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.
Seattle Kraken: A+
In Shane Wright, the Kraken got the best player on our draft board. He is an outstanding skater, can score and set up plays in the offensive end, and is a shut-down defensive centre. With Matty Beniers and Shane Wright, the Kraken are set down the middle for the next decade. Firkus is an undersized but dynamic winger. He has one of the best shots in the draft class. Nyman is also a pure sniper. He has an outstanding array of shots and loves to use them. Nyman gets great power and accuracy on his shots. He needs work defensively. Goyette has outstanding stickhandling ability. He can make plays with the puck while moving at top speed. When this is combined with his excellent skating ability, he is absolutely deadly off the rush. Ty Nelson is an undersized offensive defenceman who was the top pick in the 2020 OHL Draft.
— Alison (@AlisonL) July 8, 2022
St. Louis Blues: B
Picks: Jimmy Snuggerud, Aleksanteri Kaskimaki, Michael Buchinger, Arseny Koromyslov, Marc-Andre Gaudet, Landon Sim,
The Blues added a nice group of prospects in this draft, even if they didn’t get an elite talent. Snuggerud is a power winger and a pure sniper. He finds soft spots in the defence and gets himself open to take a pass. When the pass comes, he loves to fire a one-timer on the net. His shot is powerful and accurate. He can also score goals in tight with his quick hands, and ability to pounce on rebounds and get deflections. Even if he can’t get a stick on the puck, he does an effective job creating havoc and screening goalies. He can also be a good passer. Kaskimaki is a very good skater. He is a playmaking centre who can also play a two-way game. Buchinger is a mobile two-way defender who pushes the pace on offence with his speed and passing ability.
Tampa Bay Lightning: B-
Picks: Isaac Howard, Lucas Edmonds, Nick Malik, Connor Kurth, Dyllan Gill, Klavs Veinbergs
The Lightning picked up a falling prospect in Isaac Howard. Much has been made of the confidence he displayed in his post-draft interview. Howard shows the same moxy and swagger on the ice. He is a dynamic forward who is willing to try a number of creative offensive plays. Howard will do things on the ice, and pull them off successfully, that other players wont even dream of. He needs to bulk up and work on his defensive game before he is NHL-ready. Edmonds was passed over in several drafts but had a big season with Kingston. The playmaking winger is likely headed to the AHL next year. Nick Malik has good size for a modern goalie. He takes advantage by getting well out of his net and cutting down angles.
— Jamison Coyle (@JamisonCoyle) July 8, 2022
Toronto Maple Leafs: C+
Picks: Fraser Minten, Nick Moldenhauer, Dennis Hildeby, Nikita Grebenkin, Brandon Lisowsky
The Leafs gained cap space by trading away Petr Mrazek and their first-round pick for a second-rounder on Thursday night. They used that second-round pick to take Fraser Minten. Minten plays a simple but effective offensive style. He is very much a North-South style of player. Minten loves to get to the front of the net and scores the majority of his goals in tight to the net. He can score with a tip-in, pouncing on a rebound, or with a quick one-timer. He plays a dump and chase style of game. Moldenhauer is a speedy winger who works hard along the boards and has good vision and passing skills. In Hildeby, the Leafs take a chance on a 6-foot-6 Swedish goalie who has twice been passed over in the draft. He put up good numbers in the SHL last year (a .931 save percentage) but only played in seven SHL games. He was also very good at the junior level.
Fraser Minten is a classically trained concert pianist who never misses a Canucks game. pic.twitter.com/cW5VZ0HONm
— luke fox (@lukefoxjukebox) July 8, 2022
Vancouver Canucks: B
Picks: Jonathan Lekkerimaki, Elias Pettersson, Daimon Gardner, Ty Young, Jackson Dorrington, Kirill Kudryavtsev
The Canucks get one of the steals of the first round. Lekkerimaki is a pure goal scorer. He loves to shoot the puck and does it with a wide array of powerful and accurate shots. His wrist shot, snapshot, one-timer, slapshot and backhand are all strong weapons for him. He gets his shot off in a hurry, with a very deceptive release. Lekkerimaki can score goals in a variety of ways too. While mostly playing at centre right now, a move to right-wing may be in his future. He is a big defensive defender out of Sweden. He uses his long stick to break up passes and poke-check opponents.
Vegas Golden Knights: B-
Picks: Matyas Sapovaliv, Jordan Gustafson, Cameron Whitehead, Patrick Guay, Ben Hemmerling, Abram Wiebe,
The Knights also took advantage of a sliding prospect, grabbing Sapovaliv in the second round. The Czechia-born forward pairs his size with strong stickhandling ability. This allows him to control the puck down low and work well in the cycle game. He can extend possession and wait for teammates to get open. He is also strong in his own end of the ice. Gustafson is a solid forward playing in the WHL. He is a great skater and was a key component of the Thunderbirds run to the WHL final. He also has good vision and passing skills. Whitehead has good size. He was passed over in the 2021 Draft, but a solid season with Lincoln showed his ability and got him drafted.
Washington Capitals: B+
In Miroshnichenko, the Capitals took a player who would have been ranked sixth on our draft board if not for his cancer diagnosis. Apparently, things are looking good with his medicals and he is recovering. If Miroshnichenko gets past this battle, he could be a steal for the Capitals with the 20th pick of the Draft. Miroshnichenko marries his great skating with the soft hands and stickhandling ability to make plays. He also has a tremendous shot and can be a playmaker. The kid can do it all. In Ryan Chesley, the Capitals get another player we had ranked in the first round. The big defenseman is strong in his own end and has some untapped offensive potential. He put up points for the NTDP at even-strength but didn’t get many power-play opportunities due to the other defenders on the team.
"Give me a hug — I'm so happy for you"
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) July 8, 2022
Winnipeg Jets: A
The Jets first pick, Rutger McGroarty, was the captain of the US NTDP. McGroarty gets himself into good positions and scores his goals from the home plate area. He is more than willing to play in the high-traffic areas and to take a hit to make a play. He gets open in and around the slot, setting himself up for a pass from a teammate. McGroarty also has strong puck protection skills and is strong on the cycle. He is good defensively as well. The big issue is his skating though. He will need to work on this in the coming years.
After that, The Jets took advantage of some highly ranked players who fell down the board. In Lambert, they get a player with dynamic skating and an outstanding offensive skill set. However, there are questions if he has the toolbox to go with those tools. In Salomonsson, they take a Swedish defenceman who was once seen as a potential top-ten pick. He is another player with outstanding skills but must improve his consistency and decision-making. With Zhilkin’s size, speed, and defensive play he has a high floor and could make the NHL as a third or fourth-line centre. However, there is also a chance that he will continue to develop and become a top-six player. He needs to improve his offensive consistency.