We know the big names that are expected to go in the 2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft. It’s now time to look for the buried treasure lingering much further down draft lists.
It’s these hidden gems that separate the good teams from the great teams. Landing these players could be the very thing missing from completing a team’s championship puzzle.
Vezina-winning goalie Igor Shesterkin wasn’t selected in the top-100 of his draft year. Mark Stone, widely regarded as one of the best all-around players in the game, didn’t hear his name called in the top-150. So these players are out there somewhere.
Related: 2022 NHL Draft Guide
We will now unveil our list of super-deep sleepers for the 2022 NHL Draft. What is a super-deep sleeper? These are prospects ranked outside the top-100 North American, the top-50 European or the top-10 goaltending lists based on Central Scouting’s final rankings that have the potential to pop and make an impact in the NHL.
These are lottery ticket type of players. These are players who may not hear their name called at the draft. But there is something about them that I’m particularly interested in that could make them a sleeper. This list will comprise of one North American forward, one North American defenseman, one European forward, one European defenseman and one goalie. These are players I have seen or watched over the year. Let’s dive in.
5 Super-Deep Sleepers
Will this finally be the year that Hardie hears his name called at the NHL Draft? This is his third year of eligibility but he continues to show why he deserves a chance.
In his original draft year, Hardie recorded 34 goals and 63 points. Many thought that a team would take a late-round flyer on him. Instead, no one selected him and then he lost his next season due to the pandemic. He was one of the prospects who came to Erie and played in the summer Junior Showcase. Again, he went without hearing his name called at the draft.
All Hardie did this season is record 41 goals and 77 points while not missing any games and then adding six goals in the OHL playoffs. Scoring has never been his problem. But now he’s showing a playmaking side to him while being one of the hardest working players on his team. He’s also taken big steps in leadership. Current draft eligibles Luka Del Bel Belluz and Owen Beck each admitted looking up to Hardie for the way he’s handled the last few years.
Hardie is ranked 148th by NHL Central Scouting. Even if he doesn’t get picked, someone is going to scoop up a good goal scorer. This should finally be his year.
My immediate reaction when I first saw Plos in a game was “power forward.” While he doesn’t play as physically as you’d like for someone his size, he brings other things that are intriguing for the next level.
Plos stands 6-foot-4 and is a good skater for his size. He can also finish. He was a member of Czechia’s U-18 team and was one of their standouts from my sight. This goal against Team USA showed his ability to score off the rush.
By this part of the draft, I am interested in big, skilled wingers who can skate and defend. He is ranked 58th on the European final list after not being ranked at all on the midterm list. His U-18 performance coupled with his size make him an intriguing late option.
One thing that this draft is showing is that there are an abundance of intriguing defensemen available later on. Mathurin is no exception especially if you love hard-hitting, punishing stay-at-home defensemen.
At 6-foot-2 and over 200 pounds, Mathurin already has NHL size and uses it to his advantage. You aren’t drafting him for offense although he can give you some and is showing some improvement being a two-way defender. He especially stood out to me in the OHL playoffs.
Mathurin is a better skater than I thought. He can join the rush and even on occasion, can make pretty plays to setup teammates like the one you see below.
The other thing that I value in players is their leadership. Mathurin was a captain before joining North Bay. He lets his play do the talking including being very hard to play against. He is ranked 126th on the final North American list but is the kind of player you should take a gamble on late.
Have you noticed a pattern yet? Like Mathurin, Ivanov is a big defenseman who has no trouble imposing his will on opponents. Standing already 6-foot-4 and 209 pounds, Ivanov was usually the biggest player on the ice in Russia’s MHL but showed he could keep up and impact the game in several ways.
He scored nine goals and 30 points for Spartak while accumulating 69 PIM’s. While he occasionally crosses the line, his teammates love him because he’s willing to do the dirty work. You’ll see him in front of his own net more often than not clearing the way.
While today’s game certainly favors speed and skill, there is still plenty of need for big, physical defensemen. Ranked 71st on the European final list, Ivanov will need time to develop but could come in eventually and give your team an infusion of muscle on the backend. Late in the draft, that’s a worthy gamble.
Anytime you can land one of the best goalies in his age range in a league, you should jump at the opportunity. That’s what the team that drafts Lalonde will get.
While his rookie season with the Erie Otters had its ups and downs, he finished the season strong and showed he was ready to take the next steps. His presence on Team Canada is an indication that his performance has been noticed.
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Although Lalonde’s undersized which is why I think he comes in at 14th on the North American goalie list, he makes up for it with his athleticism and compete. He’s had the eyes of the scouting world on him for several years. He has the experience of being a number-one goalie at age 17 while keeping his composure when chaos was happening.
If you’re a team who still needs to draft a goalie in round six or seven, Lalonde is one of the better bets available.
Each player mentioned above has one thing in common. There is something about them that sticks out that makes them an intriguing late option. All of these prospects need time to properly develop. But by this time in the draft, you’re drafting longer-term projects and taking chances on guys with clear holes in their game.
This is our list. Which prospects make your list of super-deep sleepers? Who do you hope your team gets? Let me know here or on social media.
The next Shesterkin or Stone could be sitting out there waiting to hear their name called. Who finds them? May the odds of finding them ever be in the team’s favor.
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2021-22 season will mark eight seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.