2022 NHL Draft 1st Overall Pick: Wright or Slavkovsky?

  • Shane Wright is a -450 favorite to be the first player off the board to the Montreal Canadiens
  • Juraj Slafkovsky (+200) finished No. 1 in Bob McKenzie’s annual survey of league scouts
  • The 2022 NHL Entry Draft will take place in Montreal on Thursday, July 7 and Friday, July 8

Shane Wright is still widely expected to go first overall to the Montreal Canadiens, however, buzz continues to build for Juraj Slafkovsky with less than a week left until the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.

Will it be the 18-year-old Canadian center or the 6-foot-4, 218-pound Slovak? Before we examine the odds, here’s where you can find the top betting sites for NHL hockey in 2022 and smart wagering tips in our Stanley Cup betting guide.

2022 NHL Draft – 1st Pick Overall

Shane Wright-450
Juraj Slafkovsky+200
Logan Cooley+1600

Wright favored over Slafkovsky

While still a heavy -450 favorite, Shane Wright’s odds plummeted at many major sportsbooks after Bob McKenzie put Juraj Slafkovsky (+200) on top of his annual draft rankings. The TSN Hockey Insider said that “five of 10 scouts surveyed ranked the Slovak left winger at No. 1, while four scouts slotted the Kingston Frontenac centre in the top spot.”

However, it’s important to note that the “consensus” ranking does not take the preference of the Montreal Canadiens into account, and they’re the franchise slated to pick first overall on Thursday night.

Tale of the tape

After becoming just the fifth Ontario Hockey League player to be granted exceptional status to play junior at age 15, Shane Wright scored 39 goals and 66 points in 58 games and was named both the OHL and Canadian Hockey League rookie of the year in 2019-20. But, many scouts believe he may have peaked too early. Despite playing five more games, the Kingston Frontenacs center scored seven fewer goals (32) as a U18 player last year than he did as a U16 player.

Meanwhile, Slafkovsky sniped a tournament-leading seven goals at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, helping Slovakia capture bronze. He also recorded three goals and nine points at the world championships in Finland last month, and was one of the top players at the Hlinka Gretzky, helping his home country earn silver.

Montreal Canadiens need a center

At 6-feet and 191 pounds, Shane Wright projects as steady second-line center with a responsible defensive game reminiscent of Patrice Bergeron. While that might be just what the center-starved Canadiens are looking for, new Executive Vice President Jeff Gorton could swing for the fences and put Slafkovsky on his first line with Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield.

Logan Cooley (+1600) is another option. He received a No. 1 vote from TSN’s panel of scouts, but the skilled, 5-foot-10 American is considered undersized for a center.

Shane Wright1st Overall Pick
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Logan Cooley1st Overall Pick
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Best Bet

So, who will the Canadiens take? It was reported they bought Wright a steak dinner at the NHL’s pre-draft combine. While that’s hardly a ‘tell’ for a franchise worth $1.6 billion, Slafkovsky had this to say about it: “I didn’t have the dinner, but I think the talk we had was maybe, like to me, tasted better.”

Central Scouting’s top-ranked international skater was a much better value a couple weeks ago with odds as long as +1100 at some sportsbooks. However, at +200, the Slovak is still our choice cut.

Juraj Slafkovsky1st Overall Pick
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Steve Starr

Steve is one of the many Americans who spends Sunday watching football on the couch and gorging on delicious eats. He describes himself as a good father, great dog owner, and mediocre gambler and husband.

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