Who is the next Connor McDavid?
Every year, a thousand of the best hockey prospects battle to be drafted in the big league. Unfortunately, only 217 players get drafted each year. Above these athletes, we can find elite phenoms, ready to perform with pro’s like Connor McDavid. Some of these are rare exceptions, going to make a huge impact in the league sooner than you might think. From 2020 to 2022, the drafts seem promising. Many players are having success in the Junior. As Lafrenière is qualified to make his entry in the NHL, let’s have a look at the 10 best prospects from 2020 to 2022.
1. Alexis Lafrenière (2020, LW, Rimouski Oceanic, QMJHL)
Alexis Lafrenière is a powerful two-way forward playing for the Rimouski Océanic. Racking 80 points in 60 games on his first season with the Océanic, he proved himself a lot as a future number one pick for the 2020 NHL draft. Considered as an exceptional player, he never stopped surprising us. With 70 points in 32 games, nobody can say the opposite; he is the one you have to glance at. Appearing to be the next Connor McDavid, he makes honor to his small region of Saint-Eustache, where talent is small but making a name for the heart of hockey.
2. Shane Wright (2022, C, Kingston Frontenacs, OHL)
Shane Wright is a phenomenal center evolving for the Kingston Frontenacs in the OHL. At only 16 years old, 2 years before his draft, he currently has 32 points in 34 games in the league. Entering the league as an exceptional player as John Tavares once was, all the eyes were on him, and he simply showed up incredibly. The Ontarian athlete from Burlington is compared to no other than Sidney Crosby! His astonishing hockey sense makes him the best hockey player at his age. The 6-foot, 183-pound frame player has fabulous hand-eye coordinations mixed with a powerful NHL caliber bullet.
3. Aatu Räty (2021, C, Kärpät, Liiga)
Räty has all the tools to become a very good number one center at the NHL level. His size is not going to be an issue because he’s already big enough to compete against men. He is an excellent skater who can push the pace of the game, and it’s almost impossible to prevent him from entering the offensive zone with possession of the puck. He has an excellent wrist shot, and his release is quick and at times difficult for goalies to see. He is also great at making plays, including some very creative ones. He is a quick thinker who is able to stick-handle through traffic and make plays at high speed. He works very hard on the ice and has been getting better at using his size to protect the puck and win battles by the boards.
I wouldn’t label Räty a franchise player but it seems like the 2021 draft class doesn’t have such a player, so it’s very difficult to not take a future number one center at the top of the draft. There’s obviously still lots of time for other contenders to emerge but right now, everything points towards Räty becoming the first-ever Finnish player to go first overall in an NHL Entry Draft.
4. Brad Lambert (2022, LW-RW, HIFK U20, JR.A Sm-Liiga)
16-year-old Brad Lambert (2022), who is the top undrafted Finnish prospect in my books, had a great showing at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup and looks ready to dominate at the U20 level this season. Lambert is an elite talent with a very versatile offensive skill set. He is a high-end skater, stickhandler and playmaker with a good release. He is the top prospect eligible for the 2022 draft alongside Matthew Savoie and Shane Wright.
5. Matthew Savoie (2022, C, Winnipeg Ice, WHL)
Matthew Savoie is a 16-years old prospect evolving for the Winnipeg Ice in the OHL. His incredible hockey sense and skill set makes him a dangerous forward in the offensive zone. He is a fear for any defender that has to battle him on a 1 v 1. The 5-foot-9, 181-pound frame center from St.Albert, Alberta, currently has 5 points in 12 games in the WHL, which is extremely god for someone who’ll get drafted in two years.