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.
1.) Shane Wright, Centre, Kingston Frontenacs, OHL, 6’1″ 187 lbs
As a 15-year-old, Shane Wright played in the OHL as an exceptional player. Despite the 2019-20 season being shortened due to the pandemic, he put up numbers that rivalled previous exceptional players Connor McDavid and John Tavares. He put up 39 goals and 66 points in 58 games. Wright captained Team Canada to a gold medal at the IIHF Under-18s. He scored nine goals and 14 points in just five tournament games.
It’s easy to see why Wright is seen as a future franchise player. He can do it all on the ice. He is an outstanding skater with excellent speed, acceleration, agility and balance. Wright combines that skating with all of the offensive skills one would want. His stickhandling is top-notch and he can make plays while moving at top speed. His shot is deadly accurate, has a ton of power, and he gets it off with a very quick release. Wright also has excellent vision and the ability to pass the puck through tight passing lanes. His hockey sense is excellent, and he makes the right play without the puck.
Wright is already strong defensively as well. He is willing to play a physical game in all three zones. He also uses his hockey IQ to break up plays and start the transition game.
2.) Brad Lambert, Centre/Right Wing, JYP, SM Liiga, 6’0″ 179 lbs
The son of Ross Lambert, a Canadian pro who went overseas to continue his career after playing in the AHL, Brad Lambert was born in Finland. As a 15-year-old, he made his Liiga debut in 2019. Last season, he put up seven goals and 15 assists in 46 games. He also played for Finland at both the Under-18s (five points in five games) and the World Juniors (four points in seven games).
Lambert is another outstanding skater and stickhandler. His speed, acceleration, and ability to make plays with the puck while moving at that speed make him very dangerous in transition. Lambert has outstanding vision and playmaking ability. He controls the play in the offensive zone, slowing it down or speeding it up and buying time for his linemates to get open. When they do, he can quickly shift his feet or make a quick deke with his stick to open up a passing lane and set up a scoring chance. Lambert has a good release on his shot and is accurate. He will look to add some power to that shot this year, as he matures physically.
3.) Ivan Miroshnichenko, Right Wing/Left Wing, Omskie Yastreby, MHL, 6’1″ 185 lbs
The Russian winger was outstanding at the recent Ivan Hlinka Cup, captaining the Russian team to the gold medal and putting up four goals and nine points in five games. Miroshnichenko is another great skater who marries this with the stickhandling ability to make plays. Defenders have to respect his speed and back off in order that they aren’t beaten wide. When they do, Miroshnichenko can use them as a screen and fire his shot on the net. He has excellent power and a very good release.
Miroshnichenko can also play the role of playmaker. He sees the ice well and anticipates what his teammates and opponents will do. Miroshnichenko can beat opponents in one-on-one situations and this allows him to open up passing lanes. He is willing to be physical on the forecheck and will take a hit to make a play. He also does a good job of getting the puck to the dirty areas of the ice. The young Russian is expected to play in the VHL this season, giving him the opportunity to show his skills against men.
4.) Simon Nemec, Right Defence, HK Nitra, Slovakian League, 6’1″ 192 lbs
Nemec helped lead the Slovakian team to the silver medal at the recent Ivan Hlinka tournament. He put up one goal and six points in five games and was named tournament MVP. Nemec also had four points in five games at the World Juniors and one point in five games at the Men’s World Championship. He also played against men in Slovakia, scoring two goals and 19 points in 37 games last year.
Nemec is an offensive defenceman who loves to lead the rush and quarterback the power play. With his strong skating ability, he loves to push the pace and can still get back defensively. He has the vision and passing skills to set up teammates in transition as well as to run the point on the power play. He also has good agility and his ability to walk the line helps him to open up passing and shooting lanes.
Nemec has shown flashes of his defensive ability but still struggles a bit to move the puck out of the zone as well as to deal with bigger and stronger opponents. This is not unusual considering he is a teenager playing against men. This improvement should come as he matures and gets stronger.
5.) Matthew Savoie, Centre, Winnipeg Ice (WHL) and Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL), 5’10” 181 lbs
When the WHL season was delayed, Savoie went to play for Dubuque in the USHL. He put up 21 goals and 38 points in 34 games. Savoie was part of the USHL All-Rookie Team. Savoie is a pure sniper. He has an outstanding wrist shot. It has a lot of power, great accuracy and he gets it off with a quick and deceptive release. Savoie is particularly dangerous when he comes in on a rush off the wing. He also has a very good snapshot. With his hands, he can quickly toe-drag before shooting the puck, fooling goalies. Savoie also has a good one-timer and backhand.
Savoie can also play the role of playmaker. His hands allow him to protect the puck in the cycle and beat defenders one-on-one. His ability to score can pull the defence towards him, opening up opportunities for his linemates to find open ice. When they do, Savoie can hit them with a quick pass to set up a scoring chance. Savoie can continue to work on his speed and acceleration. His skating is very good right now, but there is room for improvement and this would make him even more dynamic.
2022 NHL Draft Rankings Main Photo:
OSHAWA, ON – DECEMBER 5: Shane Wright #51 of the Kingston Frontenacs skates with the puck during an OHL game against the Oshawa Generals at the Tribute Communities Centre on December 5, 2019, in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images)