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Draft: King and Zhigalov among overlooked top prospects in 2021

The 2022 NHL Upper Deck Draft will be held July 7-8 at the Bell Center in Montreal. Round 1 will take place July 7 (7 p.m. ET; TVAS, SN, ESPN, ESPN+), while rounds 2-7 will be held July 8 (11 a.m. ET; TVAS, SN, ESPN+, NHLN). As the session approaches, NHL.com is setting the stage with top prospect profiles and other articles. Today’s look at the top prospects who were passed over in the 2021 draft.

It would not be surprising to see a large number of players who were passed over in the 2021 draft find takers in 2022 due to the limited opportunities scouts had to see them in action last year due to the concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

“I think that’s definitely a possibility since the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) hasn’t had a season (in 2020-21), so those players who will be in their second year of eligibility have been able to play and show off their skills,” NHL Central Scouting senior director David Gregory said. Their development curve was shifted and concentrated in one year, so we try to assess what this player could have become with an extra year of hockey last year. And that goes for all players who have played for teams in other leagues, since the calendars have been condensed. »

Central Scouting has identified 41 players in their North American Skater and Goalie Rankings who were passed over in the 2021 Draft and could be selected this year.

“We anticipate an increase in 19-year-old players who have already been draft eligible and who will be chosen this year since they have had more time to prove themselves, which has given them a longer period to develop,” summed up the director of the Central Screening Bureau Dan Marr.

Here are eight players who were unclaimed in 2021 and could be drafted in 2022 (in alphabetical order):

David Gucciardi, D, Michigan State (NCAA): The 19-year-old Toronto native had 11 points (five goals, six assists), two power play goals and finished fifth among the Spartans with 44 blocked shots in 36 games. Gucciardi (6-foot-1, 185 pounds), who ranks 57th in Central Scouting’s final rankings among North American skaters, had 20 points (seven goals, 13 assists) with Youngstown and Waterloo in the United States Hockey League in 2020-21. He was 69th in the same ranking of hopes in 2021.

“He is a good skater with good mobility and a good explosion. He’s got a powerful stride and good puck handling, noted Central Scouting’s Greg Rajanen. He circulates the disc well and can change the angle of his shot from the blue line. His shots hit the net. When I saw him play, I noticed that he used his partner well on the blue line, that he passed quickly out of the zone and that he was able to block shots. »

Ben King, C, Red Deer (WHL): The 20-year-old right-handed center (6-foot-2, 205 pounds) finished first in the Western Hockey League (WHL) with 52 goals and 24 power-play goals, in addition to taking second place with 105 points (53 assists) in 68 regular season games. He’s been skipped the past two NHL Entry Drafts, but sits 96th in Central Scouting’s final rankings among North American skaters this year. He had not been listed in 2021 and was ranked 121st before the 2020 draft.

“King has a good size, he skates well and shows great skills,” said John Williams of Central Scouting. In the past, he hasn’t really shown consistency in terms of effort, but he has improved this year in that regard. »

Amadeus Lombardi, C, Flint (OHL): Lombardi (5-foot-10, 165 pounds) finished second on the team with 59 points (18 goals, 41 assists), second with 153 shots, and third in faceoff performance (53, 6 percent; 464-in-866) in 67 parts. He was not listed on Central Scouting’s final ranking among North American skaters in 2021, but he is expected to be selected in the third or fourth round in 2022 (94th).

Tucker Robertson, C, Peterborough (OHL): After scoring eight goals in 2018-19 before being inactive in 2019-20 as the OHL canceled its season due to COVID-19, Robertson (5-foot-10, 190 pounds) wrapped up the final campaign tied for 10th in the league with 41 goals and 17th with 81 points. The right-handed center, who turns 19 on June 22, is 162nd in Central Scouting’s final rankings among North American skaters. He won 873 of his 1,538 faceoffs (56.8 percent yield) and scored nine times on the power play. Ranked 183rd by Central Scouting in 2021, Robertson is a forward who likes to make plays whose fiery style is sometimes compared to that of the Seattle Kraken forward. Yanni Water Bottle.

David Spacek, D, Sherbrooke (QMJHL): The 55th-place finisher in Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American skaters is the son of former NHL defenseman Jaroslav Spacek. The 19-year-old right-hander finished first among Sherbrooke defensemen with 50 points (12 goals, 38 assists) and 28 power play points (eight goals, 20 assists) in 57 regular season games. Spacek (5-foot-11, 174 pounds) was listed at No. 79 in the final international skater rankings last year, when he played for Plzen in the Czech Republic junior league.

“He manages the puck well, he does well in his zone and generates a lot of offense at 5-on-5 and on the power play, described Jean-François Damphousse of the Central Scouting Office. He has a powerful shot and he knows how to recognize the options in front of him. He knows when to support the attack and when to stay behind. I found him to be one of the most valuable players in the QMJHL this year. »

Graham Sward, D, Spokane (WHL): Sward (6-foot-2, 180 pounds), who turns 19 Sept. 12, has 43 points (10 goals, 33 assists) and 24 power-play points (five goals, 19 assists) in 57 regular-season games . He is ranked 93rd in Central Scouting’s final rankings among North American skaters after being ranked 117th in 2021. Sward has 62 points (14 goals, 48 ​​assists) in 122 WHL games.

“Sward was one of the youngest players eligible for the last draft, and his game has really evolved,” Williams said. Spokane was a much better team when he was in training. He has a good size, a good skate and a powerful shot from the point. »

Cameron Whitehead, G, Lincoln (USHL): Whitehead (6-foot-3, 170 pounds), who will attend Northeastern University in 2023-24, is seventh in Central Scouting’s final rankings among North American goaltenders, down from 30th of that ranking in 2021. He captured the attention of NHL scouts this season as he finished tied for eighth in the USHL in wins (16-8-4) and averaged 3.19 goals against, .892 save percentage and one shutout in 31 games. The 19-year-old goaltender was one of three goaltenders invited to the 2022 NHL Prospects Review Session in Buffalo.

“He’s very aggressive in keeping the puck out of his net, has great confidence in tough situations and covers a lot of the net in butterfly style,” said Central Scouting’s Al Jensen. Cameron positions himself well in front of his net and moves well in his semicircle. It displays a presence worthy of professionals. »

Ivan Zhigalov, G, Sherbrooke (QMJHL): The 19-year-old (6-foot-3, 167-pound) goaltender is the second best North American goaltender heading into the upcoming draft according to Central Scouting, who was not listed in 2021. He compiled a record of 26-9-3 with an average of 2.84 and a save percentage of .892 in 42 games in his first season in Sherbrooke of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Born in Minsk, Belarus, Zhigalov played three games with Dynamo Moscow in the Russian Minor Hockey League as well as eight games with the Belarus Under-18 team before joining Sherbrooke this season. He stood out in the 2022 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Kitchener on March 23, when he gave up three goals on 13 shots.

“He’s got a nice quiet confidence, and he doesn’t make unnecessary moves in front of the net,” Jensen said. He has an excellent butterfly style and he is quick with his feet and his legs. It is a beating in its semi-circle. He moves well from post to post. He has the potential to play for professionals. »

Pictures: Vincent L-Rousseau, Sherbrooke (QMJHL)

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