At the NHL Entry Draft, team executives excitedly step up to the microphone to say the names of their selections in the Entry Draft, hopefully mostly correctly.
Some names, however, are more fun to say than others. That means it’s time for the most important draft ranking of them all: the top-20 best names of the draft.
This has become an annual tradition at PITB, with the Vancouver Canucks even selecting some of the top names on previous lists, like Jack Rathbone, Jett Woo, and Nils Höglander. Clearly, someone in the Canucks organization is cribbing my work, which is pretty understandable: it's so much more fun to cheer for a player with a fun name.
Some of the best names available in last year’s draft didn’t get picked, so they’re still available, like Bogdans Hodass, Lorenzo Canonica, and Jimi Suomi, aka. Jimmy Finland. But the draft is all about new blood, so we’re focusing on new names.
And there are some beauties in this year’s draft class. So, let’s start with the honourable mentions, then jump right in to the top-20 names in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.
Honourable Mentions: Grayson Badger, Zach Bookman, Boston Buckberger, Alex Bump, Aidan Castle, Blake Dangos, Domenic DiVincentiis, Conor Geekie, Hunter Haight, Gibson Homer, Taos Jordan, Karlis Mezsargs, Fraser Minten, Lukas Swedin, Livio Curdin Truog, Kai Uchacz, Zaccharya Wisdom
20 | Jack Hughes
That’s right, there’s another Jack Hughes. There are multiple Jack Hugheses. Or Jacks Hughes. Either one.
This Jack Hughes is not the brother to Quinn Hughes and Luke Hughes, but he’s also an American centre out of the U.S. National Team Development Program and a legitimate prospect on his own merit. This Hughes isn’t a candidate to go first overall but he’s still expected to be a second-round pick.
19 | Jimmy Snuggerud
Dave Snuggerud has one of the best names in NHL history, so how could I deny his son a spot in the top 20 names of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft?
The elder Snuggerud was picked first overall in the 1987 supplemental draft after an outstanding college career with the University of Minnesota. After a few years in the NHL, however, he retired to go back to finish his degree and became a sixth-grade teacher.
The younger Snuggerud has the potential to be even better than his father, who was primarily a defensive forward and penalty killer in the NHL. Snuggerud put up 63 points in 59 games in the U.S. National Team Development Program and is expected to be a first-round pick.
Also, it’s really fun to say Snuggerud. Snuggerud, Snuggerud, Snuggerud!
18 | Chase Coward
You would think that if you chase a coward, he’d be easy to catch, but some cowards are really, really fast.
Okay, it might be a tough sell to get fans to buy a jersey with “Coward” on the back but here’s how you do it: convince people that only those comfortable with themselves and their own lack of cowardice would be willing to buy one. Thus, only the truly brave would buy and wear a “Coward” jersey.
Coward swapped starts with Connor Ungar for the Red Deer Rebels in the WHL this past season, then took the bulk of the starts in the playoffs, where he posted a .925 save percentage. The 19-year-old is unlikely to get drafted this year but 6’2” netminder is worth keeping an eye on.
17 | Brady Stonehouse
She may be a brick house, but he’s a Stonehouse.
The only thing the 5’9” Stonehouse is stacked with is grit and determination. The winger is one of the youngest players in the draft class and plays a pesky, physical game despite his smaller size.
Stonehouse has flashes of skill and playmaking that combined with being a pest might make him a late-round draft pick.
16 | Topi Rönni
“Topi Rönni, the Hausjärvi treat” *ding ding*
Topi Rönni might sound like a delicious new pasta dish but he’s better known for dishing pucks. He’s a solid two-way centre with a mature defensive game to go with his deceptive playmaking and excellent hands.
Rönni is likely to get picked in the middle rounds of the draft and give an NHL team an excellent side dish for their prospect pool.
15 | Adrian Rebelo
Rebelo is an elite last name that elevates the comparatively mundane first name of Adrian.
Rebelo is a Portuguese last name that literally translates as “rebel,” which would also be a pretty sick last name, but it just sounds so much more dramatic and cool with that extra “o” on the end of it.
It also definitely sounds like a name that George Lucas would have used in his Star Wars sequels if he didn’t sell the franchise to Disney. Adrian Rebelo is definitely an X-Wing pilot in one of his screenplay drafts for Episode XI.
14 | Calle Odelius
My word, does this name ever roll off the tongue nicely. For some reason, I want to say “Calle Odelius” with an Irish accident: “Top of the mornin’, Calle Odelius!”
Odelius is actually Swedish and one of the top defencemen prospects in the draft, ranked as high as 15th overall by Elite Prospects, and is expected to go late in the first round. He’s a fantastic skater, who is dynamite at transitioning the puck up ice with either his feet or with his passing.
Ah, one day I’ll get your lucky charms, Calle Odellius.
13 | Croix Kochendorfer
Sorry, maybe you didn’t catch that name: Croix. Kochendorfer.
If Kochendorfer ever gets to the NHL, he better get a La Croix sponsorship. He was literally born for it.
Croix is also a pretty decent goaltender, though he might not get drafted. The 6’4” Kochendorfer was ranked 27th among North American goaltenders in Central Scouting’s midterm rankings but didn’t make the cut in their final rankings.
12 | Cruz Lucius
Yes, he’s the brother of one of our best names from last year’s draft, Chaz Lucius. This family knows how to name kids.
Cruz Lucius has some additional internal rhyming going on, arguably elevating his name above that of his brother. It’s just a delicious name to say and you can anticipate that play-by-play announcers will take every opportunity to say his full name whenever possible.
It’s good that he has the better name, because Cruz won’t be picked higher than his brother, who went 18th overall in the 2021 draft. The crafty playmaker is a lot more likely to get picked in the third round, though a strong World Under-18 tournament might have elevated him in the estimation of some teams.
11 | Jake Furlong
People named Jacob often go by Jake for short, but this prospect goes by Jake Furlong.
A furlong isn’t used as a unit of measurement much these days, probably because it is exceptionally confusing. It’s equal to 220 yards or one-eighth of a mile, because imperial units are a dog’s breakfast.
Jake Furlong can shoot the puck about a furlong. He’s a well-rounded defenceman with decent mobility and a good battle level. With 42 points in 67 QMJHL games, he was decently productive too, and could find himself drafted in the later rounds.
10 | Michael Mastrodomenico
That is an absolute beast of a last name that likely gives equipment managers fits trying to fit it in a namebar. That’s a name that goes fully from shoulder-to-shoulder, if not wrapping all the way around the shoulders.
Mastrodomenico sounds like someone who should be conducting an orchestra in a particularly dramatic manner. He’s the master of his domain and his domain is wringing the best possible performance out of a gaggle of classical musicians.
Mastrodomenico is definitely dramatic on the ice. He’s a physical defenceman, who is excellent on the breakout and loves to jump up in the attack. The issue for Mastrodomenico is his skating, with major mechanical flaws that limit his four-way mobility. It might need to be completely rebuilt from the ice up for him to reach the NHL.
Still, someone might take a chance on Mastrodomenico in the later rounds. Frankly, it would be a shame if the NHL was deprived of such a magnificent name.
9 | Cédricson Okitundu
I love everything about this name. Okitundu is almost percussive with the way it dances off the tongue and Cédricson is such a satisfying first name with its internal sibilance.
Okitundu isn’t likely to get drafted this year after just 5 points in 43 games, but there are some elements to the defenceman’s game that suggest there’s more to Okitundu than initially meets the eye. He’s got some size, grit, and defence, but there’s also some skill and skating under the surface that could come out in the coming years.
8 | Dylan Godbout
Dylan isn’t the most famous Godbout. Jacob had a pretty good God-bout in Genesis 32, Diomedes got into a couple of scraps with Aphrodite and Ares, Heracles tangled with all sorts of gods, and the entire plot of the God of War series of games is a sequence of God-bouts.
Godbout could be a late-round pick after a strong season in Minnesota high school hockey, but it’s more likely that he ends up a coveted college free agent after a couple of years at the University of Wisconsin. His two-way, power-forward game could make him a standout in the NCAA.
7 | Zam Plante
I like to think of Zam Plante as the factory kind of plant. Like, “I’m off to my shift at the zam plant. If I don’t meet my zam quota this month, I could lose my zam job!”
Zam is one of the most unlikely first names I have ever heard, because that’s his entire first name. It’s not short for “Zamir” which is a comparatively more common name. It might even come from Zoroastrianism, where “Zam” is the concept of “earth” as a primordial, spiritual element.
Or maybe his parents just thought “Zam” sounded cool.
They’re right. It does sound cool.
Plante is also a pretty good prospect, one of the best out of high school hockey in this draft class. He dominated the Minnesota high school circuit, putting up 24 goals and 64 points in just 22 games and also scored 21 points in 31 USHL games. He’ll likely get picked in the middle rounds of the draft.
As one of the youngest players in the draft — he doesn’t turn 18 until August 24 — there’s some serious runway for Plante to develop.
6 | Luca Del Bel Belluz
Both rhyming and alliteration — this guy’s name is poetry. A strong two-way centre, who played a matchup role and still put up 30 goals and 76 points in 68 OHL games, Luca Del Bell Belluz is a treat to watch and a treat to say.
“His hockey sense is elite,” said one NHL scout according to The Hockey News.
So is his name. I’m looking forward to hearing it sometime in the second round or possibly even late in the first round.
5 | Dennis Good Bogg
Dennis Good Bogg was hoping to get drafted in the first round, but unfortunately, he’s likely to fall in favour of Dennis Better Bogg. Unfortunately, Dennis Best Bogg dropped out of hockey to become an accountant.
There are some nice bogs out there but only one Good Bogg eligible for the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. He featured on Sweden’s gold-medal team at the World Under-18s and won bronze at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, primarily playing a stay-at-home role on the defence.
Good Bogg doesn’t put up a lot of points — just 6 points in 32 J20 Nationell games — but the 6’2” defenceman has good defensive awareness and makes things tough for opposing forwards with his aggressive approach. That and a good (bogg) name could get him picked in a later round.
4 | Rutger McGroarty
There are no puns here — just a damn good name. It feels earthy and hearty, like a good beef stew with mushrooms.
The combination of Ts and Gs makes his first and last name fit together perfectly. This is such a good name. Congratulations to his parents, ten-out-of-ten, five stars, two thumbs up, no complaints.
To top it off, McGroarty is a top prospect with a chance of getting picked in the first round. He was the captain of the U.S. National Team Development Program and he racked up 35 goals and 69 points in 54 games. He’s not the fastest player, but he’s intelligent and has a bevy of skills to make up for his lack of speed.
3 | Jagger Firkus
Firkus is already an elite last name that would almost certainly get a prospect on this list. Add in an elite first name like Jagger and it almost feels like cheating. To top it off, Firkus has the slick hands and crafty skill to inspire endless “moves like Jagger” puns from fans and media.
Firkus might lack size — he’s just 5’10” and 154 lbs — but he’s incredibly dynamic, with one of the best shots in the draft, which will only get better as he adds strength. Don’t be surprised if a team that believes in his first-line upside takes a chance on Firkus in the first round.
2 | Thor Byfuglien
Second cousin to Canucks tormentor Dustin Byfuglien, Thor Byfuglien has a much better first name. What it loses in rhyming, it gains in literally being Thor.
Unfortunately, Thor Byfuglien lacks the size of his cousin or the God of Thunder’s towering physique, as he’s 5’9” compared to Chris Hemsworth at 6’3”. He’s still an intriguing prospect as one of the best defencemen in the Minnesota high school circuit last season.
Byfuglien is a mature puck-moving defenceman who will have time to develop in the NCAA with St. Cloud State University. We’ll see if a team takes a flyer on the undersized blueliner in the 7th round.
1 | Gleb Trikozov
Not only is his first name Gleb — Gleb! — his last name literally has the word “trick” in it. It’s like an uncreative novel writer needed to come up with a name for a tricky Russian character in his book — “Trikayev, Trikhensky, Trikanin…I’ve got it! Trikozov!”
Honestly, Trikozov is a player I would love to see the Canucks take a chance on if he falls in the draft, as many Russians might. He would be a great target if the Canucks can pick up a second-round pick in a trade or pray he falls to the third round, as he’s a dynamic offensive talent. Will Scouching, with his analytics-based approach, even has Trikozov in his top-10 at 7th overall, saying he was “basically a video game player” when he was in the MHL.
The Canucks already have a good relationship with his agent, Dan Milstein — also the agent for Danila Klimovich and Andrei Kuzmenko — so maybe there’s a fit there.
Also, and I don’t think I can emphasize this enough, his name is Gleb Trikozov. GLEB! TRIKOZOV!
I don't know about you, but I’m voting for Gleb! (please clap)