While this year’s crop draft doesn’t offer marquee value to some modern species, there is a diverse mix of skilled attackers as well as great, highly mobile defenders in the first group.
red line report, the independent scouting newsletter, places the first 14 prospects in that top group. Then there’s a simple pull-out for the next six to eight players, and another small break in the early twenties to the end of the first round.
Kyle Woodleaf, publisher and chief scout for red line reportpresents his model draft for the first round, which will be held on July 7 in Montreal:
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1. Montreal Canadiens – Sean Wright
6-0, 199, Kingston (Ontario Hockey League)
The Nick Suzuki-Rite Center combination can serve dorm rooms well for well over a decade. GM Kent Hughes didn’t quite stick to Wright’s wording, but how could he not take it? He may not be a star, but he will be number one.
2. New Jersey Devils – C. Logan Cooley
5-10, 180, US U-18 team
All you have to do is look at Trevor Zegras from Anaheim to understand the effect Cooley will have. His speed creates interruptions, inversions, and excitement.
3. Arizona Wolf – LW Juraj Slafkovsky
6-4, 229, TPS (Finland)
It’s a brutal presence with masterful skills. He grabbed everyone’s attention by leading the Olympic championship with seven goals and helping Slovakia win the bronze medal.
4. Seattle Kraken – D. Simon Nemec
6-10, 199, Nitra (Slovakia)
After landing a polished attacking catalyst last year at Mate Penners in the 2021 draft, the Kraken got a
Show the blue line this time. He has matured beyond his years, having already helped Slovakia win the bronze medal at the 2022 Olympics.
5. Philadelphia Flyers – RW Joakim Kemell
5-10, 185, JYP (Finland)
A skilled and energetic scorer. Even a shoulder injury couldn’t slow his rise in the rankings. His six goals in five matches in the under-18 world cemented his standing.
6. Columbus Blue Jackets (from Chicago Blackhawks) – See Matt Savoy
5-10, 170, Winnipeg (Western Hockey League).
If you’re only crafting based on ability, Savoy comes in the top five. But the difference may make it lower as it is only 5 feet 9 feet tall. You just have to convince yourself that it’s another Paul Carria or Marty St. Louis.
7. Ottawa Senators – D David Jiricek
6-3, 189, Plzen (Czech Republic)
You cannot craft enough reliable defenses. Jiricek is a safe choice as he is a proven top four defensive player and will contribute in many ways.
8. Detroit Red Wings – RW Jonathan Likiremaki
5-10, 171, Djurgarden (Sweden)
Perhaps the most explosive player in the draft. An exceptional skater and the dominant force in the U-18 World Championships.
9. Buffalo Sabers – LW Cutter Gauthier
6-2, 210, US U18s
The top scorer is a highly skilled offensive player who has great size and skateboarding ability, and
drives a solid network.
10. Anaheim – Dr. Kevin Korczynski
6-2, 185, Seattle (WHL)
After dealing with Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson, the ducks need a mini rebuild of their blue line. Korchinski is a potential elite offensive tackle who has generated 61 assists – the first WHL backguard to do so as a qualifying draftee since Daryl Seedor 32 years ago.
11. San Jose Sharks – RW Jimmy Snuggerud
6-1, 188, US U-18 team
The son of former NHLer Dave Snuggerud has the potential to be a top scorer in the NHL. Quick release, powerful shot and high competitive level.
12. Columbus Blue Jackets – C. Frank Nazar
5-10, 180, US U-18 team
Great hands, smart, skillful, dynamic player. It could sneak into the top 10. Great potential.
13. New Yorkers – C Brad Lambert
6-0, 183, Pelicans (Finland)
Newly appointed Islanders coach Lynn Lambert’s nephew appears to be the perfect choice to spice up the team’s offensive game.
14. Winnipeg Jets – C Conor Jicky
6-4, 190, Winnipeg (WHL)
The fit is too good to not pick the huge position from the local team. He needs to work on his skate, but he already has the size and offensive ability to take the next step.
15. Vancouver Canucks – de Pavel Mintyukov
6-2, 194, Saginaw (OHL)
He has the size, speed, skill and attitude to be one of the top four defenders in the NHL. Power play can really run.
16. Buffalo Sabers (from Vegas Golden Knights) – C. Marco Casper
6-1, 187, Rogel (Sweden)
He’s a strong 6-footer, tough to play against and effective in any role. Good skater, lots of composure.
17. Nashville Predators – LW Alexander Perevalov
6-0, 191, Yaroslavl Junior (Russia)
It is fair to ask whether teams will be reluctant to recruit Russian players. It could end up being a highly valued pick if it goes later in the draft.
18. Dallas Stars – LW Liam Öhgren
6-1, 201, Djurgarden Jr (Sweden)
He showed an impressive level of all-around play in the under-18 worlds, and he’s one of the truly elite in this category.
19. Minnesota Wild (Los Angeles Kings) – De Owen Pickering
6-4, 180, Swift Current (WHL)
Although Wild reclaimed his defensive prospect Brock Faber in the Kevin Fiala deal, Pickering is a 6-foot-4 blue streak with plenty of upside. This diamond will need a lot of polishing, but teams are fascinated by its potential.
20. Washington Capitals – RW Daniela Yorov
6-1, 178, Magnitogorsk (Russia)
The Caps have never been shy about crafting Russians, and he has the skill pack they are looking for. He fits well as a strong skater who loves speed hockey.
21. Pittsburgh Penguins – LW Isaac Howard
5-10, 180, US U-18 team
He was the top scorer with 33 goals for the US program, and a dynamite in the under-18 worlds. He may be the fastest skater on that American team, and he’s constantly dangerous in the scoring areas.
22. Anaheim Ducks (from the Boston Bruins) – C Owen Beck
5-11, 187, Mississauga (OHL)
Such a distinguished position as defensively responsible, offensively dangerous and the best man in the face of recruitment.
23. St. Louis Blues – RW Jäger Verkus
5-11, 151, Moss Joe (WHL)
Maybe only 160 pounds after a huge holiday meal, but a baby can create insult
And it has a nose for the net. If you want to believe in a smaller player, it’s the guy.
24. Minnesota Wild – RW Rutger McGroarty
6-1, 204, US U-18 team
He served as captain of Team USA. He has an NHL body and work ethic. Safe choice. You know he’s going to play in the NHL. He also has good attacking skills and is confident in front of the net.
25. Toronto Maple Leafs – D Lian Bichsel
6-6, 225, Leksand (Sweden)
The Swiss-born formidable defender has good mobility for his size. Big and bad is always in style.
26. Montreal Canadiens (from Calgary Flames) – D Tristan Luneau
6-2, 189, Gatineau (Quebec Junior Hockey League)
The intelligent defenseman moving the puck is a smooth skater with great intelligence and personality.
27. Arizona Coyotes (from Carolina Hurricanes) – C David Goyette
5-10, 175, Sudbury (OHL)
He’s been rising in the draft ratings all season, reflecting his offensive productivity with 33 goals and 77 points in 63 games.
28. Buffalo Sabers (Florida Panthers) – D Sam Rinzel
6-4, 180, Chaska, Minnesota
He is 6 feet 4 feet tall and still a junior in high school. He leads a Minnesota high school brigade and his rise as a confident and imaginative defensive man is attractive to NHL scouts.
29. Edmonton Oilers – C Luca Del Bel Belluz
5-10, 179, Mississauga (OHL)
Not blessed with superhuman speed, but otherwise he is a very complete player. A two-way smart hub can help a team in many different aspects. Good in the confrontation circuit, an effective checker and can produce an attack.
30. Winnipeg Jets (New York Rangers) – C Jiri Kulich
5-11, 178, Karlovy Vary (Czech Republic)
He got plenty of support as a first-round pick by scoring nine goals in the U18 worlds. His dynamic shot makes him dangerous in the power game.
31. Tampa Bay Lightning – Sea Denton Matichok
5-10, 194, Moss Joe (WHL)
One of the most mobile skaters in the draft, Matichok is an attacking defensive man who confidently moves into the attack zone. He takes care of business on his end as well, often using skateboarding to get his team out of trouble.
32. Arizona Coyotes (from Colorado Avalanche) – Ryan Chesley
There is no “Wow!” Factor here, but he’s an impressively influential defender. He is a smart, thorough player with a high IQ in hockey who always plays right and has the physicality in the corners.