The Montreal Canadiens will make an addition to their forward line with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft.
Who that forward will be has yet to be determined. There is a decision to be made between Shane Wright and Juraj Slafkovsky.
Wright has been the top prospect on most NHL draft boards, but Slafkovsky has generated some steam among various reports in the buildup to Thursday's first round.
The rest of the teams beneath Montreal in the first-round order will base their decisions off which player lands at the top.
The New Jersey Devils will likely select the one of two top prospects that is selected by Montreal, but there is always a chance they throw a wrench into the projected plans of the franchises looking to land the premier players in the draft class.
2022 NHL 1st-Round Mock Draft
1. Montreal Canadiens - Shane Wright, C, Kingston (OHL)
2. New Jersey Devils - Juraj Slafkovsky, LW, TPS (Finland)
3. Arizona Coyotes - Logan Cooley, C, USA U-18
4. Seattle Kraken - Cutter Gauthier, C/W, USA U-18
5. Philadelphia Flyers - David Jiricek, D, Plzen (Czech Republic)
6. Columbus Blue Jackets - Simon Nemec, D, Nitra (Slovakia)
7. Ottawa Senators - Joakim Kemell, RW, Jyp (Finland)
8. Detroit Red Wings - Marco Kasper, C, Rogle (Sweden)
9. Buffalo Sabres - Jonathan Lekkerimaki, RW, Djurgarden (Sweden)
10. Anaheim Ducks - Matthew Savoie, C, Winnipeg (WHL)
11. San Jose Sharks - Kevin Korchinski, D, Seattle (WHL)
12. Columbus Bkue Jackets - Conor Geekie, C, Winnipeg (WHL)
13. New York Islanders - Pavel Mintyukov, D, Saginaw (OHL)
14. Winnipeg Jets - Noah Ostlund, C, Djurgarden (Sweden)
15. Vancouver Canucks - Nathan Gaucher, C, Quebec (QMJHL)
16. Buffalo Sabres - Danila Yurov, RW, Magnitogorsk (Russia)
17. Nashville Predators - Lian Bichsel, D, Leksand (Sweden)
18. Dallas Stars - Owen Pickering, D, Swift Current (WHL)
19. Minnesota Wild - Jiri Kulich, C, Karlovy Vary (Czech Republic)
20. Washington Capitals - Denton Mateychuk, D, Moose Jaw (WHL)
21. Pittsburgh Penguins - Isaac Howard, LW, US U-18
22. Anaheim Ducks - Jimmy Snuggerud, RW, US U-18
23. St. Louis Blues - Frank Nazar, C, US U-18
24. Minnesota Wild - Rutger McGroarty, RW, US U-18
25. Toronto Maple Leafs - Ryan Chesley, D, US U-18
26. Montreal Canadiens - Brad Lambert, C, Pelicans (Finland)
27. Arizona Coyotes - Reid Schaefer, LW, Seattle (WHL)
28. Buffalo Sabres - Liam Ohgren, LW, Djurgarden (Sweden)
29. Edmonton Oilers - Ivan Miroshnichenko, LW, Omsk Krylia (Russia)
30. Winnipeg Jets - Sam Rinzel, D, Chaska, Minnesota
31. Tampa Bay Lightning - Filip Bystedt, C, Linkoping (Sweden)
32. Arizona Coyotes - Tristan Luneau, D, Gatineau (QMJHL)
Montreal's decision has been down to Shane Wright and Juraj Slafkovsky for quite some time, but who the pick actually is has yet to be determined.
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman said the Canadiens appear to have everyone guessing about their decision-making process.
"The Canadiens are doing an excellent job shielding their thoughts on who will go first overall. I’ve heard Shane Wright. I’ve heard Juraj Slafkovsky. Someone even said, “Few know Logan Cooley better than Montreal management.” It’s their job to keep everyone guessing, and so far, the Canadiens are doing just that," Friedman wrote.
Wright, an 18-year-old Canadian, totaled 94 points for Kingston in the Ontario Hockey League this past season. He has been a member of Canada's youth hockey setup. He featured for the U-17 and U-18 squads. He had 14 points at the U-18 World Championships in 2021.
Slafkovsky played a larger role on the international stage with Slovakia at the 2022 Winter Olympics. He scored seven goals in Beijing to boost his profile among the draft class.
Slafkovsky, who is also 18, played in Finland with TPS and moved up through the club's youth teams before earning time with the first team this past season.
Montreal will add one of those players to bolster its young core around Cole Caufield. It could use Wright to pad its depth at center, or it could bring in more attacking firepower to the wing with Slafkovsky.
The Canadiens could use either player on the same line as Caufield and make that one of the most promising lines in the NHL.
New Jersey will be waiting to land whichever player falls to No. 2. The Devils have Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier as part of their young core from previous drafts.
Ideally, the Devils would want Montreal to take Wright so that they can land a natural winger in Slafkovsky who could partner with Hischier or Hughes, instead of adjusting a position of one of their top young players to make them fit on the same line.
Arizona, Seattle and Philadelphia round out the top five. All of those teams need depth across the board and could use the best player available strategy.
American center Logan Cooley, winger Cutter Gauthier and defenseman David Jiricek are among the prospects that should be selected after Wright and Slafkovsky.
The Coyotes, Kraken and Flyers would love one of the top two prospects to fall to them, but that seems unlikely given the perceived gap between Slafkovsky, Wright and the rest of the draft class.