The countdown to the 2022 NHL Draft has officially begun.
With most rookie leagues across North America underway, the season of renewal is officially upon us. Diehards will be treated to plenty of storylines over the next nine months – and there’s certainly no shortage of them. Just like there is no shortage of talent in the 2022 NHL Draft class.
FCHockey breaks down the 10 predictions you’ll want to keep tabs on throughout the season (in alphabetical order).
10 drafts eligible to watch in 2021-22
Connor Jeke, C, Winnipeg (WHL)
Geekie, a 6-4 player, split his time between the Virden Oil Capitals of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) and Winnipeg. During his nine matches with Oil Capitals, he scored four points (one goal, three assists). A return to play protocol was announced by the WHL in April of 2021, which prompted him to return to Ice. Geekie finished the season with 23 points (nine goals, 14 assists) in 24 games despite the season being shortened. He hails from a hockey dynasty as well, with his father Craig playing three seasons in the Western Hockey League in the 1990s, and his brother Morgan currently with the Seattle Kraken.
“Geekie is a powerhouse with an attacking inclination who has harnessed a combination of size and skill to make a difference in this match against Regina from start to finish,” said Brandon Holmes, FCHockey crossover scout.
Joachim Kimmel, right winger, JYP (League)
Kemell spent most of his draft minus-1 season in the JYP Under-20 Program, putting in 36 points (22 goals, 14 assists) in 38 games. He even got a one-match call-up to play for Liiga, and scored in that appearance. Already on the scouts’ radar well before the 2021-22 scouting season, Kemell continued to impress at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, always trying to achieve something with the puck. He already has one of the best picks in this draft category already and isn’t afraid to use it. He has the attributes of a versatile goalscorer who can score in many ways.
“Using his speed, he’s able to grab defenders with flat feet and cut through the middle of the ice for shot attempts in the high-risk area,” noted Curtis Schwarzkopf, FCHockey crossover scout. “Kemell also has a very soft hand and can fine-tune his passes, often using a bowler lane to open up an already drawn-out passing lane.”
Brad Lambert, Jim, JYP (League)
Lambert has been ranked the top pick in the 2022 draft for a few years, and his dynamic offensive ability continues to keep him in that conversation. Last year, Lambert played a full season in La Liga for JYP Agency and collected 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in 46 matches. He also represented Finland at the 2021 IIHF World Under-18 Championship last spring and the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship. In the latter, he showed his advanced offensive skills as one of the youngest players for Finland in the Winter Championship.
“He has good hands in a cramp and uses his sharpening actions to create space for others,” said Scout Matt Sheridan of FCHockey. “In transition, he’s able to pick up speed using crossovers and isn’t afraid to attack trails as he heads toward the ice.”
Rutger McGarraty, CI, United States- NTDP (USHL)
McGroarty is a huge center with dynamic attacking skills. In the 2019-20 season, McGroarty played 63 games for the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies 15U and finished with a total of 160 points (82 goals and 78 assists). He spent the 2020-21 season playing for the USA Under-18 and 17-team teams and appeared in the WJC-18 Championship. In his 30 USHL games, McGroarty finished with 12 goals and seven assists.
“He does a good job of finding open ice in the box to present himself as a passing option and always fights hard for position in front of the net,” Sheridan said. “He has good vision and is able to hit his teammates in the hole with a solid, crisp pass, even under pressure.”
Ivan Miroshchenko, LW, OMSKIE Krylia (VHL)
Regularly at the international level in recent years for Russia, Miroshnichenko expects to be among the top scorers and pure shooting threats available in the 2022 NHL Draft class. He became a star of the 2004 Russians’ international class, having been captain of the gold-medal teams at both the Youth Olympics and the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in recent years, while also a member of Russia’s silver medal squad in the Under-18s.
In his first season in the MHL, Miroshnichenko became a reliable contributor to Omsky Yastrebe with 15 points (five goals, 10 assists) in 20 games, earning him a promotion to Avangard’s VHL club to start the 2021-22 campaign.
“His shot is NHL ready, he generates a lot of power behind his shot and has quick firing and specific accuracy that will beat goalkeepers from anywhere,” said FCHockey’s Austin Broad. “If you give him an open space in the attack area, he will make you pay.”
Simon Nemec, D, H.K. Nitra (Slovakia)
Nemec spent the 2020-21 season playing for HK Nitra where he scored 19 points (2 goals and 17 assists) in 37 games. He went on to represent Slovakia at the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships, recording four assists in five matches as a crucial key to Slovakia’s career. He was captain in this past year’s Hlinka Gretzky Cup, leading the Slovaks to the silver medal and making six points (one goal and five assists) in five matches. Nemec was selected as the best player of the tournament.
“Nimec is a very talented and effective two-way defensive man on both ends of the ice,” said FCHockey Explorer Douglas Larson. “All aspects of his defensive game are exceptional, especially when looking at his quick defense. Nemec isn’t afraid to shoot the disc when he sees a hole, and when he does, he’s been low because he’s been shooting for tip or recoil. Making his decision needs some work, because I often I saw him make a quick decision that wasn’t the best decision often.
Matthew Savoy, C, Winnipeg (WHL)
With the uncertainty surrounding last year’s WHL season, Savoy played four games with the Sherwood Park Crusaders of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) scoring six points (three goals and three assists). After that short stint, Savoy found himself south of the border playing for the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the United Hockey League (USHL). He scored 38 points (21 goals, 17 assists) in 34 games with the Fighting Saints and was named to the USHL All-Rookie team, but he’s returned to the WHL this season and is expected to be a top Ice striker alongside Geekie.
“He’s a chameleon on the offensive, in one shift he’s an elite playmaker who finds teammates easily, and the next time he’s a strong striker using his body to skid bulldozers through defenders and cut through the net,” Broad said. A dimensional attacking threat that adapts and changes its attack method every time it touches the disc. “
Juraj Slafkovsky, C, Turku TPS (League)
Last season, Slafkovsky starred for TPS in the U20 SM-sarja League and scored 13 points (eight goals and five assists) in 16 matches. Last winter, he represented Slovakia at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship at the age of 16. He was also part of the silver medal-winning Hlinka Gretzky Cup team, scoring nine points (three goals, six assists) in five matches. Slafkovsky is sure to be a lock on the World Juniors roster again, and a solid performance there along with a show at Liiga, makes him an interesting choice.
“Slavkovsky is a great striker who can shoot and has great puck skills,” FCHockey scout Mirolsav Simurka described. “Because of his size, it might be a bit surprising that Slafkovsky possesses one of the softest pairs of hands in this recruiting class. He is extremely powerful with the lunging puck, controls the puck at full speed, attracts defenders and creates passing lanes for his teammates.
“He stands out as a top-six winger with elite playmaking and passing skills, but he can also shoot the ball really fast for his age. Slafkovsky is in the top 10 if not in the top five at the moment.”
Shane Wright, C, Kingston (OHL)
Welcome to the age of Wright. Having started his junior hockey career with a big hit, scoring 39 goals in 58 games in his first season at Kingston, Canada’s next major star will see the entire hockey world enter his draft year. His 1.14 points-per-game aggregate as an exceptional player in the OHL is bested only by John Tavares – who has arguably played on a better team.
“He’s a player that could potentially change the franchise,” Sheridan said. “He has an elite bullet. He is able to get it out of his stick quickly and can shoot with his feet and a stride. He has excellent situational awareness on both ends of the ice: he constantly disrupts traffic lanes with his stick and always keeps himself open in the attack area.”
Danila Yurov, RW, Metallurg (KHL)
If you joined the 2021 IIHF World Under-18 Championships last spring, it would be hard not to notice the play of Yurov, a competitive and skilled dual-threat winger who has become one of the best young skiers in Russia.
He led all U-18 skaters in scoring in the MHL Championship during the 2020-21 season for Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk, scoring 25 points (13 goals, 12 assists) in 23 games, which in turn earned him time in a limited KHL role for Metallurg . In the Under-18s, Yurov shone through the night, taking third place over Russia with 11 points (four goals and seven assists) in seven games en route to the silverware finish.
“Yurov is a highly competitive, two-way forward game with exceptional awareness at both ends, and the ability to propel the attack,” said Josh Bell, Head of Crossover at FCHockey. “His intelligence on the ice is very strong. From his position at both ends to his readings of passes, this ability to take advantage of mistakes stands out a lot.”