The 2022 NHL Entry Draft is in the book.
Bell Center was rocking on Thursday for the long-awaited first overall choice from the Montreal Canadiens. The second day produced a little everything. Some teams exchanged draft topics. Others have made a roster transaction. Finally, the announcement that Duncan Keith decided to retire after his renowned career also shook the floor.
When it comes to entry drafts, I don’t think any other professional league is better than the NHL. Seeing the excitement of the faces of prospects and their families after their name is called, it never gets old.
Congratulations on the city of Montreal. One of my favorite scouting destinations in the world provided what we expected. A great event hosted by one of the finest hockey cities in hockey.
Let’s take a look at some interesting picks from each round.
1st place: Yurai Slavkovsky, Montreal Canadiens
The Montreal Canadiens performed due diligence and settled in Slavkovsky over Shane Wright, Logan Coolie, Simon Nemetsu and more. The Montreal management group went with players who believed they were most helpful in eliminating external noise and pressure and taking the organization to another level.
This choice told me something about Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes. They have their own vision of how they want to build their team. In the past, there was a draft where the team built a cave and got the No. 1 consensus. This wasn’t one of those moments.
Observations: Fans screaming for photos, guts poses, or autographs as they parade around Bell Center for media interviews were noteworthy. He is already a Montreal rock star.
No. 62: Lane Hutson, Montreal Canadiens
I absolutely love this pick. Hatson is a very skilled transitional “D” who plays off the rush and quarterbacks power play. Not so long ago, such players were taken over by the NHL club due to lack of size and physique. Hutson has informed Buffalo’s combine team that growth hasn’t stopped and they have a chance to reach about 5 feet -10. His height doesn’t bother me, but he needs to gain his weight as he matures.
Hatson is a different manufacturer. He is very competitive and wants to pack the stick in critical situations.
No. 88: Michael Buchinger, St. Louis Blues
This was a familiar pickup for the blues. Buchinger is OHL’s Guelph Storm “glue”. Two-way defense is a powerful skater who looks at the ice and distributes it very well. He has scored 44 points (5 goals, 39 assists) in the past season and has been deployed in all situations. Bruce has a real chance to find a second pair of NHL defenders in Butinger’s choice.
No. 122: Dennis Hildeby, Toronto Maple Leafs
Hildeby is an interesting pick for the fourth round and is worth gambling. He is a 20-year-old European who had a breakout campaign from 2021 to 22. At the SHL level he is playing at Farjestad, he had an ERA of 1.93 and an ERA of .931. He is an absolute giant on the net, 6 feet 6 tall and weighs 236 pounds.
Goalkeepers take longer to develop than skaters, so they believe in this strategy of choice. Hildeby will stay in Sweden for at least another season before he may come to North America. If the NHL team drafts a player from Europe, it retains the right to a four-year development period compared to the two-year of major North American junior players. By the end of his four years, Hildeby will be 24 and may enter the NHL phase of his development.
No. 136: Jorian Donovan, Senator Ottawa
Jorian, the son of Senator Sheen Donovan, director of player development, is a great addition to the fifth round. He scored 22 points (3 goals, 19 assists) in this year’s rookie OHL season with Hamilton. What I like most about this choice is that Donovan can be used in a variety of roles. As he matures at the OHL level, I predict he will score more points. He skates very well, has outlets responsibly, has good size (6ft-1, 183lbs) and only gets stronger. He will probably see power play time in junior, but I don’t think he deserves his professional role.
Nepotism can infiltrate some decisions made by an organization. This is not an example. Donovan has more than just a professional bottom pairing “D”. I am confident that he intends to work. Senator scout Don Boyd is written throughout this pick, and it’s good.
No. 179: Matt Seminov, Dallas Stars
At this stage of the draft, the team rarely finds a player with the aggressive impact Seminov received at WHL’s Kamloops last year. He scored 26 goals and 31 assists, 6 of which were power play. Seminov brings more than just a breach. He is a responsible player on top of play when his opponent has a puck and is definitely defending his zone. His small area game is also very powerful. He has the creativity to spin off checks in tight spaces and play or distribute them online. His agility will have to be improved, but this is a great discovery for Scout Joe McDonnell’s Stars Director.
No. 225: Ivan Zhigalov, Colorado Avalanche
A tall (6ft-3), lean (167lbs), athletic goalkeeper playing for Sherbrooke at QMJHL. He’s the last pick in the draft and may literally fly under the radar a little later, but I really like the benefits of this choice. Zigarov is a southpaw that has quick feet and pads, can perform reaction saves in scramble mode, and catches with the right hand, giving the opponent a different look when pointing the puck on the net.
Former NHL goalkeeper Jocelyn Thibault is the owner of the Sherbrooke team, so I think Avalanche consulted him to get a little more background on Zigarov.
This concludes the reconnaissance cycle for the 2021-202 season.
Following the draft, there was a time when the staff took a break and enjoyed the summer time. It’s no longer the case.
Leaders from around the world will be attending development camps for all NHL clubs starting Sunday, July 10th and Monday, July 11th.
The 2022-23 Amateur Scouting Calendar will begin on July 31st with the annual Hlinka / Gretzky Cup in Red Deer, Alberta.