The 2022 NHL Draft will take place tomorrow. While the offseason began for teams like the New Jersey Devils back at the beginning of May, this is the first major event of the offseason. Most understand and know that the vast majority of the 17-year old to 21-year old players picked on Thursday and Friday are not going immediately turn a team’s fortunes around. The main objective is to pick players that will develop to make an impact in the future. However, the Devils will be picking second overall and so there is further pressure that whoever they pick will be a contributor and as soon as possible. There has been no shortage of debate over who they should draft - assuming they keep the pick, at all. The question remains: Who will the Devils draft at second overall?
In order to get a sense of who should at least be in the conversation for that pick, I decided to look at a collection of mock drafts. A ranking list of prospects is all well and good, but that is the opinion of the person or the group that puts it together. A list purely based on whether they think Prospect A is better than Prospect B. But a ranking does not really work in terms of what to expect in a draft. A (good) mock draft considers what the team would look for at their position in the draft and their tendencies in deciding who to pick. Whether it comes from a fan, a journalist, a scouting/prospect service, or some other entity, that is what a mock draft does that a prospect ranking list does not.
Collecting multiple mock drafts will at least give us an idea of what the larger crowd expects to happen in the draft. I have done this for years now and it at least gives us a record of what is being expected for this year’s draft. After Colorado’s Stanley Cup win and his Conn Smythe award, there is some revisionist history out there about whether Cale Makar should have went first overall in 2017. Is he the best player in that draft class? Yes. Was he considered for first overall? Absolutely not between the amateurs, the scouts, and the media before the people who make the picks make them. If nothing else, this is a snapshot as to what people are thinking now and we can look back in the future as to see how it turned out.
For this year, I have found 30 mock drafts as of July 4 and listed out the top five from each one. Obviously, whoever Montreal takes will impact what the Devils can do at second overal. Yet, seeing who people think is at third, fourth, and fifth overall will give a sense of who was the best of the rest available at second overall. Mocks from fans, blogs, scouting services, team and non-team media, and everything in between. They could change by the time this post is up, so the chart includes the date when I found them and pulled the information from the draft. Here is the roundup.
2022 NHL First Round Mock Draft Roundup: Picks #1 - #5
2022 NHL Mock Draft Roundup: Picks #1 - #5
|Mock Draft||Mock Date||#1 Montreal||#2 Devils||#3 Arizona||#4 Seattle||#5 Philadelphia||Link|
|Mock Draft||Mock Date||#1 Montreal||#2 Devils||#3 Arizona||#4 Seattle||#5 Philadelphia||Link|
|My NHL Draft||06/30/22||Wright||Slafkovsky||Cooley||Nemec||Jiricek||Link|
|The Athletic (Pronman, 7 Rounds)||06/30/22||Slafkovsky||Jiricek||Cooley||Wright||Gauthier||Link ($)|
|The Athletic (Staff)||06/22/22||Wright||Slafkovsky||Cooley||Nemec||Jiricek||Link ($)|
|Draft Utopia (Chris Ransom)||07/01/22||Wright||Slafkovsky||Cooley||Nemec||Savoie||Link|
|Bleacher Report (Joe Tansey)||07/03/22||Wright||Slafkovsky||Cooley||Nemec||Savoie||Link|
|NHL.com (Adam Kimelman)||06/29/22||Wright||Slafkovsky||Nemec||Jiricek||Cooley||Link|
|NHL.com (Mike Morreale)||06/29/22||Wright||Slafkovsky||Cooley||Nemec||Jiricek||Link|
|Emerald City Hockey (Dylan Travers)||06/25/22||Wright||Slafkovsky||Cooley||Nemec||Kemell||Link|
|Locked On Senators Podcast||06/26/22||Wright||Cooley||Slafkovsky||Jiricek||Savoie||Link|
|Locked On NHL Network (Hosted by San Jose)||06/23/22||Wright||Slafkovsky||Cooley||Nemec||Jiricek||Link|
|Smaht Scouting (Staff)||06/05/22||Wright||Cooley||Slafkovsky||Savoie||Jiricek||Link|
|Daily Faceoff (Chris Peters)||06/30/22||Wright||Slafkovsky||Gauthier||Cooley||Jiricek||Link|
|amNY Sports (Joe Pantorno)||06/29/22||Wright||Slafkovsky||Cooley||Nemec||Jiricek||Link|
|Last Word on Sports||06/27/22||Wright||Nemec||Cooley||Slafkovsky||Jiricek||Link|
|NBC Sports Edge / McKeen's (Brock Otten)||06/30/22||Wright||Slafkovsky||Cooley||Jiricek||Gauthier||Link|
|Detroit Red Wings Video (Carley Johnston)||06/13/22||Wright||Slafkovsky||Cooley||Nemec||Savoie||Link|
|Newsday (Andrew Gross, Colin Stephenson)||07/01/22||Wright||Slafkovsky||Cooley||Jiricek||Nemec||Link|
|Montreal Hockey Now (Marco D'Amico)||06/11/22||Wright||Slafkovsky||Cooley||Nemec||Gauthier||Link|
|Oddschecker (Matt MacKay)||07/02/22||Wright||Slafkovsky||Cooley||Nemec||Gauthier||Link|
|Detroit Red Wings Video (Daniella Bruce)||06/27/22||Wright||Slafkovsky||Cooley||Nemec||Jiricek||Link|
|Sporting News (Bryan Murphy)||07/04/22||Wright||Slafkovsky||Cooley||Nemec||Jiricek||Link|
|Full Press Coverage (Russ Cohen)||07/04/22||Wright||Slafkovsky||Nemec||Cooley||Jiricek||Link|
|The Charging Buffalo||07/03/22||Wright||Slafkovsky||Cooley||Nemec||Jiricek||Link|
|EP Rinkside (Cam Robinson)||06/29/22||Wright||Slafkovsky||Cooley||Nemec||Gauthier||Link ($)|
Out of all of the players, only three players were in all 30 mock drafts within their top five: Shane Wright, Juraj Slafkovsky, and Logan Cooley. Simon Nemec (25 out of 30) and David Jiricek (22 out of 30) were in the majority of mock drafts. Matthew Savoie and Cutter Gauthier did sneak into the top five for six of them with only one putting Joakim Kemell. Here is a summary table of all 30 mock drafts about where everyone was picked among the first five picks.
As much as the past few weeks have seen some outfits declare someone other than Shane Wright as not first overall, only Corey Pronman’s seven-round mock draft at The Athletic did so. To his credit, Pronman was one of those major names declaring someone else as first overall. He stuck to that and arguably put out the hottest take among the 30 top-fives I looked at with Slafkovsky at 1, Jiricek at 2, Wright at 4, and Gauthier at 5. Credit to Pronman for attempting the near-impossible with predicting a full-seven round draft but he really is out of step with others who published mock drafts in recent weeks. Even TSN, where Bob McKenzie’s scout-survey-driven prospect ranking dropped Wright to two, had Wright going first in their mock draft. Granted, I think Craig Button was more responsible for TSN’s mock, but the point remains. Chris Peter’s prospect list at Daily Faceoff had Logan Cooley at first overall; but in Chris Peters’ mock, Wright was still first. Even as some opinions may be shifting on whether Wright is the top man in this year’s draft class, those doing mocks are confident he is still going first overall.
After first overall, some variation started to grow. As indicated by this post’s headline, Juraj Slafkovsky was the most popular pick at second overall. Many of the write ups cited how his large frame will be a complement to Jack Hughes and/or Nico Hischier. There is consensus even in the reasoning behind such a pick. Those who want the Devils to take Slafkovsky should feel more confident that he is the heavy favorite for the Devils’ pick on Thursday night.
Logan Cooley ended up being the most popular choice at third overall similar to how Slafkovsky was the most popular choice at second overall. There was a little variation. Half of the non-Slafkovsky picks for New Jersey had Slafkovsky go to Arizona; the other three of those six mocks still had Cooley going there. I think Gauthier at three from Daily Faceoff’s mock is the biggest reach. Nemec, as per Adam Kimelman at NHL.com and Russ Cohen at Full Press Coverage, was the other player named.
Nemec would not be much of a reach at third overall, but the larger consensus has him going to Seattle at fourth overall. This is where the variation starts to increase. Two-thirds of this roundup had them take Nemec. Another five had them take David Jiricek; which makes it more likely that the larger crowd expects a defenseman to join the Kraken organization on Thursday night. The remaining five were split. There’s Pronman’s hot-take of Wright dropping to fourth overall. Last Word on Sports worked out Slafkovsky to Seattle and Nemec to New Jersey. Peters at Daily Faceoff had Cooley to Seattle after he mocked Gauthier to Arizona. And Smaht Scouting, owners of the oldest mock on this list, went for Matthew Savoie - a name Flyers fans may want to get more familiar with.
The draft will appear to open up much more at fifth overall. Jiricek was the most popular name but only among 16 out of 30 mocks for fifth overall. Sure, there were a combined three for Slafkovsky, Cooley, or Nemec if they all fell that far. The bigger surprise are the other 11. Five felt Savoie would go to the Orange and Black; five felt the Flyers would opt for arguably the second best big forward in the draft in Gauthier. One, Dylan Travers of Emerald City Hockey, went off the board further and chose Joakim Kemell. From that point on in many mocks, there is more of a divergence than a strong consensus as we have seen for the first four picks in this sample.
Ultimately, this draft class has a clear cut group of five that most people would expect go within the first five picks on Thursday night. In order, Wright, Slafkovsky, Cooley, Nemec, and Jiricek. There are some who may differ in that order. There are even a few who think someone like Savoie or Gauthier could just get in that group. And those opinions can certainly change and grow right up until Thursday night. There are even other mocks still coming out. Literally as I was writing this up, Will Scouch did a “gut/brain” mock where, as expected for Scouch this year, Brad Lambert gets a shout in his top five. Ultimately, the decision is going to come down to whomever the teams pick and they do not need to follow a consensus of mock drafts or rankings or anyone else’s opinion. They have their own staff, data, and management, after all, and teams sometime go off the board to great success (e.g. Detroit taking Moritz Seider at #6 in 2019, surprising even Seider) or not (e.g. Arizona taking Barret Hayton at #5 in 2018). At the minimum an exercise like this will show what the crowd’s wisdom was right before the draft - and we will have the evidence to use later if/when the 2022 draft is reviewed, re-drafted, re-litigated, and/or subject to revisionist history.
If you do not like any of these 30 mock drafts, then you can try your hand at it. You can make a list of your own mock draft and put it in a Fanpost or in the comments to this post here. You can make a video about it and upload it. You can go to social media and put it there through Tweets or a picture on Instagram. You can (and I recommend this) use the Mock Draft Builder by FC Hockey to make picks for any number or all NHL teams, 1 or all 7 rounds, and have the program make picks for the teams you’re not picking using FC Hockey’s rankings.
I hope you enjoyed this year’s mock draft roundup. There were more found from last year and, again, there could be more released and / or updated between today and tomorrow night. What did you learn from the mock drafts rounded up for this year’s draft? Were there any you especially liked? Does it help guide your expectations for the first day of the 2022 NHL Draft? What are your expectations for the Devils and other teams picking around the Devils’ spot at second overall? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about this year’s mock draft round up in the comments.
Thanks to everyone who published a mock draft. Thanks in advance to those who plan to make a mock draft; it is not an easy task and I respect putting your take out there for people to read and react to. Thank you for reading.