We first heard boos when he arrived at the Bell Center on the day of the 2022 draft. The vast majority of fans wanted Shane Wright.
He was the only one of his vintage to play regularly in the NHL the following season. He ripped it off. The Canadian was criticized for sabotaging his development by not sending him to learn in the American League, in Laval.
Meanwhile, third overall pick behind Juraj Slafkovsky, Logan Cooley, was making a splash at the University of Minnesota in the NCAA with 60 points in 39 games. The CH had probably made the wrong choice.
The idea gained even more traction when Cooley had 11 points in his first 14 National League games with the Coyotes early in the season. Slafkovsky amassed only two during the same period and was still finding his bearings.
Without forgetting Matthew Poitras, second-round pick only, the surprise in Bruins camp, seven points in his first eleven games at the center of the third line.
But Slafkovsky has taken off since mid-December. This 6-foot-4, 240-pound colossus has amassed 15 points, including 7 goals, in his last 21 games. He plays between 17 and 20 minutes per game. His forecheck is impressive. He shoots more often. And better. He is still 19 years old.
Cooley has 10 points in his most recent 21 games, centering the Coyotes’ fourth line. Nobody talks about Shane Wright anymore, even though Patrice Bergeron’s runner-up in the eyes of many before the draft.
We are now getting carried away in Quebec. Slafkovsky will be the best player of his vintage. In this group are probably some of those who cried flop.
However, the draft is only two years old. Only four players from this vintage are in the NHL at present. It generally takes five years, sometimes even more, before a decision is made. If we beg for patience with the hopes of the CH, we must act accordingly with the others.
Let’s also get some news about the main hopes of this vintage.
Simon Nemec, defender, 2e in total, New Jersey
Took advantage of injuries to become part of the Devils’ first pair of defensemen, after starting the season in the American League. Still imperfect, like any young person, especially a defender, but will regularly get his 20 minutes per game, and plays in the second wave in numerical superiority. Good offensive contribution with 9 points in his last 12 games.
Shane Wright, center, 4e in total, Seattle
Unlike Slafkovsky, Wright plays in an organization battling for a playoff spot. He has no room for error during his rare recalls, unlike the CH striker. Wright has 32 points, including 18 goals, in 41 games in the American League, very good production for a 20-year-old. He plays responsibly defensively. Probable long-term second-line center in the National League.
Cutter Gauthier, winger, 5e overall, Philadelphia
This power forward was traded to the Anaheim Ducks for defenseman Jamie Drysdale in early January because he didn’t intend to play for the Flyers. He had a good World Junior Championship with twelve points in seven games, even if we would have liked it to be more transcendent. He scored 21 goals in just 25 games at Boston College.
David Jiricek, defender, 6e in total, Columbus
This right-handed defenseman publicly expressed his dissatisfaction recently following his demotion in the American League, after 36 games in the NHL. He responded with a hat trick a few days ago in Cleveland, for seven points in six games. Tall right-handed defender, 6 feet 4 inches, big potential.
Kevin Korchinski, defenseman, 7e in total, Chicago
Drafted with the pick obtained from the Senators for Alex DeBrincat. Would probably still be in the junior ranks with a better-off club. He’s been struggling defensively and has nine points in 45 games so far. We would like more from this defender with an offensive reputation, but we have thrown him into the den of the wolf and he is only 19 years old.
Marco Kasper, center, 8e in total, Detroit
Disastrous start to the season offensively in the American League for this young Austrian, but he produces at a rate of 12 points in his last 14 games, after having obtained only 8 in his first 26. He had to make adjustments, among other things because of the reduced size of North American ice rinks compared to Europe.
Matthew Savoie, center, 9e overall, Buffalo
Very disappointing at the World Junior Championship. Still dominant in the Western Junior League. Zach Benson, his former teammate in Winnipeg, drafted a year after him, is already in the NHL.
Pavel Mintyukov, defender, 10e overall, Anaheim
We talk too little about this Russian left-handed defender, already in the National League with the Ducks, 19 points in 40 games. Like most 19 or 20 year old defenders, he must learn the subtleties of the trade. Mintyukov, first on at least one National League club’s list before the draft, injured his shoulder in January and will miss several weeks.
Among the others, this trio of very effective American attackers in the NCAA, Rutger McGroarty (14eWinnipeg), 35 points in 21 games at Michigan University, Frank Nazar (13eChicago, with the choice for Kirby Dach), fast and dynamic small forward, 33 points in 26 games with the same team and Jimmy Snuggerud (23eSt. Louis), 29 points, including 18 goals, with the University of Minnesota.
Three Swedes drafted in the first round have done well since their transfer this season to the first division (SHL). Jonathan Lekkerimaki (15e, Vancouver) has 20 points, including 11 goals, in 34 games in Orebro. Noah Östlund (16e, Buffalo), has 18 points in 27 games, and formed Sweden’s best duo at the World Junior Championship. Liam Ohgren (19eMinnesota), was injured at the start of the season and he is shooting more with his leg.
Matthew Poitras has just fallen in action in Boston and will miss the rest of the season. After starting the season in the National League, defenseman Tristan Luneau will likely be loaned to his junior team by the Ducks when he recovers from a serious knee infection.
And there are all those, among the 225 hopefuls of this vintage, Lane Hutson, Jiri Kulich, Adam Engstrom, Ivan Miroshnichenko, and all the others, who will want to be talked about in the coming years.
Joel Edmundson will undoubtedly be at sell
The Capitals’ defeat against the Canadiens on Tuesday hurt. Washington now finds itself seven points from the last place giving access to the playoffs, however with two more games to play. But he also has to get ahead of the Islanders, Penguins and Devils.
The Caps will undoubtedly fall into the seller’s camp by the trade deadline if things don’t turn around. Among their rental players, we find third pair defenseman Joel Edmundson, an unrestricted free agent starting in July.
Edmundson played in just 32 games this season and saw his ice time drop to 16:08 with his new team. He played an average of 19:34 last year and 20:03 in his first season in Montreal two years earlier.
The Canadian obtained third and seventh round picks in 2024 from Washington this summer for him. We traded him in time and he also freed up a place on the left.