While the rest of the hockey world debates the relative merits of top NHL Draft prospects Shane Wright, Juraj Slafkovsky and Logan Cooley, TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button has no doubt who’s No. 1.

“I never considered another player at No. 1,” Button said. “No other player showed me that he was better than Shane Wright."

The Kingston Frontenac centre tops Button’s final Craig’s List ahead of the July 7 draft in Montreal where the host Canadiens hold first pick.

Wright recorded 32 goals and 94 points in 63 games in 2021-22 and had three goals and 14 points in 11 playoff games. Granted exceptional status to enter the Ontario Hockey League as a 15-year-old in 2019, the Frontenacs captain faced questions about his game and intensity at the recent NHL combine.

“I was in Dallas, and we drafted Jarome Iginla 11th overall [in] 1995,” Button said. “And it’s eerily similar. We drafted Jarome and a lot of people said, ‘Oh geez, what do you see in Jarome Iginla?’ There wasn’t a lot of flash and dash to Jarome Iginla, [he] just was a strong player.

“It’s like I’m listening to the same stuff on Shane Wright. ‘Oh, well he doesn’t pull you out of your seat.’ I didn’t know that was a requirement to be a top-notch NHL prospect. I didn’t know you had to be wowed to recognize a talented NHL player. [His] IQ and compete [are] off the charts; [he] understands every single area of the game.”

Button has Slovakian left winger Slafkovsky No. 2 and American centre Logan Cooley No. 4. Sandwiched between Slafkovsky and Cooley is Finnish right winger Joakim Kemell at No. 3.

Slafkovsky jumps from No. 4 on lottery day to No. 2 in the final ranking. The 18-year-old had eye-opening performances at the Olympics and World Championships, including winning Olympic bronze and MVP honours with seven goals in Beijing.

“I really like Juraj Slafkovsky, and I think he’s a Pierre-Luc Dubois-type player,” said Button. “I think he’s got power and drive to his game.”

Kemell comes in at No. 3 after a season where he had 15 goals and 22 points in 39 games for JYP in the Liiga.

“When I’m looking at him and watching all the skills he has, I think he’s dynamic, I think he’s got a great, fast brain,” said Button. “I think he’s got fast hands. He can score in multiple ways.”

With Slafkovsky and defenceman Simon Nemec (No. 5) set to go in the top 10, it will be the first time since 2005 that two Slovak players will go in the first round of the draft. The last Slovak to be selected in the first round was forward Marko Dano, who was chosen 27th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2013.

Four Russians are ranked in the first round in Pavel Mintyukov (No. 11), Danila Yurov (No. 12), Ivan Miroshnichenko (No. 15) and Alexander Perevalov (No. 21). The “Russian Factor” will be on the minds of teams as they look to navigate the political process amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

NHL Central Scouting director Dan Marr confirmed at the draft combine that Miroshnichenko, who was undergoing treatment this season for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, has completed treatments and is cleared to return to the ice.

Two of the biggest risers in the Craig’s List final ranking are Austrian centre Marco Kasper, who went from No. 27 to No. 17, and USA Hockey National Team Development Program defenceman Lane Hutson, who leaps into the first round after going from No. 39 to No. 31.

Kasper had seven goals and 11 points in 46 games as a teenager playing in Sweden’s top league with Rogle and starred with Austria at the World Juniors and World Championships.

Hutson is one of the smaller players in the draft, coming in at 5-foot-8 and 158 pounds. The Chicago, Ill. product put up 10 goals and 63 points in 60 games last season and was named best defenceman at the 2022 U18s where the Americans earned silver.

“I watched Torey Krug at a similar stage and Torey Krug’s been a really good NHL player,” said Button. “I think Lane Hutson can be that as well.”

Hutson is one of seven USNTDP players ranked in the first round of Craig’s List alongside Cooley (No. 4), Cutter Gauthier (No. 7), Jimmy Snuggerud (No. 8), Frank Nazar (No. 25), Rutger McGroarty (No. 26) and Isaac Howard (No. 32).

The current record for number of USNTDP players to go in the first round is eight, which was set in 2019 when Jack Hughes, Alex Turcotte, Trevor Zegras, Matthew Boldy, Spencer Knight, Cam York, Cole Caufield and John Beecher were all selected.

“One of the best I’ve ever seen,” said Button on this year’s USNTDP class.

Craig's List (For stats and more go to TSN.ca):

1 Shane Wright Kingston (OHL)

2 Juraj Slafkovsky TPS (SM Liiga Jr.)

3 Joakim Kemell JYP (SM Liiga)

4 Logan Cooley USA U-18 (USHL)

5 Simon Nemec Nitra (SVK)

6 David Jiricek Plzen (CZE)

7 Cutter Gauthier USA U-18 (USHL)

8 Jimmy Snuggerud USA U-18 (USHL)

9 Jonathan Lekkerimaki Djurgardens (SWE J-20)

10 Kevin Korchinski Seattle (WHL)

11 Pavel Mintyukov Saginaw (OHL)

12 Danila Yurov Magnitogorsk (KHL)

13 Owen Pickering Swift Current

14 Jiří  Kulich Karlovy (CZE)

15 Ivan Miroshnichenko Omsk (VHL)

16 Jagger Firkus Moose Jaw (WHL)

17 Marco Kasper Rögle (SHL)

18 Liam Öhgren Djurgardens (SWE J-20)

19 Matt Savoie Winnipeg (WHL)

20 Reid Schaefer Seattle (WHL)

21 Alexander Perevalov Yaroslavl (MHL)

22 David Goyette Sudbury (OHL)

23 Luca Del Bel Belluz Mississauga (OHL)

24 Denton Mateychuk Moose Jaw (WHL)

25 Frank Nazar USA U-18 (USHL)

26 Rutger McGroarty USA U-18 (USHL)

27 Calle Odelius Djurgardens (SWE J-20)

28 Mattias Havelid Linkoping (SWE J-20)

29 Conor Geekie Winnipeg (WHL)

30 Noah Östlund Djurgarden (SWE J-20)

31 Lane Hutson USA U-18 (USHL)

32 Isaac Howard USA U-18 (USHL)

33 Tristan Luneau Gatineau (QMJHL)

34 Julian Lutz München (DEL)

35 Owen Beck Mississauga (OHL)

36 Christian Kyrou Erie (OHL)

37 Sam Rinzel Chaska High (USHS)

38 Noah Warren Gatineau (QMJHL)

39 Nathan Gaucher Quebec (QMJHL)

40 Seamus Casey USA U-18 (USHL)

41 Ty Nelson North Bay (OHL)

42 Brad Lambert JYP (SM Liiga)

43 Gleb Trikozov Omsk (MHL)

44 Elias Salomonsson Skellefteå (SWE J-20)

45 Ryan Chesley USA U-18 (USHL)

46 Tomas Hamara Tappara (SM Liiga Jr.)

47 Cameron Lund Green Bay (USHL)

48 Adam Sykora Nitra (SVK)

49 Logan Morrison Hamilton (OHL)

50 Rieger Lorenz Okotoks (AJHL)

51 Dylan James Sioux City (USHL)

52 Danny Zhilkin Guelph (OHL)

53 Brennan Ali Avon (USHS)

54 Matyas Sapovaliv Saginaw (OHL)

55 Lian Bichsel Leksands (SHL)

56 Maverick Lamoreux Drummondville (QMJHL)

57 Arseni Koromyslov St. Petersburg (MHL)

58 Jani Nyman Ilves (SM Liiga Jr.)

59 Filip Mesar Poprad (SVK)

60 Michael Fisher St. Mark's (USHS)

61 Hunter Haight Barrie (OHL)

62 Michael Buchinger Guelph (OHL)

63 Tyler Brennan Prince George (WHL)

64 Aleksanteri Kaskimaki HIFK (SM Liiga Jr.)

65 Ludwig Persson Frolunda (SWE J-20)

66 Jordan Gustafson Seattle (WHL)

67 Tucker Robertson Peterborough (OHL)

68 Artyom Duda Moskva (MHL)

69 Filip Bystedt Linköping (SWE J-20)

70 Angus Booth Shawinigan (QMJHL)

71 Daniil Ivanov Moskva (MHL)

72 Nick Moldenhauer Chicago (USHL)

73 Jack Hughes Northeastern (NCAA)

74 Bryce McConnell-Barker Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)

75 Vinzenz Rohrer Ottawa (OHL)

76 Reid Dyck Swift Current (WHL)

77 Kyle Jackson North Bay (OHL)

78 Lucas Edmonds Kingston (OHL)

79 Brandon Lisowsky Saskatoon (WHL)

80 Topi Ronni Tappara (SM Liiga Jr.)

81 Alexander Suzdalev HV 71 (SWE J-20)

82 Mats Lindgren Kamloops (WHL)

83 Adam Ingram Youngtown (USHL)

84 Simon Forsmark Orebro (SWE J-20)

85 Fraser Minten Kamloops (WHL)

86 Kirill Kudryavtsev S.S. Marie (OHL)

87 Matthew Poitras Guelph (OHL)

88 Topias Leinonen JYP (SM Liiga Jr.)

89 Quinn Finley Madison (USHL)

90 Matt Seminoff Kamloops (WHL)

91Kocha Delic Sudbury (OHL)

92 Jake Karabela Guelph (OHL)

93 Kasper Kulonummi Jokerit (SM Liiga Jr.)

94 Paul Ludwinski Kingston (OHL)

95 Cruz Lucius USA U-18 (USHL)

96 Josh Filmon Swift Current (WHL)