The Alberta Junior Hockey League has produced its fair share of high NHL draft picks.
Dylan Holloway, Jacob Bernard-Docker, and Joe Colborne have all become first-round selections after dominating the AJHL. The AJHL’s most famous active alumnus is undoubtedly Cale Makar, the reigning Norris and Conn Smythe winner.
This year, Okotoks Oilers forward Rieger Lorenz is the AJHL’s top draft-eligible prospect. While he’s unlikely to go in the first round, many onlookers expect him to be taken around the 50-60 range — right where the Calgary Flames are set to make their first pick.
Lorenz is a big left-handed winger from Calgary who played his draft season right in the Flames’ backyard. Could the Flames take a chance on him at No. 59? Let’s take a closer look.

Scouting report

While he’s listed as a centre by EliteProspects.com, Lorenz spent basically the entire 2021–22 season playing on the left side of the Oilers’ top line. He’s committed to begin attending the University of Denver in the 2022–23 school year.
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The 6’2″, 194-pound Calgarian was the most productive first-year draft-eligible AJHL player by a significant margin last season, dominating opposing goaltenders with his excellent shot. Lorenz can (and does) fire the puck with authority, picking corners with ease and scoring from considerable distance on a regular basis.
Lorenz is a strong straight-line skater with decent agility. He has good vision and plays some of his best hockey on the rush. At times, he can be a little disengaged during in-zone play at both ends of the ice. He also has a tendency to try and do things himself on zone entries, attempting to carry the puck through multiple defenders on his way toward the net. Sometimes, it works out in spectacular fashion; more often, Lorenz has the puck knocked off his stick.
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While he’s not expressly gritty, Lorenz is more than capable of holding his own in the corners. He puts his big frame to good use when he has the puck, and he puts every ounce of his strength behind his shot.
Daily Faceoff‘s Chris Peters ranked Lorenz at No. 42 on his final list, singling out his scoring ability while cautioning that he might need a few years to develop in the NCAA:
Checking in at 6-foot-2, 194 pounds at the recent NHL Scouting Combine, Lorenz has grown a bit this season and so did his game. He has higher-end hands and a scoring ability that allowed him to lead the entire AJHL with 85 points. There are valid concerns about his skating as he can be a step behind at times, but I think the skill set is there to be an adequate scoring depth option. He is headed to the University of Denver, where he’ll need to spend two to three years rounding out his game.
Here’s what Corey Pronman of The Athletic had to say about Lorenz (No. 57) in his final 2022 NHL Draft rankings (paywall):
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Lorenz is a big winger with a high skill level. He has loose, quick hands that can manipilate the puck easily. Those hands are evident in how he stickhandles and his release, as he is a threat to score from range with his wrist shot. Lorenz isn’t the most cerebreal player though and can lean on his shot too much. He skates fine and shows good flashes of quickness but doesn’t often pull away from checks. He projects as a bottom-six winger.
Lorenz isn’t going to jump into the NHL right away — few second-round picks do — but he could develop into a really intriguing third-line forward with a few years of seasoning in college.

The numbers

During the 2021–22 AJHL regular season, Lorenz scored 38 goals and 85 points in 60 games. He added two goals and 11 points in 14 games as the Oilers made it to the third round of the playoffs, where they were swept by the powerhouse Brooks Bandits.
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Lorenz finished fifth in AJHL scoring in 2021–22. The four players ahead of him all skated for Brooks. Three were born in 2001, while defenceman Zach Bookman (also an intriguing 2022 draft prospect) was born in March 2002.
Then there’s Lorenz, who was born in March 2004 and played for an Oilers team that finished just a shade over .500 on the season. He was the only first-year draft-eligible AJHL player to surpass 60 points in 2021–22. Lorenz ended up with 85, while Oilers teammate Bowden Singleton finished second with 59.
One tiny concern: Lorenz disappeared a little bit during the 2022 playoffs. Both his goals came in the Oilers’ first-round sweep of the Blackfalds Bulldogs, and he only registered five points (all assists) in Okotoks’ final 10 playoff games.
After wrapping up with the Oilers, Lorenz travelled to Germany to represent Canada at the 2022 IIHF U18 World Championship. He picked up four assists in four games as Canada fell to Finland in the tournament quarterfinals.
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Availability and fit

The Flames need help on defence. Their prospect depth at that position is really lacking and they should be able to address it with their second-round pick.
That being said … Lorenz could very well fall to them at No. 59. He’s a player who many onlookers have ranked closer to the middle of the second round:
Daily Faceoff (Chris Peters): 42nd
TSN (Bob McKenzie): 52nd
TSN (Craig Button): 50th
The Athletic (Corey Pronman): 57th
McKeen’s Hockey: 77th
Dobber Prospects: 67th
Smaht Scouting: 51st
EliteProspects.com: 109th
Draft Prospects Hockey: 44th
FCHockey: 51st
Central Scouting: 17th (North American skaters)
Lorenz isn’t a perfect player, but he’s got a ton of skill and should be able to improve in areas where he’s currently a little behind (off-puck play and decision-making, to name a couple). He has all the raw potential to become a very useful NHL player.
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The Flames are undoubtedly very familiar with Lorenz. Assistant general manager Craig Conroy attended numerous Oilers games during the 2021–22 season. Lorenz offers a lot of what they always seem to look for in the second round of the draft — size, skill, and scoring — and it would be neat to see them reach right into their backyard for their first 2022 pick.

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