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Shane Wright of the KIngston Frontenacs. Photo by Robert Lefebvre/OHL Images.

Wow, was it ever great to have a somewhat normal scouting season again after the last two pandemic filled years. The Canadian Hockey League (OHL, QMJHL, WHL) played out a full season again and are in the midst of their Championship series’. The Swedish Junior leagues also returned to a full slate. The Under 18’s were exciting, with Sweden upsetting the gold medal favourites from the United States. Sure, we didn’t get a World Junior A Challenge and Canada didn’t participate in the Hlinka/Gretzky at the start of the year, but overall, the 2021/22 scouting season was significantly easier.

The only real challenge is the ranking of Russian/Belarussian players due to the sanctions lobbied against those countries for their unjust military campaign on the Ukraine. They did not play at the U18’s. They will not be allowed to enter the CHL Import Draft next year. Acquiring VISA’s may be difficult for them in North America next year, should they sign pro deals. And that’s without mentioning the ever-complicated KHL/NHL relationship that always muddles draft prognostication. Bottom line, where these players go in the NHL draft this year is the true wild card. Rather than try to predict that, we have ranked said players based on their talent level and where we believe they should go. Having had conversations with scouts, the sense is that the numerous circumstances surrounding them will lead them to drop.

As for our final list itself, Kingston Frontenacs center Shane Wright remains on top. Admittedly, it was closer than it was to start the year, with Logan Cooley and Juraj Slavkovsky really pressing him, but we ultimately felt that his combination of a high ceiling, and safe floor, in addition to his position (a true center), made him the most valuable player available. In our draft guide, we will go in depth on some concerns over his play down the stretch but know that Wright remains our number one heading into the 2022 NHL Draft.

Rounding out the top three are the aforementioned Cooley and Slafkovsky. Cooley slots slightly ahead due to his pace, skill, and ability to play down the middle. Whereas Slafkovsky’s strong international resume to close out the year pushes him up to three from number seven in our midseason list. Both of these players project to be impact players in the NHL…and quickly. It would not shock us if both were in the NHL for 2023/24.

At four and five we have everyone’s favourite debate; Simon Nemec vs. David Jiricek. We like Nemec’s processing ability slightly better and believe that he has more offensive upside than people give him credit for. Whereas Jiricek probably has a higher overall ceiling, but also a lower floor. Both defenders would be terrific selections for any NHL team this year and should develop into potential top pairing anchors.

Concluding the top ten are a slew of potentially dynamic offensive forwards; Matthew Savoie, Joakim Kemell, Brad Lambert, Jonathan Lekkerimaki, and Danila Yurov. All five come with some inherent risk; be it size concerns, production concerns, or contract concerns, but they each represent the opportunity for an NHL team to select a first line play driver.

When we look at the differences between our midseason list (released in January) and our final rankings, there were many players who climbed and many who fell. Let’s take a look at the five biggest risers and the five biggest fallers:

The Risers

  1. Kevin Korchinski (from 46th to 18th)
  2. Jonathan Lekkerimaki (from 21st to 9th)
  3. Noah Warren (from 98th to 38th)
  4. Lane Hutson (from 63rd to 40th)
  5. Ryan Chesley (from 55th to 34th)

Bonus- Adam Sykora (from HM-Outside the Top 100 to 48th)

The Fallers

  1. Seamus Casey (from 17th to 39th)
  2. Ty Nelson (from 24th to 46th)
  3. Simon Forsmark (from 27th to 68th)
  4. Ludwig Persson (from 42nd to 88th)
  5. Jorian Donovan (from 95th to 194th)

McKeen's Subcribers can access the full 224 player list with Honourable mentions HERE - link through to the player profile. As the draft in Montreal draws nearer, be sure to pick up our 2022 NHL Draft Guide, which will include many feature pieces, write ups on all players ranked (and HM’s), an early 2023 ranking, and much more. This guide should be available in the next week or so. You can go here to subscribe.

1 Shane Wright C 6-0/190 5-Jan-04 Canada Kingston (OHL) 63-32-62-94
2 Logan Cooley C 5-10/175 4-May-04 USA USN U18 (USDP) 51-27-48-75
3 Juraj Slafkovsky LW 6-4/220 30-Mar-04 Slovakia TPS (Fin-Liiga) 31-5-5-10
4 Simon Nemec D 6-0/190 15-Feb-04 Slovakia HK Nitra (Svk) 39-1-25-26
5 David Jiricek D 6-3/190 28-Nov-03 Czech HC Plzen (Cze) 29-5-6-11
6 Matthew Savoie C 5-9/180 1-Jan-04 Canada Winnipeg (WHL) 65-35-55-90
7 Joakim Kemell RW 5-11/175 27-Apr-04 Finland JYP (Fin-Liiga) 39-15-8-23
8 Brad Lambert C 6-0/180 19-Dec-03 Finland JYP-Pelicans (Fin-Liiga) 49-4-6-10
9 Jonathan Lekkerimaki RW 5-11/170 24-Jul-04 Sweden Djurgardens (SHL) 26-7-2-9
10 Danila Yurov RW 6-1/175 22-Dec-03 Russia Stalnye Lisy (MHL) 23-13-23-36
11 Pavel Mintyukov D 6-1/195 25-Nov-03 Russia Saginaw (OHL) 67-17-45-62
12 Frank Nazar C 5-10/175 14-Jan-04 USA USN U18 (USDP) 56-28-42-70
13 Cutter Gauthier LW 6-2/190 19-Jan-04 USA USN U18 (USDP) 54-34-31-65
14 Conor Geekie C 6-3/195 5-May-04 Canada Winnipeg (WHL) 63-24-46-70
15 Jiri Kulich C 6-0/175 14-Apr-04 Czech Karlovy Vary (Cze) 49-9-5-14
16 Filip Mesar C 5-10/165 3-Jan-04 Slovakia HK Poprad (Svk) 37-8-8-16
17 Denton Mateychuk D 5-11/190 12-Jul-04 Canada Moose Jaw (WHL) 65-13-51-64
18 Kevin Korchinski D 6-2/185 21-Jun-04 Canada Seattle (WHL) 67-4-61-65
19 Ivan Miroshnichenko LW 6-1/185 4-Feb-04 Russia Omskie Krylya (VHL) 31-10-6-16
20 Jagger Firkus RW 5-10/155 29-Apr-04 Canada Moose Jaw (WHL) 66-36-44-80
21 Liam Ohgren LW 6-0/185 28-Jan-04 Sweden Djurgardens (Swe J20) 30-33-25-58
22 Noah Ostlund C 5-11/165 11-Mar-04 Sweden Djurgardens (Swe J20) 32-9-33-42
23 Isaac Howard LW 5-10/185 30-Mar-04 USA USN U18 (USDP) 60-33-49-82
24 Marco Kasper C 6-1/185 8-Apr-04 Austria Rogle (SHL) 46-7-4-11
25 Alexander Perevalov LW 6-0/190 16-Apr-04 Russia Loko (MHL) 44-25-26-51
26 Gleb Trikozov LW 6-1/185 12-Aug-04 Russia Omskie Yastreby (MHL) 35-23-22-45
27 David Goyette C 5-10/170 27-Mar-04 Canada Sudbury (OHL) 66-33-40-73
28 Sam Rinzel D 6-4/180 25-Jun-04 USA Chaska (USHS-MN) 27-9-29-38
29 Tristan Luneau D 6-1/190 12-Jan-04 Canada Gatineau (QMJHL) 63-12-31-43
30 Calle Odelius D 5-11/185 30-May-04 Sweden Djurgardens (Swe J20) 43-7-23-30
31 Jimmy Snuggerud RW 6-1/185 1-Jun-04 USA USN U18 (USDP) 59-24-39-63
32 Vladimir Grudinin D 5-10/160 9-Dec-03 Russia Krasnaya Armiya (MHL) 18-2-11-13