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 2022 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 “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we bring you our 2022 NHL Draft Grades.
The big day has come and gone, and now we look back to see how each team did in the NHL Draft. Look, we know that it is way too soon to evaluate a draft and that the true evaluation will be seen four or five years from now. However, we don’t want to wait, instead, we follow our yearly tradition and do our NHL Draft Grades now.
To be clear, our NHL Draft Grades are based on the quality and quantity of total talent added in the draft. It is not based on getting value for where you pick. For example, due to a lack of total picks the Colorado Avalanche are likely to be given a very poor grade for this year’s draft regardless of how they use them.
LWOS 2022 NHL Draft Evaluation and Grades
Note: VALUE PICK does NOT mean the best player drafted. It means the best value. For example, Juraj Slafkovsky was the first player taken in this draft. However, he is not our best value pick for the Montreal Canadiens. Why? Because anyone can take the best player with the first overall pick, we are looking for value here, what steal did the team get in the draft that went later than we thought he would? If it was merely an exercise in naming the best player drafted, might as well just name the team’s first pick, as that is who their own scouts felt was their best player.
Nashville Predators: B+
At 17th Overall, the Predators get an absolute steal with Joakim Kemell who was ranked fifth on our boards. While he might be undersized, he is a dynamic goal scorer. Kemell is a pure sniper. He has an outstanding arsenal of shots. His one-timers are absolutely lethal. Kemell is able to get it off even if the pass is a little off. He also has an outstanding wrist shot. Ingram has a number of offensive skills but his game is very raw. He needs to continue to work on his skating. Kulonummi is a puck-moving defenceman who plays a strong defensive game.
Inside lining of Joakim Kemell’s jacket. pic.twitter.com/EHedHGDKx0
— NHL Watcher (@NHL_Watcher) July 8, 2022
New Jersey Devils: A
The Devils addressed multiple needs in the draft and did it in a big way. In Simon Nemec, they get the best defenceman in the draft. He has all the tools to be effective in both ends of the ice and to log big minutes at the NHL level. Like many defenceman, he will need a few years to develop into that player, but he could be a franchise level defenceman. Seamus Casey was an excellent offensive defenceman for the NTDP. He could develop into a power-play quarterback. Brennan is a big goalie who is very solid technically. He could become an NHL starter if he continues to develop. He is very mentally strong.
New Jersey smartly takes Simon Nemec as # 2 overall…great news!!
Congratulation to both of our 🇸🇰 boys and I hope to see them together again..and winning medal like in this year OG in China. 🇸🇰🍀🇸🇰 pic.twitter.com/RPHlmCAA0D
— Miroslav Šatan (@miro81s) July 7, 2022
New York Islanders: B
The Islanders didn’t have many picks but they made the most of them. With the 65th overall pick, they took Calle Odelius, who could be an absolute steal. With his skating and stickhandling ability, Odelius fits the prototype of the modern puck-moving NHL defenceman. He is able to push the pace and create offence. Finley is a USHL winger who is heading to the NCAA next year. His speed gives defencemen issues and he has a good shot. Isaiah George is another potential draft skill. Injuries to other defenders in London pushed him into a top-pairing role as a 17-year-old. He matured quickly, becoming one of the best defensive defencemen in this class. He could improve offensively.
New York Rangers: B-
The Rangers draft grade is hurt by the lack of picks. They didn’t have their first pick until late in the second round. Sykora is one of the best defensive forwards in the draft. His work ethic and defensive skills make him a very projectable prospect. The question is if he can improve his offensive game. Sykora’s dogged forechecking and good positioning will be useful attributes as a complementary player. McConnell-Barker could develop into a solid middle-six centre if he reaches his potential. With his size, skating, and defensive game, he could be used in all situations and play against the best players on the opposing team. Laba was passed over in the 2021 Draft, but had a solid season for Lincoln. He is headed to Colgate next year.
— David 🔹 (@DaveyUpper) July 9, 2022
Ottawa Senators: C-
Picks: Filip Nordberg, Oskar Pettersson, Tomas Hamara, Stephen Halliday, Jorian Donovan, Cameron O’Neill, Kevin Reidler, Theo Wallberg, Tyson Dyck
The Senators had a lot of picks, but many were late picks and I’m not sure about how they used their second-round picks. They seem to be reaches. Nordberg has size and is a good skater. He is better defensively than offensively. While he tries to make some plays and push the pace, he needs to improve his overall skill level. Pettersson is a winger who put up five points in six games at the Under-18s. However, his skating leaves a lot to be desired and he must improve it a lot to keep up in the NHL. Hamara has the potential to develop into a solid two-way defender, capable of playing top-four minutes and being used in all situations. He has a good all-around game but lacks one key elite trait at this point.
Philadelphia Flyers: B
Picks: Cutter Gauthier, Devin Kaplan, Alex Bump, Hunter McDonald, Santeri Sulku, Alexis Gendron
Gauthier’s combination of size, physical play, and skill is an intriguing package that NHL teams are always looking for. He is a strong all-around player who shows strong skill level in all areas of the game. There are some little details he could improve in his skating, passing, and defensive game that would really help him take his game to the next level. This is the difference between him becoming a second liner and first liner in the NHL though. He has high potential to be another star from the NTDP. Kaplan is a big winger who plays a power-forward style. He also needs to improve his skating to really have an impact at the next level.
— Flyers Nation (@FlyersNation) July 8, 2022
Pittsburgh Penguins: C+
Picks: Owen Pickering, Sergei Murashov, Zam Plante, Nolan Collins, Luke Devlin
Pickering’s combination of size and skating ability will make him an intriguing prospect for NHL teams. Once he matures and adds muscle to his frame, he has the opportunity to be a unique combination of power and speed on the backend. His best asset is his defensive play but he also has a bomb of a slap shot. He is a bit of a project. Solid coaching can help Pickering refine his defensive instincts as well as make smarter plays under pressure. This would take his game to the next level. Murashov is an unorthodox goalie in that he catches with his right hand. He played well in the Hlinka and the MHL.
San Jose Sharks: B+
The Sharks added depth down the middle and on the blue line in the draft. Bystedt is a big Swedish centre who uses his long reach and strong stickhandling ability to protect the puck and create offence. He is able to control the puck down low and wait for his linemates to get open. Once they do, Bystedt is able to hit his teammates with a pass. He also has a good shot. Lund has the potential to develop into a two-way middle-six centre if he reaches his potential. With his size, skating, work ethic, and defensive awareness, he will quickly become a coach’s favourite no matter where he plays. However, there are still some questions about his offensive potential. Havelid is undersized but has the type of dynamic skating that allows him to cover a ton of ice and play a very effective two-way game. He brings offence and playmaking from the backend.