Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2022 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we bring you our 2022 NHL Draft Grades.
The big day has come and gone, and now we look back to see how each team did in the NHL Draft. Look, we know that it is way too soon to evaluate a draft and that the true evaluation will be seen four or five years from now. However, we don’t want to wait, instead, we follow our yearly tradition and do our NHL Draft Grades now.
To be clear, our NHL Draft Grades are based on the quality and quantity of total talent added in the draft. It is not based on getting value for where you pick. For example, due to a lack of total picks the Colorado Avalanche are likely to be given a very poor grade for this year’s draft regardless of how they use them.
LWOS 2022 NHL Draft Evaluation and Grades
Note: VALUE PICK does NOT mean the best player drafted. It means the best value. For example, Juraj Slafkovsky was the first player taken in this draft. However, he is not our best value pick for the Montreal Canadiens. Why? Because anyone can take the best player with the first overall pick, we are looking for value here, what steal did the team get in the draft that went later than we thought he would? If it was merely an exercise in naming the best player drafted, might as well just name the team’s first pick, as that is who their own scouts felt was their best player.
Columbus Blue Jackets: A
The Blue Jackets addressed a need for offence from the blueline with their first two picks. In Jiricek, they get a defenceman with size who plays a very strong two-way game. He has all the tools to be a franchise defender including skating, passing, a strong shot, size and the ability to defend. Mateychuk is one of my favourite prospects in this draft. While he is undersized, his game is dynamic. His skating, puck control, and ability to manipulate a defence and create offensive opportunities is off the chartes. Del Bel Belluz had a strong offensive season for Mississauga and projects as a possible second-line centre. Dumais was one of the best offensive players in the QMJHL. He is undersized though and lacks the dynamic skating ability that usually accompanies undersized players who succeed in the NHL.
— Jeff Svoboda (@JacketsInsider) July 8, 2022
Dallas Stars: B-
Picks: Lian Bichsel, Christian Kyrou, George Fegaras, Gavin White, Maxim Mayorov, Matthew Seminoff
The Stars took a big defender in Lian Bichsel. He skates well and shows good mobility for his size. He will need some time but could become a valuable two-way player. Kyrou is the younger brother of Jordan Kyrou. He shows offensive ability at the OHL level and is a creative player on the blue line. His size and defensive play are question marks. Fegaras put up good numbers in tier II hockey. He is headed to Cornell University and will have the opportunity to show his skills against better competition this year. Mayorov has played well in the MHL, Russia’s junior league and slipped a bit in the draft due to the Russian factor being elevated this year.
Detroit Red Wings: B-
Picks: Marco Kasper, Dylan James, Dmitri Buchelnikov, Anton Johansson, Amadeus Lombardi, Maximilian Kilpinen, Tnias Mathurin, Owen Mehlenbacher, Brennan Ali
The Red Wings top pick, Kasper is a relatively safe prospect. He has the size, defensive game, and skating ability to play a bottom-six role in the NHL. There are some questions if he can develop his shot and stickhandling ability enough to become a top-six centre though. James is a gritty winger who goes to the net and wins his battles on the boards. Once he gets to the net, he can score goals. Dmitri Buchelnikov put up big numbers in the MHL. The offensive tools are there but the defensive game is questioned at this point. Anton Johansson is a big Swedish defenceman who does his best work in his own end.
— IcehockeyGifs (@IcehockeyG) July 8, 2022
Edmonton Oilers: C
Picks: Reid Schaefer, Samuel Jonsson, Nikita Yevseyev, Joel Maatta,
The Oilers only had one pick in the first four rounds. This hurts their draft grade. With the 32nd overall pick, the Oilers took Reid Schaeffer. He is a big power-forward prospect. Schaefer has good size and an excellent shot. He was really strong in the recent WHL Playoffs. However, he needs to improve his skating in order to take his game to the next level. The Oilers next pick came at 158th Overall. The Oilers took Samuel Jonsson, a big Swedish goalie who takes advantage of his size by getting out of his net and aggressively cutting down angles. Overall, the success of this draft will be judged by Schaefer’s ability to improve his speed in the coming years.
Florida Panthers: C-
Picks: Marek Alscher, Ludvig Jansson, Sandis Vilmanis, Josh Davies, Tyler Muszelik, Liam Arnsby, Jack Devine
The Panthers draft grade suffers due to a lack of high picks. They didn’t have their first pick of the draft until the end of the third round. Alscher is a big right-handed defenceman who plays a physical and effective defensive game. He does not bring a lot of offence though. Jansson is a left-handed defenceman who also provides value in the defensive end of the ice. He is a bit different from Alscher though as he provides defensive value with his positioning, gap control, and quick stick instead of his physical game. Devine could be a real seventh-round draft steal. He played on Denver’s NCAA winning team. Devine is a playmaking right-wing who is also aggressive on the forecheck and wins battles in the corners.
Los Angeles Kings: B-
Picks: Jack Hughes, Kenny Connors, Angus Booth, Otto Salin, Jared Wright, Jack Sparkes, Kaleb Lawrence
The Kings didn’t have a first-round pick, but that shouldn’t be a huge issue for a team with one of the best prospect groups in the NHL. They used their first-rounder to add Kevin Fiala to their lineup. In the second round, the Kings took Jack Hughes, the son of Montreal general manager Kent Hughes. Hughes is a playmaking centre with a two-way game. He is slight though and needs to add muscle. Connors is a USHL centre who was used in all situations by Dubuque, playing against the opponent’s top line, killing penalties, and playing on the power-play. Booth is a strong defensive defenceman who shows signs of untapped offence. Salin is an excellent skater. He pushes offence from the blue line.
Minnesota Wild: A
The Wild had an outstanding draft, adding a ton of talent to the coffers. Ohgren’s game is well-rounded and he does well in most areas. His shot, passing ability, skating, size, and defensive game will all help him to make the next level. Yurov is an absolute steal. He is a dynamic forward who can play both centre and wing. He slipped due to the Russian factor. Hunter Haight was a highly rated prospect going into the year. He shows flashes of brilliance but must be more consistent. Lorenz plays a power-forward style of game. He drives the net both with and without the puck and can score goals when he gets there. With his soft hands and good stickhandling ability, he controls the puck through the neutral zone, as well as in the cycle game.
Montreal Canadiens: A+
While I had Shane Wright as my top prospect, there is no denying the talent of Juraj Slafkovsky. He could become a power winger in the mould of a Rick Nash type of player. Slafkovsky marries size and skill and can score goals while driving the net. Mesar was his junior teammate in Slovakia. He is able to play both centre and wing and shows dynamic offensive skill and a two-way game. Owen Beck might be Shane Wright-lite. He plays a strong two-way game and has been able to put up points in Mississauga. Lane Hutson is a dynamic defenceman. While he is undersized, there might not be a better offensive defenceman in the class.
Rohrer is a hardworking Austrian winger who wins his battles on the boards and drives the net. Guindon will remind Habs fans of Paul Byron. Davidson and Tourigny are 19/20-year-olds with huge seasons in the CHL. They will head straight to the AHL with Laval next season. Engstrom is a defensive defender who will need to improve his offensive skill.
“I think Slafkovsky became the logical choice when they knew they had Dach…”@CraigJButton on the Habs’ decision to pick Juraj Slafkovsky, trading Romanov to get Dach, Wright going to Seattle and the ripple effect of Chicago’s fire sale: https://t.co/qYDzfxQ75W#TSNHockey pic.twitter.com/pnQCYFXJQ8
— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) July 8, 2022