Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2021 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “2021 NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we bring you our Early Look at the 2022 NHL Draft Rankings.
The 2021 NHL Draft has come and gone, and many teams have already held their post-draft development camp, getting an up-close and personal look at the players they have selected in their new jerseys. However, scouting new talent never stops and with this, in mind we turn our attention towards the talent that will be available in the 2022 NHL Draft. It may be early and there is still a full year of hockey to be played, likely leading to a lot of movement between these rankings and where players end up at the end of next season, but still, let’s take a look and preview the 2022 NHL Draft.
Early 2022 NHL Draft Rankings
Due to the COVID pandemic, the 2021 class was very hard to scout, with many leagues playing limited schedules and some not even playing at all. This has affected the 2022 class as we have not has as good a look at them as we have with a typical class at this time. That said the 2022 Draft seems to be exceptionally strong, especially at the top of the class. The 2022 NHL Draft will be held at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
6.) Logan Cooley, Centre, US National Team Development Program, USHL, 5’10” 179 lbs
The top centre on the Under-17 US NTDP squad this season, Cooley put up 16 goals and 32 points in 28 games. When injuries hit the Under-18 team, he joined them, scoring four goals and 14 points in 19 games. He also had two points at the Under-18s. Cooley should play for the Under-18 squad this season and is committed to joining the University of Notre Dame in 2022.
Cooley is an excellent skater and puck handler. He is very good at moving the puck through the neutral zone, finding open ice and generating effective zone entries with possession. With his speed, he can create odd-man rushes. Cooley is a very good passer. He finds open teammates and can saucer a pass over an opponent’s stick or put it tape-to-tape through a tight passing lane. Cooley also uses his vision and passing skills to run the power play from the sideboards, setting up teammates. His wrist shot has a very good release, but he can add power as he continues to mature.
7.) Conor Geekie, Centre, Winnipeg Ice, WHL, 6’4″ 205 lbs
Geekie is the brother of recent Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft pick Morgan Geekie. He scored nine goals and 23 points in 24 games for the Winnipeg Ice this season. Geekie has outstanding size. He uses his long reach and good stickhandling to protect the puck and extend possession down low. Geekie is not the most aggressive player but his size makes him very effective in protecting the puck in the cycle game as well as creating havoc in front of the net. He can score goals in tight with his soft hands in tight. Geekie can score on deflections, rebounds and quick one-timers.
He also has a strong wrist shot and his quick hands give him a deceptive release. Geekie can control the play and beat goaltenders from further out. His ability to protect the puck is also combined with good vision and passing skills. This makes Geekie a dangerous playmaker as well. He will need to work on his physical game and his defensive play this season.
8.) David Jiricek, Right Defence, HC Plzen, Czech Extraliga, 6’3″ 176 lbs
Jiricek put up three goals and nine points in 34 games in the top Czech men’s league. He also played for the national team at both the World Juniors and Under-18s. Jiricek has excellent size at 6’3″ and outstanding skating ability. He seems to float above the ice, with excellent technique and the edgework, pivots, and agility to cover ice in all directions. This allows him to play an excellent two-way game. Jiricek has excellent gap control and forces attackers to the outside and away from the dangerous areas of the ice. He is not the most physical defender, but this may improve as he gets stronger and adds muscle to his frame.
Jiricek also has good stickhandling ability. This allows him to avoid forecheckers and move the puck out of the defensive end. He also has an excellent first pass, hitting teammates in transition, or making a long breakaway pass if they get behind the opposition. Jiricek can carry the puck through the neutral zone, avoiding defenders and setting up in the offensive zone with effective zone entries. Once there, he uses his agility to walk the line and open up passing and shooting lanes.
9.) Danila Yurov, Right Wing, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, KHL, 6’1″ 172 lbs
Yurov played 21 games against men in the KHL, but with limited ice time on the fourth line. He scored just two points. He was more successful in the Russian Junior League though. Yurov had 13 goals and 25 points in 23 games in the MHL. He also played for Russia at the Under-18s, putting up four goals and 11 points in seven games and helping the Russian team to a silver medal. Yurov is another strong skater. He has a powerful stride leading to very good acceleration and top-end speed. He also has good agility and this helps him to beat defenders to open ice.
Yurov has excellent vision and hockey sense. He controls the play in the cycle game and protects it along the boards. This allows him to find open teammates and set up scoring chances. He is not just a perimeter player, as Yurov challenges opponents and is willing to take the puck to the dirty areas of the ice to make a play. He also has a strong wrist shot and a good release. Yurov works hard in all three zones and is also an excellent defensive player, working on the penalty kill when playing against his age group.
10.) Elias Salomonsson, Right Defence, Skelleftea, SHL/Sweden J20, 6’1″ 161 lbs
Salomonsson has been extremely good in the Swedish Under-20 league, putting up four goals and 15 points in 14 games last season. He also had some time with Skelleftea’s team in the SHL, though he played limited minutes and did not record a point in three games. He also played for the Swedish team at the Under 18s, winning a bronze medal, but as an underage player did not get a lot of minutes and failed to pick up a point in seven games. Still, he made big strides in his 16-year-old season. He has good height but will need to add muscle to his frame in the coming years.
Salomonsson plays an effective two-way game. His strong skating and good size help him to defend his end of the rink, stepping up at the line and preventing zone entries. He is also strong positionally and tough to beat in one-on-one situations. Salomonsson moves the puck effectively. He has excellent vision and passing skills, starting the transition game from his own end as well as quarterbacking the play in the offensive zone. His slap shot is also powerful. Salomonsson does a good job of getting it on the net. He keeps it low to give his teammates the chance for tip-ins and rebounds.
2022 NHL Draft Rankings Main Photo:
An action-packed second period concludes with Team USA Blue leading the way, 5-4!
— USA Hockey (@usahockey) July 27, 2021