With the new year underway, it’s time to check out the amateur lists to try and identify the next biggest names in hockey. Every NHL legend started somewhere and, by reading up about the best players, you can get in early.
Here we have five prospects who will make their mark on the future NHL if they keep playing to the same standards. If you like some of the players we’ve covered below, you should check out NHL odds and consider wagering on them when they hit the league next season.
1. Shane Wright
Our first amateur prospect is Shane Wright. If you’ve been following the 2022 NHL drafts at all, and the coverage around it, you already know who Wright is. Right now, he’s the center for the Kingston Frontenacs in the Ontario Hockey League, but he is expected to be the top pick by pretty much everybody.
After starting with the Frontenacs in 2019, he was quickly given ‘exceptional player status’ at just 16. He made OHL Rookie of the Year too, winning the Emms Family Award as part of the accolade. Across 58 games, he made 39 goals and racked up 66 points.
The pandemic interfered with his 2020-21 season but, after becoming captain of the Frontenacs, he’s going into the NHL with something to prove.
2. Matthew Savoie
Matthew Savoie has traveled far up the rankings as of late, so we’d forgive you for not hearing about him before. Playing center for the Winnipeg Ice as part of the Western Hockey League, Savoie has been scoring nearly two points in every game last season. That’s why he has leapfrogged over a lot of the competition – because he plays like everybody expected Wright to play. In fact, he may overtake Wright if the hype between them balances out.
Savoie’s first season saw him make 38 points in 34 games. This season, he has improved dramatically after registering 18 goals and 34 assists for 52 points across 33 games. In every scouting report, commentators stress that Savoie is a brilliant skater – funny considering there’s a figure skater called Matt Savoie.
3. Simon Nemec
Simon Nemec is the #1 defender heading into the 2022 NHL draft. Unlike the Canadians we have covered so far, Nemec is a European import from Slovakia. There, he plays as part of HK Nitra, a member club of the Slovak Extraliga, the highest Slovakian hockey league. He has a bright career ahead of him and, he has decided, he wants that career to be with the NHL.
Even if he wasn’t going for the NHL, Nemec has achieved so much already at his young age. Last year alone, he led Slovakia in scoring at the 2021 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, played at the 2021 IIHF World Championship, and captained Slovakia at the 2021 Hlinka Gretzky Cup tournament where he won a silver medal. He has even been selected for the 2022 Olympics.
4. Danila Yurov
Our next promising NHL draft prospect comes by way of Russia. That would be Danila Yurov, the right-wing for Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the Kontinental Hockey League. His backstory doesn’t read so impressive as Nemec but Yurov is still one of the best Russian prospects out there right now.
Having made their debut in the 2020-21 season, he made just 1 goal and 1 assist over 21 games. It’s his international performances that have led to him being noticed – namely representing Russia at the 2021 IIHF World U18 Championships. There, he made 4 goals, 7 assist over 7 games to win a silver medal. He will also represent Russia at the World Junior Ice Hockey Championships this year.
5. Logan Cooley
Our last NHL prospect for today is an American – Logan Cooley. Hailing from Pittsburgh, Cooley plays center for the U.S. Hockey National Team Development Program after being identified as the #2-ranked US skater by the NHL Central Scouting division. He originally played for the Fighting Irish before changing to the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Over the last season, Cooley played 29 games for the USNTDP and scored 15 goals and 26 assists. While some of his teammates were shipped to the Beijing Olympics, Cooley himself stayed behind. We wouldn’t be surprised if he climbs the rankings before the draft season arrives.