This was a busy summer. With the 2020-21 season only getting underway in January, things got a little condensed in the offseason, what with an expansion draft to fit into the normal schedule. It feels as though the Stanley Cup was only awarded to the Tampa Bay Lightning a few weeks ago, and yet training camp is underway and regular season games will start before you know it. With that condensed, frenzied, transaction period, it’s easy to have missed some of the moves that teams made to prepare their organization moving forward.
Many of those deals had implications that will reach far beyond 2021-22. In particular, next summer’s draft has already been affected drastically, with high picks flying around the league. That could spell disaster or jubilance depending on how the season plays out and how the lottery balls fall, as there is quite the prize coming for the team that selects first overall in 2022.
Shane Wright, who became the fifth player to be granted exceptional status in the OHL and started his rookie season with the Kingston Frontenacs at age-15, is the no-doubt choice at the top of the draft. Now 17, he’s ranked as the top available prospect by basically every list, and Bob McKenzie’s scout poll recently suggested that he would have gone first overall in the 2021 draft as well, had he been eligible. There’s a lot to like about the potential first-line, franchise-defining centerman, even though he won’t turn 18 until January.
As any year beyond that first spot though, there is still plenty of talent to be accrued in the other rounds. That’s where you’ll see most of the draft pick movement through trade anyway, as teams throw around mid- and late-round picks for depth players or as add-ons in bigger deals. So who is heading into 2022 with a leg up on the competition already? Here is how the draft pick landscape sits right now: