Frontenacs centre Wright top North American skater in final NHL draft rankings

Shane Wright, of the Kingston Frontenacs, watches the play during the 2022 Kubota CHL/NHL Top Prospects game in Kitchener, Ontario on Wednesday, March 23, 2022. (Geoff Robins/CP)

Shane Wright took top spot among North American skaters as the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau released its final rankings for the league’s 2022 entry draft Thursday.

Wright, a centre with the Kingston Frontenacs, ranked eighth in the Ontario Hockey League with 94 points (32 goals, 62 assists) in 63 regular-season games.

He has two goals and eight assists in six OHL playoff games. The Frontenacs begin their Eastern Conference semifinal against the Battalion on Friday in North Bay, Ont.

Wright, from Burlington, Ont., would be the first Frontenacs player taken first overall if picked with the opening selection at the NHL Entry Draft, which will be held July 7-8 at Montreal’s Bell Centre.

He was also ranked first among North Americans in the midseason rankings.

The last OHL player to be selected first overall was Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid in 2015.

“Shane Wright is the complete package as an NHL prospect,” Dan Marr, director of NHL central scouting, said in a statement.

“He is a strong stride skater who possesses deceptive speed and quickness to beat defenders, evade checking or lead a rush,” he said. “He has elite hockey sense with his vision, anticipation and composure to execute quickly on plays and has proven that he can carry the load and lead the way when it’s needed in game situations.”

Left wing Juraj Slafkovsky of TPS in Finland is ranked as the top international skater.

The native of Kosice, Slovakia, climbed from No. 2 during the midseason rankings following a second half that included MVP honours at the Winter Olympic Games where he led the tournament in goals and points (seven goals in seven games) while helping Slovakia earn bronze.

Slafkovsky can become just the second Slovakian-born player selected in the top five of the NHL draft, along with Marian Gaborik (No. 3 in 2000 by Minnesota).

Logan Cooley and Cutter Gauthier of the United States under-18 team are the second- and third-ranked North American skaters, respectively.

Two centres from the Western Hockey League’s Winnipeg Ice, Matthew Savoie of St. Albert, Alta. and Conor Geekie of Strathclair, Man., round out the top five.

Rounding out the top-five international skaters are: defenceman Simon Nemec (Liptovsky Mikulas, Slovakia), defenceman David Jiricek (Klatovy, Czechia) and centre Marco Kasper (Innsbruck, Austria).

Winnipeg native Tyler Brennan, who plays for Prince George in the Western Hockey League, is the top-ranked North American goaltender and Topias Leinonen (Jyvaskyla, Finland) of JYP’s junior team tops the list of international goaltenders.

The final rankings feature the top 224 skaters and 32 goaltenders in North America and the top 140 skaters and 10 goaltenders internationally. 

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