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Feeling a Draft

07/07/2022, 2:30pm CDT
By Let's Play Hockey

Which Minnesotans will go in this year's draft? Here's a sneak peak at the top players

Ike Howard is one of the top-ranked North American skaters in this year's draft. He is in the top 10 all-time for USA scorers in the NTDP. PHOTO COURTESY OF YOUTH HOCKEY HUB

Jimmy Snuggerud is from Chaska.

This could be an exciting draft for Minnesota players as five players finished in the top 50 in the NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings for North American skaters and couple of them could go in the first round.

Last season nine Minnesotans were chosen in the 2021 NHL draft, led by first-rounder Chaz Lucius, who went 18th overall to the Winnipeg Jets. 

Mr. Hockey and Reed Larson Award winner Jack Peart was chosen in the second round and 54th overall by the Minnesota Wild. Tristan Broz, a Bloomington Jefferson native went in the third round to Pittsburgh followed by Dodge County’s Brody Lamb and Eden Prairie’s Jackson Blake as fourth rounders to the New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes, respectively. 

Maple Grove then had a run of four players in a row with Kyle Kukkonen and Cal Thomas being selected in the sixth round by Anaheim and Arizona, followed by Justin Janicke being chosen by Seattle in the seventh round and Connor Kelley by the Blackhawks, also in round seven.

So what is in store for the 2022 draft? Here are five names to know heading into July 7’s draft.

Isaac Howard (F), Hudson, WI (Shattuck-St. Mary's)

Isaac Howard appears to be a potential first round selection having been ranked ninth overall amongst North American Skater’s by NHL’s Central Scouting. Howard has been a scorer at every level he’s played. Known for his ability to fire the puck, he has also increased his playmaking skills and had 49 assists in 60 games for the National Team Development Program (NTDP) last season. He played two seasons at Shattuck-St, Mary’s before joining the NTDP where he has excelled and is in the top 10 all-time in scoring.

Howard will be attending the University of Minnesota-Duluth and is expected to be a first round pick by many scouts, one picking him as high as 10th overall.

Jimmy Snuggerud (F), (Chaska) NTDP

Right behind him in the NHL rankings is NTDP teammate Jimmy Snuggerud. The son of former Gopher and NHLer Dave Snuggerud, Jimmy has a ton of upside according to scouting reports.

The Chaska native ranks 11th on the NHL Scouting list, but ranks higher than Howard by, who have him 25th and Howard 41st. He put up 63 points in 59 games this past season for the U-18 squad. At 6’2” he posses a strong combination of size and skill.  He will follow in his dad’s footsteps and be a Gopher next season, and along with Howard could be a first round pick.

Ryan Chesley (D), (Mahtomedi) NTDP

Another NTDP player cracked the top 20 amongst North American skaters with defenseman Ryan Chesley ranked 19th. Chesley hails from Mahtomedi, but is another product of Shattuck-St. Mary’s having played three seasons there before moving on to the NTDP. At 6-foot and 200 pounds he has a solid frame and skates extremely well, earning an “A” ranking by NHL Central Scouting last fall on their watch list (Howard also received an A ranking). ranks him 30th, and because he is a defenseman, could sneak into the late first round. He is described in scouting reports as strong and reliable and is more of a defender than offensive defenseman who plays strong in both the neutral and defensive zones.

Sam Rinzel (D), Chaska High School

Right behind him in the rankings is Chaska High School defenseman Sam Rinzel at 20th. Rinzel is known for his undeniable skating ability for a kid who is 6’4” with the ability to jump into plays on the offensive end. His size also gives him a long reach to better defend against the rush. Rinzel was only a junior at Chaska last year and also played in the USHL for Waterloo. He is committed to play with the Gophers in 2023-24 where he can reunite with his old high school teammate Snuggerud.

Cruz Lucius (F), Gentry Academy NTDP

Rounding out the top five Minnesotans in the top 50 is last year’s first rounder Chaz Lucius’ little brother Cruz Lucius. Lucius was outside the top 50 during the midterm rankings, but jumped to 41 in the final ranking.

The 6-foot winger scored 42 points in 42 games for the US National U-17 squad before moving on to the NTDP last season where he tallied 18 points in 23 games. Lucius has been dubbed more of a playmaker, but has shown a knack for the net with an excellent shot. It is his offensive skill set that has some scouts projecting him as high as the second round.

Some other notables to look for on draft day are Prior Lake star Alex Bump, who ranks 63rd amongst North America skaters; Hermantown’s Zam Plante (64th); Benilde-St. Margaret defenseman Tristan Sarsland (67th); Warroad's Daimon Gardner  (97th); Hill-Murray defenseman Leo Gruba (125th) who just committed to St. Cloud State; Hill-Murray and Wisconsin-bound forward Dylan Godbout (129th) and former Hermantown standout defenseman Aaron Pionk (132nd), Gentry Academy defenseman Jack Harvey (135th) and former Hill-Murray forward Nick Pierre (144th) all came in the top 150 amongst North American skaters. Other notables include Blaine's Finn Loftus, Elk River native Connor Kurth, Andover's Weston Knox, Eden Prairie's Luke Mittelstadt, and Wayzata's Gavin O'Connell.

The last time Minnesota had multiple first-round picks was in 2017 when Casey Mittelstadt (Eden Prairie) went 8th overall and Ryan Poehling and Jake Oettinger (both of Lakeville) went 25th and 26th, respectively. All have since played substantially in the NHL.

The 2017 draft was one of the best for Minnesota players with 17 chosen overall. 

The highest pick for a Minnesota-born player was Bloomington native Erik Johnson in 2006, who was chosen first overall and just won a Stanley Cup with Colorado.

Tag(s): State Of Hockey