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NHL Draft Analyst Weighs In On Canadiens’ Options At 2022 NHL Draft

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NHL Draft

Montreal Hockey Now had the pleasure of catching up with NHL.com draft analyst Mike Morreale to discuss the 2022 NHL Draft and the top prospects to come out of this year’s class.

Morreale spoke about the difficulty in assessing players this year due to the pandemic’s effect on the traditional amateur hockey calendar last season and even partially this season due to the cancellation of the World Junior Championships.

“Shane Wright is a player we’ve known about since he’s been 15 years old. We’ve been talking about the 2022 NHL Draft as the ‘Shane Wright Draft’,” said Morreale. “Then, all of a sudden, Covid hits. Scouting over the past two years becomes unsure. You’re missing an entire season, international leagues were shut down, so it was like a whole wasted scouting season. It was like starting off fresh again, so we needed to see these players again. Everyone knew about Slafkosvky, but we weren’t sure what we were going to get. We knew Shane Wright was about and we wanted to see him continue that, and he did in my eyes.”

Morreale was quick to praise Shane Wright and his ability to adapt to any situation, calling him the perfect team player. In his estimation, he believed that Wright will have an easier time transitioning to the NHL, due to playing a very mature and structured game at such a young age.

“Shane Wright makes plays that are team-oriented, and, to me, that’s something that’s going to translate very well to the NHL level with better players,” said Morreale about how he sees Wright transitioning to the NHL. “Better players are going to be able to take advantage of what Shane Wright’s able to bring to the table.”

A lot has been said about Shane Wright’s point totals this season in the OHL.  Wright finished the year with 94 points in 63 games, but some still found that output to be underwhelming for such a highly anticipated 1st overall pick. Morreale believed that his lower offensive production was due to the youngster putting his team first, rather than selfishly looking to pump up his offensive numbers for the sake of impressing onlookers.

“If Shane Wright were more selfish, he may have 50 goals and 140 points,” claimed Morreale. “You mention how he’s always looking for teammates when he’s coming down the ice. I just think, what he brings with his IQ and those intangibles, he’s an intuitive prospect that plays the game the correct way.”

Morreale concluded his opinion of Wright by stating that he would not pass up the opportunity to select a player like Wright if he had the choice of 1st overall in the 2022 NHL Draft.

“To me, Shane Wright is an elite centerman in this draft, and that’s a guy you just don’t want to pass on if you have the No. 1 pick,” concluded Morreale on Wright.

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After Wright, Morreale was quick to praise Juraj Slafkosvky, who has exploded up the 2022 NHL Draft Rankings during this season, due in large part to his exceptional performances at international tournaments.

“After Shane Wright, Juraj Slafkovsky definitely has the goods,” said Morreale on Juraj  Slafkovsky. “This is a player that’s been compared to a Mikko Rantanen.”

Morreale believes that Slafkovsky has the tools to be a top-end power forward in the NHL for years to come, and that whichever team selects the hulking 6’4 winger will be very pleased with the outcome 2-3 years down the line.

“He’s a power forward. He uses his size, his reach, his strength, has very good on-ice vision, is tough to defend against,” said Morreale on Slafkovsky’s game. ” He’s got excellent offensive instincts and you see that when he’s on the ice. He’s got that quick shot, quick release, and he’s surprisingly mobile for a big guy. He has all the tools needed for a great career.”

Ultimately, when asked to give his opinion on who had the highest likelihood of being the best player, in his estimation, in the 2022 NHL Draft, Morreale chose Wright, as he believed he was simply too smart to fail.

“I don’t think we’ve seen that level line for Juraj Slafkovsky yet,” said Morreale on Slafkovsky’s potential ceiling. ” Is it going to be higher than Wright? I don’t know. I think Shane Wright’s going to elevate his play each year, he’s going to develop, he’s going to learn because he has that IQ, as does Slafkovsky. I would expect Wright to be the elite of this draft class.”

The full interview with Morreale can be found below:

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