Vegas’ first selection in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft is a two-way center.
The Vegas Golden Knights made their first selection of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, taking center Matyas Sapovaliv at No. 48 in the second round.
The 6-foot-3, 183-pound forward is coming off an 18-goal, 52-point campaign in his first season with the Saginaw Spirit of the OHL.
Sapovaliv is an excellent passer who plays with a pass-first mentality. He uses his size well to protect the puck, often drawing defenders to him to open up the ice for his teammates. The main drawback on his game is his below-average skating.
Sapovaliv is a skilled player who has surprisingly soft hands for a player of his size, and he’s creative and good under pressure.
But as Scott Wheeler of The Athletic points out, his tendency to hold on to the puck isn’t always effective.
“He can play on the perimeter a little too much, though, always trying to slow the game down and wait for a seam to open up for his standout passing game, and he’s not a dynamic finisher or skater, which makes him less productive than he is attention-grabbing.”
Sapovaliv is a responsible defensive forward and is a relatively safe pick with middle-six upside. He found success in his first year on North American ice, playing in all situations. However, there is room for growth.
His favorite player is Elias Pettersson. Sapovaliv is a native of Kladno, the same hometown as Jaromir Jagr and Jakub Voracek.