Shane Wright from Kingston of the Ontario Hockey League and Logan Cooley of the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 Team Headline a middle class that could have up to eight players in the position selected in the top 25 of the 2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft.
Wright (6ft, 199lbs), a right-handed shooter, is the No. 1 in NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings of North American skaters for the 2022 draft. Cooley (5-10, 180), a lefty, is the No. 2.
The Montreal Canadiens are drafted #1 in the 2022 draft, the New Jersey Devils are #2, and the Arizona Coyotes are #3.
“The gap between the top two contenders narrowed as the season progressed, but as has been the case all season, Shane Wright goes for our final standings,” said NHL Central Scouting Director Dan Marr. “[Wright and Cooley] Possess NHL qualities and each use their skills and assets in their own style of play. I would best sum up by acknowledging that the one constant factor in his favor is that whenever Shane Wright has the puck on his racquet, something good is going to happen.”
Seven centers were selected from the top 20 of the 2021 NHL Draft: Matty Beniers (#2, Seattle Kraken), Mason McTavish (No. 3, Anaheim Ducks), KentJohnson (No.5, Columbus Blue Jackets), Cole Sillinger (No. 12, blue jackets), Zachary Bolduc (No. 17, St. Louis Blues), Chaz Lucius (No. 18, Winnipeg Jets) and Fedor Svechkov (#19, Nashville Predators).
Here are NHL.com’s top 10 centers available for the 2022 draft:
1. Shane Wright, Kingston (OHL)
NHL Central Scouting Rankings: #1 (North American Skaters)
Wright was eighth in the Ontario Hockey League with 94 points (32 goals, 62 assists), including 28 power play points (eight goals, 20 assists), in 63 regular-season games and 14 points (three goals, 11 assists). in 11 OHL playoff games. The 18-year-old won 49.9 percent of his faceoffs during the regular season while winning fourth-most (1,355) and seventh-most (676) in the OHL. Wright, who has had 18 games with at least three points, has top-notch playmaking skills, an accurate shot and is exceptionally smart with and without the puck. He could be the first Kingston player to be drafted No. 1 in the NHL. The tallest Kingston player picked is No. 3: forward Chris Gratton 1993 (Tampa Bay Lightning) and defenseman Eric Gudbranson in 2010 (Florida Panthers).
2. Logan Cooley, USA U-18 (NTDP)
NHL Central Scouting Rankings: No. 2 (North American Skaters)
Cooley was second in the NTDP with 75 points (27 goals, 48 assists) in 51 games and led the NTDP with an average of 1.47 points per game. The 18-year-old was runner-up for the second-placed United States with 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in six games at the 2022 IIHF World Under-18 Championship and had 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists). in 15 games against NCAA competition. Cooley, who has high-end competition and will deliver on the hard areas of the ice, will play at the University of Minnesota next season.
3. Matthew SavoyWinnipeg (WHL)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 4 (North American Skaters)
The Right Punch (5-9, 170) is a powerful skater with exceptional acceleration. He was seventh in the Western Hockey League with 90 points (35 goals, 55 assists) in 65 regular season games and had 12 points (six goals, six assists) in 10 WHL playoff games. The 18-year-old is seen as a game changer with high-end playmaking skills. His older brother is the Edmonton Oilers forward Carter Savoy.
4. Markus KasperRoegle (SWE)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 5 (International Skaters)
The Austrian-born center had 11 points (seven goals, four assists) and an average ice time of 11:44 in 46 regular season games with the Swedish Hockey League’s Rogle and six points (three goals, three assists) in 14:16 ice time in 13 games in the SHL playoffs. Kasper (6-1, 187) captained Austria at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship, played two games before the December 29 tournament was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns, and had two assists and an average ice time of 17: 34 in seven games for Austria at the 2022 IIHF World Championship. The 18-year-old plays with energy and intensity, has good speed and creates offensive chances by running to the net.
5. Conor GeekieWinnipeg (WHL)
NHL Central Scouting Rankings: No. 5 (North American Skaters)
Geekie (6-3, 190) was fourth in Winnipeg with 70 points (24 goals, 46 assists) in 63 regular-season games and had 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in 15 WHL playoff games. The 18-year-old, with his high level of competition and balance, is difficult to stop in most situations. His older brother is the Seattle Kraken forward Morgan geekie.
6. Luca Del BelBelluzMississauga (OHL)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 8 (North American Skaters)
With 76 points (30 goals, 46 assists) and 12 power-play goals in 68 games, the left-footed center (6-0, 179) finished second in Mississauga. The 18-year-old was voted the Most Improved Player in the OHL Eastern Conference Coach Poll. He is a creative player who enjoys attacking the net and has a good 1v1 ability to beat opposing defenders.
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7. Frank NazarUSA U-18 (NTDP)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 21 (North American Skaters)
Nazar (5-10, 180) was third in the NTDP with 70 points (28 goals, 42 assists) in 56 games while also having five power play goals and two shorthanded goals. He has 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in 19 games against NCAA competition and nine points (three goals, six assists) in six games for the United States at the World U-18s this season. The 18-year-old is at his best when he’s competitive on the puck and using his top speed. He will play at the University of Michigan next season.
8th. Owen BeckMississauga (OHL)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 10 (North American Skaters)
Right Shot (5-11, 187) is a strong skater playing a highly effective two-way play. As an OHL rookie, Beck had 51 points (21 goals, 30 assists) in 68 games. The 18-year-old was second in the OHL with a 60.6 percent win rate in faceoffs (200 or more faceoffs) and was voted top faceoff in the OHL Eastern Conference Coach Poll.
9. David GoyetteSudbury (OHL)
NHL Central Scouting: No. 13 (North American Skaters)
Goyette (5-10, 175) led the OHL freshmen in 66 games with 33 goals and 73 points and finished second with 40 assists. The 18-year-old is an excellent skater with high-end speed and strong crosses, an offensive player with the puck and can run high-end plays at high pace. He also recorded three points (one goal, two assists) in four games for Canada at the World U-18s.
10 Brad LambertPelicans (FIN)
NHL Central Scouting Rankings: No. 10 (International Skaters)
Lambert (6-0, 183) had 10 points (four goals, six assists) in an average ice time of 14:15 in 49 games in the Liiga, the top professional league in Finland, and had no points in an average ice time of 9: 35 time in three playoff games. The 18-year-old had five points (one goal, four assists) in two games for Finland at World Juniors before the December 29 tournament was postponed. After playing 24 games with JYP this season, he signed with Pelicans on January 17.
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