2022 NHL Draft Grades: Grading Every First-Round Pick
2022 NHL DRAFT GRADES: GRADING EVERY FIRST-ROUND PICK
Naturally, the 2022 NHL Draft saw the betting favorite drop outside the top three draft picks in an unpredictable fashion. Jubilation and frustration were both palpable from Montréal Canadiens fans throughout the venue. The entire first round was flipped upside down with Montréal's decision, so let's analyze and review the results of an exhilarating and unforgettable night.
1. MONTREAL CANADIENS: JURAJ SLAFKOVSKY, LW TPS (FIN) - GRADE: A
Montreal pivoted off of betting favorite center Shane Wright in favor of Juraj Slafkovsky out of Slovakia. He's a massive 6-4, 230-pound winger who possesses elite puck handling and vision to be an immediate contributor on the Canadiens' top-three attack lines. Slafkovsky will need to leverage his size better to win battles along the boards in 2023.
2. NEW JERSEY DEVILS: SIMON NEMEC, D, NITRA (SVK) - GRADE: A+
The Devils were expected to draft Slafkovsky to bolster their top two attack lines, so they pivoted to address their lackluster defense. Simon Nemec is another Slovakian prospect who can utilize speed and skating to make himself a complete two-way player. He finished 2022 with 17 points in 19 games for Nitra and will be an excellent addition alongside Damon Severson, Dougie Hamilton, and Ryan Graves.
3. ARIZONA COYOTES: LOGAN COOLEY, C, US U-18 (NTDP) - GRADE: A-
The Coyotes have a ton of draft capital and used their first selection on the North American center, Logan Cooley. Cooley has no glaring weaknesses, and despite his more diminutive stature (5-10, 174 pounds), Arizona will quickly see a surge in their offense due to his high-caliber motor, handles, and speed on the ice.
4. SEATTLE KRAKEN: SHANE WRIGHT, C, KINGSTON (OHL) - GRADE: A+
The Kraken have 12 draft picks and were delighted to see the former top prospect, Shane Wright, fall into their lap as the fourth overall selection in the 2022 NHL Draft. He's a well-rounded center with good size (6-0, 199 pounds) and scored 32 goals or more in each of his two seasons with Kingston in the OHL. A massive addition to Seattle's anemic offense.
5. PHILADELPHIA FLYERS: CUTTER GAUTHIER, LW, US U-18 (NTDP) - GRADE: A-
Cutter Gauthier fits well in Philadelphia's rebuild under new head coach John Tortorella. The 6-2, 200-pound winger is a versatile winger who can also play minutes at center, using his strong shot and skating to position himself for frequent scoring opportunities within the offensive zone.
6. COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS: DAVID JIRICEK, D, PLZN (CZREP) - GRADE: A-
As predicted, the Columbus Blue Jackets opted to address their porous defense from 2022 and selected David Jiricek out of the Czech Republic. He offers speed and physicality at 6-3, 189-pounds and looked very good transitioning to the professional level overseas last season, finishing with five goals and six assists in 29 games.
7. OTTAWA SENATORS: KEVIN KORCHINSKI, D, SEATTLE (WHL) - GRADE: B+
The Senators only had one defenseman finish with at least 30 assists in 2022, so they selected Kevin Korchinski to replenish their number of scoring opportunities in 2023. Korchinski is a 6-2, 185-pound defenseman who racked up 61 assists for Seattle in the WHL last season.
8. DETROIT RED WINGS: MARCO KASPER, C, ROGLE (SWE) - GRADE: B+
Marco Kasper adds youth to the center position in Detroit. The 18-year-old Austrian played well for Rogle in Sweden's junior and professional leagues, finishing 2022 with seven goals and four assists in 46 games. Kasper has a powerful shot and has the speed and puck handling that made the Red Wings pounce on him with the eighth overall pick in the draft.
9. BUFFALO SABRES: MATTHEW SAVOIE, C, WINNIPEG (WHL) - GRADE: B
Buffalo needed to address their center position after trading Jack Eichel mid-season, so they selected Matthew Savoie out of the WHL. He's a smaller center at 5-9, 170 pounds; however, Savoie finished 2022 with 90 points, including 35 goals, for Winnipeg. He'll be earning 15-plus minutes on the Sabres' top attack lines in 2023.
10. ANAHEIM DUCKS: PAVEL MINTYUKOV, D, SAGINAW (OHL) - GRADE: B+
Pavel Mintyukov is an imposing two-way defender with scoring ability and size, finishing 2022 with 17 goals and 45 assists for Saginaw in the OHL. The Ducks' top defensemen, Cam Fowler and Kevin Shattenkirk, are both 30 years old, so drafting youthful talent to pair alongside Jamie Drysdale is a wise decision.
11. ARIZONA COYOTES: CONOR GEEKIE, C, WINNIPEG (WHL) - GRADE: A-
The first trade of the draft resulted in Arizona moving up from 27th to 11th, swapping picks with San Jose to acquire center Conor Geekie. The Coyotes add two high-caliber centers, with Geekie generating elite scoring in the WHL, finishing 2022 with 24 goals and 46 assists. Expect Arizona's offense to be notably better in 2023.
12. COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS: DENTON MATEYCHUK, D, MOOSE JAW (WHL) - GRADE: B+
The Blue Jackets aren't satisfied with only one defensive prospect, so they opted to draft another quality two-way defender out of the WHL. Denton Mateychuk scored 13 goals and 51 assists for Moose Jaw last season, using his sturdy frame (5-10, 194 pounds) to bully opponents off the puck and set up transition offense.
13. CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS: FRANK NAZAR, C, US U-18 (NTDP) - GRADE: A-
Frank Nazar is not the most physical player but his energy and motor counter his lack of size. Chicago drafts the talented center out of the US U-18 National Team Development Program (NTDP) for their future, as Nazar has committed to the University of Michigan in 2023. He scored 28 goals, added another 42 assists during his most recent season, and will diversify the scoring assets within the Blackhawks' depth chart.
14. WINNIPEG JETS: RUTGER MCGROARTY, RW, US U-18 (NTDP) - GRADE: B+
The Jets get the future center of their franchise by selecting Rutger McGroarty out of the US U-18 NTDP. The left-handed winger scored an impressive 35 goals, added another 34 assists in 54 games in 2022, and will be a good depth piece behind Pierre-Luc Dubois and Nikolaj Ehlers if they remain on the roster in 2024.
15. VANCOUVER CANUCKS: JONATHAN LEKKERIMAKI, RW, DJURGARDEN (SWE) - GRADE: B
Jonathan Lekkerimaki was a top-ten prospect out of the 2022 European draft class and went to Vancouver. The undersized winger stands at 5-10, 174-pounds but transitioned well from Sweden's junior league to the professional level in 2022, scoring seven goals in 26 games.
16. BUFFALO SABRES: NOAH OSTLUND, C, DJURGARDEN JR. (SWE) - GRADE: B-
Buffalo adds Swedish center Noah Ostlund, alongside Matthew Savoie in their first-round draft class. Ostlund weighs 164 pounds, but he's another player without any red flags who leaped Sweden's junior league into their professional league in 2022, albeit with little production.
17. NASHVILLE PREDATORS: JOAKIM KEMELL, RW, JYP (FIN) - GRADE: B
I expected Anaheim to pounce on Joakim Kemell, but he slides to Nashville with the 17th overall selection. The Predators gain a Finnish winger with a powerful shot and a good blend of speed and dangles to become a contributor on their lower attack lines in 2023.
18. DALLAS STARS: LIAN BICHSEL, D, LEKSAND (SWE) - GRADE: A
The Stars needed to address their defense to stay on track and select Lian Bischel out of Sweden. He's a 6-6, 225-pound enforcer with mobility due to his size and reach in the defensive zone. Expect Dallas to quickly scheme Bischel into one of their top-three defensive pairings in 2023.
19. MINNESOTA WILD: LIAM OHGREN, LW, DJURGARDEN JR. (SWE) - GRADE: B
Liam Ohgren flies off the board to Minnesota, adding scoring depth to a top-heavy roster. The 6-1, 200-pound left-handed winger finished with 33 goals and 25 assists in 30 games in Sweden's junior league in 2022 while struggling a bit with his transition into their professional league. The Wild have enough scoring talent on their current roster to invest in a development project like Ohgren.
20. WASHINGTON CAPITALS: IVAN MIROSHNICHENKO, LW, OMSK (RUS-2) - GRADE: B-
The Capitals select Ivan Miroshnichenko out of Russia, adding a winger with a high-caliber shot and solid size at 6-1, 185 pounds. Washington made a bit of a calculated risk, as Miroschnichenko was recently diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma and projected to be a slider into the second round. If he can stay healthy and available in 2023, Washington could reward Miroshnichenko with significant minutes on their third-line attack.
21. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS: OWEN PICKERING, D, SWIFT CURRENT (WHL) - GRADE: B+
Pittsburgh has a lot of aging star players, so the Penguins opt to draft defenseman Owen Pickering. He's a 6-4, 180-pound prospect who finished his second season in the WHL with nine goals and 24 assists.
22. ANAHEIM DUCKS: NATHAN GAUCHER, C, QUEBEC (QMJHL) - GRADE: B-
Nathan Gaucher may seem like a surprising selection for the Ducks, who have tons of young center talent, but Ryan Getzlaf is 36-year-old and well past the prime of his career. Gaucher is a strong scoring prospect who finished his third season in the QMJHL with 31 goals and 26 assists. The 6-3, 207-pound center will be an excellent addition to Anaheim's third-line attack in 2023.
23. ST. LOUIS BLUES: JIMMY SNUGGERUD, RW, US U-18 (NTDP) - GRADE: B+
The Blues select Jimmy Snuggerud from the US U-18 NTDP with the 23rd overall selection. He's a solid build (6-1, 188 pounds) and produced 24 goals and 59 total points for the U-18 team in the NTDP during his 2022 campaign. St. Louis will have to wait until he completes his year at the University of Minnesota before acquiring his services for the 2023-24 season.
24. MINNESOTA WILD: DANILA YUROV, RW, MAGNITOGORSK (RUS) - GRADE: B
The Wild get an excellent value with their second pick in the first round, selecting winger Danila Yurov out of Russia. Yurov scored 13 goals and added another 23 assists for Magnitogorsk 2 in 2022 while limiting himself to eight penalty minutes in 23 games. He's a fast player with handles and scoring ability, which Minnesota desperately needs on their lower-line attack.
25. CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS: SAM RINZEL, D, CHASKA (HIGH-MN) - GRADE: B+
After addressing their offense, Chicago adds defenseman Sam Rinzel out of Minnesota's high school league. Rinzel is a 6-4, 180-pound defenseman who performed well at every stage in his career, including nine goals and 29 assists for Chaska in 2022. Seth Jones needs help in the defensive zone, so he'll be delighted to unite with Rinzel entering the 2024 season.
26. MONTREAL CANADIENS: FILIP MESAR, RW, POPRAD (SVK) - GRADE: A-
The Canadiens stick with offense using their second first-round draft pick, selecting Filip Mesar out of Slovakia. He's a smaller wing at 5-10, 174 pounds, but Mesar has a high-end playmaking ability that can quickly earn him minutes on Montreal's third line to compete against Brendan Gallagher.
27. SAN JOSE SHARKS: FILIP BYSTEDT, C, LINKOPING JR. (SWE) - GRADE: B
After trading down from the 11th overall pick, San Jose selects Swedish center Filip Bystedt. He's another talented center who dominated the junior league with 16 goals and 33 assists but saw a notable downtick in production during his leap to Linkoping's professional team. Bystedt is 6-4 and weighs 204 pounds, so his measurables certainly played a factor in the Sharks biting on him at 27th.
28. BUFFALO SABRES: JIRI KULICH, C, KARLOVY VARY (CZREP) - GRADE: B
Buffalo uses their third and final first-round draft pick on Jiri Kulich. The Czech center finished 2022 with nine goals and five assists in 49 games with Karlovy Vary and adds excellent depth as the Sabres' third center taken in the first round.
29. ARIZONA COYOTES: MAVERIC LAMOUREUX, D, DRUMMONDVILLE (QMJHL) - GRADE: B+
Arizona uses their third first-round pick on defenseman Maveric Lamoreux. He's a massive 6-7, 200-pound defender who scored four goals and 20 assists in 54 games with Drummondville in the QMJHL in 2022. Lamoreux offers mobility, explosiveness, and physicality in the defensive zone for the Coyotes to utilize in 2023.
30. WINNIPEG JETS: BRAD LAMBERT, C, PELICANS (FIN) - GRADE: B-
Winnipeg uses their second first-round draft pick on center Brad Lambert. The 19-year-old center is a bit of a project for the Jets, but he has the speed, vision, and intangibles to be an asset if he can take the necessary strides in his development.
31. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING: ISAAC HOWARD, LW, US U-18 (NTDP) - GRADE: A
Tampa Bay uses their only first-round draft pick on Isaac Howard out of the US U-18 NTDP. Howard is a fantastic value for the Lightning, who already have one of the best depth charts in the league. He won't be available until completing a year at the collegiate level. Still, Howard scored 33 goals and 49 assists last season and has the deking and quick decision-making to make an impact once he's eligible to play.
32. EDMONTON OILERS: REID SCHAEFER, LW, SEATTLE (WHL) - GRADE: A+
The left-wing depth in Edmonton was a glaring need to address, as Evander Kane was acquired at the trade deadline last season and finished as the point leader at the position, finishing with 39 points in 43 games. Schaeffer is an experienced 19-year-old winger who finally exploded in 2022, scoring 32 goals and 26 assists for Seattle in the WHL. Expect him to earn substantial minutes on the Oilers' second or third-line attack in 2023.
Matt is an avid writer, editor, and researcher. He enjoys analyzing the game within the game which is fantasy sports and sports betting. Music is another constant in his daily life. Matt loves spending time with his wife and three pets. He likes to read, listen to podcasts, and is constantly motivated to create the most accurate and engaging content in the sports betting industry.