Before teams get to the NHL draft lottery there will be given volatility and uncertainty. Furthermore, there will always be certain players I deem ranked higher than others. Hockey analytics, scouting, and player comparisons to recent drafts will play a role in these rankings.
1) Shane Wright C
Given the success, Shane Wright has had from his exceptional run with the Kingston Frontenacs as a young phenom going into his D0 season or Draft season. His Draft season is 37 and short of Jack Hughes’ (New Jersey Devils center) 50. Shane Wright’s star player probability per Hockey Prospecting is 60% vs. Jack Hughes’ 99% in his draft year.
It is very likely that the Frontenacs center will blossom into a very special player of his own. His ability to dominate opponents ahead of his age group, in his age group shows great maturation mentally, and athletically.
Shane Wright is a very productive 1.32 points per game in 121 games during his 3 seasons in the OHL. The Kingston Frontenacs center has 71 goals and 160 points. The Burlington, Ontario native is a threat on the ice not only making himself a threat but also making others around him even more productive. The young phenom has drawn an analytical comparable to Tampa Bay Lightning superstars in Steven Stamkos and Vincent Lecavalier in his Draft-eligible season and star player percentage.
2) Matthew Savoie C
This Draft is pretty solid for centers and one of them being primed for a really successful and long-term NHL career. Not many people knew about Matthew Savoie’s AJHL career where he had 6 points in 4 games with half each tallied. The St. Albert native and the right-shot center moved on from the AJHL moving up a level to the USHL with the Dubuque Fighting Saints. With the Saints, Savoie had a banner season with 21 goals and 38 points in 34 games. He later went on to play for the Winnipeg Ice in the WHL (CHL) where he played in 65 games scoring 90 points with 55 assists.
His skating is very fluid and he adds a lot of agility when he snakes around defenders. His stick-handling and passing are phenomenal. His hockey IQ and hockey sense is very similar to Mitch Marner’s especially being a few inches smaller than Mitch. However, teams looking to build down from the center position will benefit big-time from a young stud.
3) Juraj Slafkovsky LW
Most people thinking why this young Slovak power forward in Juraj has been battle-tested at several levels. In fact, the Kosice native has scored 10 points in Liiga in Finland for TPS Turku with 5 goals and 5 assists, this season in 2021-22 Slafkovsky scored 18 points in 11 games before being called up to Turku. The season before in his first U-20 season in Finland under Turku’s SM team he had 8 goals and 13 points in 16 games.
Juraj is a bronze medalist for a growing hockey country in Slovakia during the Beijing Olympic Games. Speaking of which the Slovak had scored 7 goals in 7 games. Analytically and physically Juraj Slafkovsky looks to be primed up to be built like Rick Nash and teams looking to draft him will be gushing to have this young stud on their team.
4) Simon Nemec RHD
As we all are looking for some future defenseman to defend the blue line or even create offense we have to look at Slovakia. Liptovsky Mikulas native is a hyper-energetic defenseman who plays a very elusive game. His style of play in Slovakia and at the Olympics in Beijing will scream similarities to Colorado Avalanche’s Cale Makar.
Simon Nemec did have a very positive Olympics for Slovakia with 1 assist in 7 games played but was able to hold his own against players older than his age group. This kind of maturation for a player coming out against some of the toughest competition in former NHL’ers, upcoming, and non-NHL pro talent.
You have to tip your hat to Nemec for having a 26-point season in 39 games with 25 points for a growing defender. His offensive reads, puck handling, and passing will make many teams in the top 5 and top 10 want to add him to their organization.
5) Logan Cooley C
One of the top centers in this draft if teams fall short on Matthew Savoie and Shane Wright is an American named Logan Cooley. Cooley a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native is a similar player to Matty Beniers of the Seattle Kraken analytically.
Logan has shown to have very smooth-skating, excellent IQ, and hockey sense. He has very soft silky mitts that make him a very dangerous playmaker. Another aspect of his game is his patience, and the ability to dangle like a Pavel Datsyuk, and be agile like Trevor Zegras.
The next aspect of his game is his ability to dictate a game. Dictating in a sense like recent USNTDP 18 forwards like Jack Hughes, and Trevor Zegras is Cooley’s ability to strip the puck away. A lot of young American centers are becoming more structured in the 2-way game.
Logan has the ability to be a future candidate for the Selke Trophy throughout his career. Any team that lands him will be happy to know they do not need to rush him. His career will go towards the University of Minnesota for the Golden Gophers before going to the NHL.
Thanks for Reading
There is no shortage of skaters at the center position or on the wing that provide goal-scoring abilities in this crop. Given how deep the top five are in this class, there may also be many hidden gems that will fall later in the draft.
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