NHL Draft 2022: Predicting Where Elite Talent Will Land in 1st-Round Mock Draft
With only a few days to go in the 2021-22 NHL regular season, there are 15 teams that have clinched playoff berths and 15 that have been eliminated from postseason contention. The only remaining battle is between the Dallas Stars and Vegas Golden Knights for the final spot in the Western Conference.
But there are other important games taking place this week, such as the ones that will determine which team will have the best odds to secure the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NHL draft.
The draft lottery is set to take place May 10, and right now the Montreal Canadiens would have the best chance of landing the top selection. But it's still possible that the Arizona Coyotes could end up with fewer regular-season points.
Whichever team ends up with the No. 1 pick via the lottery, it's highly likely that franchise will select Shane Wright, an 18-year-old center who plays for the OHL's Kingston Frontenacs, on July 7 in Montreal.
As the regular season winds down, here's a mock draft for the first round, with the order set via the current standings, per Tankathon. Then we'll take a closer look at the teams that will be drafting early this year.
1st-Round Mock Draft
1. Montreal Canadiens: Shane Wright, C, Kingston (OHL)
2. Arizona Coyotes: Logan Cooley, C, U.S. National Team Development Program
3. Seattle Kraken: Simon Nemec, D, HK Nitra (SVK)
4. Philadelphia Flyers: Juraj Slafkovsky, LW, TPS (FIN)
5. New Jersey Devils: David Jiricek, D, HC Plzen (CZE)
6. Columbus Blue Jackets (via Chicago Blackhawks): Joakim Kemell, C, JYP (FIN)
7. Ottawa Senators: Brad Lambert, C/RW, Pelican (Liiga)
8. Detroit Red Wings: Frank Nazar, RW, U.S. National Team Development Program
9. Buffalo Sabres: Matthew Savoie, C, Winnipeg (WHL)
10. Anaheim Ducks: Denton Mateychuk, D, Moose Jaw (WHL)
11. San Jose Sharks: Conor Geekie, C, Winnipeg (WHL)
12. Columbus Blue Jackets: Owen Pickering, D, Swift Current (WHL)
13. New York Islanders: Jonathan Lekkerimaki, C/RW, Djurgardens IF J20 (SWE)
14. Winnipeg Jets: Kevin Korchinski, D, Seattle (WHL)
15. Vancouver Canucks: Danila Yurov, RW, Magnitogorsk (KHL)
16. Buffalo Sabres (via Vegas Golden Knights): Lian Bichsel, D, Leksands IF J20 (SWI)
17. Dallas Stars: Jimmy Snuggerud, RW, U.S. National Team Development Program
18. Nashville Predators: Cutter Gauthier, LW, U.S. National Team Development Program
19. Los Angeles Kings: Pavel Mintyukov, D, Saginaw (OHL)
20. Pittsburgh Penguins: Rutger McGroarty, C, U.S. National Team Development Program
21. Washington Capitals: Marco Kasper, C, Rogle BK J20 (SWE)
22. Edmonton Oilers: Liam Ohgren, LW, Djurgardens IF J20 (SWE)
23. Anaheim Ducks (via Boston Bruins): Luca Del Bel Belluz, C/LW, Mississauga (OHL)
24. St. Louis Blues: Isaac Howard, LW, U.S. National Team Development Program
25. Tampa Bay Lightning: Sam Rinzel, D, Waterloo (USHL)
26. New York Rangers: Owen Beck, C, Mississauga (OHL)
27. Minnesota Wild: Filip Mesar, C, HK Poprad (SVK)
28. Toronto Maple Leafs: Calle Odelius, D, Djurgardens IF J20 (SWE)
29. Montreal Canadiens (via Calgary Flames): Elias Salomonsson, D, Skelleftea AIK J20 (SWE)
30. Arizona Coyotes (via Carolina Hurricanes): Seamus Casey, D, U.S. National Team Development Program
31. Arizona Coyotes (via Colorado Avalanche): Alexander Perevalov, LW, Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)
32. Buffalo Sabres (via Florida Panthers): Ivan Miroshnichenko, LW, Omskie (MHL)
The Canadiens have 51 points with only two regular-season games still to play. They are two points behind the Coyotes, who also have two games remaining. However, Montreal is on a nine-game losing streak, and it doesn't exactly have an incentive to finish strong.
It's a guarantee that the Canadiens will have either the fewest points in the NHL or the second-fewest, which means they will have a top-four pick in this year's draft. And if they end up in last place in the league, they will be assured a top-three selection.
Montreal had a quick fall from being a championship contender, as it contested last season's Stanley Cup Final. Despite that, head coach Dominique Ducharme was fired seven months into his reign, with the Habs' league-worst record reading 8-30-7. He was replaced by Hall of Famer Martin St. Louis on an interim basis.
If the Canadiens end up with the No. 1 pick, Wright will be a tremendous player for them to build around for the future. Were they to land No. 2, then Logan Cooley could also fill that role. Things get a little trickier to pinpoint thereafter.
For a while, it seemed like the Coyotes were going to end up with the best lottery odds for the No. 1 pick. But they snapped a 10-game losing streak with a win over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday and consequently have a slight edge over the Canadiens in the standings.
No matter what, Arizona is guaranteed a top-four pick in the draft because it can't pass the Seattle Kraken in the standings. So the Coyotes are going to come away with one of the top prospects in the class, although they will want to end up in the top two to get either Wright or Cooley.
Last year, Arizona used its top three draft picks on offensive players, including Dylan Guenther, whom it selected with the No. 9 overall selection. The Coyotes will be picking earlier this year, and if they add another forward, they could have the makings of a strong core for the future.
Over the past 10 seasons, Arizona has only made the playoffs once. After embarking on a full-scale rebuild last year, it needs to keep drafting well to set itself up for success down the line.
The Golden Knights reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2018, an impressive finish to their first season as an NHL franchise. Things didn't go nearly as well for the Kraken in their debut campaign, so for the second year in a row, they will be picking early in the draft.
Seattle has 58 points with three games still to play. It can't move any further down the standings, but it could still move up, as it's two points behind the New Jersey Devils and five back of the Chicago Blackhawks. Of course, all winning out would do is decrease the Kraken's odds for the draft lottery.
As long as it ends up where it is, Seattle would be guaranteed a top-five pick and would have the third-best odds at getting the top selection.
Last year, the Kraken took center Matthew Beniers with the No. 2 overall pick in their first draft. In 2022, they will be looking to keep accumulating young talent so they can get closer to being a competitive franchise.