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2022 Mock Draft ft. HockeyBuzz Writers (1-16)

June 20, 2022, 6:43 PM ET [16 Comments]
Jacob Billington
Winnipeg Jets Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Welcome to the first Mock Draft on HockeyBuzz of the year!

Congratulations to the Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning on being the final two teams left in the playoffs!

Joined with me today, making selections for their respective teams, are fellow HockeyBuzz writer Karine Hains (Montreal), Sam Woo (New Jersey), Sean Maloughney (Seattle), Bill Meltzer (Philadelphia), Zak MacMillan (Columbus) and Kevin Francis (Ottawa). Each of these fantastic writers made their teams selection in order of who was available, while I (Jacob) made the rest of the selections for the teams that don't have coverage, or the writers I could not get ahold of in time, and of course, the Jets selection.

Without further ado, lets start off with the Canadiens selection!

1st Overall, Montreal Canadiens: Shane Wright
Selected by Karine Hains

It’s been a while since the Montreal Canadiens organization got to say “With the first overall pick the Montreal Canadiens proudly select…” It’s been 42 years to be exact, 1980, the year I was born and back then those words were followed by the name Doug Wickenheiser. This time around, things will go better.

The Habs have an obvious need at center after Danault bolted and Kotkaniemi was signed by Carolina, and it turns out that the best available player according to most people is in fact a center. Therefore, the Canadiens will proudly select from the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League, Shane Wright. The 18 years old was granted exceptional status and allowed to play in the OHL from the age of 16 and even though his development has bit somewhat impaired by the lack of action during the pandemic, there’s still plenty to like there. Wright has the ability to have an impact at both end of the ice and hopefully, in time, become an excellent 1-2 punch down the middle with Nick Suzuki.

2nd Overall, Logan Cooley, New Jersey Devils
Selected by Sam Woo

Assuming that he is available, the Devils should select Logan Cooley.

Why another center? I believe you should always draft best available, not based on needs. Cooley has committed to the University of Minnesota and had 27 goals and 48 assists in 51 games for the U-18 US National team. He is a two-way player and great in the faceoff circle. With a high hockey IQ and speed, the Devils will have a mini Jack Hughes that can be beneficial on special teams, both penalty kill and power play.

If Cooley is selected, the Devils will be the NHL’s elite down the middle for years to come with Hischier, Hughes and Cooley. And Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald knows all to well about having success with three solid centerman. Fitz and Ray Shero had that dynamic trio with the Pittsburgh Penguins when Crosby, Malkin, and Staal was wreaking havoc against their opponents every night. After all, aren’t the Devils supposed to be modeled like Pittsburgh during this forever rebuild?

Unless another team offers the moon for that second overall pick, draft Cooley now!

3rd Overall, Juraj Slafkovsky, Arizona Coyotes
Selected by Jacob Billington

Slafkovsky is the definition of a high-skill power forward. After leading the Slovakian Olympic hockey team to their first medal in the sport, Slafkovsky was the one to bring home the Olympic tournament MVP. This caused his stock to rise quite a bit. Slafkovsky, at 18, was able to be a powerhouse on many international teams this season.

With the selection of the 6’4 winger, the Coyotes will have their top line wingers drafted, and developing. Between Slafkovsky and Guenther being two extremely high skill players, it will be interesting if the Coyotes also try and move up in the draft with the Hurricanes or Avalanche picks they have, and also draft a high quality center. Regardless, Slafkovsky is going to be one of the types of players to bring fans’ attention into Arizona from across the league. He will make for a very special player, who could be challenging for the 1st overall selection.

4th Overall, Cutter Gauthier, Seattle Kraken
Selected by Sean Maloughney

Seattle needs proven goal scoring that much is obvious and while there might be some more "sure thing" prospects in this draft. I am taking a risk here by thinking the Kraken will draft power forward Cutter Gauthier. So what makes Gauthier so valuable in my mind? Putting up 19 goals and 28 points with the US National Development Team, no player on that team scored more. In addition to being a strong winger, Gauthier does have the flexibility to play center as well and has been trusted to do both as he is solid at all ends of the ice. Now when power forward comes to mind and someone talks skating you think "good skating for his size" but Gauthier is quite simply a good skater. He is an excellent transitional player who is tenacious on the puck at is always aggressive. That can get him into some penalty trouble but that type of intensity is something that is difficult to teach if a player doesn't already have it. While players like Logan Cooley might get more attention for

their overall skill level, Gautheir I believe already has a far more complete game under his belt. He is a versatile player who could jump into any lineup within a year and bring a mix of strong 5 on 5 player and defensive awareness

5th Overall, Simon Nemec, Philadelphia Flyers
Selected by Bill Meltzer

The Philadelphia Flyers have learned the hard way that strong drafting and strong development of prospects do not always go hand-in-hand. In 2018, the Flyers' system ranked 2nd leaguewide in the annual THN Future Watch issue. Philly ranked 1st in 2019, 8th in 2020, 17th in 2021 and then dropped to 27th in 2022. That wouldn't be huge deal if the depth and quality that was present in the system just a few years had translated as hoped to a long-term contender status at the NHL level. That has not been the case, and the current Flyers are both needy at the NHL and in need of an infusion of high-end talent in the farm system. The organization, both during the Ron Hextall/Chris Pryor and current Chuck Fletcher/Brent Flahr regimes, has been a believer in drafting the perceived best available player. The Flyers do not draft by positional need specifically in the first round. However, after a run of selected defensemen with their first picks of the 2013, 2014 and 2015 Drafts, the Flyers have selected a forward with their first picks of every recent Draft except 2019 (Cam York). This year, there are two highly regarded defensemen on the board. Based on how the first four picks have gone in this mock Draft, the Flyers can go one of two different ways and still land a projected top-three defenseman. The selection here is Simon Nemec, whose wheels and puck skills check the box of potential best-available talent and also meets a positional need.

6th Overall, David Jiricek, Columbus Blue Jackets
Selected by Zak MacMillan

The time has struck! Merci Montreal! And with the 6th overall draft selection, the Columbus Blue Jackets select... From HC Plan of Czechia... D David Jiricek. Jiricek is looking to be the most complete European defender in the draft. The right-hand shot is the up and coming Seth Jones replacement, that will be under Columbus control for 7 years. Jiricek had 11 points in 29 games (5 goals, 6 assists) with an even ranking and 49 penalty minutes in the season. In 26 games representing his country, both in the U-20 and global stages, he has had 13 points (3 goals, 10 assists). Jiricek gets games and minutes everywhere he goes, and having the opportunity to play with and against anyone, from boys to men. His 6 foot, 3 inch frame makes him an adult sized kid, given he is 18 and a half years of age. The Allan Walsh client has the potential to be a top pairing defenseman at his best, and a top 4 at his worst. Guaranteed NHL games is the key for this defender, and he is the best player available, and benefits the team now and in the long term.

7th Overall, Matthew Savoie, Ottawa Senators
Selected by Kevin Francis

Savoie possesses speed and skill while being able to play either RW or Center. He has a great wrist shot and during this past year in Winnipeg of the WHL, he played a prominent on the powerplay for the Ice. His skating and puck possession game makes him very dangerous off the rush and would slot in nicely down the road behind Drake Batherson for a great one-two punch at the RW position!

8th Overall, Joakim Kemell, Detroit Red Wings
Selected by Jacob Billington

Joakim Kemell will be a very solid addition to the top-6 of the Red Wings, bringing a very high-end shot to the lineup. Larkin and Bertuzzi are good for 30 goals each, year in and year out, and Raymond has proven himself to be a great goal-scorer as well, and Kemell would compliment this group perfect. With a one-two punch of Raymond and Kemell on the right side, scoring lots and lots of goals, that is a position the Wings won’t have to worry about for quite some time, especially if Zadina sticks around and develops into an elite top-6 player.

Kemell has some fantastic stick work to go along with the laser of a shot, but the physicality aspect is missing from his game. Kemell uses a lot of stick-checking, and while he has been pretty effective in doing so, it also gets you in trouble more often than a physical game. His foot-speed is good, but not great. He will have lots of opportunity to work on the strides, and it isn’t something glaring enough to scare away teams. There is a ton of talent within this player.

9th Overall, Frank Nazar, Buffalo Sabres
Selected by Jacob Billington

Frank Nazar, who is committed to the University of Michigan program this upcoming season, is an extremely creative prospect. His ability to play the game with great speed, and create opportunities out of nothing are two of the top qualities of Nazar. While his acceleration could use a little bit of tweaking, his speed around the ice is top-tier. Nazar puts his heart and soul on the ice, and it shows. He doesn’t take any shifts off in either end of the ice, and can be the perfect demonstration of calmness creating chances.

Spending some time at center, and some time at wing, I would expect Nazar to pan out as an NHL winger, which is an area Buffalo will be looking to improve on. With the Sabres youth movement taking over rapidly, they can use this pick to reach a little bit. To be clear, I don’t think of Nazar as a reach at 9th overall, but some have him closer to the 15th overall mark. If Nazar can translate his elite abilities to the NCAA and the NHL well, he has a ton of potential. At just 5’10, there will be some trouble adjusting, but with the skill and speed, it could also go as smooth as butter. Nazar is an extremely exciting prospect, and makes sure that everybody watching knows when he is on the ice. Registering over a point-per-game in every level of competition he has played in, the offense is certainly there, but the two-way game that he brings shouldn’t be shied away from either. Though he does lack some size, he can use his positioning and ability to read the ice, and make every play he needs to.

10th Overall, Conor Geekie, Anaheim Ducks
Selected by Jacob Billington

Conor Geekie is an offensively gifted center, who can play the physical game to compliment it well. Geekie was one of the best players under 18 years old in the WHL, and with his 6’4 frame, he is hard to miss on the ice. With such a big body, he does have some things to work on with his skating, but the offensive abilities that he displays without the speed really goes to show how gifted he truly is. I see a lot of Mark Scheifele in Geekie, and while Scheifele’s skating is much better, who’s to say that the speed doesn’t come for Geekie? The opportunities that Geekie creates on the rush makes the comparison a lot more understanding. Watching the magic develop makes watching the Winnipeg Ice a special time, even with other stars such as Carson Lambos and Matthew Savoie.

With some promising young centers, like Zegras, McTavish, and Lundestrom, some Ducks fans would not be as on-board with drafting another offense-first center, but Geekie makes the doubts go away with his play on the ice. With many player that can drive play, Geekie would be set up to be very successful in the Ducks organization. You can never have too many centers, especially when one can “wow!” you every time he is on the ice. At this point in the rebuild, the Ducks don’t need much to polish off the crop of youth, and you could make an argument against drafting any position, but this pick isn’t about that. Geekie is the best player available at this point. The confidence that the Winnipeg Ice forward brings with him makes you trust the pick.

11th Overall, Kevin Korchinski, San Jose Sharks
Selected by Jacob Billington

The San Jose Sharks, while in a very difficult spot, are being forced into a full-on rebuild. The back end has always been a strong suit for the Sharks, and with nearly $27m tied up in Karlsson, Burns and Vlasic, the Sharks need some youth on this defensive group, and I don’t think there is a better group to learn how to play in the NHL from than these three.

Korchinski has some world-class skating, and can make tons of room on the ice for himself on the rush and in the offensive zone, but when it comes to defending, that may put a hit in his draft stock. He is extremely confident with the puck, and is among some of the most creative defenseman we have seen. He sees the ice perfectly, and makes the magic happen. Again, the defending will be something he has to work on, but it will be hard for teams to keep passing on this talent at this point of the draft.

12th Overall, Brad Lambert, Columbus Blue Jackets
Selected by Zak MacMillan

The time has struck! And with the 12th overall draft selection, the Columbus Blue Jackets select... From JYP Pelicians of Liga... C Brad Lambert Lambert is there for the taking, and continues the need to select the best player available. Lambert can play both center and the wing, giving him the flexibility to play in needs and spaces some do not do. Lambert expands the offensive pool, and brings in additional Finnish chemistry throughout the roster. In 50 games in Liga, he had 11 points (4 goals, 7 assists) with 43 penalty minutes, while having 9 points in 11 international games (3 goals, 6 assists) with 27 penalty minutes. His discipline and time against adults are some faults early on, but his 6 foot height gives him size on the faceoff dot and will get him to play in corners and in front of the net. He is a steal at this spot, and will be top 6 forward in the league, top 9 at his worst.

13th Overall, Pavel Mintyukov, New York Islanders
Selected by Jacob Billington

Pavel Mintyukov is a very offensively aggressive defenseman. Similar to Mikhail Sergachev, both defenseman had come over from Russia to play in the OHL. Both excel in their offensive abilities, and can really take over a game. Mintyukov needs some development with the defensive aspect of the game, but with the recent departure of Barry Trotz, I believe the Islanders will be more focused on adding offense to their lineup, and with some great defensive role-models on the team, I think it could be a perfect fit.

The upside may be among the top among drafted defenseman this year, at least production wise. He has all of the tools to being his game all together and become a more complete player, but it is clear the offense comes first for Mintyukov. If he can develop some more positive defensive habits, his speed, vision, and IQ can certainly lead the way to a very successful NHL career.

I make the comparison to Sergachev, and while Sergachev has been the Lightning’s 3rd pairing LD for a while, we all know it is more about the depth the Lightning have along the left side, rather than Sergachev’s abilities. Both of these defenseman would make a great top four option on almost any lineup.

14th Overall, Jonathan Lekkerimaki, Winnipeg Jets
Selected by Jacob Billington

Jonathan Lekkerimaki is an elite goal scorer, making himself available at any spot on the ice. He can score with a slap-shot from the top of the circle, a tip-in in the front of the crease, or even dangle his way past the goaltender. There isn’t much that Lekkerimaki can’t do with the puck. The term pure goal-scorer usually indicates that the player is always a shot-first player, but that’s not the case here. While he hasn’t registered a ton of assists, he is more than capable of making the right pass to set up a play, and is often seen looking for the pass before the shot. Lekkerimaki’s offense is the biggest highlight of his play, but his skating and puck handling abilities are nothing to shy away from. He is an elite offensive player.

On the defensive side, he still has a lot to work on. At just 5’11”, he isn’t very physical, either. These are some things that he can develop in his game, as everything else seems to be nearly NHL ready. Obviously, you can’t teach size, but you can teach a player how to be effective without the size. Lekkerimaki looks like a genius on the ice, so I am sure he can figure these things out. None-the-less, there is no doubt in my mind that Lekkerimaki will be a high-end goal scoring winger in the NHL.

15th Overall, Danila Yurov, Vancouver Canucks
Selected by Jacob Billington

Danila Yurov is a very interesting prospect to rank here. With the giant question revolving around whether Russians will be selected where they belong, or maybe slide a bit, we will have to wait and see. Yurov has some great skills, that seem to be able to translate easily to the NHL, including his ability to read the ice and make the proper plays. He has a lot of offensive upside, though he needs to work on managing his shot, which includes knowing when to take the right shot, and improve his shot in general. He is a very physical playmaker, which is something the league doesn’t see much of. At 6’1”, he isn’t giant, but he plays like he is, while also showcasing some great skating talents.

There is certainly a case for Yurov to go much higher in the draft, but as mentioned above, there are quite a few question marks for this. In a weird situation this past season, where Yurov was too good for the MHL Junior league in Russia, but only given limited minutes on the 4th line in the KHL, he didn’t have a ton of opportunity to showcase himself and his talents. Though his KHL statline of 0 points in 23 games looks a bit weary for a player drafted this high, that should not be an indication of his skills. He was given next to no ice time.

16th Overall, Marco Kasper, Buffalo Sabres
Selected by Jacob Billington

Marco Kasper will look to be just the 4th Austrian player to be selected in the first round, joining Rossi, Vanek, and Grabner. Kasper is a very good 200-foot player, with some very attractive bright-spots in his game. He has elite skating, and can really make an impact on the ice, seeming to want to be the guy to get the puck first in every battle. He is a very aggressive player, outside of the lack of physicality. He can make plays out of nothing, and can give his team the chance to generate offense. When he doesn’t have the puck, he is just as tenacious, always trying to be the one to win the battles, giving him some very high praise entering the draft.

On the offensive side, again, he is great at developing plays starting from nothing, but doesn’t show the finish that some teams may be looking for. His shot and stick-handling can use some development, but those are some things that can be learned quite well, and he can have some great mentors in the Buffalo organization. Kasper is one of the wild cards in the draft, where I could see him going closer to 10 than this, or even falling back to the end of the first round. I think that taking a flyer on Kasper at 16 will turn out to be a very valuable pick for the team. The easy comparable is Marco Rossi, but it is also a pretty accurate one.

That concludes the top-16 draft picks. Thank you all for coming to check this out, and to all of the writers who contributed. Let us all know your thoughts down below, and have a great evening!
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