Good day! We meet again. I do hope you and yours are all well and safe during this holiday season. I hope I can bring some kind of holiday happiness by presenting the first batch of my findings for the 2022 NHL Draft! Over 100 players have been tracked, some as many as three times, with plenty more coming in the near future. Because you're all so wonderful, I've taken a ton of time focusing on watching and tracking as much as I can since September and held back on putting out a completed list to ensure that my list is as robust as possible, casting as wide a net as I can before refining things as the year goes on.
If you're a Patron of the project, you can view my rankings as they change over the year, with the full list unlocked at the $25 tier along with my full data sheet of >800 skaters and goaltenders' data.
If you're unfamiliar, I generally tend to think of my rankings in "Tiers", which attempts to group players into a pool from which I feel the order could be interchangeable, with the numbers ordering the players as how I might push for them in a draft discussion. I find that it creates much more balanced and nuanced discussion, especially considering these players are so young and may have wildly different potential trajectories that may differ reasonably depending on which NHL organization picks them up. I track all data myself through video at 5v5. Shots, passes, and transition data are the main points I try to hit, and I try to capture exactly what kind of impact the player is having while on the ice.
I also feel it’s prudent to share my personal philosophy so readers can better understand the types of players that I value. Others may have a differing view on what to look for in a young player, and that’s all fine and good, but if I can help you get inside my head a little, it may make for more interesting discussion when those competing opinions inevitably collide. In the NHL Draft, I’m always looking for traits in a player that you can’t often find in the NHL in plentiful amounts. Scoring is of course important, but scoring is the result of strong procedural play that starts with earning puck possession, maintaining possession, getting pucks into the offensive zone, creating scoring chances from high risk areas, and only then will the puck go in the net. A lot of things need to be done well in order to get the puck in an NHL net. Skill at game pace in 5v5 minutes is pivotal, as is speed, but I also look for pace in a player. Can a player put their tools together at game speed to achieve the goals I mentioned earlier? You can be as fast as you want, but if you can’t handle the puck at those speeds, you’ll be useful in fewer scenarios. You can be as skilled as the best on Instagram, but if you can’t read, anticipate and adapt to physical pressure from grown men and maintain possession, you’ll have trouble finding the time and space needed to use that skill, let alone if you lack the quickness and speed that always helps escape that pressure as well. Are you small? I’m far more charitable to smaller players, but only if you display remarkable quickness, fearlessness under pressure and projectable scoring ability that could beat NHL goaltenders one day. I’ll almost always prioritize players who get everything but the scoring right over players who can score, but have trouble driving results elsewhere. My focus is always on what a player could be with the talent presented, even if in short spurts, and I’ll always bet on quick, creative players that drive play with pace and skill at all positions, with a bonus being the fun factor of the player’s game.
With all that out of the way, enjoy the list and please let me know what you think!
Tier 1 - Yeah I'm Doing This, Fight Me.
Tier 2 - High End Wild Cards
Tier 3 - The Fun Guys
Tier 4 - Potentials and Projectables
Tier 5 - A Big Giant Mess of Curious Cases
Tier 6 - The Fun Longshots
Tier 7 - The "I'm Not Sure" Tier
That's all folks! Thank you so much for reading and I hope you have a safe and wonderful holiday season. I think this year's class is a little underwhelming, but there's very interesting and exciting depth to be had. As always, there are guys around the world I've just enjoyed watching, regardless of NHL upside, which is often where a lot of the joy of this work comes from for me. It's just a bunch of gifted kids chasing their dreams, and I have the utmost respect for them. I don't expect another ranking until March, but expect a World Junior recap post in January, along with further McKeens Video team work now that the 2022 Draft is creeping up to us!
Be safe and be well.