Metropolitan Division 2022 NHL Draft Recapby Christopher Gallagher July 12, 2022 0 comments
The Metropolitan is one of the deepest divisions across the NHL. During the 2021-2022 season, it had four teams make the playoffs. Along with this, the group also featured four franchises that reached the 100-point mark. Paced by the Carolina Hurricanes, Rod Brind’Amour group was bounced in the conference semi-finals for the second straight year. They already possess one of the deepest lineups in the game. The team entered the draft with a need at the center spot and along the blue line. One of the stories of the year across the league, the New York Rangers were back in the postseason for the first time since 2017. Ultimately knocked off by the reigning champions in the Tampa Bay Lightning, Gerrard Gallant and company have a glaring hole at right-wing.
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Without their first-round pick following their offer sheet to Jesperi Kotkaniemi last summer, the Hurricanes made headlines early on. Reportedly unable to come to terms with defenseman Anthony DeAngelo, the team traded the 26-year-old to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for a 2022 fourth-round pick, a 2023 third-round pick, and a 2024 second-round pick. Making their first selection in round two on Friday afternoon, Carolina bolstered its forward depth with the choice of Gleb Trikozov. In 45 games for Omskie Yastreby in the MHL last season, he recorded 23 goals and 23 assists in 35 games. A creative and intelligent player, the 6’1 winger, can dictate play on the offensive end. Furthermore, he has a heavy shot and the vision to develop into a solid top-six forward at the pro level.
Adding upfront with their third-round selection, the Hurricanes choose Alexander Perevalov. Jumping out to a hot start last season, he averaged nearly two points per game with Loko Yaroslavl. An excellent skater with the breakaway speed to chase down pucks, he also has a deceptively good shot that can fool goaltenders with ease. Moreover, the Mezhdurechensk, Russia native, is also one of the best two-way forwards in the draft class. He can throw his weight around in the defensive zone while being relentless on the puck. Rounding out Carolina’s draft class, Simon Forsmark possesses great awareness on the back end. The 194-pound defenseman has solid puck skills while also knowing when to jump up in the rush. Furthermore, he can use his size and length to shut down opposing cycles.
Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets are quietly building one of the best prospect pools in the league. The team added to their already deep core during the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. Finding a long-term replacement at their number one defenseman spot for the departed Seth Jones, Columbus chose David Jiricek sixth overall. Lauded by many as the best player at his position in the class, the Klatovy, Czech Republic native, is a smooth skater who can patrol the blue line with ease. In addition to this, he can also quarterback the power play with a good wrist shot and a booming one-timer. With all the tools to be a shutdown player at the NHL level, he is not afraid to use his 6’3 190-pound frame to knock his opponents off the puck.
Set up with two first-round picks as a result of the Jones trade to Chicago, Jarmo Kekalainen continued with the theme of bolstering his blue line at 13th overall. Opting to select Denton Mateychuk, the Winnipeg, Manitoba native, is a gifted offensive player on the back end. Spending last season with the Moose Jaw Warriors in the Western Hockey League, he racked up 51 assists in 65 games. Consistently up in the rush, the 18-year-old has also made strides in the defensive zone. He has an active stick that allows him to get into passing lanes and break up opposing rushes. Closing out, Luca Del Bel Belluz is a strong two-way center who projects to be a serviceable NHL player, while Jordan Dumais is an incredibly productive offensive player who is fresh off a 109-point season in the QMJHL.
New Jersey Devils
Beginning to make strides in the right direction, with players like Jack Hughes and Jesper Bratt highlighting their young forward core, the New Jersey Devils made eight selections over two days. Highlighted by their second overall pick in Simon Nemec, the Liptovsky Mikulas, Slovakia native is a true top-flight defenseman with poise and high-end hockey sense. Rarely panicking when he has the puck Nemec consistently makes a solid first pass on zone exits. Capable of taking over the game on both ends of the ice, he has a good shot from the point that he can work through traffic to get on the net and create rebounds. A right-handed shot blueliner who played for the US National Development team last season, Seamus Casey is an exceptional skater with high-end offensive upside.
A mainstay on the power play, he can walk the blue line while faking out defenders with quick moves to open up shooting lanes. He also has the vision to dish the puck off to his teammates to create scoring chances. A solid defender despite his smaller stature, Casey can shutdown his opponents off the rush with excellent gap control and mobility. Adding to their goaltending pool in round three, the Devils took Tyler Brennan from the Prince George Cougars. Ranked as the top netminder by NHL Central Scouting, he had a lackluster 3.58 goals-against average and a .898 save percentage in 39 games with the team a year ago. However, the Winnipeg, Manitoba native was stellar in the WHL playoffs, with a 1.86 goals-against average and a .954 save percentage in the three games he appeared in.
New York Islanders
Reportedly in the mix for star Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller, the Islanders were never able to come to terms on a deal. However, General manager Lou Lamoriello made another splashy move when he acquired defenseman Alexander Romanov and pick 98 from the Montreal Canadiens for the 13th overall selection. Searching for a partner to play on their top pair alongside Noah Dobson, New York is searching for upgrades all over their lineup as they hope to put a disastrous 2021-2022 season behind them. Without a choice until late in the second round, the franchise opted to take the best player available in defenseman Calle Odelius. Once thought of as a late first-round pick early on in the process, he is a good puck handler who is solid in all three zones of the ice.
Focused on upgrading the forward core after finishing 22nd in the league in goals per game a year ago, New York took Quinn Finley from the Madison Capitals. Blossoming last season after a rough first year with the team, he helped the team get to the Clark Cup Final for just the second time in franchise history. Finishing his campaign with 12 goals and 17 assists in 39 games, Finley also added 10 points in the postseason. Known for his speed and playmaking abilities, the Suamico, Wisconsin native is a long-term project who remains years away from making an impact in the NHL. Adding another piece on the blue line late in the fourth round, the Islanders selected Isaiah George from the London Knights. Strong in the neutral zone, he has the length and mobility to blossom into a top-four defenseman.
New York Rangers
Entering the 2022 NHL Entry Draft with just four selections, the Rangers were able to add two more picks. This was after they shipped backup netminder Alexandar Georgiev to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for a fifth-round and a 2023 third-round choice. Without their first-round pick after trading it to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for Andrew Copp at the trade deadline, New York’s first selection came on Friday afternoon at 63 overall. Ultimately choosing Adam Sýkora, the 5’11 center had 17 points in 46 contests last year while playing for HK Nitra in the Slovakia senior league. Continuing on with the forward theme, the team added Bryce McConnell-Barker. A reliable two-way center, he is an underrated offensive player, with his combination of hands, speed, and a quick wrist shot that can fool opposing goaltenders with ease.
Deciding on Noah Laba at 111th overall, the 6’2 center played his over-age year with the Lincoln Stars in the USHL after getting passed on in the draft last year. Bolstering his draft stock after a strong campaign, he produced 15 goals and 24 assists in 50 games. An ideal power forward for the modern-day NHL, Laba is headed to Colorado College next season. Finally adding to their blue line late on day two, the Rangers took Victor Mancini. One of the oldest players in the class at 20 years old, he played for the University of Omaha-Nebraska last year. Projected to be a depth piece on defense, he reads the game well while also maintaining the ability to make short quick plays to stay out of trouble.
Looking to get back on track after a disastrous 2021-2022 season, the Philadelphia Flyers hired former Blue Jackets head coach Jon Tortorella to help right the ship. Entering the 2022 NHL Entry Draft with a set theme amongst their selections, the franchise kicked things off by picking Cutter Gauthier fifth overall. A sure-fire superstar at the pro level, he recorded 34 goals and 31 assists in 54 games for the US National Development Program last season. A two-way power forward who is unafraid to put his head down and drive the net, Gauthier can beat opposing net minders in close while elevating the puck upstairs. Furthermore, he has a quick release off his wrist and snapshot when coming down the wing, allowing him to surprise goaltenders.
Staying with the theme of grit up front in the third round, the Flyers took Gauthier’s teammate in, Devin Kaplan. Offering up substantial size at 6’3 191 pounds, he is unafraid to throw his body around and finish his checks on the boards. However, the Bridgewater, New Jersey native has a sneaky offensive upside to his game, as displayed by his eight goals in 22 games a year ago. The perfect player to play on the Broad Street Bullies back in the 1970s, Alex Bump is a relentless forechecker who is able to dig pucks out in the corners while also being able to absorb his and shield himself along the wall. Moreover, he is also difficult to play against with his never give up attitude.
Looking to extend their Stanley Cup window under captain Sidney Crosby, the Penguins held pick number 21 in the opening round. This was a result of their loss to the Rangers in the opening round of the playoffs. With Brian Dumoulin and Nathan Beaulieu set to hit the market over the next two years, new general manager Ron Hextall choose to address the back end with his first selection. Deciding on Owen Pickering of the Swift Current Broncos in the Western Hockey League, the 18-year-old is a monster on the blue line at 6’4. Offering top-four upside, he is a strong skater with the mobility to carry the puck up ice. Along with this, Pickering can also thread the needle through the seams to create scoring chances.
Without their second and third-round selections, Pittsburgh flipped it to the Anaheim Ducks at the trade deadline in exchange for winger Rickard Rakell. As a result, the franchise made its next choice late in the fourth round. Keyed in on goaltender Sergei Murashov, he most recently appeared for Loko-76 Yaroslavl in the MHL. Making 41 appearances, the one-time member of the Russian Under 16 team recorded a 2.49 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage. Concluding their 2022 draft class, Pittsburgh added much-needed depth in the middle of the ice by selecting Zam Plante from the Chicago Steel. They also added defenseman Nolan Collins from the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL and Luke Devlin, the son of Toronto Raptors basketball analyst Matt Devlin.
Slated to make six selections during the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, the Capitals added to the ongoing goalie carousel. Moving goaltender Vitek Vanecek and the 46th pick, the team acquired choices 37 and 70. Washington needs to round out its back end. Justin Schultz, Matt Irwin, and Michal Kempny are all set to hit free agency this summer. Along with this, they also need to add pieces upfront, with their forward core beginning to age. Ultimately choosing Ivan Miroshnichenko, the winger saw his season become short after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Deciding to receive treatment in Germany, he will step away from next season. An exciting young player, Miroshnichenko stood out in the 2021 Under-18 World Junior Championship, with six goals and eight points in seven games. He has an NHL-ready shot that is both quick and powerful.
Regarded as a sure-fire first-round prospect at the mid-season point, Ryan Chesley is a gifted two-way defender who is both strong and reliable. Known for his hockey sense and instincts, he can close the gap on opposing puck carriers with ease while also using his big frame to guide them to the wall and knock them off the puck. A smooth skater, Chelsey can also get into shooting lanes while also breaking up plays with his long stick while quickly transitioning the puck up ice. With four of their last five selections being forwards, Alexander Suzdalev is an electric playmaker with game-breaking speed and stellar playmaking abilities. In addition to this, Ludwig Persson was one of the best players in the J20 Nationell league in Sweden, where he finished second in the league in points.
Best Pick: David Jiricek
The Blue Jackets chose to part ways with their star defenseman in Jones a year ago. The franchise is now home to one of the youngest cores in the game. Investing heavily at the position over the past few years, Columbus has spent nine picks at the position. In need of a true number one to add to the group, Jiricek is capable of playing in all situations. As mobile as they come, he can patrol the blue line on the power play while also playing a physical shutdown role in his own zone. With the case to go in the top three picks, this was a slam dunk for Kekalainen and company to get him at sixth overall.
Worst Pick: Victor Mancini
Passed on in the 2020 draft, Mancini spent four seasons with Frolunda in the J20 Nationell league in Sweeden. Ultimately deciding to go to school, the 20-year-old spent last year at the Univ. of Nebraska-Omaha. He is largely a projection pick for the Rangers in the fifth round. Mancini has some intriguing tools and traits that could see him mold into a solid defenseman. A smooth skater, the Saginaw, Michigan native has quick feet that allow him to jump up into the rush. However, he can sometimes be careless with the puck, leading to turnovers. Projecting to be a long-term project, there were better options on the board for New York at this pick.
Sleeper Pick: Ryan Chesley
One of the top four defensemen for the US National Development program, Chelsey had a strong 2021-2022 season. Playing heavy minutes for the team, he had 12 goals and 17 assists in 59 games. A monster in the defensive zone, he plays with physicality and aggression that allows him to finish with checks with ease. Along with this, he is constantly in a solid position, allowing him to get his stick in the seams and break up passes. Still developing his offensive game, Chelsey is capable of playing on the man advantage, with a strong hockey sense and IQ when asked to quarterback the power play. In need of young pieces on their blue line, this could end up being a slam dunk pick for Washington.
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