Draft week 2022 has arrived and teams have made their way to hotels and conference rooms scattered throughout the downtown core of Montreal. The last two scouting seasons have created chaos for players and scouting staffs alike.
It’s fitting that the draft is being held in Montreal, and a better script could not have been written with the Habs winning the lottery. They are poised to make an historic first overall pick under the guide of their new management group.
This will be my 19th NHL draft. It never gets old. It’s like Christmas in July.
By now most of our readers will have likely fine-tuned their knowledge relating to the prospects who could potentially be selected by their favourite NHL team.
What I’m about to present is my personal draft order for the first round. This is not a mock draft. I haven’t spoken to any of my former colleagues to gain inside information on their thoughts or potential strategies.
I present this as if I were still on a scouting staff and preparing to be at the draft table.
Here is an inside look at my process:
1. After analyzing cumulative reports on players from around the world I break down each territory and list prospects in descending order of interest
2. Each territory is analyzed against each other. The final list starts to take shape as players are plucked from their regional list and placed in descending order on the world-wide list. Not all regions are created equally. There are years in which all the top five picks come from North American leagues. Conversely, there are years -- like this one -- where it is very likely at least three players within the top five will come from Europe. List building is fluid from year to year and it can only be done thoroughly without bias.
3. After the final list is complete the strategy of targeting players in trade up, trade down, or “make the pick” scenarios begins to take shape.
Note 1: The average NHL scout will view between 175-200 games per year and submit over 1,500 game reports. Analytics add another layer to the process and plays a role in list preparation and strategic planning.
Now that I have provided the Coles Notes version of my process here is my final list for the 2022 NHL Draft:
No. 1: Logan Cooley
No. 2: Shane Wright
No. 3: Juraj Slafkovsky
No. 4: Simon Nemec
No. 5: David Jiricek
No. 6: Cutter Gauthier
No. 7: Matthew Savoie
No. 8: Joakim Kemell
No. 9: Marco Kasper
No. 10: Jonathan Lekkerimaki
No. 11: Danila Yurov
No. 12: Kevin Korchinski
No. 13: Denton Mateychuk
No. 14: Pavel Mintyukov
No. 15: Frank Nazar
No. 16: Isaac Howard
No. 17: Jimmy Snuggerud
No. 18: Noah Ostlund
No. 19: Conor Geekie
No. 20: Ivan Miroshnichenko
No. 21: Liam Ohgren
No. 22: Ryan Chesley
No. 23: Owen Pickering
No. 24: Lane Hutson
No. 25: Jiri Kulich
No. 26: Luca Del Bel Belluz
No. 27: Nathan Gaucher
No. 28: Rutger McGroarty
No. 29: Seamus Casey
No. 30: Mattias Havelid
No. 31: Calle Odelius
No. 32: Alexander Perevalov
No. 33: Owen Beck
No. 34: Brad Lambert
No. 35: Lian Bichsel
No. 36: Jagger Firkus
• I selected Logan Cooley over Shane Wright because I believe he has the higher ceiling offensively. I was also impressed with the compete level Cooley presented in every viewing. This is not to say Wright isn’t going to be a great pro. He has all the attributes to be a fantastic NHL player. Wright has a higher floor than Cooley, but Cooley has more elite upside in my opinion.
• I value Denton Mateychuk at No. 13 and I believe he will be available in that slot (colleague Sam Cosentino had him 26th in the mock draft). I also have a hunch that other teams don’t have him as high as I do. This is a scenario where I'd pick up the phone to gauge the interest of the next five teams behind me to see if they are interested in trading up. I might be able to gain an extra pick in the second round with the transaction, and still get the player I want.
Note: Risk/reward is always in play with this kind of trade. The other reason I’m not concerned with this proposed deal is my comfort level with the players ranked between No. 14-18 on my list. In case the team I traded with were to pick Mateychuk, I'd still get a quality player and an extra pick in return.
• Before anyone points out there are only 32 picks in the first round…I know!
The fact of the matter is this draft has the potential to be one of the most unpredictable first rounds since I entered the league. I truly believe any one of the names on my list could go in the first round. When I’m on the floor monitoring trade up and trade back scenarios it’s vital to make sure my value system is in place in case the phone rings.
• The art of scouting is not an exact science. Nobody knows for sure how this draft class will look in the years to come. The process always leads to healthy discussion (and sometimes irate passion!).
Debate amongst yourselves or provide me with feedback on why you believe passionately about a player and where you think he deserves to land on this year's final list.