Below are the top 32 prospects for the 2022 NHL Draft as ranked by Hockey Prophets. The 2022 class has an interesting mix of talents at the top end, and a predominant European flavor. There are some true two-way skilled forwards at the top of the list, several high-quality transition defenseman and a sniper or two thrown in for good measure. Slovakia has sent one of their best draft classes in years, with three potential top 20 players, and perhaps as much as half of the top 20 will be comprised of European players. What makes this draft class most interesting, however, are a handful of highly skilled forwards that could be drafted as high as the top ten, or fall into the second or third round. Critics say they are too small, not dynamic enough on their skates, too selfish or too one-dimensional. Supporters say they are so skilled, so smart and have such a dynamic talent on the ice that failing to draft them in the first round could ultimiately seen as an organizational mistake. What do the Hockey Prophets think? Take a look below and find out. Enjoy!
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Height: 6'0 (183 cm)
Weight: 199 (90 kg)
Age At Draft: 18.48
Points per Game (normalized): 1.49
A/P Score: -2.16 (80th)
Key Strength: Excellent hockey attributes in all categories
Key Question: Is the high floor enough to warrant the first overall pick?
A lot has already been written and said about Shane Wright, who started his OHL career at 15 years of age after receiving the league's approval for exceptional status. Shortly thereafter he was christened the all-but unanimous choice to be the top overall prospect for the 2022 draft, and his early results confirmed the initial adoration. Kingston named Wright an alternate captain in his rookie season and he subsequently put up 66 points in 58 games, was named to the OHL First All-Rookie team, won the Emms Family Award as the OHL's top rookie, and won CHL Rookie of the Year. Then the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the OHL, and Wright--like many others--lost his entire pre-draft season. However, in April 2021, Wright returned to hockey and captained Canada's team to a gold medal in the U18 World Championships while scoring 14 points (with nine goals and five assists) in just five games. Wright then banged out 32 goals and 62 assists in 2021-2022, for 94 total points in 63 games as captain for Kingston. However, despite finishing second on his team in scoring, Wright's 32 goals were only enough to rank him fifth in goal scoring among his Frontenac teammates, and now hockey analysts across the country are wondering if Wright is still the clear cut top prospect of the 2022 draft.
Wright brings a complete hockey skillset onto the rink every game: size, speed, hands, determination, intelligence, physicality, a sniper's shot and as much NHL certainty as a player can carry.
Wright's straightline skating stride mechanics are powerful, with long leg extension and a low, quick return, giving him excellent speed over distance. In addition, his leg strength and cooridination means that his first step acceleration is also top level. Strong edgework gives him maneuverability and quickness in turns, and he has a solid foundation for balance. Whatever he needs from his feet he gets, whether that means an immediate change of direction or speed to the corner for a loose puck. Wright uses his skating ability in so many facets of his game: speed on the forecheck or backcheck to close gaps to the puck carrier and pressure them into mistakes; in traffic to get to open space first; stabiity on his feet to battle at the net or along the walls, quickness to unsettle defenders. He is not the fastest in his draft class, and not the most agile, but few skaters in the class can match his combination of power, speed and dexterity.
As good as his feet are, Wright's hands are better. He is an excellent puck distributor who holds pucks in a loaded position until defenders commit, then he fires crisp passes to his teammates' sticks. He favors a deceptive backhand pass when carrying the puck so that he appears to be attacking one lane, then--like moving a queen across the chessboard--he changes the angle of attack before the defenders can adjust. He also uses his feet and patience to buy extra time, drawing in defenders and then stepping out to create a new passing lane. Another major weapon in Wright's passing arsenal is his formidible shot, which demands attention from goaltenders and defenders and allows teammates more time and space to free themselves for scoring chances. Wright's excellent awareness and vision means that he knows exactly where he wants the play to go, and he consistently puts the puck where it needs to be to execute his plan.
Wright's shot brings his game up to a still higher level, with a wrist shot that has as much power as most prospects's slap shot, andis far more accurate. His laserbeam wrist shot regularly beats goaltenders from the top of the circles, but he does far more damage closer to the net by moving into scoring positions without the puck. The entire picture is that of a player who can dominate an offensive zone with his hands, his feet and his anticipation, creating problems for the defense that they simply cannot solve. He is a creative puck possession player that can pull apart an opposing defense brick by brick.
On the defensive side of the puck, Wright relies on his feet, work rate and intelligence. He is quick on the forecheck to smother defenders trying to break out, and fast on the backcheck with excellent lines to track down puck carriers. In his own end, he uses intelligent positioning to disrupt attacks, and although he is not a crunching hitter in open ice, along the boards he will lean into puck battles and shoulder opponents off the puck. He supports the play all over the ice, and sees ice time in all situations. He is a killer on faceoffs, consistently winning draws in his own end. His support of the play wherever he is on the ice, is without match among his peers.
In summation, Wright is simply the best hockey player in this draft class and although some of the players ranked below him may be better at certain aspects of the game, Wright's sum-of-the-parts hockey ability is unparalleled this year.
Brian's favorite in-game note: "Dumps the puck carrier with a good, clean hit. What can this kid not do perfectly? And as I wrote that note, he blocked a shot."