Scout's Notebook: The brightest players in the 2022 NHL Draft class
Awareness, hockey IQ and decision-making — the concept goes by any number of names but at the end of the day, it’s all about how quickly and efficiently a player can read the play on the ice. There are a great many skills that go into a high-end hockey player and the vast majority of them are physical skills, like skating posture and skating mechanics, weight transfers and shooting mechanics, puck skills and passing skills.
The common denominator for all of those skills is their ability to be improved through hard work and repetition. If you can identify inefficiencies in your movements or a lack of strength, you’re able to correct them over time.
Hockey IQ is not one of those skills, and yet I’d argue it is the most important trait that all great players possess. If you can think the game at a high level, you can mask physical deficiencies, get to pucks quicker than your feet would allow if you can anticipate and find or create lanes more easily by manipulating time and space through concerted shift changes.
You won’t need to be reliant on puck skills in a league where structure and defensive ability make that avenue much more difficult.
There are plenty of players I could have isolated in on for this piece. Denton Mateychuk has insane offensive awareness and spatial recognition, Logan Cooley has the ability to make a smart two-way impact, Calle Odelius has mastered transitional defence and Frank Nazar impressively uses his speed and skill to dictate the game in all three zones.
However, edition of the Scout's Notebook, we head to the OHL and the MHL to isolate three of the top thinkers in the 2022 class.
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