2022 NHL Draft Preview, Part 2

2022 NHL Draft
Stephen Gassman photo Matt Savoie is now playing in the USHL for the Dubuque Fighting Saints

The 2022 NHL Draft promises to be a deep one. There is a ton of talent at the top of the draft, especially at key positions like defense and center. Let’s continue our early look at some of the top draft-eligible prospects (you can find part 1 here). The following players are presented in no particular order. Analysis is based on several different scouting reports, as well as limited video study on each player.

Matthew Savoie

Position: Center, 5’10”, 181 lbs. Team: Winnipeg Ice, WHL. Shoots: Right

Savoie, the top pick in the WHL Bantam Draft from 2019, was forced to bounce leagues in 2020-21. While waiting for the WHL to start play, Savoie started play in the Alberta Junior league. He put up 6 points in just 4 games before transitioning to the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL for the rest of the season. As a 16/17 year old, Savoie took the top junior league in the United States by storm, tallying 38 points in 34 games. Savoie will be playing his draft year back in the WHL.

Savoie is an electric player to watch. With the puck on his stick, Savoie has the skill to dangle around defenders, or the speed to blow by them outright. He has penomenal vision, which leads to him setting up teammates in creative ways (especially on the power play). His shot is quick and accurate, and he can get it off in tight spaces as well as off the rush at top speed. Savoie has the skill and vision to produce at the NHL level one day, but his size may work against him. Matthew Savoie will be a top pick in the 2022 NHL Draft.

Juraj Slafkovsky

Position: Left Wing, 6’4”, 225 lbs Team: TPS, Liiga (Finland). Shoots: Left

The Slovakian-born Juraj Slafkovsky has spent the past few seasons playing in Finland for the storied TPS program. He spent last season playing in the U20 SM-sarja, putting up 13 points in 16 games. Slafkovsky also represented Slovakia on the International stage, playing in both the World Juniors and World Championship tournaments. Though he didn’t record a point in either event, Slafkovsky did not look out of place. Slafkovsky projects to move up to TPS’s top club in La Liiga (the top pro league in Finland).

The first attribute that jumps out for Slafkovsky is his size. At 6’4” and a filled-out 225 pounds, he is an absolute problem for opposing defenders in front of the net. Slafkovsky also has outstandingly soft hands, and not just for his size. He is able to pull off creative dangles to get around defenders of the rush, as well as make space down low to either set up a teammate or bury a goal from in close. To go with these hands, Slafkovsky has impressive vision that allows him to make plays while defenders are busy trying to find a way to handle his large frame. Slafkovsky skates well for his size, though I would not classify it as stand-out. He does not use his shot much since he spends so much time in close or setting up plays, but it appears to be deceptively fast and accurate.

Danila Yurov

Position: Right Wing, 6’1”, 172 lbs. Team: Metallurg Magnitogorsk, KHL (Russia). Shoots: Left

Danila Yurov absolutely oozes skill. He spent the majority of last season tearing up the MHL (the Russian junior league), putting up 25 points in 23 games. This led to a call-up with the big club in the KHL, where he got into 21 games. Though he only managed a goal and an assist with the pros, his talent allowed him to be an offensive threat without the huge point production. On the International stage, Yurov represented Russia at the World U18 tournament. He was a top scorer for a Russian team that took home silver, tallying 11 points in 7 games.

Oh baby, is this kid fun to watch. Yurov has an absolute cannon of a shot that terrorizes goaltenders off the rush, as well as being lethal as a one-timer. Yurov is also blessed with slick hands that can beat defenders one-on-one, making them look silly in the process. He’s a creative play-maker as well, finding passing lanes that most players would never detect. Though his skating isn’t exactly top-end, he has speed enough to get where he needs to against all levels of competition. All told, think of a faster Elias Pettersson. That’s the potential Danila Yurov has.

Logan Cooley

Position: Center, 5’10”, 174 lbs. Team: US National Team Development Program, USHL Shoots: Left

Logan Cooley is one of, if not the, top prospect from the US National Team Development Program. He boasts speed to drive play, as well as the edgework to lose defenders once in the offensive zone. Cooley has top-notch hands that allow him to make creative plays, whether it be setting up a teammate or walking two defenders before shelf-ing the puck from in tight. To top it all off, Cooley has the coveted ability to make these creative plays at top speed. This skill set will make Cooley a top pick in the 2022 NHL Draft.

Cooley split time last season between the U17 and U18 U.S. teams, both of which play in the USHL. He was able to put up 28 points in 27 games, good for third in team scoring. Cooley will play another season with the USNTDP before heading to Notre Dame in 2022-23 (assuming he doesn’t make an NHL roster).

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