The Journey: Early 2022 NHL Draft Rankings – Picks 1-5

Hadi Kalakeche

2021-09-18

Welcome back to The Journey, where we follow hockey prospects and their paths to the NHL, providing fantasy predictions and analysis along the way.

This week and the ones that follow, we will be taking an early look at the top 30 prospects available in the 2022 NHL Draft, with a closer evaluation of five prospects a week in order to build a first round and adjust it as the season goes on.

The first round of selections to be made next summer is set to be the deepest in recent years, as many talented forwards and defensemen will be hoping to stand out in the months leading up to the draft. Teams looking for right-handed blueliners to add to their pipeline have an array of options to choose from, and the pool of forward talent available is rich in both quality and quantity.

I will update this ranking and add more prospects as the season goes on and they begin to get some games in. The first overall selection, however, is not likely to change – a refreshing change-up from last year's projections, in which the top player available seemed to vary by the week.

  1. Shane Wright, C – Kingston Frontenacs, OHL

The consensus first-overall selection so far, Wright has been consistently good throughout his budding career; as a 14-year-old, he played at the U16 AAA level in the GTHL, and earned a total of 150 points (66 goals, 84 assists) in only 72 games against players older than him. He then joined the Frontenacs after obtaining his exceptional status to play in the OHL at 15 years old, and earned 39 goals and 66 points in 58 games that season. Most recently, Wright earned 14 points in five U18 World Juniors games with Team Canada in April and May.

The 6-foot-1 center's offensive skill and overall understanding of the game m