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.
Anaheim Ducks: A-
The Ducks had an excellent draft. They addressed an organizational need for defence with three of their first four picks. In Mintyukov, they get a premier offensive defenceman, who will need to improve his defensive game in future years. Warren has all the physical tools needed to succeed. He has excellent size and is a great skater. It will be up to the Ducks development team to polish this potential gem. Luneau is another defenceman with offensive skill. We rated him as a first-rounder and is a potential steal where he was taken. In Nathan Gaucher, the Ducks also get a responsible two-way centre.
— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) July 8, 2022
Arizona Coyotes: A
The Coyotes addressed an organizational weakness at centre in the draft. In Logan Cooley, they get one of the most dynamic players in the entire draft. He might have the rawest skill of any player drafted. While Cooley is an undersized centre, the Coyotes get a big centre in Conor Geekie with their second first-rounder. The big centre has all the offensive skills needed but must improve his speed. Maveric Lamoreux is another huge player, this time filling the role of a defensive defenceman. He is a good skater for his size. Duda is an offensive defenceman with an absolute bomb of a shot. Lutz is another great skater who can both score and set up teammates from the wing. Overall the Coyotes had a boatload of picks and used them well to add talent in areas of organizational need.
Logan Cooley about to talk. pic.twitter.com/Na2nexZtt5
— Craig Morgan (@CraigSMorgan) July 8, 2022
Boston Bruins: C-
Picks: Matthew Poitras, Cole Spicer, Dans Locmelis, Frederic Brunet, Reid Dyck, Jackson Edward
The Bruins grade reflects the fact that they only had one pick, a second-rounder, in the first three rounds. They used that pick on Matthew Poitras. The Bruins have a clear organizational need at centre and looked to address it in the draft. Poitras played centre and wing for the Guelph Storm, but he likely projects better on the wing due to a lack of foot speed. Spicer is a gritty tw0-way centre who played on the third line for the US NTDP. It’s unclear if he has the offensive game to develop into a future top-six player. Locmelis is another hard-working centre who profiles as a future third or fourth liner. The Bruins went for need here, but its unclear if they got a future centre capable of playing on their top two lines.
Buffalo Sabres: A
Picks: Matthew Savoie, Noah Ostlund, Jiri Kulich, Topias Leinonen, Viktor Neuchev, Mats Lindgren, Vsevolod Komarov, Jake Richard, Gustav Karlsson, Joel Ratkovic-Berndtsson, Linus Sjodin
The Sabres are another team who addressed a need in the middle of the ice. They took three centres in the first round. Savoie is undersized but has outstanding offensive ability. He can do it all and could be a big-time offensive contributor if he continues to develop. Ostlund is another undersized centre. He showed strong playmaking and a good tw0-way game in Sweden. Kulich is a goal-scoring centre with a strong two-way game. In Leinonen, the Sabres also get the best goalie in the draft. They took a solid offensive defenceman in Mats Lindgren as well. Overall, this is one of the stronger drafts in the league.
Calgary Flames: D+
Picks: Topi Ronni, Parker Bell, Cade Litter
The Flames had one pick in the first four rounds, 59th overall. They also only had two picks in the first six rounds. This hurts their draft grade. They used the 59th overall pick on Topi Ronni. Ronni is a Finnish centre who brings speed, size, and strong defensive play to the organization. There are some questions as to how much offence he will be able to bring at the next level. He is a bit slight right now and will need time to bulk up. Parker Bell is a winger with the Tri-City Americans. Bell is a big winger who has a nose for the net. He’s a long-term project though.
Carolina Hurricanes: B+
NHL Teams were clearly afraid of recent situations with Ivan Fedotov and Kirill Kaprizov in Russia, as well as the war in Ukraine and shied away from Russian prospects in this year’s draft. The Hurricanes took advantage, snatching four falling Russian prospects. In Trikozov, the Canes get a winger who is excellent in front of the net and in the corners. In Perevalov the Hurricanes acquire a two-way winger with an outstanding shot and sniper menatility. Grudinin is another potential draft steal. The undersized defenceman has a strong offensive game. Forsmark has shown to be an effective two-way defenceman in the Swedish junior leagues and has even played at the SHL level. He’s another potential draft steal.
— Mike Solarte (@MikeSolarte) July 8, 2022
Chicago Blackhawks: A-
The Blackhawks entered draft day without a first-round pick. After a series of trades, they finished the draft with three first-rounders and eight picks in the top three rounds. That said, they reached a bit on almost all of their picks, with the exception of Nazar. This keeps them from getting an A, to an A-.
In Korchinski the Blackhawks get a dynamic offensive defender, who needs to work on his defensive game. In Nazar, they get a two-way centre who produced nearly as much at even-strength as fellow NTDP centre Logan Cooley. Nazar also did not get the power-play opportunities that Cooley got. Rinzel has good size but is a project as he has only played at the high school level. He projects as a defensive defender. Ludwinski has speed and is always involved in the play in the dirty areas of the ice but his offensive upside is a question mark. Greene is another strong skater and defensive-minded centre who needs work on his offensive game.
Colorado Avalanche: D-
Picks: Chris Romaine, Ivan Zhigalov
Value: Trading all the picks contributed to a Stanley Cup-winning roster.
The Avalanche had only two picks in the draft, a sixth and seventh-rounder. This leads to a poor draft grade. However, it also led the team to win the Stanley Cup, as most of the picks were used in trades that brought back key pieces to this year’s Championship team. As such, Joe Sakic and Avs management are probably not too concerned with this outcome. Romaine is a high school defenceman headed to Providence next year. He projects as a defensive defender. Zhigalov is a late round flyer on a goalie prospect.