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NHL Draft Primer: Everything you need to know about the Class of 2022

The 2022 NHL Draft has arrived, and even before the picks have been made, all signs point to us watching a bit of history.

For the first time in 13 years, the Draft returns to Montreal. And for the first time in nearly four decades, the host city will also be the first up to the podium, with the Canadiens holding their first No. 1 pick since 1980.

The 2022 Draft is just one piece of a busy few weeks around the league as the NHL’s off-season kicks into full gear. Once the Class of ’22 has been drafted and handed their new threads, focus will turn to July 13, when free agency begins and the work of building 2022-23’s rosters picks up.

But as we look to next season and the decisions that will shape the league’s 32 clubs, it all starts Thursday night on the draft floor. Here’s all you need to know about the 2022 NHL Draft.

WHEN IS IT HAPPENING, AND WHERE CAN YOU WATCH?

Day 1 of the festivities kicks off Thursday, July 7, with coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET on Sportsnet.

David Amber, Sam Cosentino, Jason Bukala and Pierre McGuire will be providing analysis from the Desk while Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek track down the latest news from around the league as it breaks on the draft floor. Caroline Cameron and Kyle Bukauskas will speak to the new big-leaguers and their families as the day commences and, online, Steve Dangle and Colby Armstrong will team up for an NHL Draft livestream on Sportsnet’s YouTube channel.

Rounds 2-7 will get underway Friday, July 8, with coverage continuing at 11 a.m. ET on Sportsnet.

WHO’S GOING FIRST-OVERALL?

For much of the past year, all eyes have been on Kingston Frontenacs centreman Shane Wright as the name likely to be called first from the podium.

Among a select group of players granted exceptional status to begin their junior careers — following eventual standouts like Connor McDavid, John Tavares and Aaron Ekblad — Wright amassed 39 goals and 66 points through 58 games in his first year with Kingston. He followed that up with 94 points this past season — in the final edition of his prospect rankings, Sportsnet’s Sam Cosentino had that as enough to hold onto the top spot:

That said, the past few months have seen Wright’s status as the likely No. 1 called into question, with two other names inching closer to the conversation. The first is Logan Cooley, who leads the latest class of American standouts from the U.S. National Team Development Program. The Pittsburgh-bred centre has been turning heads of late, and for Jason Bukala, former director of amateur scouting for the Florida Panthers, he’s done enough to earn the No. 1 spot.

If you know Cooley’s story, you know why going first-overall would bring it full circle. The 18-year-old was given his first chance to play hockey by Penguins captain — and 2005 first-overall pick — Sidney Crosby. Now, he’s all but certain to become the highest-drafted player to ever come from Pittsburgh.

But Cooley isn’t the only one vying for Wright’s throne. Also in the mix is Juraj Slafkovsky, who’s similarly been tabbed by some as rightful owner of that No. 1 spot come the night of July 7.

The big-bodied winger’s stock has been steadily on the rise as he’s made his name against men for TPS Turku in the Finnish Liiga. But it took a more significant leap at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, where Slafkovsky finished as the tournament’s leading scorer, earned MVP honours, and led Slovakia to its first-ever ice hockey medal.

WHO PICKS WHEN?

Given how the draft order shook out, the first round figures to bring plenty of intrigue. Seven teams have multiple picks in that opening round, which suggests there are deals to be made and movement to be had.

In terms of the Canadian clubs, Montreal and Ottawa have the best shots, with the Canadiens picking at No. 1 (and again at No. 26) and Ottawa going to the podium at No. 7. 

Winnipeg has a pair of picks as well, at Nos. 14 and 30, while Vancouver will select at No. 15. Toronto and Edmonton close out the first round, picking at No. 25 and No. 29, respectively. Calgary is the only Canadian team without a pick in the first round, having given up their own in the deal to acquire Tyler Toffoli.

Here’s the full draft order for the first round:

1. Montreal Canadiens
2. New Jersey Devils
3. Arizona Coyotes
4. Seattle Kraken
5. Philadelphia Flyers
6. Columbus Blue Jackets (from Chicago Blackhawks)
7. Ottawa Senators
8. Detroit Red Wings
9. Buffalo Sabres
10. Anaheim Ducks
11. San Jose Sharks
12. Columbus Blue Jackets
13. New York Islanders
14. Winnipeg Jets
15. Vancouver Canucks
16. Buffalo Sabres (from Vegas Golden Knights)
17. Nashville Predators
18. Dallas Stars
19. Los Angeles Kings
20. Washington Capitals
21. Pittsburgh Penguins
22. Anaheim Ducks (from Boston Bruins)
23. St. Louis Blues
24. Minnesota Wild
25. Toronto Maple Leafs
26. Montreal Canadiens (from Calgary Flames)
27. Arizona Coyotes (from Carolina Hurricanes via Montreal Canadiens)
28. Buffalo Sabres (from Florida Panthers)
29. Edmonton Oilers
30. Winnipeg Jets (from New York Rangers)
31. Tampa Bay Lightning
32. Arizona Coyotes (from Colorado Avalanche)

CANADIAN TEAMS’ OUTLOOK:

Montreal Canadiens: The Habs head into one of the most important drafts in the club’s recent history — a chance to add a franchise talent at first-overall, and a chance for new GM Kent Hughes to add a foundational piece to his project.

Ottawa Senators: The Sens have been front and centre with many a top-tier pick over the past few years. GM Pierre Dorion’s at No. 7 this time around, but there has been some chatter about the club potentially opting to move the pick for some more immediate help.

Winnipeg Jets: The Jets head into the Draft with a pair of first-round picks for the first time since 2016. Like Ottawa, some wonder if the Jets will wade into trade talks, perhaps for a chance to move up in the Draft order.

Vancouver Canucks: After the Canucks brought in a new regime to run the organization, Vancouver’s new front office — led by new GM, and longtime scout, Patrik Allvin — will get its first shot at making some magic on Draft day.

Toronto Maple Leafs: The Leafs have only three picks in the entire 2022 NHL Draft, with the club all-in on winning now. They’ll still head to the podium in the first round, but they may end up making more noise on Draft day with a trade.

Edmonton Oilers: No stranger to lottery picks, the Oilers find themselves on the cusp of a quieter Draft this time around after a deep playoff run. And they might look to make it even quieter by trading down in the order.

Calgary Flames: Like everything in Calgary at the moment, all things concerning the Flames revert back to Johnny Gaudreau’s impending free-agency decision. That said, the Draft’s often been the site of Brad Treliving’s biggest moves, and all eyes will be on the Flames GM once again.

OTHER KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Conor Geekie: Coming from a town small enough that you could walk it end-to-end in 13 minutes, the Geekie family has been turning heads in hockey for years. With brother Morgan plying his trade for the Seattle Kraken, it’s now young Conor’s turn to see his name up in lights on Draft day.

Brad Lambert: The next talent from a well-known hockey family, Lambert opted to go the tougher route in Finland instead of following his dad’s footsteps in Saskatchewan. Now, he’s one of the most intriguing prospects in the draft. 

Lane Hutson: The U.S. NTDP has produced a fair share of elite, first-round talents over the past decade. And amid another stacked NTDP class, Hutson is perhaps the most unique of his American teammates — a defender who makes up for his lack of size with a hefty helping of skill.

Cutter Gauthier: The next in a growing line of Arizona products, fellow NTDP talent Gauther is hoping to follow in the footsteps of another American standout who made his name in the desert: Auston Matthews.

The Goalies: The 2021 Draft saw two goalies selected in the first round. The 2020 and 2019 iterations each saw one in the first round, while 2018 saw zero. Will we see a netminder hear his name called amid the first 32 picks in 2022? While teams seem reluctant to spend premier draft capital on the sport’s most important position, that trend might just be changing.

So, how might it all shake out? Before the picks begin flying off the board, Sam Cosentino has you covered with his final 2022 NHL Mock Draft: 




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