We are just under one month from the 2022 NHL draft. The LA Kings will hold the 19th overall pick, their first non-lottery pick in several seasons.
Every Friday until the draft, I’ll be putting together a three-round mock draft based on which players are available.
Picks were made using FC Hockey’s Mock Draft Simulator and Player Rankings.
Here we go!
Round 1, 19th overall: Denton Mateychuk, LHD
Not only was Denton Mateychuk the best player available in the mock draft simulator, but the left-shot defenseman fills a huge organizational need. The Kings are heavy on the right side, especially after last year’s eighth overall selection of Brandt Clarke. But they don’t have much in the way of a top defenseman on the left side.
I previously did a draft profile write-up on him (here).
After being selected 11th overall in the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft, Mateychuk enjoyed an abbreviated WHL rookie campaign, potting two goals and seven assists for nine points in a 16-game sample size.
This past year, he elevated his game to another level, lighting the lamp 13 times along with 51 assists for 64 points in 65 games. In the postseason, he tallied a goal and ten points in ten games. His 64 points during the regular season were fifth-most among WHL defensemen.
The Winnipeg, Manitoba native is an excellent skater who likes to push the pace offensively. An asset on the power-play, Mateychuk tallied four goals on the man advantage last year.
He utilizes his quick feet to create extra time for himself. As seen in the clip below, while he doesn’t score on this particular play, you can see his playmaking ability to create a scoring opportunity.
He has a heavy shot from the blue line, but Mateychuk will also walk the puck in for a better look.
Here’s his shot chart from this past season:
“Mateychuk is an undersized but dynamic defenseman. His skating pops, showing very quick feet that can easily transition pucks up ice with speed or evade pressure easily. Mateychuk attacks with the puck using his skill, skating, and vision, making him a threat off the rush and blue line to create chances. He defends well in the WHL due to his feet, but at 5-foot-11, the concern for scouts is how well he’ll be able to check in the NHL. I see a projected 2nd/3rd pair tweener type for that reason.” -Corey Pronman, The Athletic
Round 2, 51st overall: Matyas Sapovaliv, LW
Matyas Sapovaliv is a big-bodied forward who likes to hang around the net. At 6-foot-4, 183 pounds, the 18-year-old forward enjoyed a solid rookie campaign in the OHL this past year.
He was the 15th overall pick in the 2021 CHL Import Draft, and the 18-year-old made his way to North America from his native home in the Czech Republic.
With the Saginaw Spirit, he accumulated 18 goals and 34 assists for 52 points in 68 games.
Here’s his shot chart from last year.
I mentioned he’s dangerous in front of the net, right? Here he is cleaning up a bouncing puck in front of the crease.
Sapovaliv finished second on the Spirit with seven power-play goals and was tied for fourth among OHL rookie skaters in that department.
Most of his shot attempts came from the slot or left and right of the net. However, Sapovaliv features a solid yet deceptive wrist shot from the blueline. He can skate around defenders, using his body to shield the opposition from the puck for a scoring chance.
More on that note.
His skating still needs some work. He’s not the most explosive forward, which can lead to him making an errant pass when a defender closes in on him, as seen in the clip below:
Given his size and playmaking ability, Sapovaliv has drawn stylistic comparisons to Hurricanes’ forward Jordan Staal.
“Sapovaliv is a solid, statured forward who does well offensively and on the power play. His stick preparation stuck out to me in the way that he was always ready for a pass, a quick tap in when being net-front, and often showing a lengthy reach and is capable of lifting his opponent’s stick in efforts to take away their possession. … As for his skating, he didn’t seem to quite have the steady pace he will need to excel at the next level. I think Sapovaliv does have potential, and could go in the late second or early third round of the 2022 draft.” – Olivia McArter, FC Hockey
Round 3, 85th overall: Topias Leinonen, G
This year’s draft class doesn’t have a Jesper Wallstedt or Sebastian Cossa. However, the LA Kings draft history suggests that a goaltender could be picked in the middle rounds. Lukas Parik (2019 – 3rd round), David Hrenak (2018 – 5th round), Matt Villalta (2017 – 3rd round), J.F. Berube (2009 – 4th round), Jeff Zatkoff (2006 – 3rd round), and some guy named Jonathan Quick (2005 – 3rd round).
Tyler Brennan, the top-rated North American goaltender in this class, was taken a few picks before the Kings were on the clock in this mock draft. That said, Los Angeles can turn their attention toward the top-ranked European goaltender, Topias Leinonen.
At 6-foot-5, 233 pounds, the 18-year-old netminder has the size that scouts drool over. He seals up the bottom of the net while his lengthy frame leaves little room at the top. The Finnish netminder is already drawing comparisons to former Predators’ netminder Pekka Rinne.
He spent most of this past season with the JYP U20 team, recording a 9-10-0 record in 21 games, along with a 2.28 goals-against average, .916 SV%, and two shutouts. He was elevated to the JYP club for four games, where his numbers weren’t as strong playing against men. He also played for KeuPa on loan for two games, recording a 3.15 GAA and .861 SV%.
As the primary netminder for Team Finland at the U18 World Junior Championships, Leinonen went 3-2-0 in five games, with a 2.61 GAA and a .897 SV%.
He moves exceptionally well for a guy his size and makes the smart pass when retrieving the puck. Leinonen is more a of shot-blocker and has the propensity to give up a few more rebounds than he should. He’ll need some time to develop – as most goaltenders do – but the potential is certainly there.
“The top-ranked goalie in Europe for NHL Central Scouting. The obvious is his stature, 6-foot-5, 207 pounds. He’s a big body goalie who takes up the net. His play in the tournament was mostly solid. He is at his best in a structured format. When his team plays lost in their zone he tends to follow suit and kicks pucks back out into scoring areas or allows a goal he would like to have back. The kid has all the tools, but he will need time. He could be the first goalie off the board in Montreal. A team with multiple picks in the second round could roll the dice.” – Jason Bukala, Sportsnet
What are your thoughts on this mock draft?