NHL Top 16 Mock Draft: Canadiens keep first overall pick, take Wright

The Hockey Central panel discuss the Montreal Canadiens winning the first overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, the draft being held on the Canadiens' home ice, and potential top pick Shane Wright's fit in Montreal.

With the 2022 NHL Draft Lottery in the books, we now know the order of the first 16 picks.

Time for a mock draft.

The Montreal Canadiens retained the first overall pick for a draft they’ll host on July 7-8, but there was some change in order past them. We also know now that Columbus and Buffalo will both pick twice in the top 16.

Here’s the initial reaction of how we see the first picks going two months out from the draft, with player cards and evaluation from Jason Bukala.

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1. Montreal: Shane Wright, C, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL): The dream scenario for the new management team comes to fruition, and Shane Wright is the prize. 

2. New Jersey: Logan Cooley, C, USNTDP: The most dynamic player available in this draft, the Devils add another weapon to a sound offensive core.

3. Arizona: Juraj Slafkovsky, LW, TPS Turku (Liiga): GM Bill Armstrong was instrumental building a Cup winner in St. Louis, utilizing size and skill.  Here, he gets both.

4. Seattle: David Jiricek, D,  HC Plzen (Extraliiga): An expected coming out party at the worlds vaults him back into being the top defenceman taken.

5. Philadelphia: Simon Nemec, D, HK Nitra (Slovakia): A solid second defenceman off the board for a team that can’t go wrong any way they go picking this high.

6. Columbus: Matthew Savoie, C, Winnipeg Ice (WHL): While his size will be of concern (5-foot-9, 175 pounds), this is a player who is recognizable every time out on the ice. Exceptional status wasn’t granted, but the WHL did make a concession for him to play half a season at 15.

7. Ottawa: Jonathan Lekkerimaki, RW, Djurgarden (SWE U20): Another organization that has ample talent in the waiting at all positions. Lekkerimaki has risen steadily all season against all levels of competition. Is he the next Tim Stutzle?

8. Detroit: Joakim Kemell, RW, JYP (Liiga): Inconsistency forced mostly by a mid-season upper-body injury forced him down the list and Steve Yzerman unearths another gem as a result.

9. Buffalo: Cutter Gauthier, LW, USNTDP: Kevyn Adams will see glimpses of Tage Thompson in this pick, and with NHL bloodlines comes added certainty.

10. Anaheim: Jimmy Snuggerud, RW, USNTDP: GM Pat Verbeek’s first kick at the can results in a combination of how he worked under Steve Yzerman: Drafting a player with skills, smarts and finishing ability.

11. San Jose: Isaac Howard, LW, USNTDP: A consistent producer all season long, Howard excelled in the most recent viewings at the U18 worlds. 

12. Columbus: Pavel Mintyukov, D, Saginaw Spirit (OHL): After adding a forward earlier in Savoie, the Blue Jackets look to the blue line for their second first-round pick. 

13. NY Islanders: Brad Lambert, C, Pelicans (Liiga): A bit of a stretch to think Uncle Lane is the Isles’ next coach, but if he is, no one will know this player better. There would be value in taking Lambert outside of 10. 

14. Winnipeg: Conor Geekie, C, Winnipeg Ice (WHL): The hometown boy makes good on his NHL bet. A lot would have to happen for this to fall into place, but why not dream the impossible dream?

15. Vancouver: Marco Kasper, C, Rogle (SHL): Austrian-born player who had a ton of success playing in Sweden. Vancouver has to address forward skill in it’s system, and Kasper is the player to do that

16. Buffalo: Kevin Korchinski, D, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL): Another team that picked a forward earlier in the round and add a D with their second. Korchinski has had a massive rise to prominence. 

Wild Card: Danila Yurov, RW, Magnitigorsk (KHL): A player who is a top 10 talent, but selecting him comes with the complications of adding and bringing over Russian players while the war in Ukraine goes on.

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