July 11 — From Mr. Irrelevant to Making Impacts

Last Night’s News 📰

DRAFT DODGER?: If you somehow missed the action from this weekend’s 2022 NHL Draft, we have you covered, from European-born players taking over the first round (a record 17 on opening night)—including a pair of Slovakian-born skaters selected No. 1 and 2—to Martin St. Louis’ speech about taking “47 years to reach the draft.” 

KEEPING KEMPE: Adrian Kempe re-signed with the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday, inking a four-year, $22 million extension. The 25-year-old forward was set to become a restricted free agent this week and had a career year in 2021-22, scoring 54 points, including a team-high 35 goals, in 78 games.

PRED 4 LIFE: Having already spent the first 10 seasons of his NHL career in Nashville, Filip Forsberg has agreed to stick around a little longer. The Predators all-time leading goal scorer signed an eight-year, $68 million contract that will keep Forsberg in Tennessee through to age 35.

KUNIN IN CALI: Speaking of the Predators, Nashville traded Luke Kunin to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for John Leonard and a third-round selection in the 2023 Draft. It was the first trade in the Mike Grier era for the Sharks, who will need to re-sign Kunin before he becomes a restricted free agent. 

COLORADO COMPLETES CREASE CURIOSITY: On Sunday, the Colorado Avalance re-signed their free-agent goaltender. Nope, not that one. Three days after being acquired for draft picks from the New York Rangers, Alexandar Georgiev signed a three-year deal with the Avs. Colorado general manager Joe Sakic expects Georgiev and Pavel Francouz to form a tandem this upcoming season.

By the Numbers: 2022 NHL Draft

The 60th iteration of the NHL Draft has now come and gone, with the two-day event taking place last Thursday and Friday at Bell Centre in Montreal. In total, 225 players were drafted, from No. 1 overall pick Juraj Slafkovský to “Mr. Irrelevant” Ivan Zhigalov. Here are some notable numbers from the 2022 NHL Draft.

The 2022 NHL Draft took place last Thursday and Friday in Montreal (Chris Creamer’s SportsLogos.Net)

11 – Draft picks the Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks, Montreal Canadiens, and Seattle Kraken each made, the most of any teams. The Sabres and Blackhawks had three first-round picks, the Canadiens had two first-round selections, and the Kraken had four second-round options. On the other end of the spectrum, the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche made just two picks, one in the sixth and seventh rounds.

23 – Trades made during the 2022 Draft, highlighted by the Blackhawks trading Alex DeBrincat to the Ottawa Senators and Kirby Dach to the Canadiens. A dozen trades strictly involved draft picks as teams moved up and down for specific players.

73 – Players drafted who are defensemen. Rounding out the positions were 62 centers, 33 left wings, 37 right wings, and 20 goaltenders selected. The first round featured 11 centers, nine defensemen, six right wings, and six left wings, led by Slafkovský.

89 – Canadian names called this year, the most of any nationality, followed by 48 Americans, 27 Swedes, 23 Russians, and 14 Finns hitting double-digits. There were also nine Czechians, six Slovaks (including the first two overall picks), three Latvians, two Austrians, two Germans, one Swiss (18th overall pick Lian Bischel), and one Belarusian (225th and final, Zhigalov).

6-foot-8 – Height of defenseman Jack Sparkes, whom the Los Angeles Kings selected in the sixth round (180th overall). While Sparkes was the tallest player drafted, 216th overall pick Miguël Tourigny earns the distinction of shortest listed height at 5-foot-8.

Mr. Irrelevant

A 2022 NHL Entry Draft that began with the Montreal Canadiens’ selection of Juraj Slafkovský on Thursday ended with the Colorado Avalanche taking Belarusian goaltender Ivan Zhigalov on Friday with the 225th and final pick. On the one hand, no one wants to be the last pick, but at least Zhigalov can say he’s an NHL draftee. Plus, 2022’s Mr. Irrelevant now belongs to an exclusive club—one that has some interesting stories behind it.

While far from a sure thing when it comes to unearthing draft successes, the pick does offer some hope that a hockey career could still await. Here are some of the most notable figures who once held the ‘Mr. Irrelevant’ distinction:

Patric Hörnqvist (230th Overall, 2005 Draft)

Congratulations to Patric Hörnqvist, the best final pick in NHL draft history. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

Easily the most accomplished last draft selection, Patric Hörnqvist has surpassed the 500-point mark over a career that has now spanned 14 seasons and 879 games (and counting). Best known for causing chaos in front of the net, the current Florida Panther owns two Cup rings with the Pittsburgh Penguins thanks to his work alongside the No. 1 pick from that same 2005 Draft, Sidney Crosby.

Jacob Middleton (210th Overall, 2014 Draft)

Jacob Middleton went from last draft pick to trade deadline commodity (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

A few short months ago, Jacob Middleton was a buzz-worthy name on trade bait lists before being shipped by the San Jose Sharks off to Minnesota for Kaapo Kahkonen and a fifth-round pick. That buzz around the defenseman wasn’t nearly as widely discussed during his 2014 draft year when the Los Angeles Kings took him with the final selection. But after making an impression while developing in the AHL with the San Jose Barracuda, Middleton has earned full-time duty in the NHL.

Paul Maurice (252nd Overall, 1985 Draft)

New Florida Panthers head coach and one-time “Mr. Irrelevant” Paul Maurice (THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods)

Yes, I mean Paul Maurice. A brilliant hockey mind who now ranks fourth all-time in games coached, Maurice couldn’t parlay that knowledge of the game into an NHL playing career after getting picked by the Philadelphia Flyers. The new Florida Panthers head coach saw a limited future on the ice after spending four years with the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires, so he accepted a role with the club behind the bench as an assistant the following season. The rest, as they say, is history.

Player Spotlight – John Klingberg

It is going to be a busy week in the NHL. Tomorrow all qualifying offers are due, and on Wednesday, free agency begins—and one of the biggest names projected to hit the open market is John Klingberg. The Swedish blueliner spent the past eight seasons with the Dallas Stars while putting up 374 points. Fans know plenty about what he has brought to the ice, but what about his life outside of hockey? Let’s check in.

The Mighty Ducks or Slapshot:

The Mighty Ducks

Favorite NHL Jersey Growing Up:

Detroit Red Wings

Bucket List Destination:


Guilty Pleasure TV Show:

Desperate Housewives

Favorite Sports Team Outside of Hockey:

Real Madrid CF

What Was Your First Car?: