The doldrums of summer are drawing to a close. NHL rookie camps are happening, main training camps will be happening soon, and we have pre-season games starting September 25th. Championship Sports Media is rolling out it’s slate of team previews and more NHL coverage (which you can check out here). What better time to take an early look at some of the top prospects eligible for the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. The NHL is expecting to hold the draft June 24-25 in Montreal, Quebec. This is the first of three articles looking at the top 2022 Draft prospects.
These are just a small sampling of early analysis I’ve put together using various scouting reports, as well as video study of each player. This list of players is not in any particular order.
Position: Center, 6’1”, 187 lbs. Current Team: Kingston Frontenacs (OHL) Shoots: Right
Meet the projected top pick in the 2022 NHL Draft: Shane Wright. This is the fifth player in history to be granted exceptional status for the OHL in 2019 (drafted as a 15 year old instead of the normally required 16 years old). Wright lit up the league with 66 points in 55 games. For context, Connor McDavid (the last player to be granted exceptional status in the OHL) put up the same amount of points his first year in the “O”… but needed 5 more games to do so! Though Wright did not play for most of the 2020-21 season due to the OHL being shut down, he captained Team Canada at the U18 Worlds to a gold medal. He finished second in points for the tournament with 14 points in 9 games, including 3 points in the final game against Russia.
Though talent-wise he isn’t quite on the same level as McDavid (none are), Wright still boasts high-end skill. Watching film, the first thing that pops is the shot. It is hard, heavy, and deadly accurate. Wright’s hockey IQ is off the charts as well, able to make difficult plays look routine. Though I would not classify him as a burner, Wright definitely possesses top-end skating that makes him stand out. Shane Wright will play in the NHL in 2022-23, and be a franchise cornerstone wherever he is picked.
Position: Left Wing, 6’1’, 185 lbs. Current Team: Omskie Krylia, VHL (Russia) Shoots: Right
Ivan Miroshnichenko is being billed by some as the next Alexander Ovechkin, and after watching the tape those comps appear to be accurate. Miroshnichenko possesses explosive skating and a deadly shot, making him a scoring threat from anywhere on the ice. While not the absolute physical force that Ovechkin was, Miroshnichenko does not shy away from contact. He has also shown the ability to create plays at a high level, making difficult seam passes.
After spending the 2020-21 season playing in the MHL (the Russian junior league), Miroshnichenko is moving up to Russia’s second-highest pro level for 2021-22, the VHL. This will give Miroshnichenko a chance to compete against men, which will be good for his development.
Position: Center/ Right Wing, 6’1”, 179 lbs. Current Team: JYP, Liiga (Finland) Shoots: Right
Brad Lambert has spent the majority of the past two seasons playing in the SM-Liiga, Finland’s top professional league. He has had decent success as a young teenager playing against men, putting up 17 points in 50 games for a middling JYP club. He also has been a fixture on the International stage, showing well as an under-ager at the World Juniors. Lambert totaled 4 points in 7 games for a Finland squad that ended up taking home a bronze medal.
The first thing that pops out when watching tape on Lambert is the skill. This kid has ridiculous hands, and uses them to distribute the puck at a high level. While he shows primarily as a playmaker, his heavy accurate shot is nothing to sneeze at. He’s able to get his shot off in a hurry and put it wherever he wants it. Lambert is also blessed with high-end speed, which he uses pretty regularly to beat defenders wide on the big International ice. He’s also able to make plays and distribute the puck at top speed, which makes Lambert one of my favorite types of players to watch.
Position: Defense, 6’1”, 192 lbs. Current Team: HK Nitra, Slovak Extraliga (Slovakia) Shoots: Right
Simon Nemec projects as one of the top defenseman eligible for the 2022 NHL Draft. He has all the tools that one would want from a modern defenseman. He is a smooth, solid skater that can skate the puck out of trouble in his own end. Nemec also has a keen offensive hockey sense that sees him make terrific passes out of his own end, as well as smart passes in the offensive zone. He appears to manipulate the opposing D with his movement on the blueline to open up passing lanes, which he then hits with ease. While not overly physical, his skating and hockey sense allow him to play great defense through positioning and reading plays.
Nemec has spent the past couple seasons playing against men in the Slovak Exrtaliga, Slovakia’s top professional league. He has been putting up fantastic numbers, especially for a teenage defender. His 19 points in 37 games this past season put him in the top 20 point-getters for defensemen. Nemec has also performed at a high level on the International stage for Slovakia. He played big minutes at both the World Juniors and the World Championship.
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