The 2022 NHL Draft concluded today. With seven rounds of picks recorded, I end my coverage of this draft by giving my opinion on how I think the clubs did based on my knowledge of the players selected in the way of a draft grade.
The only way I can sanely and fairly go about this exercise is to assign grades based on which team added the most by way of draft picks to the organization. I don’t account for players acquired by trade, how well a player fits into the organization, or whether a team reached or got potential value on a pick. This is a ranking showing who got the most talent in the draft, divided by tiers represented by a letter grade. Teams are listed by their grade, but teams with the same grade are listed alphabetically.
To those who don’t like this type of exercise because you think a draft can’t be evaluated until five years later, or who want me to assign the grades based on how I think a team should have done relative to their pick slot, or incorporating trades, your concerns are heard — but we’re still doing this anyway.
Check out The Athletic’s complete coverage of the 2022 NHL Draft
Montréal Canadiens: A+
The host team brought in the most talent into their organization at the draft floor in my eyes. They started off by grabbing the best player in the draft in Juraj Slafkovsky. They then added highly skilled players in winger Filip Mesar and defenseman Lane Hutson, a two-way forward in Owen Beck, and with a high quantity of picks they selected various guys later on who I believe at least have a chance to play. I think this is a draft that could produce at least two or three NHL players for the Habs — and ones who can make a difference.
Seattle Kraken: A
The Kraken got my No. 2–ranked prospect in Shane Wright at the No. 4 overall pick. This high grade isn’t just about Wright though, as I’m a big fan of wingers Jagger Firkus and Jani Nyman, whom Seattle acquired early on day two. With a high volume of picks, the Kraken got a lot of talented players into their system who I think at least have a shot to play games. In Wright I see a future impact NHLer; Firkus I think is a top-nine forward and I can see one more regular coming from this group.
Arizona Coyotes: A-
The Coyotes got the player with arguably the most upside in the draft in Logan Cooley. After that they went to work adding a lot of big guys who can play into their system. I can debate whether I’d have taken Maveric Lamoureux at 29 or Artem Duda at 36, but in the totality of the draft the talent they brought in was quite significant. This was an important week for the Coyotes rebuild. The work is not close to over yet — they still need a lot more talent — but I can see Cooley and Conor Geekie becoming important players for them long-term and at least one more regular coming from this class, if not more.
Buffalo Sabres: A-
I was a big fan of how Buffalo approached this draft. They acquired a lot of skill, hockey sense and scoring touch in the top four rounds to go with a top goalie prospect in Topias Leinonen. I could quibble with a few things — Noah Ostlund at 16 was a tad high for me personally, even though the NHL industry roughly had him there. That said, I like a lot of the players they brought in and can envision several quality regulars coming out of this draft, including a projected good top-six forward in Matthew Savoie.
Columbus Blue Jackets: A-
I liked the talent Columbus targeted in this draft. On day one they added a massive injection of talent to their blue line in David Jiricek and Denton Mateychuk. I’m also a Luca Del Bel Belluz fan; he was their first pick on day two. I can envision all three of those players becoming quality NHLers, with Jiricek having the potential to be a top-of-the-lineup player. I was a fan of their later swings too and see other picks here who have shots to make it.
Anaheim Ducks: B+
The theme from this draft for Anaheim was clear in the top two rounds. They added significantly to their blue line, which was a priority need in their system, and they added a lot of size. I see their two first-round picks, Pavel Mintyukov and Nathan Gaucher, becoming important parts of their lineup one day. If either of their second-round picks, Noah Warren or Tristan Luneau, can turn into an NHL player as well this class can be a true success.
Chicago Blackhawks: B+
This was a highly interesting and impactful week for the Chicago organization. Let’s start with the good. I think Kevin Korchinski and Frank Nazar project to become important players of the future for their team. Through several other picks Chicago also added players with legit upside, and I could see several NHL players coming from this draft. I could quibble with the ranges Korchinski and Sam Rinzel went in, but that’s roughly where other teams were going to pick them as well. The loss of Kirby Dach and Alex DeBrincat, while massive, is not incorporated into this grade. This is all about their draft and what it means. I like the players they brought in; this is a strong draft for Chicago, but given what they had to do to make it happen, I would argue you’d hope for a little more too.
Minnesota Wild: B+
The Wild’s draft will likely be defined by Danila Yurov, who went 24th overall despite being a mostly consensus top 10-12 talent in the scouting world due to his KHL contract. Liam Ohgren is going to play and help a team. There’s other players they got on day two who I think have varying chances to do so too. But if Yurov comes to Minnesota in a reasonable amount of time and is the player many think he can be, this will be a good draft for the Wild.
New Jersey Devils: B+
New Jersey adding a true top-flight defense prospect in Simon Nemec, someone they can envision running their power play one day. They also added Seamus Casey, who I think will play games on their back-end. Only two picks in the top 102 prevents this class from being overly deep, and it will likely come down to just how good Nemec can be. Currently the answer to that, I think, is a legit top-of-the-lineup guy.
Winnipeg Jets: B+
Even though Brad Lambert predictably fell hard in the draft, he’s still a very good — albeit imperfect — player. Lambert and McGroarty are top forwards whom I can see becoming top-nine forwards in the NHL or better. I think the Jets’ next two picks, Elias Salomonsson and Danny Zhilkin, also have solid chances to play.
Carolina Hurricanes: B
It’s clear Carolina viewed the league’s wariness around Russian players as an opportunity as they drafted three players in their first five picks who are on KHL deals. I like a lot of players they drafted, but not picking until 60 prevents this class from having that true top name. I think all of Gleb Trikozov, Alexander Perevalov, Cruz Lucius and Simon Forsmark will play games, hence the B grade even without a true top prospect.
Dallas Stars: B
The Ontario defensemen Dallas drafted in Christian Kyrou and George Fegaras all have some shot to make it, but this class for me is all about their first pick, Lian Bichsel. I love his upside, and if he hits, you could get an impactful top-four defenseman. If he doesn’t and he’s a low-offense PK type, you’re not as excited about this group.
Detroit Red Wings: B
Marco Kasper is an excellent prospect and one I think will become an important top-six center for the Red Wings. Their day two was interesting. I get the Dylan James bet and I think he plays games. Dmitri Buchelnikov was a big swing for a guy who was covertly garnering NHL interest. It was high for me, but I respect the attempt on his skill and scoring. I think this draft will largely come down to how good Kasper is, and I think he will help the Wings a lot.
Nashville Predators: B
Nashville’s internal needs likely pointed to drafting defensemen, but Joakim Kemell at 17 was likely too much talent to pass up. He projects as a quality top-six winger. With no other pick until 82 this draft class isn’t the deepest and will likely be driven by how good Kemell is.
Philadelphia Flyers: B
The Flyers didn’t have a ton of high picks, but the one they did have was an excellent player in Cutter Gauthier at No. 5. I get why some had reservations on this player, but his potential is massive, and if he hits, you have a true foundational player to build around in Philly. After Cutter there wasn’t a ton I was excited about, even if I also see legit upside in Devin Kaplan. This class will be defined by whether Gauthier becomes the player the Flyers think he can be, and I think he has a solid chance to do so.
San Jose Sharks: B
Filip Bystedt at 27 was a tad high for me overall by the Sharks, but I get what they were trying to do. In terms of pure upside he was easily top 20 in the draft and I appreciate the swing. There was a clear bet on tools in size and skating in this draft to go with the highly skilled undersized defenseman Mattias Havelid. I could see at least one quality regular from this class, and if either Bystedt or Cam Lund hit I think you’re getting a real player.
St. Louis Blues: B
I don’t know as a Blues fan if you’re jumping up and down about this draft, but I like it to the extent that when I look at their first four picks in Jimmy Snuggerud, Aleksanteri Kaskimaki, Michael Buchinger and Arseni Koromyslov I can see the argument they could all play games. Snuggy is the name in this draft and the likeliest to play an important role, but the depth to this class isn’t too bad given they didn’t have a ton of high picks.
Vancouver Canucks: B
The Elias Pettersson jokes aside for a moment (I think he is a fine player in the third round), the Canucks’ draft is all about Jonathan Lekkerimaki. if he becomes the top-six winger some scouts think he can be, you’re happy with this class. If not, I don’t see a ton of quality depth in this group other than a couple of names I think have chances to make it.
Washington Capitals: B
The Capitals’ draft is a complicated one to grade. I think Ryan Chesley is a good player and will help the Caps down the line. This all comes down to Ivan Miroshnichenko. If he recovers as a player and person due to his health concerns and gets back to who he was a year ago the Capitals could easily have one of the better draft classes. If not, it’s hard to see too many NHL games from this group.
Los Angeles Kings: B-
Los Angeles traded away their first, so not picking until 51 and then not again until 103 hurts this class. I still think all things considered they got some pieces to help their system. Jack Hughes in the most likely player here to play and I think he will, and in the later rounds there are a couple players I can buy having legit chances to make it.
Toronto Maple Leafs: B-
Toronto didn’t pick high or often, but even with that in mind I think you’re still looking at their class and seeing some NHL potential. Fraser Minten I think will play, and there are several other prospects I think have chances to make it. In particular, the re-entry goalie Dennis Hildeby is intriguing. Realistically though you’re looking at one NHL player from this class in Minten.
New York Rangers: B-
The Rangers didn’t have many high picks but the few they had I liked what they did. I think both Adam Sykora and Bryce McConell-Barker have legit chances to become NHL players, even if likely at the bottom of a lineup.
Edmonton Oilers: C+
I love Reid Schaefer and think he can become a middle-of-the-lineup NHL winger, but after him the Oilers didn’t pick again until 158, giving this draft class very little depth beyond Schaefer.
Pittsburgh Penguins: C+
Pittsburgh only had one pick in the first three rounds, but I think that player, Owen Pickering, can help their team and be a solid regular NHL defenseman. After him I don’t see a ton in the later picks so it becomes about how good Pickering will be.
Tampa Bay Lightning: C+
Isaac Howard is a very good player and projects as a top-nine winger. After him I respect the dice rolls Tampa made on Nick Malik, Lucas Edmonds and Connor Kurth, but they all seem like long shots to varying degrees, even though they’re all talented. If Howard scores as a pro you’ll be happy with his group, but it’s not a guarantee.
New York Islanders: C
The Islanders didn’t pick until 65 in this draft. I think their first three picks — Calle Odelius, Quinn Finley and Isaiah George — all have shots to become NHL players, but I can’t sit here today and tell you for sure that any of them will make it.
Ottawa Senators: C
The Senators’ draft was a mixed bag for me. I like Tomas Hamara at 84 a lot, and some of their later picks I buy having chances to make it. I get what they saw in Filip Nordberg, but 64 was quite high for me. We just see that one and Oskar Pettersson at 72 differently, and time will tell who was right.
Vegas Golden Knights: C
Vegas didn’t have a first rounder this year. I think you can envision second-round pick Matyas Sapovaliv or third-round pick Jordan Gustafson helping their team, but that’s likely it from this group.
Boston Bruins: C-
Boston only had one pick in the top 117 and that one pick — Matthew Poitras at 54 — is just something I wasn’t a believer in. He’s a fine prospect but I just don’t see a guy you’re confident is going to play in the NHL.
Calgary Flames: C-
Calgary had three draft picks at 59, 155 and 219, so Flames fans realistically knew this wasn’t going to be an exciting class. Topi Ronni has a chance to make it as a bottom-six center but otherwise I don’t expect much.
Florida Panthers: C-
Florida didn’t pick until 93 in this draft, and even though they had quite a few selections from thereon out, I personally just saw the players they picked differently — especially Marek Alscher at 93. I don’t know how many NHL games are coming from this group of seven picks, even though I can envision a path for some to make it.
Colorado Avalanche: D
Colorado didn’t have much to do on the draft floor, with only a sixth- and seventh-round pick, the byproduct of many deals made to make their NHL team better. Flags Fly Forever, so I imagine there are no regrets on that front. But there’s an obvious reality that the Avs added very little to their prospect pool this week.
(Illustration: John Bradford / The Athletic; photos: Vitor Munhoz, Andre Ringuette, Dave Sandford / Getty Images)