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Warriors Firkus, Mateychuk likely first-round NHL picks after final rankings released

Firkus ranked 12th among North American skaters, Mateychuk 14th for 2022 NHL Draft
Warrrios Mateychuk Firkus
Moose Jaw Warriors Denton Mateychuk and Jagger Firkus are both ranked in the top 15 for the upcoming NHL Entry Draft.

If everything goes according to plan, the Moose Jaw Warriors will have a pair of first-round National Hockey League draft picks in their line-up during the 2022-23 WHL campaign.

Warriors forward Jagger Firkus and defenceman Denton Mateychuk were both among the top 20 North American skaters when the NHL Central Scouting Bureau released their final rankings for the 2022 NHL Draft this July.

The rankings marked a huge jump up the list for Firkus, as the Irma, Alta. product moved up 22 spots from his mid-season position of 33rd overall. Firkus’ rise was only exceeded by that of OHL Sudbury centre David Goyette, who moved from 35th to 13th to sit just behind Firkus in the standings.

The 5-foot-10, 153-pound right wing had 36 goals and 80 points in 66 games for Moose Jaw to finish 14th in Western Hockey League scoring and has since added three goals and six points in five playoff games.

Based on the last five years of NHL Drafts, Firkus is all but certain to be selected in the top 20 when the first round takes place on Thursday, July 7.

The 12th-ranked North American hasn’t gone lower than 18th over that span, when Chaz Lucius was picked at that number in 2021. In fact, Dylan Holloway (Edmonton, 2020), Cam York (Philadelphia, 2019), Joel Farabee (Philadelphia, 2018) and Callan Foote (Tampa Bay, 2017) were all drafted 14th overall from the 12th ranking.

Mateychuk saw his position drop five spots after being ranked ninth overall in the midterms. 

The 5-foot-11, 188-pound Winnipeg native spent the whole season among the top-scoring defencemen in the WHL, eventually finishing fifth in the regular season with 13 goals and 64 points in 65 games. Mateychuk hasn’t let up at all in the playoffs, either, with a goal and eight points in five games to lead Moose Jaw in scoring after the opening round.

Mateychuk can expect to go as high as 17th overall from the 14th ranking, as Ty Smith did with New Jersey in 2018, but will likely find himself in the mid-to-late 20s -- like former Warriors prospect Corson Ceulemans when he was selected 25th overall last season, and Brandon standout Ridly Greig in his 28th overall pick by Ottawa in 2020.

Regardless of how things play out, the Warriors will have an embarrassment of NHL riches on their roster once things play out in early July, with no less than seven players selected -- including captain Daemon Hunt (2020, Minnesota), Ryder Korczak (2021, New York Rangers), Cole Jordan (2021, Calgary), Martin Rysavy (2021, Columbus), Max Wanner (2021 Edmonton) along with Firkus and Mateychuk.

The Warriors are currently preparing for the WHL Eastern Conference semifinal, with Games 1 and 2 in Winnipeg this Friday, May 6 and Saturday, May 7 before reverting to Moose Jaw for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday, May 10 and Wednesday, May 11.

Tickets are now on sale for the games next week, and be sure to visit www.mjwarriors.ca to pick them up.