It took 177 picks before the Everett Silvertips had a player selected in the 2022 NHL draft. It took just four more before a second was taken.
Everett, which came into this year’s draft with several players who might be picked but none who were a lock, wound up with two draftees as forwards Ben Hemmerling and Ryan Hofer were taken within moments of each other in the sixth round during Friday’s second day. The draft, which was seven rounds, took place in Montreal over the course of two days.
Hemmerling was selected 177th overall by the Vegas Golden Knights. Hofer was taken 181st overall by the Washington Capitals.
Hemmerling, an 18-year-old winger who hails from Sherwood Park, Alberta, is coming off a promising 17-year-old season in which he tallied 10 goals and 37 assists in 57 games during the regular season, then added a goal and three assists in six playoff contests. Hemmerling is a slick playmaker who, at 5-foot-10 and 159 pounds, is considered on the small side. He was 86th among North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings for the 2022 draft.
“Hockey sense, decision making, beautiful passer, all those kinds of things,” Vegas senior vice president Darren Eliot said when describing Hemmerling during the team’s draft recap show. “The thing is he’s only 159 pounds at 5-10, and his skating is OK. That’s not usually a good combination. But he’s so smart that if they can get his footspeed better … you can’t make a guy smarter, you can make him faster.”
Hofer, a 20-year-old center from Winnipeg, Manitoba, had a breakout campaign as a 19-year-old. After being nowhere near the NHL radar the first two times he was eligible for the NHL draft, he exploded for 25 goals and 33 assists in 67 games last season, adding six goals and four assists in six playoff contests. Hofer is a responsible two-way center who at 6-foot-3 provides good length. He was not ranked by NHL Central Scouting.
“He’s 6-foot-3, 180 pounds, a hard-working honest player,” Washington assistant general manager Ross Mahoney said about Hofer when addressing the media following the draft. “He’s not fun to play against, he really competes. I’d classify him as a late bloomer. Our (western scouts) really kind of keyed in on him and really thought he improved a lot this year.”
Hemmerling and Hofer being selected extended Everett’s streak of consecutive NHL drafts with at least one player picked to five.
Hemmerling is all but certain to return to Everett for the 2022-23 season. Hofer, as an overager, is eligible to play professionally in Washington’s minor-league system, but would need to sign a professional contract with the Capitals for that to happen. Mahoney said, “He did produce this year quite a bit, but I think it wouldn’t hurt him to go back and play as a 20-year-old and have an even more productive year offensively.”
Hofer is one of five leading candidates to fill Everett’s three overage roster spots for next season, along with forwards Jackson Berezowski and Jacob Wright and defensemen Dylan Anderson and Aidan Sutter.