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2022 NHL Draft Preview

By Jordan Kuhns, 07/05/22, 2:00PM CDT


The 2022 NHL Draft will take place in Montréal. After years of waiting due to complications of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Draft will finally return to being in person. 36 players who have played for the Fighting Saints have been drafted by NHL teams. That number is expected to grow.

Here, you will find a detailed profile on each of the Fighting Saints players whose names could be called.

F MATTHEW SAVOIE | 5'9" | 180 lbs | Dubuque Fighting Saints (2020–21)

RANKS: #4 NHL Central Scouting (North American skaters), #5 Future Considerations, #9 EliteProspects, #6 Consolidated Ranking, #4 TSN's Bob McKenzie, #6 McKeen's Hockey, #17 TSN's Craig Button, #6 SportsNet, #5 ISS Hockey, #5 Recruit Scouting, #7 DobberProspects, #2 Draft Prospects Hockey, #6 Smaht Scouting, #4 The Puck Authority

Denied exceptional status in playing in the OHL was just a small obstacle to traverse for Savoie. Since that point, he has continued to be a top prospect on scouts' radars since. After posting six points in four games with the AJHL's Sherwood Park Crusaders, he joined the Dubuque Fighting Saints and lit up the league just days after turning 17 years of age.

Savoie scored 21 goals and 17 assists in 34 games, and earned USHL First Team All-Rookie honors as a result. His consistent, high-end offensive abilities immediately showed exactly what kind of player he could be at the next level. Kalle Larsson, the Fighting Saints' GM and President of Hockey Operations said that Savoie was "one of the most dynamic players to wear the Saints jersey." "Savvy" went on to score 90 points in 65 games with the Winnipeg Ice of the WHL this past season, and an additional 12 points in 10 playoff games.

Savoie will be a slam dunk first round pick. Perhaps not in the top three, but absolutely in the top ten. He will undoubtedly unseat Zemgus Girgensons as the highest selected Tier I Dubuque Fighting Saints alumnus in the NHL Draft.

F STEPHEN HALLIDAY | 6'4" | 210 lbs | Dubuque Fighting Saints (2019–22)

RANKS: #161 NHL Central Scouting (North American skaters), #123 McKeen's Hockey

Stephen Halliday needs no introduction to the hockey world. He has been on the radar for years after being selected first overall by the Central Illinois Flying Aces in Phase I of the 2018 USHL Draft. He became the leading scorer in the USHL's Tier I history, and the best Fighting Saint of all time with his consistent offensive production.

Halliday committed to a demanding fitness regimen in the offseason and was a completely different player during the 2021–22 season. He nearly doubled his point output, and tripled his goal output from the season prior. He had breakaway speed. He was good at both even strength and on the power play. Halliday captured the USHL Forward of the Week four times, and scored the game's opening goal in the 2022 BioSteel All-American Game.

Players in their last year of NHL Draft eligibility need to be a home run for teams to pick. It doesn't get much better than 95 points, a +29 rating, six game-winning goals, plus hockey IQ, and a dynamic passing ability. The Ohio State commit is a wildcard to get picked, to be sure, but he has enough to make a team happy in the long run.

F CONNOR KURTH | 5'11" | 207 lbs | Dubuque Fighting Saints (2020–22)

RANKS: #209 NHL Central Scouting (North American skaters), #81 McKeen's Hockey, #85 Smaht Scouting

The reigning Dave Tyler Junior Player of the Year Award winner did plenty to up his draft stock in his second year of eligibility. He scored 40 more points in 10 more games during his second season in Dubuque, and he became one of the most lethal goal scorers in the team's history.

The Minnesota commit scored 122 points in 114 career games in red and white. Kurth was equally effective at 5-on-5 and on the power play. His accolades saw him play in both the 2021 and 2022 BioSteel USA Hockey All-American Games. His other accolades include being a USHL Second Team All-Rookie, an All-USHL Second Team selection, and being the 2021 USHL Scholar Athlete as the top student in the league.

Kurth has bulk to work effectively in the corners, and an extraordinary ability to stickhandle. According to EliteProspects' scouting report, "he just swashbuckles his way through defenders, cutting through them like a hot knife through butter, with quick twitch hands, upper body deception, and a just plain gifted touch."

F KENNY CONNORS | 6'1" | 195 lbs | Dubuque Fighting Saints (2020–22)

RANKS: Unranked

Unranked perhaps, but not without interest, Kenny Connors is a name to watch at the 2022 NHL Draft. He has size, skill, and two-way play at the center position. What NHL team wouldn't want that? Talent evaluators say there's a ceiling with Connors that has not been tapped just yet.

He went from a fourth line player in his first year with the Fighting Saints to the reliable second line center in year two. The skill was there—not only a talented offensive scorer at Mount St. Charles Academy, but also a short stint with the NTDP as well. His ability to play in all situations got the attention of USA Hockey, as he played in the 2022 BioSteel All-American Game.

He was a C-ranked skater in his first go-around at the draft, and isn't ranked this time around with a much better performance. But who said the NHL Central Scouting's lists were the be-all-end-all? Several players in the Saints' history weren't ranked when they got picked. Kenny could be that next one.

F DAVIS BURNSIDE | 5'11" | 176 lbs | Dubuque Fighting Saints (2022)

RANKS: #199 NHL Central Scouting (North American skaters)

Burnside joined the Fighting Saints from the Des Moines Buccaneers. His junior career began by signing a tender agreement with the Tri-City Storm. That status comes with expectations. It took time for Burnside to get his bearings in the USHL, but when he did, he hit the scene in a big way.

Nearly a point-per-game player with the fading Des Moines Buccaneers gave Burnside the chance to be a deadline target. The Saints brought him in, and he just did his thing. Steady, two-way play in all situations. He's a good size, has good puck skills, and he has that coveted "right shot" status.

Where Burnside will shine is his ability to play defense. He can break up plays as F1 on the forecheck. He can double back in the defensive zone in low coverage as a center, or high coverage as a winger. Burnside is a utility knife forward.

G PAXTON GEISEL | 6'1" | 185 lbs | Dubuque Fighting Saints (2021–present)

RANKS: #19 NHL Central Scouting (North American goalies)

Paxton Geisel's hockey development began in the Dallas Stars Elite AAA program. His first season in junior hockey saw him cut his teeth in the Tier II NAHL, and he was named an All-Central Division Rookie as a result. 40 games in "The Naw" turned into 40 games in "The U-Show", and success followed. 25-9-3, USHL All-Rookie status, and a spot in the 2022 BioSteel All-American Game.

Geisel brings a pro stock style of play with a good, projectable size. The top part to Geisel's game is his calmness and demeanor. Nothing gets him down. He focuses on the next opportunity after a big save or a goal against. Momentum does not rattle him. The best example of his play came at the All-American Game, where he came into the game in relief and made several ten-bell stops in overtime and sealed the win for his team.

The Saskatchewanian will return to Dubuque for his second season in the USHL as the frontrunner to be the starter and an impact goalie in the league. He is committed to reigning NCAA national champion Denver in the über-competitive NCHC.

F NILS JUNTORP | 6'1" | 185 lbs | HV71 J20

RANKS: Unranked

Nils Juntorp was drafted by the Dubuque Fighting Saints 105th overall in Phase II of the 2022 USHL Draft. Nearly a point-per-game player with HV71 in Sweden's top junior level, and a highly plus player (+19), he has a chance to get his name called in July.

FC Hockey scout Fredrik Haak describes Juntorp as "an energetic winger that plays with high intensity both ways and is an offensive asset that could play a tough role in front of the net. He combines puck handling skills that give him an advantage when he challenges a tight defense."

D THEO WALLBERG | 6'4" | 187 lbs | Skellefteå AIK J20

RANKS: #184 Draft Prospects Hockey

Another future Fighting Saint, drafted in the second round in Phase II of the 2022 USHL Draft, Wallberg brings a great size for his age and puck moving ability to the table. He posted 23 points in 46 games in Sweden's top junior league with Skellefteå AIK J20.

Haak described Wallberg as "a physical defenseman that has great balance and mobility even with his size. He could also reach a high pace both with and without the puck on longer distances. To face Wallberg is not easy. He plays with a lot of confidence and courage and likes to be physical."

Wallberg is committed to Ohio State University.

D CAELUM DICK | 5'10" | 165 lbs | Sherwood Park Crusaders

RANKS: Unranked

One viewing of Caelum Dick's game shows you that the kid can skate. Fast. He can not only move pucks, he moves them himself through the neutral zone with ease. Plus, he's a right shot defenseman. Everyone loves right shot defensemen.

Dick was selected in the 6th round of Phase II of the 2022 USHL Draft by the Saints.