The Scouting Combine held last week in Buffalo N.Y was a forum for 32 NHL clubs to interview and accumulate data on a large chunk of players to be selected at the 2022 Draft in Montreal next month, but as usual with the annual event, it also provided a bit of subterfuge towards their intention for their first-round pick.
Kingston Frontenacs center Shane Wright is projected by many to be the top selection of the Montreal Canadiens, but the narrative being floated in Buffalo cast doubt on the 18-year-old’s work ethic, in spite of a stellar 94-point season in the OHL.
The New Jersey Devils are rumored with the second overall pick to be interested in winger Juraj Slafkovsky, who played nearly a full year in the Finnish SM-Liga and sparkled for Slovakia at the Beijing Olympics and the World Championships, but there are some that believe that the Devils are intrigued by the physical attributes of the 6’4”, 218 lb. power forward over smaller, more talented prospects Logan Cooley and Matthew Savoie.
The Buffalo Sabres have three first-round picks (9th, 16th, and 28th) and could be interested in center Frank Nazar, but also paid close attention to USNTDP product Jimmy Snuggerud (the son of former Sabre Dave), a big scoring winger who like Cooley is committed to the University of Minnesota.
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Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman has had success in recent drafts with Calder Trophy nominee Moritz Seider and forward Lucas Raymond, and hopes to repeat that with the eighth overall pick, possibly targeting Finnish winger Joakim Kemell or big center Cutter Gauthier, who is headed to Boston College.
The Toronto Maple Leafs selected 25th overall and based on who they interviewed appear to be focusing on players with high skill and speed, regardless of size. One player who could be on their radar is Lane Hutson. The 5-foot-8 159-pound blueliner is described by Elite Prospects as “a fantastic skater with second-gear acceleration, possessing great vision of the ice and is reliable for a good first pass out of the zone” The 18-year-old nearly broke all of Quinn Hughes scoring records in the US program this season and is committed to Boston University.
The Draft is a month away and it is likely that the picture of who will go where will not be any clearer until teams assemble at the Bell Centre on July 7-8.
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