Things are starting to get real for the 2022 NHL Draft.
As the regular season winds down, the draft order is starting to come into focus. In May, we’ll know the results of the draft lottery. Then, it’s the NHL Combine in June and finally the draft in Montreal on July 7-8.
In the meantime, there’s still plenty of scouting to be done. The world U18’s commence Saturday in Germany. The Russians and Belarusians will be absent from the tournament. So too will be the Slovaks who, rather than be included in the primary pool, instead took gold in the Division 1 pool. In a perfect world, it would’ve been nice to see Juraj Slafkovsky, Filip Mesar and Simon Nemec all together competing in the top pool, however, with the wonky schedule, the pandemic and a couple of other factors, it just wasn’t meant to be.
The US is typically the favourite in this event. It’s the crown jewel on the USNTDP schedule and something they build for all season. Canada is the defending champion, and thanks to Swift Current getting eliminated from the WHL playoffs, its entrant into the tournament will be stronger than first anticipated. Six Broncos made the team, including forwards Connor Hvitson, Josh Filmon, Josh Davies, Matthew Ward, along with defenceman Owen Pickering and goaltender Reid Dyck. The strength of Canada’s team will come up front, where 2023 draft eligibles Connor Bedard and Adam Fantilli will lead the way. Both are projected top three picks next year. Sweden, Finland and Czechia will all feature prominent players we expect to see in the 2022 draft.
Sportsnet, by way of Jason Bukala and the Pro Hockey Group will be on hand to deliver a number of scouting reports post-tournament.
Not to be forgotten is the CHL. Both the OHL and WHL are into the post-season. The QMJHL, thanks to being shut-down for an additional month after the Christmas break, has yet to complete the regular season before a shortened playoff run. Playoff viewings hold additional value due to the pressure of playing in meaningful games where time and space are limited. It also gives scouts the opportunity to gauge how a player responds to the increased physical demands offered up in playoff conditions.
The upper-end of this draft class is extremely diverse. Not just from a nationality perspective, but from a hockey perspective. We have smaller, skilled forwards. We have plenty of right-shot options at both forward and defence. We have some massive defencemen, but there are also a few smallish, slick-skating D as well. The pandemic’s effects will also wreak havoc in this draft where there still remains some uncertainty and a lack of typical developmental time.
*denotes late 2003 birthday
1. Shane Wright, C, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL): Thanks to the finer points in his game and the details away from the puck, Wright still remains the top player available.
2. Logan Cooley, C, USNTDP: As the most dynamic player available, he wasn’t lying when he quipped that I had him ranked too low in March (No. 4). Rising to No. 1 is not out of the question.
3. Juraj Slafkovsky, LW, TPS Turku (Liiga): Continues to play solid minutes for a team competing for a league title, but this will almost certainly keep him out of the U18’s.
4. Matthew Savoie, C, Winnipeg Ice (WHL): Ended the regular season on a three-game multi-point heater. A lengthy playoff run in the rugged WHL will be a great test.
5. Simon Nemec, D, HK Nitra (Slovakia): Slipped in a two-assist effort for the D1 gold medal-winning Slovaks at the worlds while playing for his club team in the playoffs.
*6. David Jiricek, D, HC Plzen (Extraliiga): After missing more than three months due to a knee injury, he’s back and is a candidate to play in the men’s worlds. Can he regain his place as the top defenceman in this class?
7. Jonathan Lekkerimaki, RW, Djurgarden (SWE U20): Out ill since early March, it will be interesting to see if he plays in the worlds, and if so, will he be able to keep pace?
*8. Brad Lambert, C, Pelicans (Liiga): There’s no denying he’s a top 10 talent in this draft class, but where does he fit — if at all — inside the top 10 players picked?
9. Joakim Kemell, LW, JYP (Liiga): Getting a chance to regroup by playing within his peer group at the U18s should be hugely beneficial.
10. Conor Geekie, C, Winnipeg Ice (WHL): Attaining a balance between skill, creativity and physical play remains the goal. Projecting how quickly that will all come together will give a better sense of just where he will end up in this draft class.
11. Cutter Gauthier, LW, USNTDP: Has shown versatility and a steady upward trend of positive development. NHL bloodlines always add value.
*12. Danila Yurov, RW, Magnitogorsk (KHL): The uncertainty surrounding Russian-born players complicates his ranking. As does his lack of playing time since being promoted to the KHL in March, and the limited live viewings in the MHL prior to that. Scouts will have pause over this player.
13. Pavel Mintyukov, D, Saginaw Spirit (OHL): Can really dazzle with his feet. Is not afraid to make plays, but can also be a defensive liability.
14. Marco Kasper, C, Rogle (SHL): Leaving Austria to play against better competition is admirable and speaks volumes about where he’s trying to take his game.
15. Owen Pickering, D, Swift Current Broncos (WHL): Has underrated puck skills. There’s massive growth potential in this player, especially once he fills-out.
16. Jimmy Snuggerud, RW, USNTDP: Has the strength to apply himself to impact the game physically if his goal-scoring is off.
17. Frank Nazar III, C, USNTDP: There’s a nice element of explosiveness in his game to make him an effective small area player.
18. Filip Mesar, RW, HK Poprad (Slovakia): Injured at the end of the season, there’s still plenty of currency from performing well playing against men all year.
19. Denton Mateychuk, D, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL): In terms of his approach, there are few better in this class. He takes command out on the ice leading vocally and by example.
*20. Jack Hughes, C, Northeastern (NCAA): Super skilled and creative player who moves effortlessly, while playing with his head up to easily assess his best option.
21. Kevin Korchinski, D, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL): Reports vary widely on this player. You’re wowed by the skating ability and edgework, as much as you’re concerned about his ability to defend.
22. Tristan Luneau, D, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL): Projecting where he may fit has been a year-long challenge for scouts. With that said, there’s always room for a right-shot defencman with size.
23. Isaac Howard, LW, USNTDP: Have to determine whether or not he can be a top-six forward. If he can’t, is there enough of a ‘Plan B’ to make him an effective middle- or bottom-six player?
24. Nathan Gaucher, C, Quebec Remparts (QMJHL): A remarkably consistent player who has embraced more of the power-forward mentality.
25. Liam Ohgren, LW, Djurgarden (SWE U20): Dogged determination in hunting pucks and knowing what to do with them afterwards.
26. Alexander Perevalov, LW, Yaroslavl (MHL): In terms of a skilled forward who isn’t just an offensive juggernaut, there’s plenty of NHL potential as a producer here.
27. Rutger McGroarty, LW, USNTDP: As a solid two-way option, his personality and leadership qualities make him a viable pick in the latter stages of Round 1.
*28. Adam Ingram, LW, Youngstown Phantoms (USHL): A late bloomer who has put up amazing numbers in the USHL (53 points in 53 games) considering he had only played eight games in the Manitoba Junior league the season prior.
29. Maveric Lamoureux, D, Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL): Another player with sneaky skill who has improved on the D side by tightening his gap and utilizing his size and reach to kill plays.
30. Lian Bichsel, D, Leksand (SHL): A smooth skater who can process the game effectively. The offensive side continues to improve, but he projects more as the complementary type of blue liner.
*31. Luca Del Bel Belluz, C, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL): Plays both sides effectively. Will need to add weight and strength to steepen the developmental curve.
32. Noah Warren, D, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL): Old-school, hit-to-hurt mentality along with top-notched skating ability in a monstrous package.
Lane Hutson, D, USNTDP: Because of his size at his position (5-foot-8, 145 pounds), it’s hard to imagine an NHL team utilizing a first round pick on him. Having said that, in three consecutive viewings at the end of March, he was the best player on the ice, period.
Ivan Miroshnichenko, LW, Omsk (VHL): Next to impossible to assess due to his Hodgkin’s Lymphoma diagnosis. With all things being equal and based on the last assumption of when he was playing completely healthy at the U18’s, he is definitely a top 10 talent.
Oilers on the lookout for Flames' desperation after watching Avs-Blues Game 5 – Sportsnet.ca
CALGARY — Everyone knows how hard it is to eliminate a group of National Hockey League players, or more specifically, to send a Calgary Flames team that won 50 regular season games into its summer.
But just in case any of the Edmonton Oilers needed a refresher, many were watching Wednesday night as the St. Louis Blues forged a heroic comeback on the road in Denver. Down 3-1 in the series and 3-0 in the game, the Blues scored four goals, two in the last five minutes including one after going down 4-3, and won a game in overtime to stay alive.
Game 5 can be seen on Sportsnet, starting at 9:30 a.m. ET / 7:30 p.m. MT.
“Just another thing to see in your head, that you know it’s not going to be easy,” said Edmonton defenceman Brett Kulak, who played for the Montreal Canadiens team that came back from down 3-1 to beat Toronto a year ago. “We’re in a good spot this series (up 3-1), but the job’s not done. We all we all know what needs to get done and we got one more win to go. Now, we’re looking to get it.”
So, how does Edmonton match Calgary’s desperation in Game 5?
“We are desperate to close the series. That’s how,” said Oilers captain Connor McDavid, who was all business Thursday morning. “We want to come out and have a strong performance. play our best game in the series, and close the series out.”
Matthew Tkachuk scored 42 goals in the regular season, and opened this series with a Game 1 hat trick. Since then, he chipped in just a single assist in the next three games, all Flames losses.
There was a time when No. 19 wore the black hat in the Battle of Alberta, and used that antagonistic side of his game to inject himself into the series. Usually offence followed, and when it was all said and done, “Matthew” and “Tkachuk” were the two words trending in both Northern and Southern Alberta.
Thus far in Round 2, Tkachuk has been neither pest nor producer, something that will have to change if the Flames are going to turn this thing around.
What has to change?
“Just the skill set. He’s got to use it more to his advantage,” his coach, Darryl Sutter, said. “It’s got nothing to do with effort, with any of our guys who haven’t been as productive after Game 1 of the series. But you have to give Edmonton credit in that too.
“Maybe our guys are doing all they can. Maybe Edmonton is just a little bit better,” Sutter proposed. “That’s kind of the (sidebar) that nobody’s talked about. It’s always been about the negative. Not the good stuff that’s gone on.”
So far, the best Flames forward in this series has been Mikael Backlund, but he’s a 12-goal guy. If the big boys don’t weigh in — starting with Game 5 — it’s hard to see Calgary winning three straight over Edmonton.
As for Johnny Gaudreau, who is a pending UFA, Thursday night could be his last game at the Saddledome — or for the Flames organization, for that matter. He’s not looking ahead that far, of course.
“I really enjoy playing with all these guys in this locker room,” Gaudreau said. “We have a good group in there. It’s been fun all year long.”
Defenceman Chris Tanev took the morning skate next to Oliver Kylington and looks to be in for the Flames again in Game 5. His suspected shoulder injury cost him four playoff games — from Game 7 of Round 1 through Game 3 of Round 2 — and left him doubled over in pain on the Calgary bench at times upon his return in Game 4.
The Flames like their leader on the ice and in their midst, even if it’s pretty clear they are getting something less than 90 percent of their assistant captain.
“You know, even-strength minutes, he was really good last game,” said Sutter of the 17:12 Tanev played at even-strength (19:24 in total). “He made his partner a better player, and with the experience on our back end — or lack of experience or back end — he was important.”
Plenty of players are playing through the pain here, on both sides. Namely, Leon Draisaitl and Darnell Nurse for Edmonton, who have both gutted their way through these playoffs at something less than 100 per cent.
“He’s such a huge part of our team on and off the ice.” Tkachuk said of Tanev. “So, when you get a guy like that to come in for a big game, that definitely motivates you to be a lot.”
“We won 55 games this year. We’re pretty good at getting set for the next one.”
Looks like the same lines as Game 4 for both teams, with Tanev still a bit of question mark and Draisaitl and Nurse once again eschewing the skate.
Evander Kane, whose partner gave birth to a newborn son on Wednesday, remained at home in Edmonton. He’ll be down in time for the game. In other Oilers news, the Finnish media continues to report that goalie Mikko Koskinen is headed for Lugano in the Swiss League next season.
Here are Thursday night’s expected lineups.
CFLPA voting on new tentative agreement with CFL on Thursday – TSN
The CFL and CFL Players’ Association have reached another tentative seven-year agreement.
According to a league source, the two sides hammered out a second agreement in principle Thursday, two days after CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie unveiled the league’s final offer to its players.
The source spoke on the condition of anonymity as neither the CFL nor the CFLPA have confirmed the deal.
The new agreement is pending ratification by both the CFL Players’ Association membership and the league’s board of governors. According to two sources, the players will vote on the deal Thursday night.
Players on six of the nine CFL teams must vote to ratify the deal, with the required margin being at least 50 per cent plus one of ballots in favour.
Time is of the essence as the CFL pre-season schedule is slated to kick off Friday night with two games.
On Monday, the players voted against a tentative deal that the union had recommended they accept. The CFLPA is also recommending the ratification of Thursday’s tentative agreement.
According to sources, CFL teams will have seven Canadian starters and 21 in total on rosters this year. In 2023, that number increases to eight with one being a nationalized Canadian — an American who has spent either five years in the CFL or at least three with the same team.
Clubs will also be able to rotate two nationalized Canadians for up to 49 per cent of snaps. Teams can move to three nationalized Canadians in 2024 but the two franchises that play the most Canadians at the end of the season will receive additional second-round draft picks.
And the seven pure Canadian starters per game will remain intact throughout the term of deal, which can be reopened after five years when the CFL’s broadcast agreement with TSN expires.
The CFL will also provide $1.225 million in a ratification pool for players.
The biggest asset the CFL receives in the deal is extended labour piece and the opportunity to really rebuild its business.
Last December, the league announced a partnership with Genius Sports, a data, technology and commercial company that connects sports, betting and media. In August 2021, the CFL signed a multi-year partnership with BetRegal to become its official online sports-gaming partner.
Last month, the single-game sports betting industry opened fully in Ontario.
But Canadian Justin Palardy, a former kicker who spent time with five CFL teams from 2010-15, took to social media to voice his displeasure with the deal.
“Like I said on another tweet, what’s the point of drafting more (Canadians) if we’re getting rid of Canadian starters?” he tweeted. “You may think it’s a terrific idea, doesn’t mean it makes sense.”
The two sides had been at odds regarding the Canadian ratio.
Last Wednesday, the CFL and CFLPA reached a tentative seven-year agreement, ending a four-day strike by seven of the league’s nine teams. At first glance, there seemed to be many positives for the players, including a revenue-sharing model, the ability to reopen the pact in five years once the CFL signed a new broadcast deal, and veteran players having the ability to negotiate partially guaranteed contracts.
But the agreement also called for CFL teams to increase the number of Canadian starters from seven to eight. The extra would’ve also been a nationalized Canadian.
In addition, three other nationalized Canadians could play up to 49 per cent of snaps. And the deal didn’t include a ratification bonus.
On Tuesday, Ambrosie unveiled an amended proposal that included a $1-million ratification pool and the abolition of the three nationalized Canadians playing 49 per cent of snaps. However, it also reduced the number of Canadian starters to seven, including one nationalized Canadian.
Not only did Ambrosie say it was the CFL’s final offer, but it was good until midnight ET on Thursday, given the league’s exhibition schedule was slated to begin Friday night with two games. Ambrosie added if the players rejected the offer and opted to go back on strike, they’d be served notice to vacate their respective training-camp facilities.
It marked the second time Ambrosie had gone public with a final contract offer to the CFLPA. On May 14, he posted a letter to fans on the league’s website detailing the league’s proposal to players hours before the former CBA was set to expire.
The next day, players on seven CFL teams opted against reporting to training camp and went on strike. The Edmonton Elks and Calgary Stampeders both opened camp as schedule because they weren’t in a legal strike position, as per provincial labour laws, at the time.
It marked just the second work stoppage in league history and first since 1974.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2022.
Rocket advance with win in 3OT thriller | TheAHL.com – American Hockey League
The Laval Rocket are off to the Eastern Conference Finals after a wild 6-5 triple-overtime victory over the Rochester Americans on Wednesday night.
The Rocket completed a three-game sweep of the Amerks and will face either Charlotte or Springfield in the next round.
Working on a power play following a delay of game penalty against Rochester, former Amerk Jean-Sébastien Dea wristed a shot that beat Aaron Dell at 1:51 of the third OT period to give the Rocket the victory. It was the second goal of the night for Dea, and came on Laval’s 60th shot of the evening.
Rochester nearly escaped with a Game 3 victory, scoring three times in the third period to take a 5-4 lead before Jesse Ylönen netted the equalizer for the Rocket with 1:07 remaining in regulation.
Back home in front of an energetic crowd of 10,662 fans at Blue Cross Arena, the Amerks struck quickly when Mark Jankowski pounced on a loose puck and scored his sixth goal of the playoffs just 1:04 into the contest.
JJ Peterka made it 2-0 in favor of Rochester with a power-play goal at 8:05, and that lead held until late in the second period, when Laval scored four goals in a span of 3:56 to swing the game in their favor.
Brandon Gignac started the comeback with 6:08 to go in the second period with a nifty deflection of a Corey Schueneman shot from the point. Danick Martel tied things up 55 seconds later, taking Gabriel Bourque’s pass from behind the net and snapping home his fifth goal of the series.
Just 76 seconds after that, the Rocket took their first lead of the night as Xavier Ouellet floated a shot from the left point through traffic that found the top corner over the glove of Aaron Dell.
And with 2:12 to go before intermission, Dea put Laval in front by two, hitting an open cage with Dell out of position following a collision with a teammate in front.
Rochester regrouped during the break and needed just 1:32 to tie things back up. Brett Murray scored 13 seconds into the third period to pull the Amerks to within 4-3, and Peterka got his second of the night 1:19 later off a slick feed from Peyton Krebs.
Murray then scored his second of the period at 8:35, getting a piece of Ethan Prow’s shot from the point and deflecting it home to put Rochester back in front.
Laval outshot Rochester 24-12 during sudden death and killed off two Amerks power plays before converting on their own for the winner.
Cayden Primeau (6-1) made 34 saves and earned his fourth consecutive victory in net for the Rocket. Dell (5-5) stopped a career-high 54 shots for Rochester.
North Division Finals (best-of-5)
N3-Laval Rocket vs. N5-Rochester Americans
Game 1 – Sun., May 22 – LAVAL 6, Rochester 1
Game 2 – Mon., May 23 – LAVAL 3, Rochester 1
Game 3 – Wed., May 25 – Laval 6, ROCHESTER 5 (3OT)
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