With the NHL Draft 2022 rapidly approaching, the controversy over the #1 pick has come to its climax as Montreal is left to decide what their move will be on draft day.
Before recently, it had been predicted that Shane Wright would be the sure-fire first overall pick, however, after some amazing performances on the international stage, Juraj Slafkovsky has lept to the top of the rankings, at least according to Bob Mackenzie’s rankings. So who deserves to go first overall in the NHL Draft 2022? Read on for a more in-depth look at each of these players who have online and crypto betting enthusiasts stuck with what to do.
Shane Wright, Kingston Frontenacs, OHL
Wright was the uncontested selection for the #1 pick throughout almost every mock draft and scout report, with the Last Word on Hockey Mock Draft referring to the player as first overall, as well as the Overtime Heroics Hockey mock draft, the pre-season rankings, and even the draft lottery edition rankings in April. There are many reasons for this, as Wright has managed some fantastic play throughout his time in the OHL, earning himself the role of Captain with his current team and the Team Canada U18s at the World Junior Championships in 2021. As well, the player was invited to the NHL Combine, and although he was only average in terms of height and weight, he was still able to impress with how he handled his size to build plays.
Wright was granted special accommodations to be an early selection in the OHL Priority Draft in 2019, which saw him selected first overall by the Frontenacs. This was done after Wright managed over 150 points in 72 games as a U16 AAA player with the Don Mills Flyers. Now after an amazing season as captain with the Frontenacs in which Wright managed 94 points in just 63 games, an amazing feat, but still saw this player only be the second-highest points producer on his team.
Juraj Slafkovsky, TPS, Liiga
Slafkovsky has become the biggest competition for the first overall selection, as the large two-way player managed some amazing performances during both the Beijing Olympics and the World Cup of Hockey. While listed at only fourth in the Last Word on Hockey Mock Draft, he has impressed in each showing. The player has managed some amazing feats, at the Beijing Olympics he managed to land the most points and most goals earned the title of MVP, and made the All-Star team in a tournament where his team managed a Bronze Medal. On top of this, he helped his national team to a silver medal in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
At his league level, he helped TPS come to a silver medal in the Liiga. Although he may not have put up as many points on the league level, he was still a strong player who developed his skills and polished his style, which has seen him become a real diamond in the rough style of a player that slipped under the radar of a lot of teams at the start of the season. Whether he is playing with his Liiga team or with his international team, this player certainly has a lot of goals for his future, as he mentioned after being named the Olympic MVP.
NHL Draft 2022 Controversial #1 Pick
While both players are certainly more than qualified to play in the NHL and are deserving of the first overall pick in their own right, I’d have to place Slafkovsky at the front of the running after his recent stretch of play. It is, however, unlikely that the Montreal Canadiens will select this player, given their current needs for players who put points on the board.
As much as Slafkovsky may grow into more of a goal-scoring and point-producing forward he currently fits more so into the profile of a two-way forward, which the Canadiens have in abundance. As such, so long as the Montreal Canadiens retain the first overall selection, it is more likely that Shane Wright will be selected, even if Slafkovsky is more used to playing against adult developed players.
Tune in to the first round of the NHL Draft 2022 on July 7th, 2022, at 7 pm EST to see which player will end up becoming the first overall selection and if the Montreal Canadiens will hold onto the first selection.
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