The 18 year-old top NHL draft prospect, Shane Wright, has been dethroned from top draft prospect in the recent review by TSN hockey insider, Bob McKenzie.
In TSN’s final draft prospect ranking, 18 year-old Slovak forward Juraj Slafkovský has won the top spot by a hairline margin.
Five of ten scouts surveyed by TSN ranked the 6’4 Slovak left winger at number one, while four scouts placed Wright in the top spot.
It is the first time this season, and now the final rankings in June, that someone other than Wright is number one in the draft rankings.
Slafkovsky was ranked number 5 at the mid-season but used two stellar international performances, at the Olympics and the men’s world championship, to oust Shane Wright from the comfortable top spot heading into the draft in Montreal on July 7-8.
Some scouts still have Wright at the top of their lists but it is notable to say that McKenzie’s final picks are sure as stone prior to the drafts.
However, when it comes to Wright himself, his performance has been, to varying degrees, viewed as underwhelming, especially when weighed against the high expectations against him coming into the 2021-22 season. High expectations that Wright created for himself by his outstanding play prior to this season. Wright is still fully expected to be a good NHL player, but the scouts are looking for more great than good from the No. 1 overall pick. Wright’s game this season has lacked any sort of “wow” factor or “dynamic” aspect.
Slafkovsky’s blend of speed, skill and most notably his size is something of a rarity amongst forwards in the top 5 or even the top 10 of this draft. Slafkovsky being first NHL number one overall pick also propells Slovakia to having three first-round prospects (Slafkovsky, Nemec and No. 22-ranked Filip Mesar) and Czechia having one (Jiricek) in the top 10. Czechia and Slovakia split up in 1993, but it’s amazing that the two smaller hockey countries have as many Top 10 prospects on this list as Canada.
“What separates Slafkovsky from Wright for me is that he’s bigger, he played harder, he was more consistent with his competitiveness, and he stepped up to produce on big stages [Olympics and world championship],” another NHL head scout said. “In my view, he has the best chance to be a first-line NHL forward.”
“Teams who rank Slafkovsky at No. 1 are struggling with Wright’s draft year being so average [compared to prior seasons],” a club executive stated. “Teams who like Wright at No. 1 can’t forget what they saw in Wright’s first OHL season and the 2021 U-18 world championship.”
Thus, demonstrating some push and pull regarding Wright and Slafkovsky’s rankings and performances with many scouts and personel being very 50/50.
It is only up to draft day to find out who will get top pick in Montreal and will head to the Canadiens to live our their debut years in the NHL in the Quebec city.
The 2022 NHL entry draft will take place on July 7th and will end on July 8th at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec.
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