Final NHL Mock Draft: First two rounds

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We are just one day away from the 2022 NHL Draft in Montreal, and it is time shine up the crystal ball and put a mock draft together. McKeen’s Director of Scouting, Brock Otten, turns his attention to the NHL teams, their organizational needs, tendencies and who he can see them targeting at the draft. Of course, it does not include trades which are always an exciting part of the draft and can shake up the best predictions.

The McKeen’s team has published our annual NHL Draft Guide which includes profiles on over 300 players, feature articles on Shane Wright, The Rise of Slovakian Hockey, Goaltending, Top Sleepers, Skill Rankings, Two Mock Drafts plus much more. A digital magazine is available as part of a subscription for $16.50 CDN (Approximately $13 USD), which includes all of our other coverage, including even more in depth prospect profiles, PLUS our McKeen’s 2022-23 NHL Yearbook releasing at the beginning of September. You can learn more here. The magazine is also available in print, in both color and black and white from our store found here.

Thank you for reading along all season and enjoy the NHL Draft!

1. Montreal Canadiens - Shane Wright, C Kingston (OHL)

Far from the slam dunk we thought it would be, but I still believe Montreal will select Wright. While a heavy winger like Slafkovsky is going to be tempting, especially given it fills an organizational need, the opportunity to shore up the middle with a Wright/Suzuki combo is even more tempting. While big, physical, yet skilled wingers are commonplace on the teams going far in the playoffs, so is the prerequisite that you have a dynamic one/two punch at center. The cerebral Wright may not have had the kind of year many expected, but his overall body of work is impressive, and his well-rounded profile should make him a quality NHL player.

2. New Jersey Devils - Juraj Slafkovsky, LW, TPS (Liiga)

I believe that the most likely scenario sees the Devils trade this pick. If they stay with it, I think Slafkovsky is their man (so long as he is available). The ironic part is that the Devils appear to be open to dealing this pick for immediate help, yet Slafkovsky is probably the most NHL ready prospect eligible in this draft. Would he not be the perfect winger to help insulate someone like Jack Hughes or Nico Hischier? If it’s not the Devils selecting here, I still believe that Slafkovsky will be the pick.

3. Arizona Coyotes - Logan Cooley, C, USN U18 (USDP)

Arizona will be very tempted to take a defender here given that the organization needs to find another defensive anchor. They could obviously trade down and capitalize on someone really liking Cooley. The best option available to them would be to simply select Cooley. As much as Arizona could stand to build better from the back end out, the lack of development of Barrett Hayton (even if he took some positive steps forward this year) has left this team with a massive hole down the middle too. Cooley is the best player available, and he really helps this team in a year or two. Wouldn’t it be crazy if they took Arizona native Cutter Gauthier instead? I don’t think that’s far-fetched either.

4. Seattle Kraken - David Jiricek, D, HC Plzen (Cze)

I would be shocked if the Kraken didn’t go defense here. Best player available and it allows them to have a future cornerstone down the middle (Beniers) and on defense (#4, 2022) after their first two drafts. Is it Nemec? Is it Jiricek? Is it Kevin Korchinski who plays in Seattle already and would make for an unreal story? Again, not all that farfetched this year. This draft is going to be wild. For my money, I think Jiricek fits the profile of the type of player that Ron Francis and Robert Kron seemed to target last year and when they were drafting in Carolina. Plus, Kron is of Czech heritage himself. Jiricek gives them a potential top three defender who can play in all situations, but who may require a bit of patience as his game becomes more refined.

5. Philadelphia Flyers - Cutter Gauthier, LW/C, USN U18 (USDP)

This is something that I’ve seen mocked elsewhere, and I’m fully on board with this. The Flyers have had success taking players from the NTDP lately and Gauthier is just that. If Philadelphia is taking him this early it is because they believe that he can stick down the middle and be an all situations, aggressive, top six center who would complement what they have in place currently really well. This may be high for some in the public scouting community, but the reality is that Gauthier’s game should translate quite well to the NHL, and he is the type of player NHL scouts and executives value more than amateur ones.

6. Columbus Blue Jackets (via Chicago) - Simon Nemec, D, HK Nitra (Svk)

It wouldn’t shock me one bit if this was Korchinski or Mintyukov instead of Nemec. I could see Columbus wanting a defender with a bit more offensive potential in this spot. That’s not to say that Nemec does not possess that, but he’s also more of a steady, intelligent, two-way type. He’s not likely to develop into an elite powerplay quarterback, something someone like Korchinski could be. That said, draft tendencies matter. Columbus hasn’t taken a WHL player in the top two rounds since 2015 (Paul Bittner). They just don’t draft a lot out of the Dub. Stranger things have happened, but I think Nemec would be their guy here.

7. Ottawa Senators - Frank Nazar, C, USN U18 (USDP)

The focus of the Senators in recent drafts is the addition of athletes. You can make fun of their 2021 draft all you want, but it seems clear that they have a vision on the way that they want to play in the future. Nazar fits that, in my opinion. One of the draft’s elite skaters, Nazar would help Ottawa with their pace of play in the future and would give the team another speedy playmaker. They have also loved going to the US NTDP of late. Part of me also thinks that Korchinski or Mintyukov could fit here too. Or you know, another surprise selection from lower down, like public lists…like say Marco Kasper.

8. Detroit Red Wings - Marco Kasper, C, Rogle (SHL)

Is this crazy? Honestly, I’m not sure at this point. He is a player who is trending way up heading into the draft much like Cutter Gauthier. The reason? He can play center. He plays a pro-ready game. He plays with pace. The last time the Wings took a swing on a player who looked great at the World Championships, it worked out pretty well for them (Moritz Seider). Kasper could end up really being a terrific support piece on this Wings roster moving forward and I think Detroit could see him being an elite level middle six player that could help them win in the playoffs in four/five years.

9. Buffalo Sabres - Kevin Korchinski, D, Seattle (WHL)

Another late season riser, Korchinski had a terrific playoff for Seattle of the WHL, helping them make it all the way to the WHL final. Is there some concern over his ability to defend? Absolutely. However, his offensive ceiling and potential may be the highest of any defender in this draft and Buffalo loves the opportunity to add him into the fold as a potential puck mover and powerplay quarterback. With three first round picks, they can take the swing here in case his defense never truly comes around.

10. Anaheim Ducks - Matthew Savoie, C, Winnipeg (WHL)

I believe Anaheim will be one of the teams that finally jumps up to take one of the undersized, but skilled forwards available. Lots of options here, but Savoie makes the most sense for me given what they have targeted in the past. He could play down the middle. He could play the wing with McTavish or Zegras. He can be a lethal powerplay option for a team that will already have a tremendous powerplay soon. They also would have seen a lot of him after checking in on goaltender (and Ducks’ pick) Gage Alexander in Winnipeg.

11. San Jose Sharks - Denton Mateychuk, D, Moose Jaw (WHL)

I really wanted to put Pavel Mintyukov here. San Jose has drafted a lot out of the OHL recently and I believe he deserves to be selected this high (and higher). But I think some of his defensive inadequacies might scare them given the lack of development shown by Ryan Merkley as a pro thus far. Whereas Mateychuk just seems like a San Jose Shark to me. Strong two-way player, although undersized. Strong skater. Yes, he takes risks offensively, but the upside is high. I just have a feeling that there is a fit here.

12. Columbus Blue Jackets - Joakim Kemell, RW, JYP (Liiga)

Columbus could be another good landing spot for one of those smaller wingers other teams might be afraid to take. I think what gets Kemell taken first is that he plays with a little bit of jam, compared to Lekkerimaki and Lambert. The poor second half in Liiga may scare teams, but the strong finish at the U18’s has to be worth something. Kemell’s goal scoring ability would fit in really well with what this team is building. This could also be a great spot for Danila Yurov. The Jackets have had success with Russian players recently and with two first rounders, they could see the risk/reward.

13. New York Islanders - Pavel Mintyukov, D, Saginaw (OHL)

The Islanders used to have a great drafting relationship with the Saginaw program. No reason to suggest that not still being the case. This is a team that badly needs to inject more youth and skill into the lineup and Mintyukov has among the highest upside of any defender available. Maybe there’s a bit too much Bode Wilde in his game to scare them off, but I think they’re different. The Islanders also have not been shy to take Russian players, even if Mintyukov has been in North America for a bit. The million-dollar question is how do the Isles pass on new bench boss’ son Brad Lambert? Certainly, possible that they take him. But I’d bet against it. Too risky if things go sour with the coach before Lambert is ready to take that next step. A late round gamble? Sure. But the downside in mixing home and work life may be too much pressure for both.

14. Winnipeg Jets - Conor Geekie, C, Winnipeg (WHL)

The Jets have been willing to take chances on players with perceived skating issues in recent drafts and Geekie is one of the most polarizing players available this year because of it. However, they would also be extremely familiar with him given where he plays in the WHL…in Winnipeg. Geekie has the potential to be an absolute load to handle if he can improve his consistency and his skating. Look at the massive improvement that Mason McTavish has made in a year. Can Geekie do the same? This feels like it could be a match. Could also see this being a landing spot for Yurov. The Jets are kind of in limbo right now and may try to compete again next year, meaning they might be open to taking on a project that they might have to wait for like Yurov.

15. Vancouver Canucks - Noah Ostlund, C, Djurgardens (SWE J20)

This is the first time Vancouver has had a first-round pick in the last couple years. That could mean that they really swing for the fences on a player with significant upside. Or it could mean that they opt for a safer player with a chance of playing in the NHL in a year or two. Could see this being a Lambert landing spot. Could see Kulich or Isaac Howard. Could also see someone like Jimmy Snuggerud. But I like Ostlund here. Strong Swedish connection with the organization and Ostlund had a heck of a coming out party at the U18’s. His processing ability is impressive and once he adds strength, he could be a really strong top six player.

16. Buffalo Sabres (via Vegas) - Danila Yurov, RW, Stalnye Lisy (MHL)

In for a penny, in for a pound. The Sabres already have quite a few prospects in Russia, but when you have three first round picks, you can take the chance on Yurov despite the political climate. On talent, he’s a top ten prospect for this draft. He has upside because of his ability to play with pace and create in transition, but he’s also a safe bet to be an NHL player because of his high work rate.

17. Nashville Predators - Lian Bischel, D, Leksands (SHL)

I’m not entirely sure I would take Bichsel this high, but it seems like a very likely scenario given his very raw, but intriguing athletic tools. Big defender with good mobility who plays a very physical game. How much the offensive game comes around remains to be seen, but I see Nashville being very interested in this type of defender. Owen Pickering could be another option here.

18. Dallas Stars - Jonathan Lekkerimaki, RW, Djurgardens (SWE J20)

Someone will bite on Lekkerimaki eventually and I like Dallas to be the one if he’s still there. They have drafted insanely well lately and have a real abundance of playmakers in the organization now. But they could use a pure goal scorer like Lekkerimaki. He needs to find a way to play through the middle more consistently, but there is a strong Swedish connection in Dallas. I could also see them targeting Liam Ohgren given how much value they put on IQ or even Ivan Miroschnichenko because of how well they have drafted (and he is that high end goal scorer too).

19. Minnesota Wild (via Los Angeles) - Isaac Howard LW, USN U18 (USDP)

Recently acquired pick from Los Angeles for forward Kevin Fiala, Howard just seems like a good fit here for the Wild. Thinks the game at a high level. He is skilled. He can play with pace. He has upside but fits in well with the players Minnesota already has in the fold. In reality, Howard probably projects as a similar player as Fiala if all goes according to plan. There’s also a Minnesota connection too, from where he played his minor hockey and where he will play college (Minnesota-Duluth). I think there’s a very clear fit.

20. Washington Capitals - Nathan Gaucher, C, Quebec (QMJHL)

I think the Caps see their window of opportunity closing relatively soon. Quite often when that happens, the one thing you see at the draft is teams taking very pro ready players. Not always the best course of action (one could argue that they should be swinging for the fences for high upside), but trends are trends. The Capitals have seen how critical it is to have a strong skating, workhorse playing through the middle on the third line in recent years and Gaucher projects as that kind of player. He could be a true shutdown type for Washington and move quickly through the organization.

21. Pittsburgh Penguins - Brad Lambert, C, JYP-Pelicans (Liiga)

Pittsburgh doesn’t pick in the first round very often, so it makes sense for them to try to restock with a true boom type. Maybe they also go with a more safe, pro ready type (like Jimmy Snuggerud, Liam Ohgren, or Jiri Kulich), but this would be a very interesting spot for Lambert. Look, I’m not even sure I’m convinced that it makes sense or that Pittsburgh would do it. But I think they should at this point in the draft. Imagine if you can help him turn things around? Another great story would be if they took Ivan Miroschnichenko, who could connect with Mario Lemieux as a cancer survivor.

22. Anaheim Ducks (via Boston) - Ryan Chesley, D, USN U18 (USDP)

Wouldn’t Chesley be the perfect future partner for Drysdale or Zellweger? His hardnosed approach would be great for the organization and his mobility should definitely allow him to play in the league. There is a NTDP connection here too with the Ducks loving drafting out of the program. Under the same umbrella, Lian Bichsel or Noah Warren would be really interesting here too. How about Rutger McGroarty too? His physical approach would be interesting alongside Mason McTavish in the future.

23. St. Louis Blues - Owen Pickering, D, Swift Current (WHL)

You have to know that Pickering is going to go high. He just oozes raw potential because of his late growth spurt and mobility. His game lacks refinement, but he shows great potential at both ends. Maybe the Blues see a lot of Colton Parayko in Pickering. This one just seems like a good fit based on draft tendency, need, and best player available.

24. Minnesota Wild - Jiri Kulich, C, Karlovy Vary (Cze)

Kulich had a heck of a U18’s for Czechia and there is a strong chance that he goes well before this. However, I also think that he could end up being one of those guys that falls a bit because scouts like him, but don’t love him. What position does he play in the future? Can the athletic tools improve further? His goal scoring ability is mighty impressive though and he does show potential as a heady two-way player. Could see this as a landing spot for Jagger Firkus too, who should go higher.

25. Toronto Maple Leafs - Luca Del Bel Belluz, C, Mississauga (OHL)

Where the Leafs go with this pick is a true mystery. Maybe it’s dealt for a goaltender (like John Gibson). Maybe they go against the grain and draft the mobile, physical stay at home type that the team needs like Noah Warren. Maybe it’s Filip Mesar or Liam Ohgren. Could even be Jimmy Snuggerud. But I could see Toronto having a lot of interest in Del Bel Belluz. High IQ player who needs to improve his feet, something Toronto has not shied away from taking. A natural center, he could blossom into a two-way middle six player for them.

26. Montreal Canadiens (via Calgary) - Ivan Miroschnichenko, LW, Omskie Krylya (VHL)

If you don’t take Slafkovsky at one and Miro is still here at #26, I think you absolutely need to take the chance if you’re Montreal. His power game fills a need, and he has among the higher upsides of any forward available so long as you can overlook his health and Russian politics. But Montreal has taken Russian players and they also have the great Saku Koivu as an ambassador to Miro to get him to NA earlier. This would be a heck of a selection IMO.

27. Arizona Coyotes (via Carolina) - Sam Rinzel, D, Chaska (USHS – MIN)

Look, when you’re rebuilding forever, you need to take some big swings to try to turn things around. Rinzel is just that. He is incredibly talented offensively. He has that size and skating package on the back end. He is unquestionably a long-term project, but he also would be a very interesting one for Arizona to take a chance on. Could see Mattias Havelid going here too, because of his high upside offensively too. Rutger McGroarty could be in play for them I believe as well.

28. Buffalo Sabres (via Florida) - Rutger McGroarty, LW, USN U18 (USDP)

With their third first rounder this year, the Sabres opt for McGroarty who has everything you’d want in a power winger save for the dynamic skating ability. He offers a really nice contrast to some of the wingers already in the system and gives them another player like Alex Tuch to help insulate skill. He also happens to be the best player available at this point too. Could see Buffalo going for someone like Lian Bichsel here too. Going with a real high end tools type. But McGroarty is just too good to pass up.

29. Edmonton Oilers - Noah Warren, D, Gatineau (QMJHL)

Part of me wanted to put Lian Bichsel here. It could easily be him if the Oilers want to target an athletic and physically aggressive defender. However, the Oilers have a very strong scouting influence in Quebec and would have a great read on Warren because of it. Warren could develop into a Brandon Carlo type for Edmonton and does represent a large need for them to help take them to the next level. He could be seen as a potential partner for the likes of Bouchard and Broberg in the future. Of course, they could go in a totally different route here. Liam Ohgren would look great here. Same with Mesar or any of the other guys I have falling a bit. But if you really like Warren or Bichsel, you’ll need to take them early IMO.

30. Winnipeg Jets (via NYR) - Jagger Firkus, RW, Moose Jaw (WHL)

The Jets went with a very Winnipeg style selection with Geekie at #14, so how about a totally different kind of player in Firkus at 30. IMO, Firkus should be gone well before this pick. I’m a big fan. One thing the Jets are really lacking is someone who can push pace and make skilled plays in transition. Insert Firkus. Could also see them going with Ohgren or Mesar. Mesar is a similar kind of player, but I think their WHL biases and familiarity would lead them more to Firkus.

31. Tampa Bay Lightning - Filip Mesar, C, HK Poprad (Svk)

I think you would have to be ecstatic if you are Tampa and Mesar is still there in the first where you are picking. His offensive upside is significant, and he can play with the kind of pace Tampa likes their forward prospects to have. This is only the Lightning’s second first round pick in the last five years, so they need to take a big swing here to help replenish a system that is starting to really look sparse. Ohgren would look good here too. So would one of the talented Russian wingers like Trikozov or Perevalov.

32. Arizona Coyotes (via Colorado) - Jimmy Snuggerud, RW, USN U18 (USDP)

The Coyotes go back to the NTDP to take Snuggerud, one of the draft’s most improved players from the start of the year to the finish. His skating continues to make strides, but his ability to think the game is a highlight and his positional versatility makes him a potential swiss army knife at the pro level. Snuggerud’s profile as a strong complementary middle six player makes sense for Arizona as they try to accelerate their rebuild.

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33. Montreal Canadiens - Tristan Luneau, D, Gatineau (QMJHL)

Coming into the year Luneau was projected to be in the conversation as one of the best defenders available. But his year didn’t go according to plan thanks to injuries. That said, he finished the year on a high note and as a result, he might be underrated heading into the draft. Luneau gives Montreal a really safe, yet projectable NHL style defender who could develop into a steady second pairing type.

34. Arizona Coyotes - Liam Ohgren, LW, Djurgardens (SWE J20)

Definitely a bit of a fall for Ohgren in this mock. He’s a great player and this is a great selection for Arizona if it comes to fruition. An intelligent, complementary goal scorer, Ohgren’s overall “jack of all trades” tool set could push him down some boards and into this early second round range. Other similar players have had this happen. But Arizona grabs a winger with a chance to be a terrific middle six player for them in the future.

35. Seattle Kraken - Reid Schaefer, LW, Seattle (WHL)

Maybe a bit early for Schaefer, but I see him going earlier than the independent scouting community has him. The physical tools are very alluring, and he had a terrific conclusion to his year. He is trending in the right direction and his heavy approach mixed with improving offensive confidence leads me to believe someone picks him in the 25-40 range. Of course, Seattle grabbing him makes perfect sense since he plays right in their backyard.

36. Arizona Coyotes (via Philadelphia) - Owen Beck, C, Mississauga (OHL)

The Coyotes haven’t taken an OHL player in three straight drafts, but Beck would be a very good selection by them here. In a lot of ways, his game is similar to Logan Cooley’s without the high-end skill. Great skater. Strong two-way player. Tenacious. If the Coyotes want to reverse their fortunes, bringing in players like Beck would make a ton of sense. There is a very safe path to the NHL for him given all the things he does well.

37. New Jersey Devils - Calle Odelius, D, Djurgardens (SWE J20)

Maybe the Devils go in a different direction with this pick. I could see a pair of OHL players being very intriguing to them (David Goyette - familiarity thanks to Stillman & Matyas Sapovaliv - assets and body type that usually attracts NJ scouts). However, I think this pick could make more sense for them and what they might really need in their organization. Odelius deserves to be a first-round pick but the confusion over his long-term projection might push him to the second. Great mobility. Improving play at both ends. He had a strong U18’s.

38. Chicago Blackhawks - Mattias Havelid, D, Linkopings (SWE J20)

Really thought about having the Hawks select David Goyette here. They could really use a slick skating, playmaking center in their pipeline. But they just don’t seem to be going towards forwards like him in recent years. He’d be my pick here, but I don’t know if he is Chicago’s. Instead, insert Mattias Havelid. The Hawks have a ton of bigger, physical defenders in the pipeline, but Havelid would give them a really good powerplay QB and puck mover. He too is coming off of a terrific U18’s and I could see Chicago looking at someone like him or even Lane Hutson here, trying to swing for the fences without a first.

39. Ottawa Senators - Julian Lutz, LW, EHC Munchen (DEL)

Did we just find Tim Stutzle a best friend? Maybe. But Lutz fits the profile of what Ottawa has been looking for in recent years. After going with a non-tranditional Sens pick in Nazar earlier, this one screams Ottawa. Lutz has very interesting athletic tools, but he missed most of the year with an injury. Lots of potential, but lots of risk.

40. Detroit Red Wings - David Goyette, C, Sudbury (OHL)

Love this pick for the Wings. I hope he doesn’t fall out of round one, but I could see it happening. There are a lot of question marks surrounding his consistency and the two-way potential. However, his skating and puck skill is undeniable. A very different kind of center was taken in round one (Kasper), but with he and Goyette, the Wings really shore up their high-end center depth in the organization.

41. Buffalo Sabres - Maveric Lamoureux, D, Drummondville (QMJHL)

The fourth pick for the Sabres already, I think this one could be someone they target, or the type of player they target in the late first, early second. This is a team who really wants to accelerate their rebuild and become more difficult to play against. Insert one of the most physical defenders available and someone with a really interesting athletic profile. Lots of refinement needed in his game, but with so many picks this year, Buffalo can take that chance.

42. Anaheim Ducks - Lane Hutson, D, USN U18 (USDP)

Part of this is wishful thinking because I believe Hutson deserves to be drafted this high. And the Ducks have proven to love players with high end skill and creativity. Sure, they already have Zellweger in the system, but because his selection turned out so well, why not go back that route again and take another similar kind of play creator? In this day and age, you can never have too many puck moving defenders, so long as your roster is constructed accordingly.

43. Arizona Coyotes (via San Jose) - Adam Sykora, C, HK Nitra (Svk)

Man…Arizona has a lot of picks! But they grab another great one here with Sykora, a late season riser thanks to a strong finish in the Slovak men’s league and at the World Championships. Sykora is a high character player who blends tenaciousness and physicality with an improving offensive skill set. He could move quickly for them if they bring him to North America.

44. Columbus Blue Jackets - Devin Kaplan, RW, USN U18 (USDP)

Kaplan is another player that I think NHL scouts are going to value extremely highly, compared to say independent scouts. Strong athletic tools. Plays a very pro game already. There is a projectable NHL player here. Columbus likely loves his ability to complement skilled players and sees him as someone who can fit well in their lineup in three or four years. Lots of similarities between Kaplan and the likes of Barclay Goodrow, Nick Paul, and other unsung playoff heroes of late.

45. Arizona Coyotes (via New York Islanders) - Rieger Lorenz, LW, Okotoks (AJHL)

With all these high picks this year, one might think that the Coyotes are candidates to take one of the “falling” Russian players, but I actually can’t see it. After the Mitchell Miller fiasco and the other bad press surrounding the team’s arena debacle, I don’t see them wanting any sort of difficult PR. Instead, I could see them taking chances on some high school (like Sam Rinzel) and tier two players from North America. Insert AJHL forward Rieger Lorenz. Big-bodied winger with good offensive skill who just needs to be more consistent in using his size to play aggressively. He’s a long-term project, but one with appeal.

46. Washington Capitals (via Winnipeg) - Jack Hughes, C, Northeastern (HE)

Hughes is a bit of a tough one to predict for the draft. I could see a team stepping up to take him in the first and I could see him falling into the second or even third. Washington strikes me as a team who could have a lot of interest in him though. Maybe he’s too similar to Hendrix Lapierre, but they are magnetically drawn to intelligent and creative playmakers from a historical perspective. I could also see them looking at one of the slick skating defenders on the board in Lindgren and Casey too.

47. Minnesota Wild (via Vancouver) - Alexander Perevalov, LW, Loko (MHL)

I see Minnesota as a possible landing point for one of the top end Russian forwards. They haven’t been shy about selecting from the region and have had success doing so. Perevalov did not have a strong finish to the year, but he still has an interesting skill set as a creative, yet tenacious goal working winger. Wide range of outcomes with his projection, but he could prove to be a nice complementary piece to the players they already have in the fold. Could the same be said of Gleb Trikozov in this spot too?

48. Vegas Golden Knights - Michael Fisher, D, St. Mark’ School (USHS-MA)

Wouldn’t shock me at all if Fisher went this high and I think Vegas is a team that could have substantial interest in him. The Golden Knights have drafted a lot out of tier 2, high school, and the prep scene. Fisher is a smooth skating right shot defender with the potential to develop into a quality offensive defender. He’s heading to Northeastern and after not selecting in the first round, Fisher is the kind of home run swing Vegas might take to make up for that.

49. Seattle Kraken (via Nashville) - Seamus Casey, D, USN U18 (USDP)

This is a bit lower than many independent scouting agencies have Casey ranked, but he strikes me as the type that NHL scouts might worry about. His mobility is impressive, and he thinks the game well at both ends, but what is he? Talented enough to be a top flight offensive defender? Questionable. But the lack of size also makes him a question mark in his own end. Regardless, this is a great pick if Seattle can get him here. There is a lot to work with and Kraken have already proven to be confident in the NTDP’s development model.

50. Dallas Stars - Mats Lindgren, D, Kamloops (WHL)

If one of Lindgren or Ty Nelson are available here, I think that either would make a lot of sense for Dallas. Add another high-end puck moving defender to the system and the Stars have had great luck from the CHL lately. So why Lindgren over Nelson? I guess just a hunch. Lindgren is one of the younger players available this year and his four-way quickness is very impressive.

51. Los Angeles Kings - Paul Ludwinski, C, Kingston (OHL)

The Kings love drafting from the OHL, and they would be very, very familiar with Ludwinski since he spent some time playing with Martin Chromiak (and Shane Wright) this season. Ludwinski plays with consistent energy and brings great speed too. He is still figuring out how to best apply his skill set, but there is a potentially strong middle six forward here.

52. Detroit Red Wings (via Washington) - Ty Nelson, D, North Bay (OHL)

This is a great landing spot for Nelson. The Wings love the OHL and Nelson gives them another strong defensive prospect in the pipeline. He has a big point shot and plays a lot bigger than his size. He just needs to learn how to consistently apply his skating skill to be an impactful player at both ends and as a powerplay quarterback.

53. Anaheim Ducks (via Pittsburgh) - Adam Ingram, C, Youngstown (USHL)

A late bloomer who went from playing Tier 2 in Central Canada to starring in the USHL this year, Ingram is a very interesting prospect. He definitely faded in the second half, but there are some tools that scouts really like, such as his shooting ability, off puck awareness, and size/skill combination. As his body matures physically, his skating should improve. A toolsy type forward, I think Anaheim has targeted these types in recent years (like Pastujov and Colangelo).

54. Boston Bruins - Elias Salomonsson, D, Skelleftea (SWE J20)

Salomonsson came into the year as one of the top-rated defenders in the draft, but some weaker international performances and relatively indifferent play in Sweden has him falling back into the second/third round range. Without a first-round selection this year, Salomonsson could be the type of player Boston has high on their list. He has solid potential at both ends if his decision making can improve and be refined.

55. Winnipeg Jets (via St. Louis) - Isaiah George, D, London (OHL)

Skating is clearly something that Winnipeg has been focusing on in recent years when it comes to drafting defenders and I see George as a great target for them. He is one of the better four-way movers in the draft and his athletic tools are off the chart. He may project more as a defensive type at the next level, but there’s also a chance that his offensive skill and decision making improves to the point where he could be a quality two-way, second pairing type.

56. Minnesota Wild (compensation pick) - Matyas Sapovaliv, C, Saginaw (OHL)

Can Sapovaliv be the kind of player they thought they were getting when they drafted Jack McBain previously? I think there is still a desire to add a rangy pivot like Sapovaliv, a player with terrific potential to develop into a two-way stalwart because of his length and IQ.

57. Chicago Blackhawks (via Minnesota) - Cameron Lund, RW, Green Bay (USHL)

After taking Havelid with their earlier second, the Hawks grab Cameron Lund, a Northeastern commit who more fits the mold of the type of player they have been taking in recent years. A physical, two-way center with good size, Lund projects as a solid bottom six center at minimum who can be the type of player that helps you win in the postseason.

58. Seattle Kraken (via Toronto) - Topias Leinonen, G, JYP (Fin-U20)

Do I think a goaltender should be taken this early? No. But do I think an NHL team will take one in the late second, early third? Yes. I believe that the first one will be Leinonen because of his size and strong play this year. He showed some great things at the U18’s. Seattle is trying to build from the ground up and he would give the team a solid future option in net.

59. Calgary Flames - Danny Zhilkin, C, Guelph (OHL)

I like this fit a lot. With no first rounder, Calgary will be looking at a player who is probably pretty high on their draft list still. I know Zhilkin has some serious fans in the scouting community and I could see Calgary being one of them. Zhilkin has a similar profile to Connor Zary, but has better athletic tools and could definitely be a long term solution in the middle six for the Flames.

60. Carolina Hurricanes - Gleb Trikozov, LW, Omskie Yastreby (MHL)

It seems like the Hurricanes always seem to love the players that the analytics and internet scouting communities do. Insert Trikozov, who many places (including us) have ranked as a first rounder. However, given the political climate and his somewhat risky profile, I expect him to be drafted later than this. Carolina is getting a dynamic offensive player who is the perfect home run swing for a team without a first-round selection this year.

61. Seattle Kraken (via Florida) - Mikey Milne, LW, Winnipeg (WHL)

I have a pretty good hunch that we will see at least one re-entry player taken inside the first two rounds this year. There are just too many good candidates. Milne is definitely one that I could see being taken first, especially by a team like Seattle who probably views him as someone who can push for an NHL roster spot as early as next year. He has proven to be the perfect complementary winger in Winnipeg this year with his speed, tenacity, and improving offensive skills.

62. Montreal Canadiens (via Edmonton) - Filip Bystedt, C, Linkopings (Swe J20)

If Bystedt truly is still available this late in the draft, I like the Canadiens to target him. Big, rangy forward whose projection is a little murky. The skill set is pretty raw, but he shows flashes of being a solid NHL prospect. As he gets stronger, he might really pop off and this pick serves as a real high upside swing made by Montreal.

63. New York Rangers - Gavin Hayes, RW, Flint (OHL)

I just had to! I’m not confident that Hayes would be the Rangers guy here, but it’s too good of a story for him not to be. The Rangers scouting staff would have seen a ton of him this year while watching Brennan Othmann and Hayes projects in a similar way. He’s a budding power forward with a big shot and a penchant for the big hit.

64. Ottawa Senators (via Tampa Bay) - Dylan James, LW, Sioux City (USHL)

James, thanks to a very strong second half and Clark Cup performance, has rocketed up draft lists late in the year. He may go even earlier than this. However, James fits Ottawa’s scouting philosophy to a tee. He works hard. He finds his way to the middle and to the net. He has good offensive instincts. James could certainly develop into a nice middle six piece for Ottawa in the future.

65. New York Islanders (via Colorado) - Jani Nyman, RW, KOOVEE (Fin-Mestis)

Wouldn’t shock me at all if Nyman went higher than this. He has good size and can really shoot the puck. However, how his game rounds out remains to be seen. This would be a great pick for the Islanders in this range as simply the best player available.