NHL Draft eligible players ranked by best puck skills, top skaters and more

Today we look at which prospects in the 2022 NHL Draft are the best skaters, have the best puck skills, hockey sense, shot, and are the most visually dominant players.

The numbers of players listed in each group won’t be even, as I’m trying to show what the top tier of each attribute is, and that top tier may vary in length.

Best skaters

  1. Brad Lambert, RW, Pelicans-Liiga
  2. Denton Mateychuk, LHD, Moose Jaw-WHL
  3. Ryan Healey, RHD, Sioux Falls-USHL
  4. Calle Odelius, LHD, Djurgarden-Sweden Jr.
  5. Michael Fisher, RHD, St. Mark’s-US High School
  6. Spencer Sova, LHD, Erie-OHL
  7. Samuel Savoie, LW, Gatineau-QMJHL
  8. Miguel Tourigny, RHD, Acadie-Bathurst-QMJHL
  9. Logan Cooley, C, US NTDP-USHL
  10. Frank Nazar, C, US NTDP-USHL
  11. Filip Mesar, RW, Poprad-Slovakia
  12. Ty Nelson, RHD, North Bay-OHL
  13. Jere Lassila, C, JYP-Finland Jr.
  14. Amadeus Lombardi, C, Flint-OHL
  15. Cedrick Guindon, LW, Owen Sound-OHL
  16. Jake Livanavage, LHD, Chicago-USHL

Brad Lambert being atop this list shouldn’t be that surprising to anyone who has watched him for a few shifts. Lambert can absolutely fly. He’s a one-man zone entry due to his speed and skill. Mateychuk is also a player who can play with a lot of pace and make a lot of players miss from the offensive blue line due to his feet. Healey didn’t have a great draft season, but the talent stands out due to his great skating and some offense. His hockey sense and defending are issues, though. Odelius has a powerful stride and will be able to skate with pros and transition pucks at higher levels despite not being the biggest defenseman. Fisher is an intriguing pro prospect due to his large frame and feet, but whether he can move the puck is a question. Savoie jets around the ice and brings a ton of energy to shifts due to his speed and compete. He’s small and doesn’t have much offense, though.

Best puck skills

  1. Logan Cooley, C, US NTDP-USHL
  2. Danila Yurov, RW, Magnitogorsk-KHL
  3. Isaac Howard, LW, US NTDP-USHL
  4. Nosh Ostlund, C, Djurgarden-Sweden Jr.
  5. Juraj Slafkovsky, LW, TPS-Liiga
  6. Jack HughesC, Northeastern-Hockey East
  7. Viktor Neuchev, LW, Avtomobilist-MHL

Cooley’s pure skill level is fantastic. He can make unique plays with the puck and do so at a high rate. Cooley is not only loved so much because of his skill, but also because of his ability to make so many difficult plays at a fast pace. In fact, Cooley, Yurov, Ostlund and Slavkovsky can all make highly-skilled maneuvers at high speeds. Howard, Hughes and Neuchev lack that type of speed, but they can all stickhandle in a phone booth — particularly Howard. When Hughes was coming up, I was blown away by his skill level. He didn’t have a huge draft season, but if he pops in later years it will be due to his skill.

Best hockey sense

  1. Lane Hutson, LHD, US NTDP-USHL
  2. Shane Wright, C, Kingston-OHL
  3. Logan Cooley, C, US NTDP-USHL
  4. Simon Nemec, RHD, Nitra-Slovakia
  5. Matthew Savoie, C/RW, Winnipeg-WHL
  6. Seamus Casey, RHD, US NTDP-USHL
  7. Mats Lindgren, LHD, Kamloops-WHL
  8. Jordan Dumais, RW, Halifax-QMJHL
  9. Miguel Tourigny, RHD, Acadie-Bathurst-QMJHL
  10. Vladimir Grudinin, LHD, CSKA-MHL
  11. Calle Odelius, LHD, Djurgarden-Sweden Jr.
  12. Jeremy Langlois, LHD, Cape Breton-QMJHL

Hutson’s brain operates differently than other players on the ice. Every time he gets the puck, especially in the O-zone, he has the elite vision to constantly find plays to make to create chances. His US NTDP teammate Casey is also a very clever puck-mover who makes a lot of plays, but Hutson is on a different level. Wright, Cooley and Savoie are all great playmakers who see the ice at a very high level. They can all make plays at fast speeds, and thus project to be able to drive a line at higher levels. You see a lot of defensemen on this list who aren’t the biggest players like Nemec and Lindgren, but all can move the puck very well and provide offense.

Most physically dominant players

  1. Jack Sparkes, RHD, St. Michael’s-OJHL
  2. Maveric Lamoureux, RHD, Drummondville-QMJHL
  3. Kirill Dolzhenkov, RW, CSKA-MHL
  4. Lian Bichsel, LHD, Leksands-SHL
  5. Noah Warren, RHD, Gatineau-QMJHL
  6. David Jiricek, RHD, Plzen-Czechia
  7. Nathan Gaucher, C, Quebec-QMJHL
  8. Reid Schaefer, LW, Seattle-WHL
  9. Juraj Slafkovsky, LW, TPS-Liiga
  10. Samuel Mayer, LHD, Peterborough-OHL

What do I mean by most dominant players? I’m trying to describe players who are hard to play against, who will wear you down and project to win a lot of physical battles versus men. It’s no surprise we start with Sparkes and Lamoureux. They are two towers of power at 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-7 respectively who compete hard and use their big frames to win pucks. Dolzhenkov is also a huge man at 6-foot-6, but as a forward, you like how he can create around the net and be a presence in the high-percentage areas. Defensemen like Bichsel, Warren and Jiricek have good size, but arguably are the meanest, most physical defenders in the draft who make life miserable for opposing forwards. Gaucher and Schaefer, on the other hand, are big, mean forwards who can run over opposing defenders and play well in the high-percentage areas.

Best shots

  1. Jonathan Lekkerimaki, RW, Djurgarden-SHL
  2. Ivan Miroshnichenko, LW, Avangard-VHL
  3. Cutter Gauthier, C/LW, US NTDP-USHL
  4. Mattias Havelid, RHD, Linkoping-Sweden Jr.
  5. Jagger Firkus, RW, Moose Jaw-WHL
  6. Elias Salomonsson, RHD, Skelleftea-Sweden Jr.

In terms of pure goal scorers, it doesn’t get much better in this draft than Miroshnichenko and Lekkerimaki. They can wire pucks from the dots and are constant goal-scoring threats wherever they are in the offensive zone, but particularly from the left circle. Gauthier emerged this season as a top goal-scoring option too, being the trigger man for Cooley’s playmaking on the US NTDP. It’s rare for several defensemen to appear on a best-shot list, but Havelid and Salomonsson’s point shots were legit threats in the Swedish junior circuit this season.

(Top photo of Logan Cooley: Rena Laverty / US NTDP)

.