Now that the Stanley Cup playoffs have progressed to the conference finals, we know more about the order of picks for the 2022 NHL draft in Montreal. All but the bottom four picks from the first round are final, with the remainder being determined in the next two rounds of the playoffs. To pick up where I left off last time, I’ve put together a mock draft for the first round, with this version starting at #17. For a look at the top 16 picks, check out my previous mock draft entry.
As for the new picks, let’s get to the brass nails:
17. Nashville Predators, Jimmy Snuggerud, RW: For a franchise usually associated with great defenders, the Preds have actually had some very balanced drafts lately, so we’re going to be voted Best Player Available here. Coming from a large hockey family, Snuggerud has improved tremendously this season with the US NTDP. The best part? He’s just getting started. The University of Minnesota Commitment plays a smart game for all situations and has a high cap.
18 Dallas Stars Pavel Mintyukov D: With Wyatt Johnston and Logan Stankoven fielding picks in the CHL in 2021, we’re giving Dallas a defender with the Stars’ first pick of 2022. Mintyukov has been outstanding for OHL Saginaw this year, contributing at both ends of the ice and demonstrating a big competition fire. Mintyukov is a great skater who can speed up the puck. He’s at his best when he’s picking his spots.
19. Kings of Los Angeles, Danila Yurov, RW: What do you get for a team that has everything in the pipeline? How about a possible home run in Yurov, the top Russian in class? Having played at home this season it’s anyone’s guess as to when he’ll be picked, but on paper Yurov is a strong, powerful forward with a great shot that can really produce. He can also play center, although the Kings already have a lot of options there.
20. Washington Capitals, Liam Ohgren, LW: With three of Washington’s top four prospects in Future Watch playing on the blue line (Vince Iorio, Alexander Alexeyev and Lucas Johansen), we’ll pick a forward here in Ohgren, captain of the gold-medal Sweden U18 team. Well built with a shoot first mentality, Ohgren can also play and is a strong skater. When he’s not on a score line, his level of competition still brings value.
21. Pittsburgh Penguins, Brad Lambert, RW: When you draft as infrequently as the penguins, you occasionally have to take a risk. Lambert was a potential top-three pick for the season but struggled in the spotlight, leaving teams wondering what his future holds. His hands and skating are among the best in the class, but the work ethic and hockey sense are red flags. In the back half of the first round, could the pens make great value here?
22. Anaheim Ducks (from BOS), Rutger McGroarty, LW: Anaheim has been a great landing spot for NTDP players for years, and McGroarty would be a nice pickup here. The University of Michigan Commitment has size, skill and a two-way game and was only really hampered by his speed. Assuming he finds another gear while developing in the college game, he’d give the exciting ducks of the future a little more upfront weight.
23. St Louis Blues, Nathan Gaucher, C: Gaucher feels like a Blues pick, maybe because St. Louis have been such a great heavy two-way team in recent years. Gaucher plays for Patrick Roy’s Quebec Remparts in the “Q” and is a physical 200-footer with great hands in traffic. His skating needs different gear, but he has time to pick that up as he progresses through Major Junior.
24. Minnesota Wild, Lian Bichsel, D: You have Kaprizov, you have Boldy, you have Rossi. Now it’s time to spice up the Blueline. Bichsel is a Swiss who played for Leksand in Sweden this year and showed a lot of promise as a granite-smashing defender with a mean streak. Bichsel is the kind of blueliner you want if you’re in the playoffs, and scouts think the 6-foot-5 kid could weigh 230 pounds by the time he makes it to the NHL.
25. Toronto Maple Leafs, Jagger Firkus, C: Aside from taking the great Matthew Knies last year, the Leafs definitely have a type, and Firkus fits the bill: not tall, but really smart and skilled. Firkus showed his high end in the CHL Top Prospects Game and was the season’s top scorer for WHL Moose Jaw. He certainly needs to gain some weight (he’s listed as 5ft 10 and 153lbs), but there’s time for that.
26. Montreal Canadiens (by CGY), Isaac Howard, LW: Though the Habs have a new GM, it’s fair to say they’ve done well with American picks lately, and Howard is a dynamic junkyard dog who plays the game at a fast pace. He’s too short, but ask Montreal fans what they think of Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki. Howard is going to the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where habs pick Blake Biondi is currently playing.
27. Arizona Coyotes (by CAR), Maveric Lamoureux, D: With their first pick of 2022, I gave Arizona center Logan Cooley, so we’re going in the opposite direction here. Lamoureux is a 6-foot-7 QMJHL Drummondville defenseman who moves well and can get the puck on the ice. He also has a great physical component to his game and much like Bichsel he will be a monster once he has a few more years of mass and muscle on his physique.
28. Buffalo Sabers (of FLA), Jiri Kulich, C: The Sabers have already landed Conor Geekie and Owen Pickering in this mock draft, so they’re really playing house money. Kulich would be a great pick as he’s hot after an Electric World Under 18 with Czech Republic. Not only can the child line up numbers, but they also play a solid two-way game. Didn’t have much ice time in the Czech league but the fact that he was there was impressive.