Today we have The Athletic’s staff of NHL writers project the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft. This allows our writers to break down the draft from the standpoint of the teams they cover with their unique knowledge of the franchise’s needs and tendencies. I provided broad guidance but the writers made all the picks. Trades were allowed (and one was executed). Afterwards I provide an audit and also enlist NHL scouts to provide feedback on our picks.
1. Montreal Canadiens: Shane Wright, C, Kingston-OHL
It may seem as though nothing has changed since our first mock with Wright still being our pick for the Canadiens here, but they have. We used to be comfortable and confident taking Wright at No. 1, but with the intel gathered at the combine, he’s now hanging by a thread in this position, and it’s become basically a coin toss between him and Juraj Slafkovsky. For now, the Canadiens’ perennial need at centre and the argument for Wright’s high floor is what keeps him at No. 1. —M.A. Godin
2. New Jersey Devils: Juraj Slafkovsky, LW, TPS-Liiga
If the Devils are going to use the second pick, they should be looking to the next best available player after Wright. In many minds right now, that’s Slafkovsky. A team has to draft for skill above all else, and flashy numbers in tournament settings have elevated his profile. But the benefit for New Jersey is that this fits a need as well. The Devils are looking to add an impact forward for years to come to give them a 1-2 punch with one of their former first picks Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier. The power forward seems to have the tools this team is looking for to add more dimension to their offense, and the readiness to get them there sooner than later. —Shayna Goldman
3. Arizona Coyotes: Logan Cooley, C, U.S. NTDP-USHL
It’s no secret that the Coyotes need a centre (or two, or three) to really build around. They’ve got talent on the flanks with Clayton Keller already established and Dylan Guenther on the way. But they need a line-driving, high-skill, skating pivot who can play down the middle with those guys. I imagine the Coyotes will be pleased if Slafkovsky is selected within the first two picks and Cooley is available for them, because he checks every box. —Scott Wheeler
4. Seattle Kraken: Simon Nemec, RHD, Nitra-Slovakia
What is clear is the Kraken appear to be in a position to add a right-handed defenseman. Figuring out if it will be David Jiricek or Simon Nemec is where the intrigue resides. It is possible the Kraken could elect to draft Jiricek. He would give them a 6-foot-3 two-way presence with puck-moving ability. It’s just that Nemec appears to be a more fluid skater and puck mover in addition to his two-way abilities. Furthermore, Nemec made an impression at the IIHF World Championship by scoring a goal and six points in eight games for Slovakia. —Ryan S. Clark
5. Philadelphia Flyers: David Jiricek, D, Plzen-CZREP
Assuming the draft plays out in this way, there’s a good chance the Flyers will be choosing between Jiricek and U.S. NTDP forward Cutter Gauthier. Both fit the organization’s desire to build a bigger, more traditionally “Flyers-like” roster for the future, while hopefully not sacrificing skill in the process. The Flyers have need for both a high-end RHD and a young top-six center, so position likely won’t be a tiebreaker. In the end, Jiricek probably is the slightly safer pick while also possessing top-of-the-lineup upside, given that Gauthier is no lock to stick in the middle at the next level. I also imagine they’ll be a fan of the physical side of Jiricek’s game. But it’s not difficult to imagine either one being the pick here. —Charlie O’Connor
6. Columbus Blue Jackets: Cutter Gauthier, C/LW, U.S. NTDP-USHL
The Blue Jackets may not be as desperate for top-six centers as many suspect, which is what makes this pick so interesting. In The Athletic’s first staff mock immediately after the draft lottery, we selected the small but ultra-competitive Matthew Savoie in this spot. He would still be a fine pick here, but with Cole Sillinger, Boone Jenner and the freshly-signed Jack Roslovic on the roster, they can consider more than the top center on the board. (Kent Johnson, the No. 5 pick last season, could eventually move to the middle, too.) That in mind, we’ve broadened our horizon. We’re taking center / left winger Cutter Gauthier, a big, powerful skater with a sniper’s scoring touch. The Blue Jackets are stocked with young wingers, but there’s always room for a talent like Gauthier. It’s worth noting, he has played some center. —Aaron Portzline
New @TheAthleticNHL: What NHL scouts think about Shane Wright, Cutter Gauthier and other top 2022 NHL Draft prospects https://t.co/U1Syj61pyn
— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) June 14, 2022
7. Ottawa Senators: Joakim Kemell, RW, Plzen-Czechia
I think there is a very good chance the Senators will entertain the idea of trading this pick if it can help land them some immediate help. From listening to the exit interviews with players and staff, there is a sense of urgency around the team heading into this off-season. So I wouldn’t be shocked if the Senators parlay this No. 7 selection to improve their opening-night lineup. But for the purposes of this exercise, let’s assume that Ottawa is picking in this spot. In that scenario, I can’t help but think that Joakim Kemell is the right pick here. He’s been described as a slick, playmaking winger — which is exactly what the organization can use. Other recent first-round picks that are waiting in the wings — like Ridly Greig and Tyler Boucher — have more of a sandpaper element to the forward position. Kemell would inject some more goal-scoring talent into the prospect pool for Ottawa. —Ian Mendes
8. Detroit Red Wings: Marco Kasper, C, Rogle-SHL
In Kasper, the Red Wings would be filling their center need by adding a speedy, athletic pivot with a great motor and toughness. His offense isn’t always the flashiest, but he still produces by having the skill and will to attack the net, making him a strong fit for Detroit — which treats competitiveness as a virtue. There will be other candidates worth discussing here, with Matthew Savoie, Jonathan Lekkerimäki and Frank Nazar at the top of the list in this scenario. But ultimately Kasper checks so many boxes that I think the Red Wings will keep coming back to him — and make yet another top pick out of the Swedish Hockey League. —Max Bultman
9. Buffalo Sabres: Matthew Savoie, C/RW, Winnipeg-WHL
The Sabres have three first-round picks to add to a prospect pool that is already considered among the best in the NHL. That gives them flexibility to move around the board and the liberty to take calculated risks with their picks. But with their first selection at No. 9, Matthew Savoie would be too good to pass up if he’s available. Savoie didn’t finish the season particularly strong and he suffered a shoulder injury in the postseason, so he could slide. But Wheeler considers him a “dynamic, high-tempo, top-six, goal-creating package.” With the lack of top-end talent in this draft, getting Savoie at nine would be a value. He had 102 points in 75 total games this season but also doesn’t shy away from contact despite being just 5-foot-9. He’d be a welcome addition to Buffalo’s center pipeline. —Matt Fairburn
10. Anaheim Ducks: Kevin Korchinski, LHD, Seattle-WHL
Originally, I had Kasper in the first mock draft we did right after the lottery and I still think he could be a viable option for GM Pat Verbeek, draft table head Martin Madden and the rest of the Anaheim staff, if Kasper is available. He has shown that he can compete and thrive in the SHL and has an ever-present motor and high battle level either at center or on wing, even if there are questions about his offensive upside. But I’m also of the belief that if you can get the best player available and fill a clear organizational need, you do it. Korchinski has risen in some draft evaluations and is currently having a strong WHL playoffs for the Thunderbirds.
He isn’t a game-breaker but he’s mobile and very capable of distributing the puck very well with short and long passes and moves it on his backhand as well as his forehand. I can see Frank Nazar and his skating ability as someone to consider even if many see him sneaking into the top 10 as a reach. Brad Lambert is a big-swing candidate. But the Ducks are thin on the left side of their defense even as they have dynamic Olen Zellweger in the pipeline. It doesn’t hurt to have another quality blue line prospect as they no longer have Hampus Lindholm and got to start thinking about Cam Fowler’s game tapering off, especially with the possibility that collegians Henry Thrun and Jackson LaCombe don’t sign after returning for their senior seasons. Korchinski gives them another to bet on. —Eric Stephens
11. San Jose Sharks: Jonathan Lekkerimaki, RW, Djurgarden-SHL
Lekkerimaki wasn’t available for the Sharks at No. 11 in our first staff writer mock draft, so we rolled the dice on Brad Lambert. I think there’s a pretty strong argument for Savoie or Kasper if either of them falls to this spot, and Lambert is still an intriguing option despite some of the issues he’s had since once being considered a contender for the top pick. It’s a pretty easy case to make for Lekkerimaki. The Sharks have a bunch of intriguing forward prospects, but outside of William Eklund, the others don’t possess Lekkerimaki’s upside. He might also be the best pure goal scorer in the organization, outside of Timo Meier and Tomas Hertl, the minute he walks to the stage in Montreal and puts on a teal sweater. He and Eklund are also from the same Swedish organization, so the Sharks should be plenty familiar with his work. —Corey Masisak
12. Columbus Blue Jackets: Conor Geekie, C, Winnipeg-WHL
In a perfect world, a defenseman would jump off the page as an obvious pick in this No. 12 spot, but that’s not the case here. What jumps off the page is a highly-skilled, 6-foot-4 center, and that’s Geekie. After picking Gauthier at No. 6, this would make for a big-body draft by Columbus. Will Geekie’s skating allow him to be an impact player in an NHL top six? That’s a good question, although the same question arose with his brother, Seattle’s Morgan Geekie, during his draft season. Conor Geekie has the potential to be a physically dominating player, and those never go out of style. The Blue Jackets have drafted towering, highly-skilled centers in the first round before, but neither Ryan Johansen nor Pierre-Luc Dubois stuck around long enough to make a lasting impact. Maybe it’d be different this time. —Aaron Portzline
“There’s not too many people that have the chance to come out of a town of 120 people and do what I’m doing.”
Conor Geekie is one of the top prospects in the #2022NHLDraft.
And he and his game are both as unique as the people and place that made him: https://t.co/muA17DMsmm pic.twitter.com/pZ450hPJXZ
— Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) June 15, 2022
13. New York Islanders: Brad Lambert, RW, Pelicans-Liiga
One compelling element to the Islanders’ draft position is that Brad Lambert, the nephew of newly crowned head coach Lane Lambert, is projected to go right around where they are picking. Lambert could even be compared a bit to the Islanders’ second-round selection last year, Aatu Raty, who saw his stock drop after he was projected to go higher just a few months earlier. The Islanders need help throughout their system so they probably won’t be too focused on drafting a particular position, but it would make sense for them to lean towards a forward with guys like Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock and Noah Dobson all likely to be here for the next half-decade.
That said, there’s a decent chance the Islanders make a trade or two before draft day, as general manager Lou Lamoriello has been pretty open in his plans to make changes to the roster before the start of next season. The Islanders could very well dangle this pick for immediate help. —Kevin Kurz
14. Winnipeg Jets: Pavel Mintyukov, LHD, Saginaw-OHL
I think the Jets would love to see Geekie available at 14 and I think U.S. NDTP star center Frank Nazar could be enticing in this spot. I’ll confess no little agony in passing up on Nazar’s upside with the board leaving him open, especially given Winnipeg’s success drafting out of the United States.
At the same time, Pavel Mintyukov scores so well and helps the Saginaw Spirit so much in transition that he is too good to pass up here. The Jets may be loaded at “transition defenceman who can create offence for himself and others” at the AHL level, but the logjam could clear as soon as this summer. In the meantime, Mintyukov’s skill, speed, and hockey IQ imply a success story yet to be written — that elusive top-four defenceman who can attack with the best and defend just well enough to help in a top-four role. —Murat Ates
15. Vancouver Canucks: Lian Bichsel, LHD, Leksands-SHL
Harman Dayal: Frank Nazar would be an intriguing pick if you’re chasing pure upside. I really like him but he’s only 5-foot-10 and I do wonder if that would dissuade Vancouver. I do like Liam Öhgren in this range and wonder if he’d be the type of fit Vancouver would like here.
Thomas Drance: Öhgren is a player that I could see Vancouver being really high on, but that feels like a target for the club if they trade down.
Sense I get is that Mateychuk isn’t a favourite of Vancouver’s amateur staff, and he would feel like a bit of a redundant piece considering the presence of Quinn Hughes, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Travis Dermott and Jack Rathbone. For me, he’s the right pick here.
Dayal: I’d be fully on board with Mateychuk too but I can’t see him realistically being the team’s pick at No. 15. Same goes for Nazar. How about Lian Bischel? He’s not my favourite here but tons of size and excellent skating ability.
Drance: I think he’s the pick here too, just a bit more well-rounded than Mateychuk from a Vancouver perspective. Think this exercise is a good encapsulation of why Vancouver is likely to bump around the draft order. I’m just not sure they’re likely to be enamored any of the options available at 15, which is why I could see them being aggressive in seeking to trade in either direction.
16. Buffalo Sabres: Danila Yurov, RW, Magnitogorsk-KHL
This is where the draft gets interesting for the Sabres. Russian winger Danila Yurov, American center Frank Nazar and Canadian defenseman Denton Mateychuk could all be possibilities here. Yurov is a top-10 talent in this draft, according to most evaluators, but the uncertainty surrounding Russian prospects is going to be a storyline to watch in this draft. It feels like the Sabres are in a position to roll the dice. For starters, they drafted a few Russian prospects last year, showing trust in their Russian scouting. That also gives them familiarity with the process of getting players to America. Add in the fact that the Sabres have three first-round picks and they’re a prime candidate to take a chance on Yurov. He won’t likely last until pick No. 28, so this is the spot for Adams to make the move if he’s willing to absorb the risk. —Matt Fairburn
17. Nashville Predators: Owen Pickering, LHD, Swift Current-WHL
The Predators used to be known as a defenseman factory, but that’s not been the case in recent years. Our latest prospect pool rankings (that listed the Predators No. 12) didn’t put a blueliner in their top five. Does Pickering have the upside of some of the Predators’ better defensemen picks (Dan Hamhuis, Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm, Seth Jones etc.) in their history? Can he provide the type of depth some of their lesser-heralded blueliners like Kevin Klein gave them? We’ll find out over the course of his development. But Pronman lists Pickering’s comparable as Travis Sanheim, who was picked No. 17 in 2014 and he’d add some much-needed talent in this position. Plus, he’s a 6-foot-4 defenseman who can skate and has some offensive upside. That’s worth a selection at this spot for Nashville. —Josh Cooper
18. Dallas Stars: Ryan Chesley, RHD, U.S. NTDP-USHL
The Stars loaded up their system with promising forwards the past few years in picking Mavrik Bourque, Wyatt Johnston and Logan Stankoven but the blue line depth is thin. Thomas Harley has been on the cusp of making the NHL jump and should elevate into a full-time role this season. Behind him, there’s not a lot the Stars have to be excited about. Chesley not only gives them a young defenseman to be excited about but he’s right-handed. Regardless of John Klingberg’s decision this summer, the Stars need talent on the right side for the future. Chesley’s development would also line up well with expiring contracts for a couple of older Stars defensemen and Miro Heiskanen’s prime. —Saad Yousuf
19. Los Angeles Kings: Isaac Howard, LW, U.S. NTDP-USHL
The Kings have one of — if not the — the strongest, deepest prospect pools in the NHL and it puts them in a favorable and enviable spot with their pick, where they can let their current group climb over each other for depth jobs and take a cut on a high-skill, high-upside player for the future. Howard, one of the draft’s most gifted wingers, makes perfect sense for them for those reasons if he’s available. He’s a top-15 talent in this class. He makes a lot of sense for them here. I know he wants to be one-and-done but he could likely be convinced into two college seasons so that he travels along a different timeline than the glut of other kids they’ve got knocking on the door at the moment. —Scott Wheeler
20. Montreal Canadiens: Frank Nazar, C, U.S. NTDP-USHL
From the Washington Capitals in exchange for the No. 26 and No. 62 picks in 2022.
The Canadiens have a lot of later picks and a deep well of prospects in the system. The Capitals have neither. So this trade makes sense for both teams in our mock world, and it would make sense in the real world. According to our Dom Luszczyszyn’s draft pick value chart, this trade actually favors the Capitals slightly in that the No. 26 and No. 62 picks combine to add 4.4 wins over seven years, whereas the No. 20 pick translates to four wins. But the Canadiens are looking to add to the top of their organizational depth chart, so if the right player falls into this range, this is a trade we could see them trying to pull off. Plus they manage to keep the first pick of the second round in this scenario. —Arpon Basu
The Canadiens had to step up here and make a move in order to secure one of the last high-end talents available. Montreal has a plethora of picks and plenty of depth in their pipeline, but they need more forwards with top-six upside. Nazar has a chance to be that if he’s properly developed. He’s undersized but he’s crazy fast, he’s got great vision and a ton of compete. Those are the skills new GM Kent Hughes wants to build the Canadiens on. —M.A. Godin
21. Pittsburgh Penguins: Tristan Luneau, D, Gatineau-QMJHL
The Pittsburgh pick of Luneau transpired for a number of reasons. Kris Letang could bolt in free agency, John Marino isn’t living up to his potential and there isn’t much else in the way of right-handed defensemen in the system. Chad Ruhwedel and Mark Friedman are fine, but Luneau brings a legitimate skill set to the table. This is a player who is a potential top-four defenseman, which is something the Penguins badly require. He’s still a bit raw, but that’s OK. Too much talent here to bypass and, while the Penguins are happy to go the best player available route, they could really use a blue-chip defenseman in their stable. —Josh Yohe
22. Anaheim Ducks: Rutger McGroarty, LW, USNTDP-USHL
Having added a quality prospect to the defense, the Ducks can turn to beefing up another thin area — the wings. Troy Terry’s breakout season was a welcome sight but there isn’t another young player on the flanks that’s showing to have 30-goal potential. Help could come if Jacob Perreault, Sasha Pastujov or Brayden Tracey develops into a pure goal scorer from within the system, but it doesn’t hurt to increase the chances of a prospect breaking through and becoming an offensive fixture for years. McGroarty has the kind of size that will allow him to win battles along the boards and down low. His competitive streak will impress GM Pat Verbeek. But a separator is when a winger can consistently finish plays or bang in loose pucks. On a talented U.S. NTDP squad that could have six or seven first-round picks, the Michigan-bound forward stood out with his ability to fill the net. —Eric Stephens
23. St. Louis Blues: Denton Mateychuk, LHD, Moose Jaw-WHL
The Blues haven’t selected a defenseman with a first-round pick since Vince Dunn in 2015. In the six years since, it’s been forwards Tage Thompson, Robert Thomas, Klim Kostin, Dominik Bokk, Jake Neighbours and Zach Bolduc. Thomas has become a top-six center, a pair of trades turned Thompson into Ryan O’Reilly and Bokk into Justin Faulk. Neighbours and Bolduc have shown great promise. But now it’s time for a defenseman, and the Blues are thrilled to see Mateychuk available at No. 23. He moves the puck well and thinks the game well, and while he’s a tad undersized, his ability brings a lot of value with this selection. —Jeremy Rutherford
24. Minnesota Wild: Jiri Kulich, C/LW, Karlovy Vary-Czechia
The Wild are suddenly deep on defense with Calen Addison, Carson Lambos, Ryan O’Rourke, Daemon Hunt, Jack Peart and Simon Johansson in tow. But they don’t have a lot of high-end forwards coming after Marco Rossi. Kulich can play center and wing, but his game translates more as a wing. Great neutral-zone speed, an elite shot, pro size. This kid will have the ability to score with the exceptional one-timer he possesses. —Michael Russo
25. Toronto Maple Leafs: Liam Ohgren, LW, Djurgarden-Sweden Jr.
Both Ohgren and his Djurgårdens teammate Noah Ostlund have the kinds of smarts and skill that make them players the Leafs could, and should, target. But Ohgren wins out here because he’s more of a complete package. He’s a mature player who captained Sweden at the U18s. Ohgren’s got some strength in his game and can score in a number of ways. His 33 goals in 30 games for Djurgårdens’ U20 team speaks to that. He might not have the skating ability that Ostlund does, but his game might be closer to being NHL ready. And for a Leafs team that will be up against the cap for the next few seasons, that matters. —Joshua Kloke
LIAM OHGREN, WHAT A GOAL!
🇸🇪 Sweden leads 🇺🇸 USA 5-3 midway through the 3rd period.
LIVE NOW: TSN 1, TSN Direct, and the TSN app. pic.twitter.com/3NPntriX4Z
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) May 1, 2022
26. Washington Capitals: Nathan Gaucher, C, Quebec-QMJHL
From the Montreal Canadiens (along with the No. 62 pick) in exchange for the No. 20 pick in 2022.
The decision to trade back six spots was a difficult one. But, given the depth of this year’s draft and the need to restock the cupboard, the opportunity to parlay No. 20 into Nos. 26 and 62 was viewed as a prudent move. With the selection of Gaucher, Washington has added a 6-foot-3, 207-pound two-way center to a prospect pool that already features a pair of touted pivots in Connor McMichael and Hendrix Lapierre. Considering the age of the Caps’ current centers — Nicklas Backstrom (34), Lars Eller (33), Nic Dowd (32) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (30) — Gaucher’s time could arrive sooner than later. —Tarik El-Bashir
27. Arizona Coyotes: Noah Ostlund, C, Djurgarden-Sweden Jr.
When I said the Coyotes needed center depth with the Cooley selection, I wasn’t kidding. They double down here and add the slick, high-skill, high-speed, but also well-rounded three-zone game of Ostlund, strengthening their system’s depth down the middle. A win-win with their first two picks. —Scott Wheeler
28. Buffalo Sabres: Sam Rinzel, D, Chaska-HIGH-MN
After adding two forwards with picks No. 9 and No. 16, the Sabres turn to defense with their third and final first-rounder in this mock draft. Buffalo is well stocked with left-shot defensemen, but it could use a right-handed blueliner to develop. Sam Rinzel isn’t a finished product yet, but few players are this late in the first round. The University of Minnesota recruit is 6-foot-4 and has enough speed to be an offensive threat. He has the type of tools that could make him a first-round pick. —Matt Fairburn
29. Edmonton Oilers: Jimmy Snuggerud, RW, U.S. NTDP-USHL
The Oilers are missing second-, third-, and fourth-round picks in this draft. They also just made the conference finals for the first time in 2016 with two of the league’s best players at the height of their powers. The odds are good they don’t make this pick either due to trading down or dealing it for more immediate help. But if GM Ken Holland, director of scouting Tyler Wright, et al., do head up to the stage, tabbing a winger like Snuggerud makes a lot of sense. Though the organization has been replenishing its prospect cupboard up front in recent years — think Dylan Holloway, Xavier Bourgault, Raphael Lavoie, Carter Savoie, and Matvey Petrov — they could use more offensive talent in the pipeline. Snuggerud, a hard-working and versatile forward, would check a lot of boxes for Edmonton. —Daniel Nugent-Bowman
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) May 1, 2022
30. Winnipeg Jets: Ivan Miroshnichenko, LW, Omsk Krylia-RUSSIA-2
It is unlikely that Winnipeg takes two out of the three Russian stars available in this drat but I can’t help but see them snag Miroschnichenko’s top-10 talent as something of a gamble at 30th overall. Miroschnichenko made it as high as the top five of Pronman’s initial rankings for this draft class before a Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis that has kept him off the ice as he recovers. Medical news appears to be good, with the 6-foot-1, rocket-shooting scorer resuming training his month. There’s a big, fast, first-line scoring talent available here so I have the Jets taking his upside with their second pick. —Murat Ates
31. Tampa Bay Lightning: Reid Schaefer, LW, Seattle-WHL
Schaefer, a 6-foot-3, 214-pound winger, had a strong first full season with Seattle (WHL, racking up 32 goals and 58 points in 66 games. Tampa Bay needs to add strong players to their system both up front and the blue line, and Schaefer, 18, is a little reminiscent of former Lightning first-rounder Nolan Foote, who was dealt to the Devils in the Blake Coleman trade. Schaefer is a big winger who plays hard and boasts some finishing ability too. He has the size to be a power forward, and I’ve heard a comp being more of an Alex Killorn type. With Tampa Bay likely to lose either Killorn and/or Ondrej Palat in coming years, having that depth in the system will be helpful. —Joe Smith
32. Arizona Coyotes: Filip Mesar, RW, Poprad-SLOVAKIA
The Coyotes would probably like to take two centres and a defenceman in a best-case scenario, but all of the D that made the most sense here are gone, nobody’s complaining about the talent injection that the three forwards they’ve selected here would represent, and Mesar’s a player we know Arizona likes because he came right out and told a small group of reporters they did at the combine (in a very innocent way, so I hope they don’t hold it against him!). —Scott Wheeler
This mock draft looks rather close to mine so obviously my criticisms will be on the edges. For example, I don’t see Ryan Chesley or Isaac Howard especially going in the top 20, but both are candidates to go in the 20s. Luneau is also a little high for me. He probably goes closer to 30 than 20. Two players I’m hearing of late who may go higher than this mock, and other mocks we’ve published of late, would be Gaucher and Schaefer.
NHL scouts’ audit
Not surprisingly when I sent this mock draft around to scouts, there were criticisms! Some of the more consensus opinions were that they felt Chesley and Luneau went too high and were more realistic candidates five to 10 picks later. There were other players scouts were more divided on. Some liked where we projected Lian Bichsel, and some thought it was too high.
Some thought Noah Ostlund will go higher, and some felt he wasn’t a first-rounder. The same could be said for Sam Rinzel who some strongly refuted will go in the first and others felt has a chance to get late 1. A couple of scouts noted they think Nathan Gaucher will go higher. They mostly didn’t like Frank Nazar being the fifth U.S. NTDP player off the board either. Some scouts felt McGroarty will both go higher and lower.
It wasn’t all criticism though, with one scout saying he liked how we had the top 12 and felt that was the top group.
In terms of more interesting critiques, one executive felt we made “many too many easy connections” such as “Islanders going with Lambert (who is related to their coach), Bichsel to the Canucks (Canucks GM Patrik Allvin connection to Bichsel’s SHL team), Sharks taking Lekkerimaki (teammate of their 2021 first-round pick) etc., Rarely do drafts work out like that.”
Finally one scout said, “Every time I read a mock draft it’s the same three forwards picked 1-2-3 in Wright, Slafkovsky, Cooley and then the defensemen back to back. I would be surprised if that’s actually how it goes. History says there will be at least one surprise.”
(Illustration: John Bradford / The Athletic; Photos: Chris Tanouye, Monika Majer / RvS. Media / Getty; Rena Laverty / U.S. NTDP)