You know Shane Wright. Then you are already aware that the Canadian has a 25.5% chance of winning the draft lottery tonight.
In the worst case, Montreal general manager Kent Hughes will have to settle for the third overall selection of the 2022 vintage, invited on July 7 at the Bell Centre.
Yet do you know who else is likely to succeed him – or even beat him, you never know – on the big stage to be welcomed into the NHL?
The Surprise Sports offers you today to meet some of them and, why not, to refresh your memory immediately about Wright.
Center, 6’1″, 187 lbs
Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
According to many experts, the star player of the Kingston Frontenacs remains the best hope of his vintage.
But the gap with his closest pursuers narrowed during the year. He had a disappointing start to the season after finishing his rookie season with 1.14 points per game.
Wright recovered, however, by completing the regular schedule with 32 goals and 94 points in 63 games, raising his point-per-game average to 1.5.
Wright is 6’1″ and 187 pounds and has the physique to succeed in the NHL. Although gifted in terms of skills, Wright does not have the profile of Connor McDavid.
He is a responsible center player with an elite throw, he doesn’t display any significant flaws in his game, but he also doesn’t encourage you to step up to the end of your seat every time he touches the puck.
Nevertheless, according to some observers, he has what it takes to pivot the first trio in the big league.
“Shane Wright has all the strengths as an NHL prospect. He’s a powerful skater who’s both fast and lively, which allows him to beat defensemen, avoid checks, or lead an offensive climb,” Dan Marr, the NHL’s director of central recruiting, said last week, following the release of the final ranking of top prospects, in dominated by Wright.
“He has a superior sense of hockey with his vision, anticipation, and composure to execute games quickly. He has proven that he can be a leader when necessary in a match situation.
Left Wing, 6 ft 4″, 218 lb
TPS Turku (Finland)
You may know Juraj Slafkovsky because you watched the last Olympic tournament, you’re a fan of the Slovak national team, or you subscribe to the Slovak version of Forbes.
He finds himself on the magazine’s cover because he seduced an entire country by helping his team win his first Olympic medal, the bronze, and was named MVP of the Olympics for scoring 7 goals in 7 games.
At 6’4″ and 218 lbs., the powerful left-winger also has something to offer NHL clubs eager to make him their future power forward. His puck possession skills and imposing physique have allowed him to be a regular player with TPS Turku in the best Finnish league (5 goals and 5 assists in 31 games) and make him one of the most dominant players in this draft.
“Scouts don’t use the word ‘impressive’ when talking about players, but we’ve seen him adapt and find game-after-game solutions at the Olympics,” said Marr, whose scouting team considers Slafkovsky to be the best European player eligible for the draft.
“With each game, he improved a little more, and he found a way to use all his assets, including his imposing physique.”
“I’m not a fan of using the phrase ‘NHL ready’ for 18- and 19-year-olds, but physically, he could be the closest player to fighting for an NHL position next year.”
Center, 5’10”, 174 lb
u18 U18 Development Program (USHL)
Speed, skills, good hands, offensive flair, and dynamism. It’s hard not to notice when Cooley has the puck at the end of his stick. It’s hard not to see.
The University of Minnesota Gophers’ future forward does not have the bulk of templates, but that does not stop him from doing so.
A team member that represented the United States at the last World Juniors at the age of 17, Cooley was responsible for pivoting the second trio and getting playing time on the power play.
“He’s such a good player,” Craig Button, director of recruitment at our sister station TSN, recently marveled. “For me, he could become a player like Josh Norris. Maybe even [Evgeni] Kuznetsov in Washington.
He is so skillful, intelligent, and competitive. In my opinion, he is the best player available in this draft after Shane Wright.
Right-handed defenceman, 6’3″, 189 lb
HC Plzen (Czechia)
Seen by many observers as the best defender available in this draft, the Czech boy is an imposing back with a penchant for solid checks and physical play.
Jiricek can also contribute in attack, especially with good vision and a powerful shot from the point of support on the power play, but his offensive skills are more limited than some of his peers.
A regular player at a good club in the top Czech league, Jiricek did well alongside mature players before suffering a knee injury at the World Juniors that required surgery and caused him to miss the second half of the season.
Following his recovery, Jiricek was invited to the Czech training camp for the Senior World Championship.
“At 6’3” and 189 lbs. Jiricek is seen as a more old-fashioned player, an aggressive defensive back who wants to hurt, and a powerful skater.
Recruiters love all this, but they wonder about its offensive limitations,” TSN’s renowned Bob McKenzie reported this winter.
Right-handed defender, 6 ft, 189 lb
Nitra MHC (Slovakia)
A defenseman is more up-to-date for the NHL of 2022. A full-back, Nemec has fared well over the past two campaigns in the best that Slovakia has to offer as a professional league, finishing the last year with a goal and 25 assists in 39 games.
Nemec has distinguished himself on the international stage by participating in the last two World Juniors, the Olympic Games, and being named MVP of the Hlinka Gretzky Cup last summer.
Nemec is dangerous in transition for opposing clubs, fast, efficient under pressure, and equipped with excellent skills. The Slovak is nevertheless solid in defense without being very physical, thanks to his skating stroke and ..sense of the game.
“The strength in Nemec’s game is his skating stroke, puck management, and ability to analyze the game at very high speed,” Button said.