2022 NHL draft preview: The highest 32 gamers on the board, per the specialists

After making three first-round choices a year ago — University of Wisconsin defenseman Corson Ceulemans joined Sillinger and Johnson as first-round picks — the Jackets have two such picks going into this year’s draft, which will be held in Montreal on July 7-8. 

Columbus acquired the No. 6 pick in the draft via trade with Chicago, while the Jackets’ 37-38-7 record this past season slotted the team’s own pick at 12th in the selection process. In other words, just like a year ago, some key pieces to the CBJ future should be put in place when the draft begins with the first round next Thursday night. 

With that in mind, today we debut more than 5,000 words of fun with our annual consensus draft poll. The poll in this story combines the NHL draft ratings of 13 different media and scouting experts, all mixed into one to give Blue Jackets fans a look at the players Columbus might select in the first round and perhaps even beyond. 

To create the consensus poll, we took each of the 13 rankings and assigned points to each of the top 32 players listed. The top player in each draft ranking received 32 points, the second 31, and so on until one point was given to the No. 32-ranked player. 

We then combined all the results to come up with a consensus poll of the top 32 players in the draft, the kinds of players the Jackets will be looking at as they go about making their first-round choices. 

It’s important to note this is not the draft board being used by the Blue Jackets’ front office, but merely a way to get a general sense of how the prospects available are viewed by the hockey world at large going into the draft. 

The rankings used include those produced by Chris Peters (The Daily Faceoff), Scott Wheeler (The Athletic), Corey Pronman (The Athletic), Sam Cosentino (SportsNet), Craig Button (TSN) and Ian Kennedy (Yahoo! Sports) as well as HockeyProspect.com, McKeens Hockey, Draft Prospects Hockey, Smaht Scouting, Elite Prospects, FC Hockey and Dobber Prospects. (Unfortunately, we aren’t able to include Bob McKenzie, as the longtime TSN guru is yet to release his rankings as of press time. We will attempt to find a Bobby Margarita in Montreal to make up for it.) 

In all, 49 players appeared as first round-rated choices in the rankings, with 19 players appearing in the top 32 of all 13 lists. Of course, the Blue Jackets front office will go any direction they so desire with their top pucks, but this primer should be a good start for CBJ fans looking to become familiar with the top names available. 

Stats and profiles of the top 32 players in our consensus poll follow. 

1. C Shane Wright 

6-0¼, 191/Kingston (OHL)/No. 1-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting  

Stats: Wright has been a dominant player just about everywhere, posting a 32-62-94 line in 63 games this past year with the Frontenacs and adding nine goals and 14 points in five games at the IIHF World Under-18 Championships last summer. He placed eighth in the OHL in scoring this season ago (third among undrafted players). 

What to know: Wright has been thought of as the potential No. 1 overall pick ever since being the sixth player ever to be granted exceptional status to enter the Canadian junior levels a year early. Previous names to achieve that include Tavares and McDavid, so it’s pretty rare air. Wright’s status as the presumed No. 1 overall pick has hit some bumps of late — he had what was viewed as a very good but not great 2021-22 season, and three of our 13 analysts dropped him from the top spot — but the talented forward with an excellent shot and a standout two-way game is still No. 1 in most peoples’ books. Will Montreal agree?

2. C Logan Cooley 

5-10¼, 174/U.S. National Team Development Program/No. 2-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting 

Stats: Cooley had an impressive season with Team USA U-18 team, moving from a top-10 pick to a likely top-three choice by posting a campaign that included 27 goals and 75 points in 51 games. He also stood out this April at the 2022 U-18 Worlds, notching a 3-7-10 line in six games to tie for fifth in scoring at the tournament. 

What to know: The Pittsburgh native and University of Minnesota commit has steadily moved up this past season and seems cemented as the top American player in the draft. Cooley isn’t the biggest pivot in the world but is known for his skating ability, passing ability and intelligence both with and without the puck. 

3. LW Juraj Slafkovsky 

6-3½, 218/TPS (Finland)/No. 1-ranked European skater by NHL Central Scouting 

Stats: Slafkovsky played just about everywhere this past year, not only suiting up in Finland’s top-level Liiga but also joining Slovakia for the World Juniors, Olympics and World Championships. He acquitted himself well in most places, most notably notching seven goals in seven games to lead the Olympics in tallies. He followed up with a 3-6-9 line in eight games at the Worlds and also had a 5-5-10 line in 31 games with TPS. 

What to know: Not since Marian Gaborik went third overall to Minnesota in 2000 has a Slovak player generated the interest of Slafkovsky, who joins CBJ prospect Samuel Knazko and fellow 2022 first-round prospect Simon Nemec as part of a golden generation of prospects for the country. Slafkovsky has cemented himself at the top of the draft with his international performances this year, as he boasts both size and scoring ability as evidenced by his production in tournaments against senior national teams. 

4. RHD Simon Nemec 

6-0, 190/HK Nitra (Slovakia)/No. 3-ranked European skater by NHL Central Scouting 

Stats: Nemec joined Slafkovsky at the World Juniors, Olympics and World Championships this year, earning key minutes for a Slovak side that made history by earning its first-ever medal (bronze) at the Olympics. He also posted six points in eight games at the Worlds and was a high-level club team player this year with Nitra, posting a 1-25-26 line in 39 games in the regular season and adding a 5-12-17 mark in 19 playoff games. 

What to know: Right-shot defensemen don’t grow on trees these days, which is one of the draws of Nemec, who could be on the fast track to the NHL given his abilities and positional scarcity. Nemec’s speed, vision and power-play abilities make him a high-level offensive player from the blue line, but he’s also smart and physical enough to go into the corners and get the job done defensively. 

5. RHD David Jiricek 

6-3, 189/HC Plzen (Czech Republic)/No. 4-ranked European skater by NHL Central Scouting 

Stats: Jiricek had the unfortunate luck of suffering a knee injury at the World Juniors, but the big blueliner still was able to skate in 29 games with Plzen this year, posting a 5-6-11 line and 49 penalty minutes in 29 games. He recovered in time to join Czechia at the World Championships, notching a goal and an assist in five games. 

What to know: Jiricek is another high-level right-shot defenseman available from Europe, though he hails from the Czech Republic, not Slovakia like Nemec and Slafkovsky. His size will surely be attractive to teams, and he’s more of a two-way defenseman than Nemec, though he has the puck skills and shot to get on the board as well. He should have a pretty high floor as a blueliner who will be able to lean into a physical game while also providing some offense along the way. 

6. C Matthew Savoie 

5-9, 175/Winnipeg (WHL)/No. 4-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting 

Stats: Savoie had no trouble filling the scoresheet this past season with a talented Winnipeg squad, posting a 35-55-90 line in 65 games with the ICE in the regular season and adding 6-6-12 in 10 playoff games. Those totals were good enough to place him eighth in the WHL in assists and seventh in points for the campaign. 

What to know: Size might be the biggest concern for Savoie, as his offensive abilities are pretty apparent given his high point totals. He’s described as equally adept at shooting the puck and distributing it, and his skating and puck-handling abilities in small spaces stand out. His scoring upside will be too much for NHL teams to pass up in the top half of the draft. 

7. RW Joakim Kemell 

5-10¾, 171/JYP (Finland)/No. 2-ranked European skater by NHL Central Scouting 

Stats: The Finnish forward had an excellent season for an underage player in the Liiga with Jyvaskala this past season, leading all rookies with 15 goals and totaling 23 points in 39 games in what is generally described as a defense-oriented league. Kemell also was on Finland’s World Juniors team and notched six goals in five games this spring at the U-18 Worlds. 

What to know: Kemell is an intriguing prospect, and the winger stood out at the NHL Scouting Combine for his results in the Wingate Test and force plate tests. On the ice, Kemell has one of the best shots in the draft, and his goal-scoring ability, skating and creativity make him a high-end offensive player.  

8. RW Jonathan Lekkerimaki 

5-10½, 165/Djurgardens IF (Sweden)/No. 6-ranked European skater by NHL Central Scouting 

Stats: Lekkerimaki was a solid player this year for Djurgardens in Sweden’s top level, posting seven goals and nine points in 26 games despite his youth. He was a standout at the U-20 level as well in Sweden, posting a 20-15-35 line in 26 games, but his biggest accomplishment might have been a dominant U-18 Worlds in which he had a tournament-best 5-10-15 in six games for the gold medal-winning Swedes. 

What to know: Lekkerimaki has proven himself in juniors, dominating competition in his age group, and acquitted himself well in the SHL this year in his first crack at the senior level. He’s a versatile player in the offensive zone with excellent skating skills, a great release — he might have the best shot in the draft — and the ability to handle the puck at a high level. 

9 (tie). LW Cutter Gauthier 

6-2¼, 189/U.S. National Team Development Program/No. 3-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting 

Stats: Gauthier has been a standout coming up through the Honeybaked program in Michigan and then making it to the USNTDP, where his 34 goals this past season were second on the squad to fellow likely first-round pick Rutger McGroarty. Gauthier finished with a 34-31-65 line in 54 games for Team USA and added a 3-6-9 line in six games at the U-18 Worlds. 

What to know: Gauthier was born in Sweden as his father played overseas then moved to Arizona before heading to Michigan, and he’s headed to Boston College. He boasts excellent size, which allows him to play a physical game, but make no mistake — this guy can score with a rocket of a shot. With his size and speed, he can be a power forward with a scoring touch at the NHL level, and while he’s listed as a wing by Central Scouting, it’s thought he could be able to play center at the highest level as well. 

9 (tie). C Frank Nazar 

5-9¾, 175/U.S. National Team Development Program/No. 21-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting 

Stats: Nazar has done nothing but score with the USNTDP, posting a 28-27-55 line in 45 games for the U-17 team in 2021 and following it up this past year with 28 goals and 42 assists for 70 points in 56 games with the U-18s. He also was on the U-18 Worlds team this spring and had a 3-6-9 line in six contests. 

What to know: Nazar has been a late riser heading into the draft, but he remains a polarizing prospect, with some analysts seeing him as a top-10 pick and others thinking he’s closer to a late first-round choice. The University of Michigan commit and Great Lakes State native brings offensive creativity to the table with great skating, shooting and puck-handling skills, but physical play and consistency are areas of improvement. 

11. RW Danila Yurov 

6-1, 178/Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL)/No. 7-ranked European skater by NHL Central Scouting 

Stats: Yurov made it to the top level of European hockey this year, skating 21 regular-season games and 19 playoff contests with Metallurg in the world’s second-best league. He didn’t notch a point in any of those 40 games with the Eastern Conference champions, but in fairness, he averaged just 2:19 of ice time in the postseason and 4:36 in the regular season. He dominated with Metallurg’s team in the MHL, the top junior league, posting a 13-23-36 line in 23 contests. 

What to know: Time will tell what will happen with Russian prospects in this draft given the conflict in Ukraine, but just about everyone agrees Yurov is an NHL-level talent after making it to the KHL this season. He has excellent vision and is an all-around offensive player, helping him project as a top-six player down the line. 

12. LHD Kevin Korchinski 

6-2¼, 185/Seattle (WHL)/No. 7-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting 

Stats: Korchinski had a breakout season with the WHL runners-up this year, going from 10 assists in 23 games during the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season to a near point-per-game campaign in 2021-22. Korchinski posted a 4-61-65 line in 67 games, with his assist total placing second among all WHL blueliners and his point total slotting fourth. 

What to know: Korchinski is thought by many to be the defenseman closest to pushing Jiricek and Nemec at the top of the draft board after an excellent season with a very good Thunderbirds team (that features CBJ draft pick Knazko). His offensive ability includes has good vision and puck-moving skills, but physicality and defensive poise will be areas of improvement as he matures. 

13. LHD Pavel Mintyukov 

6-1¼, 197/Saginaw (OHL)/No. 6-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting 

Stats: After coming over from Russia to play junior hockey with Saginaw, Mintyukov lost all of last season when the OHL didn’t play because of COVID. He was one of the league’s top scorers with the Spirit when things got back under way this year, though, posting a 17-45-62 line in 67 games to place third among all OHL defenseman in scoring. 

What to know: A native of Moscow who came to North America to ease his transition to the pro level, Mintyukov is seen as a top-10 pick by some. Offense stands out for the left-shot blueliner, as his high goal and assist totals show he has the ability to put the puck in the net and also distribute. Mintyukov is known as an aggressive player who isn’t afraid to join the rush and make a play.  

14. LHD Denton Mateychuk 

5-10¾, 188/Moose Jaw (WHL)/No. 14-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting 

Stats: Mateychuk is another defenseman with offensive ability, tying for fifth in the WHL in points among blueliners just behind Korchinski. Mateychuk posted a 13-51-64 line in 65 games in his first full WHL campaign and added 10 points in 10 postseason games. 

What to know: A teammate of CBJ draft pick Martin Rysavy and the cousin of likely first-round pick Owen Pickering, Mateychuk is still just 17 years old but brings a lot to the table. He might be one of the best skaters in the draft while his vision and passing ability stand out on the offensive end, and defensively he’s able to use his solid frame to play a physical style. 

15. C Brad Lambert 

6-0½, 175/Pelicans (Finland)/No. 10-ranked European skater by NHL Central Scouting 

Stats: Finnish born but the son of former Canadian pro Ross Lambert (and the nephew of new Islanders coach Lane Lambert), Lambert had a 7-8-15 line 46 games at age 17 in 2020-21 with JYP in Finland. But he struggled to create offense this past season, splitting the year between JYP and the Pelicans team he played for as a kid, posting a combined 4-6-10 mark in 49 games. He’s been a standout with Finland’s youth national teams, too, including a 2-7-9 mark in nine career games at the World Juniors. 

What to know: Lambert might be one of the most polarizing players in the draft. Long thought to be one of the most talented players in the draft and a potential No. 1 overall choice at one point, Lambert couldn’t get much going this past year and now is seen as a boom-or-bust player; his elite skating and offensive abilities could make him a star, but others just aren’t sold on him.  

16. C Marco Kasper 

6-1, 183/Rogle BK (Sweden)/No. 5-ranked European skater by NHL Central Scouting 

Stats: The Austrian made it to Sweden’s top level in 2021-22, playing 46 games and posting a 7-4-11 line in a defensive league and adding a 3-3-6 mark in 13 playoff games. Kasper is also a decorated member of Austria’s international squads, skating in the World Juniors and then the World Championships, posting an 0-2-2 line in seven games in the latter event. 

What to know: Austria produced first-round picks in 2003 (Thomas Vanek) and 2006 (Michael Grabner) but didn’t have another until Marco Rossi went ninth overall to Minnesota in 2020. Kasper seems ticketed to be the next in line, as he can get to the hard areas and boasts both impressive passing and shooting skills. Kasper is a smart player who should make someone very happy with his all-around game. 

17. C Conor Geekie 

6-3¼, 196/Winnipeg (WHL)/No. 5-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting 

Stats: Geekie combined with Savoie to make one of the top one-two punches in the WHL this past season when it comes to draft-eligible prospects, posting a 24-46-70 line in 63 games. Geekie added 11 points on three goals and eight assists in 15 playoff games, and also had a 9-14-23 line in 24 games in 2021-22. 

What to know: The brother of Seattle forward Morgan Geekie, Geekie projects as a first-rounder thanks to excellent size — it isn’t hard to see how NHL scouts would fall in love with someone with his body type — as well as skill. The Manitoba native has excellent vision, and skating wise he has speed but will work on his acceleration as he moves up the ranks. 

18. LW Liam Ohgren 

6-0, 187/Djurgardens IF (Sweden)/No. 8-ranked European skater by NHL Central Scouting 

Stats: Ohgren made the leap to the SHL this season with a relegated Djurgardens team and posted just a goal and assist in 25 games in a league that’s hard for underagers to score in. There was no choice but to move him up, though, after he dominated the U-20 level with a 33-25-58 line in 30 games. Ohgren also captained Sweden’s gold medal-winning team at the U-18 Worlds this spring, posting a 3-6-9 line in six games. 

What to know: He’s been excellent at just about every level in juniors, and Ohgren projects well as a solid two-way player with scoring punch down the road. Skating stands out for the winger, who can also play some center, and he boasts high-level vision and hockey sense. He could be another Gus Nyquist in the making. 

19. C Jiri Kulich 

5-11½, 172/HC Energie Karlovy Vary (Czech Republic)/No. 13-ranked European skater by NHL Central Scouting 

Stats: Kulich has been moving up draft boards as the selection show nears in part because of his performance at April’s U-18 Worlds, where the Czech forward posted a tournament-best nine goals among his 11 points in six games. Also a member of the Czechia World Juniors squad, Kulich spent most of the year playing at the top level in his home country, posting a 9-5-14 line in 49 games. 

What to know: There’s a pretty wide range of opinions in Kulich, which is why he places so low, as some see him as barely a first-rounder while others could see him going in the top half. His speed and shooting ability stand out, and his intensity and leadership skills also are pluses, but the knock seems to be his consistency and need to physically mature. 

20. RW Rutger McGroarty 

6-0¾, 200/U.S. National Team Development Program/No. 22-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting 

Stats: McGroarty is another U.S. national teamer who filled up the scoresheet this season, and in fact his 35 goals led the NTDP. He added 34 assists for 69 points in 54 games, and McGroarty also dominated at the U-18 Worlds with eight goals in six games to place second to Kulich. 

What to know: There aren’t many Rutgers out there, but the forward prospect from Nebraska is committed to continue his career at the University of Michigan next year. He’s continued to move up draft boards with every puck he’s put in the net, as McGroarty can score with both his shot and by getting to the hard areas with his powerful build. His skating has come a long way as well even if there’s more room to improve. 

21. LW Ivan Miroschnichenko 

6-1, 185/Omsk (KHL)/No. 11-ranked European skater by NHL Central Scouting 

Stats: Miroschnichenko skated 31 games this past season for the minor league (VHL) team in the Avangard Omsk organization, posting a 10-6-16 line for Omskie Krylia. He also took part in the U-18 Worlds in the summer of 2021, posting six goals and eight points in seven games. 

What to know: The Russian forward prospect was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in early January, ending his season. He has been cleared to return to training as of earlier this month, and we certainly wish Miroschnichenko all the best. The illness also has added some uncertainty to his draft status, but when healthy he’s viewed as a high-level playmaker who can skate, shoot and play a physical, determined game. 

22. LW Isaac Howard 

5-10, 182/U.S. National Team Development Program/No. 9-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting 

Stats: Up to seven USNTDP players are projected as potential first-round picks when all is said and done at the 2022 draft, but none had as productive a season as Howard, who led the team with 82 points (33 goals, 49 assists) in 60 games. He also posted a 6-5-11 line in six games at the U-18 Worlds to place tied for third at the tournament in scoring. 

What to know: You certainly know you’re getting offense from Howard, as the Wisconsin native and Shattuck St. Mary’s product has scored everywhere he’s been to this point in his career. His excellent skating ability and determined effort level when hunting for pucks create chances, and once Howard has the puck on his stick, good things seem to happen. 

23. RW Filip Mesar 

5-10, 167/HK Poprad (Slovakia)/No. 20-ranked European skater by NHL Central Scouting 

Stats: Mesar has spent the past two seasons with Poprad at Slovakia’s highest level, a sign of how well regarded he is in his home country, combining for a 12-18-30 line over 73 games. He also skated at the World Juniors each of the past two years (zero points in four games) and had a 2-6-8 line in five games at this year’s Hlinka Gretzky tournament. 

What to know: Slovakia has never produced more than two first-round picks in a given draft, but Mesar could join Slafkovsky and Nemec to make it three this year. Mesar isn’t the biggest prospect but he can provide offense while playing a two-way game and being tough to play against. Speed and stickhandling are strengths of his game, but size and vision are knocks. 

24. RW Jimmy Snuggerud 

6-1¼, 186/U.S. National Team Development Program/No. 11-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting 

Stats: Snuggerud was another top scorer on the USNTDP squad, posting a 24-39-63 line in 59 games. He also took part in the U-18 Worlds, finishing with three goals and four assists for seven points in six games. 

What to know: A University of Minnesota commit from Chaska, Minn., Snuggerud comes from a hockey family as his father Dave played in the NHL and his cousin Luc played in Slovakia last season, among others. Jimmy has pretty good size, makes others around him better and boasts an excellent shot. 

25. LHD Owen Pickering 

6-4, 178/Swift Current (WHL)/No. 15-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting 

Stats: Pickering made his WHL debut last season in the pandemic-shortened campaign, playing in 23 games, then got in a full year with the Broncos this year, notching a 9-24-33 line in 62 games. He also had two assists in four games for Canada at the U-18 Worlds. 

What to know: If you’re looking for size on the blue line, Pickering is a good place to start. In a draft where many of the top defensemen are smaller, offensive-minded players, Pickering stands above the crowd as a two-way defender who can skate well for his size. He boasts an excellent slap shot as well. 

26. C Noah Ostlund 

5-11, 163/Djurgardens IF (Sweden)/No. 18-ranked European skater by NHL Central Scouting 

Stats: Ostlund is a skilled center who dominated at the U-20 level in Sweden the past two seasons, posting a combined 16-41-57 line in 42 games. He didn’t score a point in 11 games for the senior Djurgardens club at the SHL level this year, but that’s not a huge red flag given the veteran, defensive nature of the league. Ostlund was a standout at the U-18 Worlds as well, posting a 4-6-10 line in six games to tie for fifth in scoring at the tournament. 

What to know: Ostlund has some of the best puck skills in the draft, with words such as “intelligent” and “crafty” used to describe his game. He has excellent ability with the puck on his stick and thinks the game well enough to make plays under pressure, but he’ll have to keep getting bigger to be able to make those skills show at the senior level.  

27. RW Jagger Firkus 

5-9¾, 153/Moose Jaw (WHL)/No. 12-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting 

Stats: Firkus led a talented Warriors team in scoring this past season, totaling 36 goals with 44 assists for 80 points in 66 games while finishing plus-15. He was 14th in the WHL in both goals and points, then added a 6-6-12 line in 10 playoff games. 

What to know: The first thing that stands out is his shot, as Firkus showed this past year he can score from just about anywhere. Size is a bit of an issue, but a lot of junior players haven’t been able to catch The Firkus Circus as the Alberta native has an excellent skating and acceleration skills as well.  

28. LW Gleb Trikozov 

6-1, 185/Omsk (KHL)/No. 15-ranked European skater by NHL Central Scouting 

Stats: Trikozov could be following the path of Yegor Chinakhov, posting gaudy numbers in the Omsk system on the way to becoming a first-round pick. The winger notched a 23-22-45 line in 35 games and added 10 goals in 13 playoff games for Omskie Yastreby, Avangard’s junior squad, but he found the going a bit tougher in the Russian second division (VHL) with a goal and assist in 11 games. 

What to know: Speed and skill are the names of the game for Trikozov, as a fluid skating style and excellent wrist shot allowed him to post excellent numbers at the junior level. There’s still some development to be had but the raw tools are there. 

29. LHD Calle Odelius 

5-11¼, 185/Djurgardens IF (Sweden)/No. 16-ranked European skater by NHL Central Scouting 

Stats: Another member of the Djurgardens system, Odelius spent most of this year with the U-20 squad, posting an impressive 7-23-30 line in 42 games from the blue line. He was scoreless in seven SHL games when he got the call up, and Odelius also was on Sweden’s gold medal U-18 Worlds squad, posting three assists in six games. 

What to know: Djurgardens was relegated from the SHL this year, but it wasn’t for a lack of youth talent as this list has proven. Odelius is an impressive part of that group, as he is one of the best skaters in the draft and brings a lot of intelligence to the blue line. Time will tell just how high his ceiling is, but Odelius might be one of the safest picks in the draft. 

30. LHD Lian Bichsel 

6-5, 216/Leksands IF (Sweden)/No. 9-ranked European skater by NHL Central Scouting 

Stats: The big defenseman moved from his native Switzerland to Sweden this year, showing some offensive ability at the U-20 level (3-4-7 in 11 games) but spending most of his time with the senior SHL squad. Bichsel finished with a 1-2-3 line in 29 games with Leksands and also was on the Swiss World Juniors squad, playing in one game before the tournament was canceled.  

What to know: If you’re looking for size on the blue line, this is one place to get it. Bichsel is one of the most physically imposing players in the draft class and plays to his size, and he can contribute a bit offensively as well especially with good vision. Given his size, his skating — agility and acceleration — can continue to make strides. 

31. LHD Lane Hutson 

5-8½, 148/U.S. National Team Development Program/No. 25-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting 

Stats: Hutson has shown the ability to fill up the score sheet from the blue line, finishing the NTDP campaign with 10 goals and 53 assists for 63 points in 60 games this season. He also posted eight assists at the U-18 Worlds, which tied for second at the tournament. 

What to know: A Chicago native and Boston University-bound defenseman, Hutson recently won the 2022 EJ McGuire Award of excellence, which is given every year to a draft-eligible prospect who “best exemplifies commitment to excellence through strength of character, competitiveness and athleticism.” Hutson is an undersized defenseman but his scoring touch, hockey sense and compete level make him an intriguing player.  

32. RHD Seamus Casey 

5-9¼, 162/U.S. National Team Development Program/No. 29-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting 

Stats: Casey had a productive season with the USNTDP, posting a 10-23-33 line in 48 games and adding a 3-3-6 line in six games at the U-18 Worlds. He was excellent a year ago with the U-17 team as well, finishing with eight goals and 36 points in 46 games. 

What to know: Casey isn’t a terribly different player than Hutson, as both are USNTDP players who are a bit on the smallish size but have excellent hockey sense, great skating ability and a lot of promise in the offensive zone. Some see Casey — a Florida native who is committed to Michigan for college hockey — as someone who can get into the top half of the first round, but his size might push him down the board a bit. 

Others receiving votes

C Nathan Gaucher (Quebec, QMJHL), D Ryan Chesley (USNTDP), C Owen Beck (Mississauga, OHL), C David Goyette (Sudbury, OHL), LW Alexander Perevalov (Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, KHL), C Luca Del Bel Belluz (Mississauga, OHL), D Mattias Havelid (Linkoping, Sweden), D Vladimir Grundinin (CSKA Moscow, KHL), LW Reid Schaefer (Seattle, WHL), D Tristan Luneau (Gatineau, QMJHL), D Sam Rinzel (Chaska, Minn., HS), C Jack Hughes (Northeastern, NCAA), D Elias Salomonsson (Skelleftea, Sweden), LW Julian Lutz (EHC Munchen, Germany), D Ty Nelson (North Bay, OHL), LW Adam Sykora (HK Nitra, Slovakia), D Noah Warren (Gatineau, OHL) 

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