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Final Prospect Rankings Released By NHL Central Scouting Bureau

NEW YORK (May 5, 2022) – Shane Wright (Burlington, Ont.), a center from the Ontario Hockey League’s Kingston Frontenacs, and Juraj Slafkovsky (Kosice, Slovakia), a left wing for TPS in Finland, rank No. 1 among North American and International skaters, respectively, as the NHL Central Scouting Bureau today released its final rankings for the 2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft.

Wright, who can become the first Frontenacs player selected No. 1 overall in the NHL Draft and the first OHL player since Connor McDavid in 2015, maintains the No. 1 spot he held in the mid-season rankings. Wright ranked eighth in the OHL with 32-62—94 in 63 games during the regular season and is currently skating in the second round of the OHL Playoffs (2-6—8 in 6 GP).

“Shane Wright is the complete package as an NHL prospect. He is a strong stride skater who possesses deceptive speed and quickness to beat defenders, evade checking or lead a rush,” said Dan Marr, Director of NHL Central Scouting. “He has elite hockey sense with his vision, anticipation and composure to execute quickly on plays and has proven that he can carry the load and lead the way when it’s needed in game situations.”

Slafkovsky climbed from No. 2 during the mid-season rankings to No. 1 among international skaters following a second half that included MVP honors at the Winter Olympic Games where he led the tournament in goals and points (7-0—7 in 7 GP) while helping Slovakia earn bronze – the country’s first-ever Olympic medal for ice hockey. Slafkovsky can become just the second Slovakian-born player selected in the top five of the NHL Draft, in which he would join Marian Gaborik (No. 3 in 2000 by MIN).


“Juraj Slafkovsky has that power winger element that NHL Clubs covet and his game has shown continual development this season while playing in the Pro Liiga in Finland and with the bronze medal-winning Team Slovakia at the Olympics,” said Marr. “He is a smooth and agile skater for his size and has the strength, smarts and offensive tools to be productive. What has been most impressive is the ability he's shown to learn and quickly adapt his play to get results at every level he’s competed this season.”

The remainder of the top-five ranked skaters in North America include a pair of forwards from USA Hockey’s National Team Development program’s Under-18 team, No. 2 Logan Cooley (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and No. 3 Cutter Gauthier (Skelleftea, Sweden), followed by a pair of centers from Winnipeg of the Western Hockey League in No. 4 Matthew Savoie (St. Albert, Alta.) and No. 5 Conor Geekie (Strathclair, Man.).


Cooley ranked second on USA Hockey’s Under-18 team in points (27-48—75 in 51 GP). He grew up in the Pittsburgh area and was part of the first-ever season of players who took part in Sidney Crosby’s Little Penguins Learn to Play Program. Cooley can go from the Little Penguins program to the highest Pennsylvania-born player selected in the NHL Draft – currently R.J. Umberger (No. 16 in 2001 by VAN).

Gauthier ranked second on USA Hockey’s Under-18 team in goals (34-31—65 in 54 GP). His father, Sean Gauthier, was a goaltender and ninth-round pick by the original Winnipeg Jets in 1991 (181st overall) who had a 14-season professional career that included stops in the NHL, IHL, AHL, ECHL and Sweden. Gauthier was born in Skelleftea, Sweden, grew up in Scottsdale Ariz. and played minor hockey in the Detroit Honeybaked program.

Savoie (St. Albert, Alta.), a center for the Winnipeg ICE, led all WHL rookies and ranked seventh in the league with 35-55—90 in 65 games. Geekie, who is the brother of Kraken forward Morgan Geekie, averaged 1.11 points per game (24-46—70 in 63 GP) while ranking tied for second on his team in game-winning goals (6).

Following Slafkovsky on the ranking of international skaters is No. 2 Joakim Kemell (Jyvaskyla, Finland), a right wing for JYP in Finland’s top professional league. Kemell led all Finnish Elite League rookies with 15 goals in 2021-22 and was a key contributor to Finland’s bronze medal at the 2022 Under-18 World Championship.

Rounding out the top-five international skaters are No. 3 Simon Nemec (Liptovsky Mikulas, Slovakia), a defenseman for Nitra in Slovakia’s professional league; No. 4 David Jiricek (Klatovy, Czechia), a defenseman for Plzen in the Czech professional league; and No. 5 Marco Kasper (Innsbruck, Austria), a center for Rogle of the Swedish Elite League.

Tyler Brennan (Winnipeg, Man.) of Prince George (WHL) is the No. 1-ranked North American goaltender and Topias Leinonen (Jyvaskyla, Finland) of JYP’s junior team tops the list of international goaltenders.


The final rankings feature the top 224 skaters and 32 goaltenders in North America as well as the top 140 skaters and 10 goaltenders internationally.

In its 47th year of operation, NHL Central Scouting provides evaluation and scouting of draft-eligible players to NHL member clubs. Headed by Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr, NHL Central Scouting employs eight full-time scouts throughout North America. To report on prospects playing internationally, the NHL employs the services of Goran Stubb and his staff at European Scouting Services based in Finland.

The 2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft is scheduled from July 7-8, 2022 and will be hosted by the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre in Montreal, Que.

For NHL Draft history visit https://records.nhl.com/draft.

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Steeb's avatar

I don’t know how the Int’l list syncs up with the NA list, but would Savoie or Geekie or Kasper be good bets to fill our C needs, and fall to us at 9 or 10 (face it, we’re picking 9 or 10)? Or do we go Best Player at that point? I’d be hesitant to pick a winger, just bkz we have those. But Stevie will do right by us, I’m sure.

Posted by Steeb on 05/05/22 at 02:57 PM ET

Paul's avatar

from Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News,

Because it’s important to remember just how different each NHL team’s internal rankings are from both other teams and Central’s ranking. Last year, for example, at least one team had Fyodor Svechkov as a top-tier pick, but he ended up going to Nashville at No. 19 (so congratulations to that team for getting someone even higher on their board). Pittsburgh Penguins president of hockey operations Brian Burke also tells the story of how, during his GM tenure in Toronto, the Maple Leafs had defenseman Morgan Rielly as the No. 1 player on their internal board back in 2012, above Nail Yakupov (who went first overall to Edmonton) and another blueliner in Ryan Murray (who went second to Columbus). The Leafs got Rielly with the fifth pick overall.

As for the accuracy of Central’s final rankings, you have to consider all those team preferences when looking at the final product. Last year, the top North American skaters were, in order, Owen Power, Mason McTavish and Kent Johnson. The actual order ended up being Power at No. 1, Matty Beniers at No. 2 and McTavish at No. 3, with Johnson not far behind at No. 5. Central had Beniers as its sixth-best North American prospect.


Here is a list of international skaters, it may be protected for media members only.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 05/05/22 at 03:19 PM ET

Paul's avatar

from Kevin Allen of Detroit Hockey Now,

The Detroit Red Wings, unless they win the NHL draft lottery, will be in a position to buy American at the NHL draft this summer.

NHL Central Scouting’s Final Draft rankings has two U.S. National Development Program players listed in the general vicinity of where the Red Wings are likely to be picking. The Red Wings currently are slotted eighth, and they could fall to 10th if two teams jump over them through the lottery. But the odds of Detroit picking No. 8 or No. 9 are 84.4%.

U.S. NTDP left wing Isaac Howard is ranked No. 9 among North American players and right wing Jimmy Snuggerud, the son of former NHLer Dave Snuggerud, is ranked No. 11.

But that is somewhat misleading because Central Scouting does a separate list for European players, and five or six off that list could go in the top 10 in the NHL draft July 7 and 8 in Montreal.

And to make it even more confusing team lists can vary significantly from Central Scouting and mock drafts published by independent scouting entities. For example, GM Steve Yzerman had Moritz Seider ranked higher than other scouting services.

But both Howard and Snuggerud are scorers, and the Red Wings need more of those.  Howard has scored 33 goals and registered 82 points in 60 games this season. Snuggerud had 24 goals and 63 points in 59 games.


Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 05/05/22 at 07:43 PM ET


Savoie will not fall to us at 9 or 10, but geekie might. He’d be a good pick as long as you’re confident he can improve his skating. He has solid skills, but he’s big and lanky and still awkward on his skates just a bit. If he can work through that he’s going to be good. I don’t want to reach for him but likkeramaki is pretty under rated and would Be a nice trade back if you can grab him a bit later and pick up an extra pick.

Posted by beantownredwings on 05/05/22 at 08:03 PM ET


I saw Geekie going to us at 9 on some mock drafts

Posted by VPalmer on 05/06/22 at 12:50 PM ET

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Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com