10 most memorable moments from 2022 NHL Draft

The Canadiens made 11 picks, including the selection of two Slovakia-born skaters in the first round on Thursday: left wing Juraj Slafkovsky of TPS in Finland’s top professional men’s league at No. 1 and right wing Filip Mesar of Poprad in Slovakia’s top men’s league at No. 26.

The draft was held in person for the first time in three years after the NHL Drafts in 2020 and 2021 were held virtually due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

“It felt like a celebration of sorts being back to an in-person draft,” said Dan Marr, director of NHL Central Scouting. “The sense of excitement and anticipation felt heightened. Everyone’s mood and outlook was positive about being together in one place and back to our traditional formats.”

Here are 10 moments to remember from the 2022 draft:

Marty’s magic

Montreal coach Martin St. Louis had everyone inside Bell Center hanging on every word when he spoke from the heart on stage prior to the beginning of the draft.

“Forty-seven years; it took me 47 years to finally be at my first draft,” he said. “And it was worth the wait. These last two days, the energy in this city has been awesome.”

The 47-year-old Quebec native became an inspiration to undersized and undrafted players looking to one day make an impact in the NHL after the forward was signed to a contract by the Calgary Flames on Feb. 18, 1998. He went on to score 1,033 points (391 goals, 642 assists) 1,134 regular-season games over 16 NHL seasons with the Flames, Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018.

“Congratulations to all the players who are going to hear their name over the next two days,” St. Louis said. “Understand that it’s just the beginning and probably the easy part; what’s ahead of you is even harder. And for the guys who don’t hear their name, it’s OK, it’s not the end. You just keep pushing. If you match work ethic with will, you can accomplish anything. “

He concluded with, “Go Habs, Go.”

Video: Martin St. Louis speaks before 2022 NHL Draft starts

First round volatility

Once Slafkovsky was chosen by the Canadiens with the No. 1 pick, it was anyone’s guess what would ensue.

As it turned out, the New Jersey Devils chose right-handed defenseman Simon Nemec No. 2, the Arizona Coyotes selected center Logan Cooley No. 3, and center Shane Wright, projected by many to go first overall, went No. 4 to the Seattle Kraken.

“I called this draft unique because of the unpredictability of it and where kids would go,” Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald said. “For us, it was really hard putting that list together and trying to figure out which kid here has the highest upside from the viewings that we had from different leagues, different international events. This may have been one of the hardest drafts to predict when. it comes to which player you felt had the highest upside. “

Super Slafkovsky

Slafkovsky became the highest drafted Slovakia-born player when announced as the No. 1 pick of the first round on Thursday.

Marian Gaborik previously held that distinction when he went No. 3 to the Minnesota Wild in the 2000 NHL Draft.

“First overall it’s something, and you have to prove it,” Slafkovsky said. “So, yeah, I will just think of getting better every second I’m living on this earth.”

Vladimir Mihalik was the last Slovakia-born player to be chosen in the first round, going No. 30 to the Lightning in the 2005 NHL Draft. Prior to that, 10 Slovakia-born players had been selected in the first round, including four in the top 10.

Video: Montreal Canadiens select LW Juraj Slafkovsky No. 1

Program of excellence

Cooley, a left-shot center, was the first of six players from the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team to be selected in the first round.

It marked the second-highest total in the program’s history. Jack Hughes (New Jersey Devils, No. 1) was the first of a record eight NTDP players selected in the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft.

There were 14 NTDP players chosen over seven rounds in this draft.

The NTDP has had at least one member chosen among the top five selections the past four seasons, the most any team has ever had. After Cooley, left wing Cutter Gauthier went No. 5 to the Philadelphia Flyers.

“When those kids get to Plymouth, Michigan, get to the NTDP, they don’t just show up out of nowhere,” USA Hockey executive director Pat Kelleher said. “They’ve been developed at the grassroots level by volunteers across the country. Logan Cooley is from Pennsylvania, Gauthier is from the Phoenix area. They’ve had great coaches, great people to help them get to the NTDP. At the NTDP, we feel like we have a pretty good formula to take them to what I like to call the best finishing school for hockey in the world. “

Joining Cooley and Gauthier in the first round were center Frank Nazar (No. 13, Chicago Blackhawks), right wing Rutger McGroarty (No. 14, Winnipeg Jets), right wing Jimmy Snuggerud (No. 23, St. Louis Blues) and left wing Isaac Howard (No. 31, Lightning).

[RELATED: Complete Draft coverage | 2022 NHL Draft first-round results, analysis]

Stealing the show

A record three Slovakia-born players were chosen in the first round on Thursday.

After Montreal selected Slafkovsky with the No. 1 pick, Nemec went to the Devils at No. 2. The Canadiens completed the trifecta when they took Mesar with the No. 26 pick.

When Mesar walked off the floor toward the media following his photo opportunity with the Montreal management team, he was greeted by Slafkovsky and Nemec with congratulatory hugs and high-fives.

“It feels amazing,” Mesar said. “I don’t have any words. So yeah … with three with Simon and Juraj, we are best friends and know each other very well. So yeah, amazing feeling. I don’t have any words.”

There were six Slovakia-born players selected in the draft, including left wing Adam Sykora of Nitra by the Rangers in the second round (No. 63) on Friday.

Wright gets ‘Kraken’

Wright, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2022 draft for much of the season, had to wait a little longer than expected but was excited to be chosen by Seattle at No. 4.

“Definitely going to have a little chip on my shoulder from this for sure, a little more motivation,” said the center from Kingston of the Ontario Hockey League.

Wright was No. 1 in NHL Central Scouting’s ranking of North American skaters from start to finish this season, but the Canadiens took Slafkovsky with the No. 1 pick. The Devils took Nemec with the No. 2 pick and the Coyotes thing Cooley at No. 3.

“Sometimes teams take the best guy they feel will fit, the best player available for their team, the guy they think is going to fit their franchise,” Wright said. “At the end of the day, it’s not my decision. Obviously, you want to be picked as high as possible, but it’s not my choice and I can’t really impact the pick from sitting there in the stands.

“I got drafted into the NHL. I achieved that lifelong dream of being drafted to an amazing team in Seattle with a great future ahead. I wouldn’t say it’s relief, I would say more excitement, more proud and just honored to be drafted. . “

Video: Discussing Shane Wright being drafted 4th overall

Miroshnichenko capitalizes

Ivan Miroshnichenko wasn’t sure what to expect after projecting as a top-10 pick in the draft at the start of the season, then being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in February and missing the rest of the season with Omsk Krylia in Russia’s second division.

The Russia-born left wing (6-foot-1, 185 pounds) apparently did enough to convince the Washington Capitals, who selected him No. 20 with their only choice in the first round.

“The season went very well for me until I got sick,” he said through a translator. “I was expected to go early until I got sick. But really happy with where I was selected. … Never really thought I’d be drafted by the Washington Capitals.”

Miroshnichenko started with nine points (four goals, five assists) as Russia’s captain to help it win the 2021 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, a top under-18 international tournament in August, and had 16 points (10 goals, six assists) in 31 games with Omsk Krylia before he was diagnosed.

Finding firsts

The Chicago Blackhawks entered the draft with no first-round picks but after a combined three trades prior to and during the opening round on Thursday, they gained three.

“It was a pretty monumental day and a huge land shift for the Blackhawks organization,” Chicago GM Kyle Davidson said, “but it’s almost the unofficial start of where we’re headed and our ascension there.”

The Blackhawks selected defenseman Kevin Korchinski at No. 7, Nazar at No. 13 and defenseman Sam Rinzel at No. 25. They parted ways with forwards Alex DeBrincat (Ottawa Senators) and Kirby Dach (Montreal Canadiens) in separate trades.

DeBrincat and Dach combined for 104 points (50 goals, 54 assists) this season.

“It’s difficult to trade any young player, and especially young contributors like we did today,” Davidson said. “It’s definitely not easy and definitely not fun. Doing things you have to do to get where you want to go is not fun. There’s going to be tough days like this where you see familiar faces that we in management and the fans know and love. , but it’s necessary to get where we want to be. “

Happy Hughes

Jack Hughesthe son of Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes, was selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the second round (No. 51) Friday.

The center with Northeastern University of Hockey East was asked if he had considered being drafted and playing for Montreal.

“I think he wanted to avoid it as best as he could,” Hughes said of his father. “There’s no way of really knowing, but he made it pretty clear beforehand that he was going to avoid [picking me] at all costs.

“I wouldn’t have minded it. It wouldn’t have really changed anything for me. At the end of the day, I want to play in the NHL … that’s really all that’s important to me. Whether it was Montreal, LA or any other team, I’d be fired up. “

Hughes (5-foot-11, 169 pounds) had 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in 39 games as a freshman at Northeastern.

“I’m really excited (to be drafted by Los Angeles),” Hughes said. “I wasn’t really sure when to expect to hear my name called. I was just kind of trying to sit there and enjoy it. I was really excited and it kind of caught me by surprise a little bit, so I was really fired up. ”

Video: Jack Hughes drafted by Los Angeles Kings

European euphoria

Seventeen players chosen on the opening night of the 2022 draft were born outside North America, marking the most ever in the first round. The previous high was 16 in 2000.

Slafkovsky and Nemec, each of Slovakia, became the second pair of countrymen born outside North America to go No. 1 and No. 2 in the same draft, after Russia-born forwards Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin in the 2004 NHL Draft.

“Year by year, the number of European-trained players has been growing in the NHL,” said Goran Stubb, NHL Director of European Scouting. “Now, every 30 percent of NHL players got their training in Europe. It’s actually not a very big surprise that suddenly in the first round, we have almost 50 percent. It’s nice because you know that the jump in Europe will continue.”

A breakdown of the first-round picks by birth country: Canada (9), United States (6), Sweden (5), Russia (3), Slovakia (3), Czechia (2), Finland (2), Austria ( 1), Switzerland (1). For the entire draft: Canada (87), United States (49), Sweden (26), Russia (25), Finland (14), Czechia (7), Slovakia (6), Latvia (3), Austria (2) , Switzerland (2), Germany (2), Poland (1), Belarus (1).

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