NHL Draft 2022: Breaking Down Top Prospects in Draft Class

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIApril 30, 2022

NHL Draft 2022: Breaking Down Top Prospects in Draft Class

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    The 2021-22 NHL regular season is nearly over, with only one game remaining on the schedule. But the only thing that Sunday's matchup between the Seattle Kraken and Winnipeg Jets could affect is the draft lottery odds for the Kraken and Philadelphia Flyers.

    It's locked in that the Montreal Canadiens will have the best odds at landing the No. 1 pick on May 10, and that the Arizona Coyotes will have the second-best chances of getting that selection. But we won't know until then which team will be first on the clock for the draft, which is set for July 7 and 8 in Montreal.

    While there's still more than two months until the draft, it's already clear who the top prospects in the 2022 class are. Here's a breakdown of several of the players who will be on the top of the board this year.

Shane Wright, C, Kingston Frontenacs

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    No matter which team ends up with the No. 1 pick, there's a good chance that Shane Wright will be the first player selected. He's widely considered to be the best player available in this year's draft class, and he's proved that with his play in the OHL.

    In 52 regular-season games for the Kingston Frontenacs, Wright tallied 32 goals and 62 assists. The 18-year-old center has followed that up by recording one goal and five assists through Kingston's first four playoff games, and he'll have opportunities to keep adding to those totals throughout the postseason.

    NHL Central Scouting recently compared Wright to Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron, noting that Wright "does what it takes all over the ice, and any coach can rely on a player like that." So Wright could develop into a leader of an NHL franchise down the line, making him even more valuable.

    At this point, it would be a fairly big surprise if Wright doesn't go No. 1 overall. But if somehow he remains on the board after the top pick, don't expect him to stay there for long.

Logan Cooley, C, U.S. National Team Development Program

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    The U.S. National Team Development Program has had plenty of players get selected in the NHL draft in recent years, including 14 who were taken in 2021. That included Matty Beniers, who went No. 2 overall to the Seattle Kraken.

    It's possible that another player from the U.S. NTDP will get picked at No. 2 this year. That's because Logan Cooley, a 17-year-old center, is among the top prospects in the 2022 class and is likely to be taken within the first few selections.

    Cooley had 27 goals and 45 assists in 49 games for the U.S. National Under-18 team this season. He's also committed to play at the University of Minnesota, which is one of the top college programs in the country after making a run to the Frozen Four this past season.

    "He's a driven kid, he's low maintenance, so, obviously a really bright future for him," U.S. NTDP coach Adam Nightingale recently said on the NHL Draft Class podcast.

Juraj Slafkovsky, LW, TPS Turku

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    Juraj Slafkovsky was one of the stars of the 2022 Winter Olympics. Not only did the 18-year-old forward lead Slovakia to the bronze medal, but he scored more goals than any other player at the Beijing Games, tallying seven over seven games.

    That was the first time that Slovakia had won an Olympic medal, and it showed exactly what Slafkovsky is capable of on the offensive end of the ice.

    "I was so surprised, and I'm still surprised, and I don't believe I scored that many goals," Slafkovsky said, per NHL.com's Mike G. Morreale. "Maybe my stick was just on fire, I don't know. Everything I shot just went in."

    Slafkovsky has a ton of potential, and he could eventually score a lot of goals in the NHL. So it should be exciting to watch as he continues to develop in the years to come.