NHL Draft Preview: Shane Wright Expected to be First Overall Pick
With the NHL draft just a few days away, it’s time to look at the future stars of the league and the draft class of 2022.
The Colorado Avalanche are the new Stanley Cup Champions after defeating the two-time defending champions Tampa Bay Lightning. Led by several former first-round draft picks in Gabriel Landeskog (2011 – 2ND overall), Nathan MacKinnon (2013 – 1st overall), Mikko Rantanen (2015 – 10th overall) and Cale Makar (2017 – 4th overall), the Avalanche were able to turn their draft picks into team leaders and eventually, Stanley Cup Champions.
Here are the highlights and upside of this year’s NHL picks.
Odds of being 1st overall pick (courtesy: Fanduel)
Shane Wright -280
Juraj Slafkovský +140
Logan Cooley +2000
Šimon Nemec +10000
Joakim Kemell +10000
With Shane Wright being the oddsmakers’ favorite to go first overall to the Montreal Canadiens, there is still an outside chance the Habs could be leaning towards possibly taking Juraj Slafkovský or a more outside shot of taking Logan Cooley.
Let’s break down the skills and upside of the potential top-five picks in the 2022 NHL Draft.
1. Shane Wright – Center — OHL Kingston – Montreal Canadiens
Look for Shane Wright to go first overall to the Canadiens. He has dominated at every level, including this year, where he scored 32 goals and added 62 assists in 63 games with Kingston in the OHL, which put him eighth in the league and third for undrafted players.
For years, Wright has been thought of as the first overall pick in his draft-eligible year. He was just the sixth player (joining names like McDavid and Tavares) to be granted exceptional status to enter the Canadian Junior levels a year earlier than allowed.
2. Juraj Slafkovský – Left Wing — TPS Finland – New Jersey Devils
The New Jersey Devils pick second overall, and if Shane Wright is off the board, look for them to select Juraj Slafkovský out of Finland.
The Devils have depth down the middle, so passing on Logan Cooley makes sense. Slafkovský, at 6-foot 4 inches and weighing close to 230 pounds, is already built for the NHL game. At the Beijing Olympic games this year, he was the youngest player in the tournament, and named the Most Valuable Player after leading the tournament with seven goals in seven games.
3. Logan Cooley – Center — USA U-18 NTDP – Arizona Coyotes
A two-way playmaking center is what Logan Cooley will bring to the NHL. While he is already committed to the University of Minnesota next season, that will not deter his would-be suitors.
At the 2022 IIHF Juniors Tournament, Cooley helped the USA finish second with 10 points (3 goals, 7 assists) in six games. As a member of the NTDP last season, he finished second in team scoring with 27 goals and 48 assists in 51 games.
4. Šimon Nemec – Defenseman — Nitra Slovakia – Seattle Kraken
Look for Šimon Nemec to be the first defenseman taken in the draft, ahead of another standout defenseman in David Jiricek.
Nemec has played the past three seasons in Slovakia’s top men’s league, starting when he was 15 years old. With a right-handed shot and ability to think on offense, Nemec possesses the skills to be a top NHL defenseman.
While playing in the 2022 IIHF World Championship, he tallied six points (1 goal, 5 assists) in eight games for Slovakia, which are the most ever by an 18-year-old defenseman in the tournament. His +/- last year was +13.
5. Joakim Kemell – Right Wing — JYP Finland – Philadelphia Flyers
Another potential star in the league is Joakim Kemmell out of Finland. While he may be undersized at 5-foot 9 inches, he has all of the ability to find the back of the net. And while a shoulder injury sidelined him for more than two months, he still led all rookies in his league with 15 goals and was second with 23 points in 39 games.
All signs point to Wright being cheered by the hometown crowd in Montreal as they get set to pick first overall on Thursday night.
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