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NHL - US Sports: Five top prospects to look out for in the NHL Draft

The 2022 NHL Draft takes place on 7th and 8th July in the city of Montreal, it is the 60th in total and for the first time since 1985 the hosts have the first pick.

As determined by the draft lottery, the New Jersey Devils will select second after the Canadiens, the Arizona Coyotes third, Seattle Kraken fourth and Philadelphia Flyers fifth.

We take a look at five players who are among the favourites to be drafted by the teams with the most valuable picks.

What

2022 NHL Draft

Where

Bell Centre, Montreal

When

7th and 8th July 2022

How to watch

ESPN, ESPN+, NHL Network

Shane Wright (F) (1/3 to be picked first overall)

Centreman Wright is the top prospect in the draft according to NHL Central Scouting, and the favourite to be selected with the first pick by the Montreal Canadiens.

At the age of 15, Wright was one of just six players in history to be granted exceptional status to enter the OHL a year early. The others include Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid and Toronto Maple Leafs' Captain John Tavares.

Wright had a challenging start to last season but dominated offensively in the second half of the OHL campaign amassing 94 points (32 goals, 62 assists) in 63 games for the Kingston Frontenacs.

Thought of highly for his two-way ability and leadership skills, 6'1" Wright was the OHL Rookie of the year in 2019/20 scoring 66 points (39 goals,27 assists) in 58 games. He is the youngest Captain in OHL history, being handed the role with Frontenacs at 17.

Wright has also Captained Canada to a gold medal at the 2021 Under-18 World Championships scoring 14 points in just five games. His nine goals included two in the final against Russia.

Juraj Slafkovsky (F) (12/5)

Standing 6'4" Slafkovsky is a goal-scoring forward who is one of the most NHL ready players in the draft.

The 18-year-old Slovakian scored ten points (five goals, five assists) in 31 regular season games in the Finnish, Liiga last season and had seven points (two goals, five assists) in 18 play-off games helping his club win a Silver Medal.

Slafkovsky really drew attention at international level whilst playing for his country at the Winter Olympics.

He scored a tournament-best seven goals in seven games, leading the team to a bronze medal, the country's first at the Olympic games. He was named the most valuable player of the competition.
 

Logan Cooley (F) (40/1)

Centreman Cooley is the best prospect coming out of the United States National Team Development Programme, which is known for producing the best and brightest American hockey players.

The 18-year-old is a responsible two-way player who has shown to excel on face-offs. At under-18 level last season, Cooley scored 75 points (27 goals, 48 assists) in 51 games whilst being matched up against opposition best players.

Somewhat petite at 5'10" and 174 pounds, Cooley will need to grow and get stronger to reach his potential in the NHL, but that won't put teams off a player who comes with such overall talent and hockey IQ.

Internationally, Cooley has represented the United States at under-18 level in the World Championships and scored 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in six games winning a silver medal in 2022.

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Simon Nemec (D) (75/1)

Slovakian defenceman Nemec is an excellent puck-moving blue-liner who has registered outstanding offensive numbers for HK Nitra in his nation’s top league.

In the recent regular season, 6'1" Nemec amassed 26 points (one goal, 25 assists) in 39 games and then took his game to another level in the playoffs scoring 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) in 19 games.

His form saw him promoted from the Slovakia under-18 squad to the full international team where the right-shooter made an instant impression.

He won a bronze medal at the 2022 Olympics and followed that up with a strong World Championships during which he contributed six points (one goal, five assists) in eight games.

David Jiricek (D) (75/1)

At 6'3" tall, Czech Jiricek is a long and lanky defenceman who is joint-favourite with Nemec to be picked ahead of all other blue-liners eligible for the draft.

A much-sought after right-shot defenceman, 18-year-old Jiricek has spent the past two seasons playing in his native Czechia with HC Plzen.

More defensively minded than Nemec, Jiricek managed 11 points (five goals, six assists) in 29 regular season games last season.

He has a high hockey IQ, can skate to an NHL level and possesses all the fundamentals of a top-level defenceman with good transition, gap control and active stick.

He has represented Czechia at all junior levels and in all under-20 internationals over the past year has registered the most points of all defencemen with five assists.

Jiricek made his senior national team debut in the recent World Championships playing all five games with a goal and an assist.

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