The annual SB Nation NHL Mock Draft covers the opening round of the entry draft, this year comprising 32 prospects for the first time, after the Arizona Coyotes were forced to forfeit their pick ahead of last year’s 32-team event. That locks in the choices that will be referenced by the various sites now and in the future.
However, since the Montreal Canadiens hold the first pick for Round 2, and will have significant time to debate the options between when the opening round ends on Thursday night and the second day begins at 11:00 AM on Friday, we decided to unofficially extend the draft for one more pick to get an idea of what the Habs will be looking at as they’re called upon for the first of, at this moment, 12 picks on the second day.
The full list of 32 prospects selected by the various SB Nation sites was as follows:
- Shane Wright - Montreal Canadiens
- Logan Cooley - New Jersey Devils
- Juraj Slafkovsky - Arizona Coyotes
- Simon Nemec - Seattle Kraken
- David Jiricek - Philadelphia Flyers
- Cutter Gauthier - Columbus Blue Jackets (from Chicago Blackhawks)
- Joakim Kemell - Ottawa Senators
- Matthew Savoie - Detroit Red Wings
- Conor Geekie - Buffalo Sabres
- Kevin Korchinski - Anaheim Ducks
- Jonathan Lekkerimäki - San Jose Sharks
- Frank Nazar - Columbus Blue Jackets
- Marco Kasper - New York Islanders
- Danila Yurov - Winnipeg Jets
- Liam Ohgren - Vancouver Canucks
- Brad Lambert - Buffalo Sabres (from Vegas Golden Knights)
- Pavel Mintyukov - Nashville Predators
- Lian Bichsel - Dallas Stars
- Isaac Howard - Los Angeles Kings
- Denton Mateychuk - Washington Capitals
- Ivan Miroshinichenko - Pittsburgh Penguins
- Rutger McGroarty - Anaheim Ducks (from Boston Bruins)
- Jiri Kulich - St. Louis Blues
- Gleb Trikozov - Minnesota Wild
- Noah Östlund - Toronto Maple Leafs
- Jagger Firkus - Montreal Canadiens (from Calgary Flames)
- Lane Hutson - Arizona Coyotes (from Carolina Hurricanes via Montreal Canadiens)
- Seamus Casey - Buffalo Sabres (from Florida Panthers)
- Jimmy Snuggerud - Edmonton Oilers
- Filip Mesar - Winnipeg Jets (from New York Rangers)
- Owen Beck - Tampa Bay Lightning
- Luca Del Bel Belluz - Arizona Coyotes (from Colorado Avalanche)
With dozens of groups making decisions on their team’s behalf, this is a decent representation of what the actual draft could look like, leaving some realistic options for us at 33. We made our pick of Jagger Firkus at 26 because we liked his potential to become a great goal-scoring winger in the NHL, and had our sights on one of the defencemen, ideally one of the right-shot options, still available after we made that pick.
In the final six selections of the mock draft, two of those defencemen — Lane Hutson and Seamus Casey — were taken off the board in the next two picks, followed by four forwards. When the first round was done, we still had Calle Odelius and Owen Pickering as left-shot options, and Ryan Chesley, Mattias Hävelid, Tristan Luneau, Ty Nelson, and Sam Rinzel who play the right side. We did include a few of the forwards in this range in our staff debate, notably Nathan Gaucher and David Goyette, but in the end, we chose Hävelid.
Birthplace: Täby, Sweden
Date of birth: January 1, 2004
Weight: 172 lbs.
Team: Linköping HC (SHL)
If you missed our profile on Hävelid, we looked at a player more inclined to the offensive side of the game from the back end, but one who can still play his defensive responsibilities well.
He failed to register a point in the SHL this season, alternating between the men’s and the under-20 team all season long. Just getting that professional experience as a 17-year-old is an achievement in itself, and let him see what he has to work on to find success in the pro ranks.
At all other levels, his offensive talents were obvious: three points in just two games at the under-18 level that was too easy for him, 19 points in 29 games at the Junior level that convinced the management staff to bring him up to the top level for 23 matches, and an incredible display at the World Under-18 Championship with four multi-point outings in six contests, including in the Gold Medal Game.
He is just 5’10”, which is shorter than the typical defencemen who had been selected before him (five of the eight blue-liners among the first 32 picks were at least 6’1”; only Hutson was shorter), and he will have some difficulty in the NHL at that size. It would be a bigger concern if he were the top defenceman in the system the Canadiens were trying to build around, but they loaded up on bigger players during Marc Bergevin’s tenure, and can take on a more complementary profile.
Joel Edmundson, Alexander Romanov, Kaiden Guhle, and Jordan Harris bring their own brand of defensive play on the left side. The right side consists of David Savard, Chris Wideman, Justin Barron, Logan Mailloux, and Jeff Petry who may no longer be with the team following the first round on Thursday. There is room to take a gamble on another offensive player like Barron or Mattias Norlinder, and Hävelid fits the bill.
Elite Prospects: #26
Bob McKenzie (TSN): #38
NHL Central Scouting: #19 (European Skaters)
Corey Pronman (The Athletic) #49
Scott Wheeler (The Athletic): #41
Most outlets have Hävelid ranked lower than 33rd, but he’s probably not going to still be on the board when the Habs are next scheduled to select, at 62nd. If they want to add him to the pool, they’ll need to take him in this spot, or possibly trade down and add another asset if they feel he’ll be available a few picks later. We were happy to spend the opening pick of the second round on a player who could become a key part of the team’s offence in the future.
It will be a while before he would make the NHL team. His SHL record is proof that there’s still work to do to translate his game to the highest levels. He needs to work on his decision-making and would be more of a threat with better skating, but these are things that he could develop over the next several years.
Maybe he never makes it to the NHL because he doesn’t take those crucial steps, but perhaps he does and adds a needed element to the current construction of the organization’s defensive depth. It’s a risk worth taking for a team that holds 14 picks in the draft, and while the majority of these types of players may not succeed, seeing two or three of them graduate to key offensive roles with the Habs would make it a successful draft.
We ran a poll alongside our mock selection of Jagger Firkus to see whom our readers wanted to choose at 26th overall. While the winner of that poll — Jimmy Snuggerud with 17% of the vote — was taken by the Edmonton Oilers in the draft, the number-two option, Nathan Gaucher (16%), was still available once all 32 selections were made. Using all of the same options from that poll (plus Owen Pickering who was omitted), minus the players who are no longer available at 33, we’ll run a new poll for the second round’s opening selection.
Who would your pick have been at 33rd overall?
This poll is closed
Other (make your case in the comments)
The history of Eyes On The Prize’s SB Nation NHL Mock Draft selections
2022: Jagger Firkus (26th)
2022: Shane Wright (first)
2021: Xavier Bourgault (31st)
2020: Mavrik Bourque (16th)
2019: Thomas Harley (15th)
2018: Filip Zadina (third)
2017: Urho Vaakanainen (25th)
2016: Tyson Jost (ninth)
2015: Thomas Chabot (26th)
2014: David Pastrnak (26th)
2013: Josh Morrissey (25th)
2012: Mikhail Grigorenko (third)
2011: Mark Scheifele (17th)
2010: Ryan Spooner (27th)
2009: Scott Glennie (18th)