The Elite Prospects May ranking of the top 96 prospects in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft
The end of the U18 World Hockey Championships means we're in the home stretch of the scouting season, and the countdown to the 2022 NHL Entry Draft is on. The Montréal Canadiens are on the clock.
To mark the occasion, we've produced our third draft ranking of the year, this one 96 players in length, just long enough to account for the first three rounds.
Shane Wright has retained his position atop our board, and it's hard to imagine a scenario where that changes by the time we publish our Elite Prospects 2022 NHL Draft Guide in mid-June. His refined two-way game, coupled with among the most scalable offensive toolkits in recent memory, made him a no-brainer in this spot.
There was some support for David Jiříček and Logan Cooley on the weighted ballots our scouts submitted for the top 10 picks, but hardly enough to really shake things up. Instead, Jiříček managed to reprise his role as our runner-up, while Cooley just narrowly edged out Frank Nazar for third overall. It's been a toss-up for our staff between those two USNTDP pivots all year long, so why change things now? You can't go wrong with either of them, really.
Meanwhile, Juraj Slafkovský's continued dominance in his country's colours and a strong showing for TPS in Liiga playoffs have bumped him up a spot to fifth overall. Šimon Nemec, on the other hand, took a bit of a tumble down our board from third overall to sixth. He's scoring at an unheard-of rate for a first-time draft-eligible defender in the Tipos Extraliga, but the film hasn't quite aligned with those numbers for our staff, hence the fall.
The rest of our top 10 remained relatively static. Matthew Savoie and Brad Lambert exchanged spots, but that's about it. There's a real sense on the team side that these two could fall, but it only takes one team to end a slide, so we'll see if that holds. They share similar skill sets as gifted shooters, danglers, and handlers, but questions about their hockey sense linger.
There was a bit of movement in the teens, with Swedish defenceman Calle Odelius using the U18s as a springboard to make the biggest jump of all in that group, from No. 22 to 14 overall. His transition ability and in-zone defensive polish have continued to impress our staff, even if we don't see a particularly prolific future in the cards for the Djurgårdens rearguard.
Conversely, Kevin Korchinski's deficiencies without the puck and as a skater warded us off from his game, if only slightly, costing him four spots. He's the ultimate high-risk, high-reward blueliner in this class.
The big shakeup on this board occurred in the 20s, where Jagger Firkus halved his ranking from No. 44 to 22, Jiří Kulich used his potent shot at the U18s to climb from No. 55 to 28, and Nathan Gaucher's projectable game boosted his stock from No. 35 to 30. This is the first time all year that each of these prospects has cracked our first round.
For full scouting reports on every prospect accounted for on the Elite Prospects 2022 NHL Draft ranking and an additional 100 or so afterwards, keep your eyes peeled for this year's draft guide, set to drop in mid-June. It's going to be our most ambitious guide yet, with 225-plus players profiled, and individual team pages included.
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