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NHL - US Sports: NHL Draft winners and losers

The 2022 NHL draft is now complete and with 225 players selected by the league's 32 clubs and plenty of other storylines to talk about, we take a look at who the winners and losers were.

   

Winner: Kraken get Wright   

Ahead of the draft, Canadian centre Shane Wright was the odds-on favourite to be picked first overall by the hosting Montreal Canadiens. However, in a shock move the Canadiens instead selected Slovakian winger Juraj Slafkovsky as the first pick, leaving Wright on the board.   

The New Jersey Devils and Arizona Coyotes also decided to pass on Wright, but he wasn't to fall any further than fourth as the Seattle Kraken snapped him up with an eye on building their new franchise around him.   

Wright has long been the expected first pick in 2022 and led the way on the NHL Central Scouting list ahead of the draft too.   

The Kraken will be thankful for the recent doubt on Wright's suitability as an NHL star, giving them the opportunity to build their franchise around the player they never thought they’d have a crack at.  

Loser: Sinking Blackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks traded top-scorer Alex DeBrincat to the Ottawa Senators and their third-overall pick in 2019 Kirby Dach to the Montreal Canadiens during the 2022 draft. 

And whilst it meant they were able to select three youngsters from the first-round, the moves sent a clear message to the fan base that the road back to their past glories is going to be a long and exhausting one. 

At just 24-years-old DeBrincat has scored 40 goals twice in his five season NHL career and so it's curious that he wasn't considered part of a re-build plan, and even more so that he was let go for a relatively small and unpredictable return in the seventh and 39th overall pick. 

The Blackhawks appear to be actively trying to get worse than their 27th place finish in the NHL last season. Which on one hand gives them a lottery's chance at next years projected number-one pick Connor Bedard but doesn't look favourable on a franchise which has taken a nose dive since last winning the Stanley Cup in 2014/15.

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Winner: Sabres add centre depth to talent pool

Missing the playoffs for 13 seasons straight has had one positive for the Buffalo Sabres in that General Manager Kevyn Adams has managed to use the abundance of high picks to build a deep and exciting prospect pool.  

In the 2022 draft alone, the Sabres had three first-round picks, and used them wisely to add significant skill to their already impressive and ever improving set of youngsters.  

Buffalo drafted Matt Savoie at number nine, Noah Ostlund at 16 and Jiri Kulich at 28 and if the trio of centres reach their potential, they will certainly help make the youthful Sabres a team to watch out for in the coming years. 

Loser: Toronto Maple Leafs

The Leafs were forced to rectify their mistake of last season by dropping down 13 slots in the draft to off-load netminder Petr Mrazek's contract $3.8-million per-year contract to the Chicago Blackhawks. 

While that freed up much needed cap space for Toronto to be active in the goalie market, the move meant the Leafs have had just one first round selection in the last four NHL drafts which is likely to catch up with them down the line. 

Winner: Blue Jackets set for bright future 

The Columbus Blue Jackets bolstered their defence with the pick of 6'3" Czech David Jiricek at sixth overall, who is considered by many to have the highest potential of any defenceman in the draft. 

Later, the Blue Jackets also selected Canadian Dento Mateychuk who considering his 64 points (13 goals, 51 assists) in the WHL last season has huge offensive potential.

The pick of Jiricek was Columbus' final asset acquired from the Blackhawks in exchange for Seth Jones in 2021. That deal also allowed the Blue Jackets to select centre Cole Sillinger 12th overall in 2021 and the Canadian impressed in his debut NHL season scoring 31 points (16 goals, 15 assists) in his 79 games.

21-year-old Adam Boqvist was also part of that deal and he also enjoyed a breakout season with the Blue Jackets scoring 22 points (11 goals, 11 assists) in 52 games from the blue-line. 

For the Blue Jackets, the return for Jones who has done little to prove his worth with the Blackhawks, appears a huge win and sets their franchise up for many years to come.

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