Shane Wright of Kingston of the Ontario Hockey League and Logan Cooley of the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 Team headline a class at center that could feature as many as eight players at the position selected in the top 25 of the 2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft.
Wright (6-foot, 199 pounds), a right-hand shot, is No. 1 in NHL Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American skaters for the 2022 draft. Cooley (5-10, 180), a left-handed shot, is No. 2.
The Montreal Canadiens have the No. 1 pick in the 2022 draft, the New Jersey Devils have the No. 2 selection and the Arizona Coyotes have the No. 3 pick.
“The margin between the top two prospects got narrower as the season progressed, but much the same as it has been all season long, the edge goes to Shane Wright for our final ranking,” NHL Central Scouting director Dan Marr said. “[Wright and Cooley] possess NHL qualities, and both utilize their skills and assets within their own style of play. I’d best sum up by acknowledging the one constant factor in his favor is that whenever Shane Wright has the puck on his stick, something good will happen. “
There were seven centers selected in the top 20 of the 2021 NHL Draft: Matty Beniers (No. 2, Seattle Kraken), Mason McTavish (No. 3, Anaheim Ducks), Kent Johnson (No. 5, Columbus Blue Jackets), Cole Sillinger (No. 12, Blue Jackets), Zachary Bolduc (No. 17, St. Louis Blues), Chaz Lucius (No. 18, Winnipeg Jets) and Fedor Svechkov (No. 19, Nashville Predators).
Here are NHL.com’s top 10 centers available for the 2022 draft:
1. Shane Wright, Kingston (OHL)
NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 1 (North American skaters)
Wright was eighth in the Ontario Hockey League with 94 points (32 goals, 62 assists), including 28 power-play points (eight goals, 20 assists), in 63 regular-season games, and 14 points (three goals, 11 assists) in 11 OHL playoff games. The 18-year-old won 49.9 percent of his face-offs during the regular season while taking the fourth-most in the OHL (1,355) and winning the seventh-most (676). Wright, who had 18 games with at least three points, has high-end playmaking skills, an accurate shot, and is exceptionally smart with and without the puck. He could be the first player from Kingston chosen No. 1 in the NHL draft. The highest a player from Kingston has been chosen is No. 3: forward Chris Gratton in 1993 (Tampa Bay Lightning) and defenseman Erik Gudbranson in 2010 (Florida Panthers).
2. Logan Cooley, USA U-18 (NTDP)
NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 2 (North American skaters)
Cooley was second on the NTDP with 75 points (27 goals, 48 assists) in 51 games and led the NTDP with an average of 1.47 points per game. The 18-year-old was second for the second-place United States at the 2022 IIHF World Under-18 Championship with 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in six games, and had had 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 15 games against NCAA competition. Cooley, who has high-end compete and will deliver in the tough areas of the ice, will play at the University of Minnesota next season.
3. Matthew SavoieWinnipeg (WHL)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 4 (North American skaters)
The right-hand shot (5-9, 170) is a strong skater with exceptional acceleration. He was seventh in the Western Hockey League with 90 points (35 goals, 55 assists) in 65 regular-season games and had 12 points (six goals, six assists) in 10 WHL playoff games. The 18-year-old is considered a game-changer with high-end playmaking ability. His older brother is Edmonton Oilers forward prospect Carter Savoie.
4. Marco KasperRogle (SWE)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 5 (International skaters)
The Austria-born center had 11 points (seven goals, four assists) and averaged 11:44 of ice time in 46 regular-season games with Rogle of the Swedish Hockey League, and had six points (three goals, three assists) in 14 : 16 of ice time in 13 games in the SHL playoffs. Kasper (6-1, 187) captained Austria in the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship, playing two games before the tournament was postponed Dec. 29 because of COVID-19 concerns, and had two assists and averaged 17:34 in ice time in seven games for Austria at the 2022 IIHF World Championship. The 18-year-old plays with energy and intensity, has good speed and creates offensive chances by skating to the net.
5. Conor GeekieWinnipeg (WHL)
NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 5 (North American skaters)
Geekie (6-3, 190) was fourth on Winnipeg with 70 points (24 goals, 46 assists) in 63 regular-season games and had 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in 15 WHL playoff games. The 18-year-old is hard to contain with his high compete level and poise in most situations. His older brother is Seattle Kraken forward Morgan Geekie.
6. Luca Del Bel BelluzMississauga (OHL)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 8 (North American skaters)
The left-shot center (6-0, 179) finished second on Mississauga with 76 points (30 goals, 46 assists) and 12 power-play goals in 68 games. The 18-year-old was voted most improved player in the OHL Eastern Conference coaches poll. He’s a creative player who likes to attack the net and has good 1-on-1 ability to beat opposing defenders.
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7. Frank NazarUSA U-18 (NTDP)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 21 (North American skaters)
Nazar (5-10, 180) was third on the NTDP with 70 points (28 goals, 42 assists) in 56 games, and he also scored five power-play goals and two shorthanded goals. He had 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in 19 games against NCAA competition this season, and nine points (three goals, six assists) in six games for the United States at the World U-18s. The 18-year-old is at his best when he’s competitive on the puck and using his elite speed. He will play at the University of Michigan next season.
8. Owen BeckMississauga (OHL)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 10 (North American skaters)
The right-hand shot (5-11, 187), is a powerful skater who plays a highly effective two-way game. Beck had 51 points (21 goals, 30 assists) in 68 games as an OHL rookie. The 18-year-old was second in the OHL with a 60.6 percent winning percentage on face-offs (minimum 200 face-offs) and was voted best on face-offs in the OHL Eastern Conference coaches poll.
9. David GoyetteSudbury (OHL)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 13 (North American skaters)
Goyette (5-10, 175) led OHL rookies 33 goals and 73 points, and was second with 40 assists, in 66 games. The 18-year-old is an excellent skater with high-end speed and strong edges, is an attacking-style player with the puck and can execute high-end plays at a high pace. He also had three points (one goal, two assists) in four games for Canada at the World U-18s.
10. Brad LambertPelicans (FIN)
NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 10 (International skaters)
Lambert (6-0, 183) had 10 points (four goals, six assists) while averaging 14:15 of ice time in 49 games in Liiga, the top professional league in Finland, and had no points in averaged 9:35 of ice time in three playoff games. The 18-year-old had five points (one goal, four assists) in two games for Finland at the World Juniors before the tournament was postponed Dec. 29. He signed with Pelicans on Jan. 17 after 24 games with JYP this season.
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