Well folks, hockey is back.
Unlike in 2020-21, every developmental hockey league has returned to action this season, and with it a number of the game’s most talented young prospects. In Canada, top prospects such as Shane Wright and Ty Nelson once again have a league to call home, while on the east and west coasts the WHL and QMJHL have returned to a full schedule — a reality which led to Matt Savoie’s return to the Winnipeg Ice.
Meanwhile, south of the border in the United States, the U.S. National Team Development Program stands poised to produce yet another wave of incredibly skilled young players. Leading the pack is Logan Cooley, a determined centreman who plays with both poise and purpose. Rounding out the latest wave of high-end American prospects are names such as Rutger McGroarty, Isaac Howard and Ryan Chesley — a trio of excellent young players destined for futures in the NHL.
Across the pond, Finland, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Russia are once again producing high-end NHL prospects. From Finland, the most notable of which is Brad Lambert — a lethal forward with Canadian roots who has to be considered a top-five prospect within this draft class. From Sweden and the Czech Republic are youngsters by the names of Jonathan Lekkermaki and David Jiricek — two prospects playing in their respective countries top leagues and already finding considerable success. Ivam Mrioshnichenko is Russia’s latest gem — a hard-hitting forward with elite skating abilities and one of the classes best releases.
The Top-32 Prospects
Here are our top-32 prospects as we enter into the month of November. Keep in mind that this list is a very early projection, however, expect to see many of the players listed below to be chosen in the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft next June. Feel free to comment on our first ranking of the season below!
Beneath this ranking you’ll also find our list of honourable mentions. This month’s edition features eight highly skilled prospects who fell just short of our top-32 overall.
|1||Shane Wright||C||Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)||6’1”||190lbs|
|2||Brad Lambert||C/W||JYP (Liiga)||6’||180lbs|
|3||Matthew Savoie||C||Winnipeg Ice (WHL)||5’9”||180lbs|
|4||Logan Cooley||C||USNTDP (USDP/USHL)||5’10”||175lbs|
|5||Ivan Miroshnichenko||LW||Omskie Krylia (VHL)||6’1”||185lbs|
|6||Joakim Kemell||RW||JYP (Liiga)||5’11”||180lbs|
|7||Conor Geekie||C||Winnipeg Ice (WHL)||6’4”||205lbs|
|8||Simon Nemec||D||HK Nitra (Slovakia)||6’1”||190lbs|
|9||Juraj Slafkovsky||LW||TPS (Liiga)||6’4”||225lbs|
|10||David Jiricek||D||HC Plzen (Czech)||6’3”||190lbs|
|11||Danila Yurov||RW||Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL)||6’1”||180lbs|
|12||Ty Nelson||D||North Bay Battalion (OHL)||5’10”||195lbs|
|13||Jonathan Lekkerimaki||C||Djurgardens IF (SHL)||5’11”||175lbs|
|14||Matthew Poitras||C||Guelph Storm (OHL)||5’11”||175lbs|
|15||Rutger McGroarty||C||USNTDP (USDP/USHL)||6’||205lbs|
|16||Ryan Chesley||D||USNTDP (USDP/USHL)||6’||195lbs|
|17||Nathan Gaucher||C||Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)||6’3”||205lbs|
|18||Isaac Howard||LW||USNTDP (USDP/USHL)||5’10”||185lbs|
|19||Tristan Luneau||D||Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)||6’2”||175lbs|
|20||Kevin Korchinski||D||Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)||6’2”||185lbs|
|21||Elias Salomonsson||D||Skelleftea AIK (J20 Nationell)||6’1”||175lbs|
|22||Frank Nazar||RW||USNTDP (USDP/USHL)||5’10”||175lbs|
|23||Filip Mesar||C/W||HK Poprad (Slovakia)||5’10”||175lbs|
|24||David Goyette||C||Sudbury Wolves (OHL)||5’11”||175lbs|
|25||Denton Mateychuk||D||Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)||5’11”||185lbs|
|26||Jordan Gustafson||C||Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)||5’11”||180lbs|
|27||Liam Arnsby||C||North Bay Battalion (OHL)||5’11”||185lbs|
|28||Paul Ludwinski||C||Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)||5’11”||175lbs|
|29||Marco Kasper||C||Rogle BK (SHL)||6’1”||185lbs|
|30||Jordan Dumais||RW||Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)||5’9”||165lbs|
|31||Bryce McConnell-Barker||C||Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds (OHL)||6’1”||190lbs|
|32||Cutter Gauthier||LW||USNTDP (USDP/USHL)||6’2”||190lbs|
- Seamus Casey (USNTDP)
The US National Under-18 Team is loaded with elite talent this season, as evidenced by the six players who cracked the top-32 overall in this month’s ranking. Just missing our top-32 for November was Seamus Casey — an excellent puck-moving defenceman widely known for his elite offensive skill-set. Although many pundits view Casey as under-sized, his stellar edge-work and high-end on-ice instincts allow him to play a key role at both ends of the ice. Expect this University of Michigan commit to soar up draft rankings this season.
- Pano Fimis (Niagara IceDogs)
The second-overall selection in the 2020 OHL Priority Selection, Pano Fimis is a talented offensive player who can do it all on the ice. Whether he be skating on the power-play, helping to kill a penalty, winning a key face-off or delivering a timely hit, Fimis can be counted upon by his coaches and teammates to bring his best on a nightly basis.
- Jack Hughes (Northeastern University)
A late 2003-born prospect, Jack Hughes has taken his talents to Northeastern University this season following two terrific years of development with the USNTDP. Known for his playmaking abilities, Hughes is a pass-first player who makes his line-mates better on a nightly basis. Although he would do well to add strength to his frame, Hughes’ innate skill-set on the ice will make him an intriguing prospect for many NHL teams.
- Lane Hutson (USNTDP)
Yet another standout USNTDP prospect, Lane Hutson is a fleet-footed offensive defenceman who can leave opposing players disoriented and guessing. In addition to his ability to quarter-back a powerplay, Hutson fires crisp breakout passes to his forwards and helps to facilitate a smooth transition game between his defensive and offensive zones when on the ice. At 5’8″ and 150lbs, Hutson’s size is the biggest obstacle in the path of his development.
- Maveric Lamoureux (Drummondville Voltigeurs)
A first-round pick of the Drummondville Voltigeurs in the 2020 QMJHL Draft, Lamoureux is a towering defender who plays a detailed defensive game with growing offensive upside. The 6’7″, 200-pound defender recorded seven points in his 24 games as a rookie a season ago, and will surely log more significant minutes with the Voltigeurs ahead of his selection in the 2022 NHL Draft.
- Liam Ohgren (Djurgardens IF)
After shredding the Swedish Under-20 league last season as a 16-year-old, Liam Ohgren has made the impressive jump to the SHL this campaign as a member of Djurgardens IF — a reality which speaks to his maturity and lethal skill-set on the ice. Boasting great strength for his age and a lightning quick-release, Ohgren is a natural goal-scorer of significant intrigue.
- Antonin Verreault (Gatineau Olympiques)
The second-overall selection in the 2020 QMJHL Draft, Antonin Verreault is a formidable offensive player who can score goals as well as create them. Owing to his ability to bulge the twine as well as make plays, Verreault is a truly unpredictable player whose speed and creativity forces his opponents onto their heels with great regularity.
- Danny Zhilkin (Guelph Storm)
Drafted in the first-round of the 2020 OHL Priority Selection by the Guelph Storm, Dany Zhilkin is a wildly talented offensive player whose game is fuelled by his skating. Capable of blowing past opposing defenders and driving hard to the net, Zhilkin is a determined player who also boasts high-end puck-handling and shooting skills. If able to produce offence at a consistent pace this season, Zhilkin should be able to push himself up draft boards.