The lottery balls have fallen into place: The prime of the NHL Draft order begins with the Montreal Canadiens at No. 1, the New Jersey Devils at No. 2 and the Arizona Coyotes at No. 3.

To offer you a take a look at how issues might play out, The Athletic’s NHL writers made picks for each lottery staff (plus the Nashville Predators, freshly eradicated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, who will choose at No. 17). A full first-round mock draft will observe subsequent week.

Prospect author Corey Pronman audited their picks. He additionally sought suggestions from NHL scouts.

The 2022 NHL Entry Draft will happen in Montreal on July 7 and eight.

1. Montreal Canadiens: Shane Wright, C, Kingston (OHL)

OK, so Wright isn’t the thrilling prospect you’ll count on so as to add with the highest choose within the draft, however there’s no level wishing for a franchise participant when there isn’t one obtainable. I see Wright as a bit like Nico Hischier in his draft yr, though there won’t be Cale Makars and Elias Petterssons after him like there was behind Hischier in 2017.

While Wright’s respectable season in Kingston raises questions on his true offensive upside, the Habs additionally want to take a look at what his flooring is. Wright is extremely more likely to turn out to be an excellent NHL participant and a first-line centerman, and a adequate participant to assist the Habs construct a one-two punch at heart that might someday resemble the Patrice Bergeron-David Krejci years in Boston (though, let’s be clear, Shane Wright just isn’t Patrice Bergeron).

A extra electrifying prospect could trace to increased potential or pizzazz, however would he have pretty much as good an opportunity of reaching his ceiling as Wright? Montreal merely doesn’t have the luxurious of constructing a mistake with this choose and Wright generally is a nice constructing block for them. —MA Godin

2. New Jersey Devils: Juraj Slafkovsky, LW, Tps (FINLAND)

The Devils have their top-six heart depth thanks to 2 earlier No. 1 total picks in Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes. With the second total choose, New Jersey has choices. There’s fairly a number of expert defenders to select from — or perhaps they’re enticed by Slafkovsky, one of the best winger within the draft. That would give them the chance to handle a reliable space of want whereas holding onto the draft choose that Tom Fitzgerald hasn’t dominated out shifting … for a excessive influence ahead. Having this luck within the draft lottery might change his tune because it offers the Devils the prospect to usher in an influence ahead who might emerge right into a core participant alongside both of their cornerstone facilities. —Shayna Goldman

Logan Cooley (Rena Laverty / U.S. NTDP)

3. Arizona Coyotes: Logan Cooley, C, USA U-18 (NTDP)

I think the Coyotes, given the make-up of their staff and prospect pool, are among the many groups drafting on the prime who’re almost definitely to pick one of many prime two defensemen, Simon Nemec and David Jiricek. But if Cooley is on the board, they’ll have a good more durable time passing on the potential heart of the longer term — and a participant who would, stylistically, complement wingers like Clayton Keller and prime prospect Dylan Guenther fantastically. Cooley, who will play on the University of Minnesota subsequent yr, is a possible one-and-done participant who performs the sport with pace and creativity within the guts of the ice. —Scott Wheeler

4. Seattle Kraken: David Jiricek, RHD, Plzen (CZREP)

Look all through the group. The Kraken solely have one right-handed capturing prospect defenseman, and that’s final yr’s fourth-round choose Ville Ottavainen. Drafting David Jiricek would give them one other right-handed shot with a 6-foot-3 body. He’s spent the final two seasons enjoying in opposition to older, extra bodily mature competitors within the Extraliga, the very best division of Czech hockey. The 18-year-old completed the common season with 5 objectives and 11 factors in 29 video games after scoring 9 factors in 34 contests a yr earlier. Jiricek is taken into account to be the No. 1 defensive prospect within the draft, in line with The Athletic’s Corey Pronman. Knowing the Kraken may add him to a younger core that already options Matty Beniers, Ryker Evans, Ryan Winterton and Ottavainen probably affords extra promise. Of course, the Kraken might go in any variety of instructions. They might go along with one other right-handed capturing defenseman in Simon Nemec or a ahead. Especially if Logan Cooley is offered at No. 4 when the draft arrives. —Ryan S. Clark

5. Philadelphia Flyers: Simon Nemec, RHD, Nitra (SLOVAKIA)

While the Flyers might definitely use a dynamic, top-of-the-lineup ahead, Nemec strikes me as one of the best mixture of expertise plus want obtainable to them at No. 5. Nemec completely has top-pair potential, given his well-rounded skillset and the truth that he’s already thriving in opposition to males in Slovakia. Philadelphia scouts doubtless shall be impressed by his hockey IQ (at all times one thing they prioritize of their evaluations), and his scoring explosion within the Slovakian Elite League playoffs (17 factors in 19 video games) speaks to his offensive upside. The proven fact that he’s a right-handed defenseman is only a bonus, however it’s an essential bonus given the dearth of them within the NHL and inside the Flyers’ system, particularly given the reliable issues surrounding Ryan Ellis’ well being. Nemec would function a possible high-end resolution to a roster concern they’ve been making an attempt to unravel for years. —Charlie O’Connor


Matthew Savoie (Photo courtesy Winnipeg Ice)

6. Columbus Blue Jackets: Matthew Savoie, C, Winnipeg (WHL)

The Blue Jackets have been underskilled and unsettled at heart ice for many of their existence, however the 2021 and ’22 draft could lastly change that.

Savoie (5-10) doesn’t have basic No. 1 heart measurement, however he has a game-changer’s pace and talent set together with an NHL shot. He performs with a chip on his shoulder, too, and common supervisor Jarmo Kekalainen has a smooth spot for these guys.

There was no likelihood the Blue Jackets might rise up on the board for Shane Wright or Logan Cooley, so that they took the third-ranked heart on most scouts’ lists. Cooley initiatives as a top-six participant.

The Blue Jackets drafted Kent Johnson at No. 5 and Cole Sillinger at No. 12 in final yr’s draft. Sillinger performed heart in Columbus as an 18-year-old this season and positive appears to be like like a budding top-six expertise. He had 16-15-31 and was surprisingly constant defensively. Johnson performed solely on the wing on the finish of this season, however coaches and administration insist he’ll get a glance within the center finally. He is a playmaker extraordinaire however must bulk up significantly to play within the center. The drafting of Savoie makes it more and more doubtless that Johnson might stay on the wing. He might finally push Boone Jenner again to left wing, too, after the captain performed within the center out of necessity. —Aaron Portzline

7. Ottawa Senators: Joakim Kemell, RW, Jyp (FINLAND)

The Senators have by no means picked within the No. 7 slot earlier than, and I do assume there’s a likelihood they may commerce this choose for some rapid assist earlier than the draft. In the previous, the identify that may have jumped out to me would have been Frank Nazar, as a result of he appears to test a variety of bins of what the Sens have drafted lately.

But I do assume this group goes to wish some high-end expertise up entrance, in order I take a look at our mock draft up so far, I’m inclined to lean in the direction of Joakim Kemell on this spot. Kemell exploded out of the gates together with his membership staff in Finland in October, changing into the youngest participant in Liiga historical past to earn the league’s participant of the month award. He was main the complete league in objectives (12) and factors (16) when a shoulder harm sidelined him in November. From there, he wasn’t in a position to rediscover his early season magic, however many scouts consider he has the pace and talent that may permit him to be a productive top-six winger within the NHL.

Again, as we transfer nearer to the draft, I believe we should always count on to listen to extra chatter in regards to the Sens being open to buying and selling this choose. But for now, let’s plug in Kemell to Ottawa right here. —Ian Mendes

8. Detroit Red Wings: Cutter Gauthier, C/LW, USA U-18 (NTDP)

The Red Wings actually might have used one of many potential top-line facilities on the prime of this class, as that place stays one of many weakest spots of their group behind Dylan Larkin. There are “purer” heart choices obtainable right here in Marco Kasper, Frank Nazar and Conor Geekie, however Gauthier performed some heart earlier this season and has at the very least an opportunity to play there on the subsequent degree. Whether he sticks down the center or finally ends up on the wing, although, his software package is spectacular, as a swift skating 6-foot-2 sniper. —Max Bultman

9. Buffalo Sabres: Jonathan Lekkerimaki, RW, Djurgarden (SWEDEN)

All issues equal, the Sabres would doubtless need a heart with their choice (given what they have already got approaching the flanks in Jack Quinn and J.J. Peterka, and probably even Isak Rosen, final yr’s second first rounder). I thought of Frank Nazar and Conor Geekie right here. But Lekkerimaki, one of many extra dynamic gamers on this draft class regardless of place, is broadly considered as the higher prospect. I believe the Sabres will doubtless get one of the best worth going after a winger with their first choose (at the very least if heart Matthew Savoie, who could also be there, is gone) and a middle or defenseman with their second, even when they’d wish to goal the latter positions extra aggressively. —Scott Wheeler

10. Anaheim Ducks: Marco Kasper, C, Rogle (SWEDEN)

Cutter Gauthier was a goal if he fell, however the massive winger with pace and an enormous shot was snapped up, so the Ducks might go in numerous instructions given the necessity for higher-end expertise up entrance and on the blue line within the system.

First-year GM Pat Verbeek desires extra measurement on his membership, however he additionally actually desires gamers who will covet the puck with the sort of tenacity he did all through his stellar profession. Kasper, 17, already has a stable 6-foot-1, 187-pound body and is an excellent skater who doesn’t lack in compete. He has a nostril for the web and has proven with Rögle of the SHL that he’s bought a deft contact in the case of tipping level pictures.

Now it’s doable that Verbeek might store this choose and search extra rapid assist for his roster or transfer down a number of spots to choose up some extra property. Speedy heart Frank Nazar or offensive-minded defenseman Pavel Mintyukov might nonetheless be mendacity round at a decrease place, and Anaheim might get one and have an additional high-round choose to dangle in a commerce package deal. But even with the middle place theoretically set in Anaheim, Kasper can be a superb choose to current choices towards both having him on the wing or shifting both Trevor Zegras or Mason McTavish there down the road to strengthen total groupings.

11. San Jose Sharks: Brad Lambert, C, Pelicans (FINLAND)

Whether or not the Sharks have a brand new GM by the draft stays to be seen. There have been a number of attention-grabbing prospects obtainable at No. 11, together with a pair of fellows who have been ranked increased early on in the course of the course of for this draft class – Lambert and Ivan Miroshnichenko. Two of San Jose’s latest first-round picks – Ryan Merkley and William Eklund – have been additionally gamers who have been ranked increased than they have been drafted (for various causes). The Sharks might tab Lambert right here with the hope that his high-end skating capacity will get him to the NHL quickly, and the membership’s growth employees will help ease among the points that led to his slide from as soon as being thought of a possible top-3 choice on this class. —Corey Masisak

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Conor Geekie (Chris Tanouye / Getty Images)

12. Columbus Blue Jackets: Conor Geekie, C, Winnipeg (WHL)

The Blue Jackets gave severe consideration to drafting Conor Geekie with the No. 6 total choose however as an alternative went with the speedy, expert Savoie. Geekie is a middle, too, however a completely totally different participant.

Geekie is the sort of massive (6-4, 205 kilos) expert heart that NHL golf equipment often covet, which is why it was a pleasing shock to see him nonetheless on the board at No. 12. When he’s accomplished rising he’s anticipated to hit 6-5, 225 kilos. Imagine him on a line with Patrik Laine.

The Blue Jackets, as famous above, are determined to repair their heart ice place. But in addition they want some measurement, some muscle, some snarl of their lineup after getting abused at occasions this season. Geekie can carry that component, too.

The one criticism about Geekie is his skating. But the instruments are there for him to be an influence participant. —Aaron Portzline

13. New York Islanders: Danila Yurov, RW, Magnitogorsk (RUSSIA)

There’s most likely simply pretty much as good of an opportunity that the Islanders use this choose as commerce bait for a longtime NHL veteran, as common supervisor Lou Lamoriello has stated on a number of events that he’ll be pursuing trades within the offseason, doubtless for a left-shot defenseman to pair with Noah Dobson and a scoring winger.

But in the event that they hold it, contemplating their prospect pool is fairly barren for the time being, they need to most likely simply merely goal one of the best ahead or defenseman obtainable at this stage of the primary spherical. They might use extra depth within the system at each place. So, the choose right here is winger Danila Yurov, a playmaking winger who spent final yr in Russia. He would arguably be the Islanders’ greatest prospect upon his arrival, relying on what you consider heart Aatu Raty, who might conceivably problem for an NHL roster spot subsequent season however continues to be removed from a positive factor. —Kevin Kurz

14. Winnipeg Jets: Frank Nazar, C, USA U-18 (NTDP)

The board has damaged excellent to offer Winnipeg a troublesome resolution. Dominion City, Manitoba-born defenseman Denton Mateychuk continues to be obtainable after a standout season for Moose Jaw. The five-foot-11 Mateychuk performed massive minutes and scored at some extent per sport, excelling in transition and including a dynamic layer to the Warriors’ offence. Drafting Mateychuk might make sense for the Jets past his native roots — it might permit Winnipeg to package deal equally expert and undersized defenseman Ville Heinola for extra rapid assist.

Other extremely ranked defensemen on the board embody easy skating six-foot-two Pavel Mintyukov and six-foot-two Seattle Thunderbird Kevin Korchinski, however Winnipeg chooses the speediest heart obtainable: 5-foot-10 Frank Nazar from the US National Development Team Program.

Nazar is a top-10 rated expertise recognized for his blazing pace, willingness to assault from the center of the ice, and the 70 factors he put up for the U.S. under-18 staff this season. Nazar is dedicated to the University of Michigan subsequent season — a prime NCAA program — the place he’ll look to supply offence together with his mixture of high-end competitiveness and top-flight pace. —Murat Ates

15. Vancouver Canucks: Nathan Gaucher, C, Quebec (QMJHL)

The Vancouver Canucks want principally every part of their comparatively barren prospect system.

Even with sub-6-foot defenders like Quinn Hughes and Jack Rathbone within the system, the membership can’t overlook the likes of Kevin Korchinski and Denton Mateychuk in the event that they’re one of the best gamers obtainable.

Centermen like Jiri Kulich and Nathan Gaucher will maintain vital attraction too, as would extra rugged scoring wingers like Jimmy Snuggerud and Rutger McGroarty.

There’s doubtless a few extra dynamic items that went forward of fifteenth on this mock that the Canucks would have their eye on, however the group feels that there’s not a ton of separation between the fifth-overall choice and the fifteenth on this specific draft class. I believe they’ll significantly take into account buying and selling down too, as a way of including extra picks in an effort to handle the numerous hole of their prospect pipeline.

I’ve determined to mock them choosing Gaucher for now. Gaucher is a 6-foot-3 defensive-oriented centerman out of the QMJHL with good toes for his measurement and respectable palms. Gaucher is the choose partly as a result of I’ve heard that the group fairly admires the participant (though fifteenth total may be a bit wealthy for him), and partly as a result of it’s a excessive upside choose in the midst of the primary spherical. —Thomas Drance

16. Buffalo Sabres: Denton Mateychuk, LHD, Moose Jaw (WHL)

I believe the NTDP’s Isaac Howard is one of the best prospect obtainable right here, however there’s no method the Sabres take two wingers, there isn’t a worthy heart left (they’d most likely take into consideration Noah Ostlund, if something), defensemen at all times get handed over after we do that train, and there’s no method one (or two) of Denton Mateychuk, Pavel Mintyukov, and Kevin Korchinski aren’t chosen within the lottery vary. I like Mateychuk, who’s having a stellar playoff run with the Moose Jaw Warriors for the time being, for the Sabres. —Scott Wheeler

17. Nashville Predators: Kevin Korchinski, LHD, Seattle (WHL)

Korchinski is a high-scoring defenseman who can deal with the puck, so he would match proper in with the Predators. Nashville’s left aspect is anchored by Roman Josi and Mattias Ekholm, each of whom are 31. Korchinski would offer younger depth. —Adam Vingan

Pronman’s audit

The very first thing I observed because the mock went on was the long term on forwards. Between picks No. 6 and No. 15 solely forwards have been chosen. Based on historical past within the draft, it’s unlikely we received’t see a defenseman or three picked in that vary. The one which stood out to me as probably too low was Seattle defenseman Kevin Korchinski. While that’s the place I’ve him on my private record, in discussions with league personnel over the past month he’s a participant trending up, particularly after a powerful WHL playoffs. He is extra more likely to go prime 12 than prime 20. Pavel Mintyukov can also be a powerful consideration in that vary. Both Korchinski and Mintyukov have similarities as cell, extremely expert defensemen with good measurement who aren’t one of the best defensively, and I’d guess they each go earlier than Mateychuk.

Only one Russian participant went within the prime 17, with Yurov going to the Islanders. My private opinion is he most likely goes between 15-25 though I’ve him prime 10 on my record, however truthfully it’s arduous to say. It will solely take one staff pondering they’ll get him a visa with no issues. I can’t say the writers bought the Russian factor incorrect — it very properly might play out like this, however it’s one thing to notice for positive.

Conor Geekie’s slot is attention-grabbing. He’s a very divisive participant within the trade, with some scouts pondering he’s a prime 5-8 candidate, and others pondering he’s a teenagers choose. I can see the place he landed on our mock as a sensible slot.

Also, have to like Porty uniting the Winnipeg ICE duo. That can be an amazing story!

NHL scouts’ audit

Almost each scout I polled stated Korchinski ought to have been a lottery staff choose. He’s the odds-on favourite to be the third defenseman picked within the draft at the moment. Almost each scout stated Yurov went too excessive as properly, even when they’re massive followers of the gamers. A sentiment felt across the league is that they don’t assume a staff will gamble on him that prime once they really feel there are good options to choose from as an alternative. “Yurov is that high on my board but I’m not sure I see a team step up to take him there,” stated one scout.

There was much less consensus on different picks. Some scouts felt Marco Kasper went too excessive, whereas different scouts had no concern together with his slotting. Several felt Brad Lambert will go decrease than the place we had him slotted however some felt he was superb the place he was. Some felt Gaucher went too excessive and a few felt that was a great spot for him. Several scouts like Geekie’s spot and a number of other sources stated they’d be very shocked if he bought out of the highest 10. Some scouts felt Nazar went too low, and a few felt he went too excessive.

Some who have been following the draft leadup this season could increase their eyebrow at Bultman taking Gauthier at No. 8, however one of many NHL executives I polled stated he’ll go increased than we mocked him; none stated he went too excessive.

“Reading your mock, it’s almost too chalk,” stated one scout. “I think there’s going to be some surprise names people aren’t uniformly discussing.”

(Illustration: Wes McCabe / The Athletic; Photos: Ken Andersen, Jean Catuffe / Getty Images; Russell Hons / CSM by way of ZUMA Wire; Cal Sport Media by way of AP Images)

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