The 5'10", 174-pound Mesar is a versatile forward who can also play at center. He has good speed and scoring ability.


    No 32: Arizona Coyotes (from Colorado Avalanche): Sam Rinzel

    With their third selection in the round, the Arizona Coyotes could look to add a right-shot defenseman such as Sam Rinzel. The 6'4", 180-pounder acquitted himself well skating for Chaska High School in Minnesota and the Waterloo Blackhawks of the United States Hockey League. He moves the puck well and doesn't shy away from physical play.

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