2022 NHL Draft: Best bet to be selected 1st overall
The 2022 NHL Draft is only a few days away, and there's still some uncertainty who will go first overall.
Will Shane Wright hang onto the No. 1 spot he's held for the better part of three years, or are the reports true that Juraj Slafkovsky could unseat him?
Let's dive into that as we look for the best path when betting who'll be selected atop the draft.
Realistically, the Canadiens are going to select either Wright or Slafkovsky, but choosing the former isn't the consensus pick it was when the year started.
Wright had a strong campaign in a general sense; he was very productive while captaining a team that finished fourth in the OHL in points percentage.
He didn't have a lights-out year for a prospect expected to go first overall, though. His production was much more Nico Hischier than Connor McDavid or Nathan MacKinnon - and Hischier wasn't exactly a unanimous pick either.
Wright's good but not great outputs - as well as questions about an inconsistent work ethic and lack of aggressiveness and assertiveness with the puck - have some people down on him.
Combine that disappointment with Slafkovsky's enticing combination of size, skill, and speed - and impressive body of work at the Olympics and World Hockey Championships - and it's not hard to see where the debate stems from.
When all is said and done, I still expect Wright to be the guy. While his year was disappointing for somebody once considered a potential generational prospect, it was still very good when isolated from expectations. Nobody in this class has as strong of a track record as Wright, and that matters.
So, too, does the fact Wright plays a premium position. If you project Slafkovsky as a solid first-line winger and Wright as an equally good first-line center, the latter wins by default. There's a reason seven of the league's 14 highest-paid players play center. It's the NHL's most valuable position and the toughest to properly address. The Canadiens would be set, with Wright joining Nick Suzuki to form a one-two punch long term.
I honestly believe at least some of Wright's fall from grace, so to speak, can be attributed to fatigue. He has been the top dog for years and had all eyes on him, nitpicking his game while Slafkovsky wasn't firmly on the radar to be selected at or near the top of the draft until the calendar flipped. He still has the shine of a new toy.
Although Slafkovsky narrowly edged out Wright for the top spot in Bob McKenzie's final rankings, which are based on the opinions of 10 NHL scouts, I expect the Canadiens to ignore the noise and select Wright.
Bet: Shane Wright (-200)
Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.