Wright, Slafkovsky top Central Scouting final 2022 NHL Draft rankings

Central Scouting on Thursday revealed its final list of the top North American skaters and goalies, and the top International skaters and goalies.

Left wing Juraj Slafkovsky of TPS of Liiga, Finland’s top professional league, is No. 1 among International skaters.

Central Scouting conducted its final meetings with a five-day in-person meeting in Toronto in early April and two follow-up video conferences later in the month to finalize their lists.

[Rankings: North American skaters | North American goalies | International skaters | International goalies]

[PDFs: North American skaters | North American goalies | International skaters | International goalies]

The 2022 draft is scheduled to be held at Bell Center in Montreal, with the first round July 7 and Rounds 2-7 on July 8. The NHL Draft Lottery to determine the first 16 picks in the draft will be May 10 at NHL Network studios in Secaucus, New Jersey (6:30 pm ET; ESPN, ESPN +, SN, SN NOW, TVAS).

Wright (6-foot, 191 pounds) was eighth in the OHL with 94 points (32 goals, 62 assists), and scored 28 power-play points (eight goals, 20 assists) in 63 regular-season games. The 18-year-old has scored eight points (two goals, six assists) in six OHL playoff games.

He was playing with the Don Mills Flyers Minor Midget AAA team when he was granted exceptional-player status by Hockey Canada in March 2019, and he was selected by Kingston with the No. 1 pick in the 2019 OHL draft as a 15-year-old. He was named rookie of the year in the Canadian Hockey League after scoring 66 points (39 goals, 27 assists) in 58 games in 2019-20.

“I’m someone who wants to win every single day,” Wright said on the “NHL Draft Class” podcast in March. “My mindset is not to win scoring titles, it’s not to win MVPs, it’s to win Stanley Cups. I believe that the way I play, my competitiveness and my drive to win is going to help do that.”

Center Logan Cooley (5-10, 174) of the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 Team is No. 2 on the North American skater list. The 17-year-old was second on the NTDP with 75 points (27 goals, 48 ​​assists) in 51 games. He scored 10 points (three goals, seven assists) and 23 shots on goal in six games to help the United States finish second at the 2022 IIHF World Under-18 Championship.

“The margin between the two top North American prospects [Wright and Cooley] 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.” Both prospects possess NHL qualities and both utilize their skills and assets within their own style of play. “There is a completeness about Shane’s game to which he has the innate ability to rise to the level of play required to get results, whether it’s with his speed, his exceptionally quick hockey wits or just competing with a never-give-up approach.”

Rounding out the top five North American skaters are left wing Cutter Gauthier of the NTDP, and centers Matthew Savoie and Conor Geekie of Winnipeg in the Western Hockey League.

Gauthier (6-2, 189) climbed three spots in the final ranking after being No. 6 in the midterm rankings in January. The 18-year-old scored 65 points (34 goals, 31 assists) and five power-play goals in 54 games, and scored nine points (three goals, six assists) in six games for the US at the World U-18s.

“As soon as you see him step on the ice, you see an NHL player,” Central Scouting senior manager David Gregory said. “He’s a big, powerful guy that has deceiving speed. He’s a very good skater, gets by people with good hands or with power, and can really shoot the puck.”

Savoie (5-9, 175) finished seventh in the WHL with 90 points (35 goals, 55 assists), and scored 34 power-play points (12 goals, 22 assists) in 65 games. The 18-year-old has scored three points (one goal, two assists) in three WHL playoff games. Geekie (6-3, 196) scored 70 points (24 goals, 46 assists) in 63 regular-season games, and has scored five points (two goals, three assists) in five WHL playoff game. He turned 18 on Thursday.

“Savoie has great wheels and is a dynamic player,” John Williams of Central Scouting said. “The question being asked about Geekie is, what’s his ceiling? He’s got a lot of elements. He’s obviously a big kid who can make plays, thinks the game well and is smart. His ceiling is really high.”

Slafkovsky (6-3, 218), who moved to No. 1 from No. 2 in the midterm ranking, was named the most valuable player at the 2022 Beijing Olympics. Still 17 years old (he turned 18 on March 30), Slafkovsky scored a tournament-best seven goals in seven games to help Slovakia win the bronze medal, its first men’s Olympic hockey medal. His seven points tied for the tournament lead, he led Slovakia with 24 shots on goal and averaged 15:50 of ice time despite being the youngest player in the tournament.

“I would say I’m strong on the puck in the offensive zone,” said Slafkovsky, who likens his style to Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews. “I use my size a lot. I can create some nice chances for my teammates. Those are the things people can see when I play.”

He scored 10 points (five goals, five assists) and averaged 14:11 in ice time in 31 games this season, his first with TPS. He has scored seven points (two goals, five assists) while averaging 15:28 of ice time in 18 Liiga playoff games.

“Slafkovsky was outstanding at the Olympics,” NHL director of European Scouting Goran Stubb said. “He’s a regular on the second line for TPS and played very well there as well.”

Right wing Joakim Kemell (5-11, 171) of JYP in Liiga fell one spot to No. 2 in the final ranking of International skaters. The 18-year-old scored 23 points (15 goals, eight assists) in 39 games with JYP and eight points (six goals, two assists) in five games for third place Finland at the World U-18s.

“Kemell is also very good but his season was disturbed by [a shoulder injury]”Stubb said.

The rest of the top five of the top International skaters are defenseman Simon Nemec (6-0, 190) of Nitra in Tipos Extraliga, the top league in Slovakia; defenseman David Jiricek of Plzen in the Czech Extraliga, the top division in the Czech Republic; and center Marco Kasper (6-1, 183) of Rogle in the Swedish Hockey League, the top professional men’s league in Sweden.

The top North American goalie remains Tyler Brennan of Prince George (WHL). The 18-year-old (6-4, 184) was 11-25-2 with a 3.58 goals-against average, four shutouts and an .899 save percentage in 39 games. He went 0-3 with a 1.86 GAA and .954 save percentage in four WHL playoff games.

“He’s got good pro size, is very calm and relaxed and is smart at reading the pass across for a one-timer or back-door play,” said Al Jensen of Central Scouting. “I also like how he gets back to stop dump-ins and can move the puck properly from behind his net area. He’s got very good pro potential.”

Topias Leinonen of JYP’s team in Finland’s junior league is No. 1 among International goalies. He was 9-10-0 with a 2.28 GAA and .916 save percentage in 21 games. The 18-year-old (6-4, 214) also played in four games with JYP in Liiga this season.

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