NHL 22 Player Ratings: Best Young Grinders

Looking for that grinder of the future? This list has you covered.


Every team needs someone to get in and do the “dirty work,” making life miserable for opposing players. In NHL 22, grinders have you covered.

As you build your franchise for long-term success, it would be a good idea to acquire one of these up-and-coming grinder forwards.


Choosing NHL 22’s best young grinders

This page will look at the best up-and-coming grinders in NHL 22. Each player was chosen based on their potential and age.

Initially, this list aimed to look at the best grinders 21 years old and younger. However, this only netted one player, Grieg, so the parameters were expanded. Instead, this list looks at grinders 23 years old and younger with Ridly Grieg, Connor Bunnaman, and Carsen Twarynski all making an appearance.

At the bottom of the page, you will find a list of the best young grinders in NHL 22.


Ridly Greig 63 OVR (Potential: Top 9 F High)

Team: Ottawa Senators
Age: 19
Position: Left Wing
Type: Grinder
Shoots: Left
Contract: $0.895M, 3 Years Left, Two-Way
Best Attributes: 85 Durability, 83 Slap Shot Power, 83 Wrist Shot Power

The grinder under 23 years of age with the highest potential, 2020 first-rounder Ridly Greig could become a great wing for your franchise if given the time.

His durability of 85 should keep him relatively uninjured, and he has good shot power with 83 in both. He has decent agility at 82 and speed and acceleration at 81.


As a grinder, his physical skills need most improvement, as well as his endurance, which is rated just 70. His aggressiveness is 69 and his body checking is 68, while his strength is only a 71. The same holds true for defence as his stick checking is 78, awareness 72, and shot blocking a paltry 64. His poise is a hair better at 65.

With the Brandon Wheat Knights in 2020-21, Greig had 22 assists and ten goals in 21 games, adding 39 penalty minutes. With the Belleville Senators in seven games, he had two assists and one goal.

Givani Smith 77 OVR (Potential: Top 9 F Med)

Team: Detroit Red Wings
Age: 23
Position: Left Wing
Type: Grinder
Shoots: Left
Contract: $0.750M, 2 Years Left, One-Way
Best Attributes: 87 Stick Checking, 87 Balance, 87 Slap Shot Power

After two seasons of playing for both the Red Wings and the Grand Rapids Griffins, Smith should be able to fulfill his potential with the comfort of a one-way contract.

Smith has great physical skills to match his player type of grinder. Aggressiveness, body checking, and strength are all rated 87, with durability 85. If you want him in some fights, his fighting skill is 82 with a balance of 87. He has good speed with 84 in all three categories.

His shot blocking is only a 75, and his shot accuracies are slightly better with slap shot at 78 and wrist shot at 79. If you want him to handle the puck, those skills also need improving with 80 in hand-eye, 79 in passing and puck control, and 78 in deking.

Over 16 games with Detroit in the 2020-21 season, Smith had three assists and one goal with 21 penalty minutes. His one goal was a game-winner, so he made it count. With Grand Rapids, he had nine goals and six assists in 25 games, but he accumulated 54 penalty minutes.

Nicholas Caamano 76 OVR (Potential: Top 9 F Med)

Team: Dallas Stars
Age: 23
Position: Left Wing
Type: Grinder
Shoots: Left
Contract: $0.750M, 1 Year Left, Two-Way
Best Attributes: 90 Aggressiveness, 88 Body Checking, 88 Strength

Nicholas Caamano has the makings of a great grinder, particularly if his training is honed.

His physical skills are already well-suited for a grinder. He has 90 in aggressiveness, 88 in body checking and strength, and 80 in durability and fighting skill, with 83 in endurance. He also has great power in his shot, 87 in both, and good accuracies with 80 for both.

His biggest areas of improvement are defence and senses. His discipline and poise are both only 70, and his offensive and defensive awareness are 80 and 81. His stick checking is good at 85, but his shot blocking is only 75.

Across 24 games with Dallas in the 2020-21 season, Caamano had one assist and 17 penalty minutes. During the 2019-20 season with Dallas, he had one goal and one assist in 12 games. In 36 games that season with the Texas Stars, Caamano had 14 assists and nine goals, amassing 51 penalty minutes.

Connor Bunnaman 76 OVR (Potential: Top 9 F Med)

Team: Philadelphia Flyers
Age: 23
Position: Center
Type: Grinder
Shoots: Left
Contract: $0.750M, 1 Year Left, Two-Way ($0.750M Ext. Sal)
Best Attributes: 88 Aggressiveness, 88 Body Checking, 88 Strength

One of two centers on this list, Connor Bunnaman could be, at worst, your second line grinder depending on how you focus his development.

Like most players on this list, he has great physical skills with 88 in aggressiveness, body checking, and strength. He also has 85 in durability and 83 in endurance, plus a high 88 in balance. His speed is 84 with acceleration and agility at 83, so he should be fairly quick on the ice.

His poise is low at 70, and all of his puck skills are 79. He could also improve his awareness (offence 79, defence 80) as well as his 81 in shot blocking. His wrist and slap shot accuracies both need improvement, too, at 78.

With the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in 2020-21, he had one assist and one goal with 12 penalty minutes over 15 games. In 18 games with the Flyers, he had one assist. In 2019-20, he had one assist and one goal in 21 games with Philadelphia.

Arttu Ruotsalainen 75 OVR (Potential: Top 9 F Med)

Team: Buffalo Sabres
Age: 23
Position: Left Wing
Type: Grinder
Shoots: Left
Contract: $1.045M, 1 Year Left, One-Way
Best Attributes: 85 Deking, 85 Offensive Awareness, 84 Passing

The undrafted Arttu Ruotsalainen has caught on with Buffalo and could prove to be a steal for your franchise – although he is the most expensive player on this list. 

Ruotsalainen has great puck skills with 85 in deking and puck control, 84 in passing, and 83 in hand-eye. Add in his decent speed at 84 and acceleration and agility both at 83, plus his 85 in offensive awareness, and the Finn with the puck could be a dangerous foe indeed.

However, unlike most grinders on this list, he sorely lacks in the physical skills. His durability is 77 and endurance 76, strength 74, aggressiveness 73, and body checking 71. His shot blocking is a paltry 68. For a grinder, all of these need to be in the 80s at least.

With Buffalo during the 2020-21 season, he had five goals and one assist in 17 games, adding eight penalty minutes. With the Rochester Americans, he had eight assists and five goals in 13 games. With Ilves on loan, he added 16 goals and 11 assists in 19 games.

Carsen Twarynski 74 OVR (Potential: Top 9 F Med)

Team: Seattle Kraken
Age: 23
Position: Left Wing
Type: Grinder
Shoots: Left
Contract: $0.750M, 1 Year Left, Two-Way
Best Attributes: 89 Aggressiveness, 87 Balance, 87 Body Checking

Carsen Twarynski makes this list courtesy of good physical and skating skills.

He has 89 in aggressiveness, 87 in body checking and strength, and 85 in durability, with 83 in endurance. He even has 80 in fighting skill if you want him to fight, aided by 87 in balance. He has decent speed with 83 in all three categories.

His senses and puck skill need improvement, particularly the former. His offensive and defensive awareness are 77 and 80, but discipline and poise are just 70. Deking and hand-eye are decent at 80, but passing and puck control are 77. Improving these areas should help maximise the grinder player type.

With Philadelphia during the 2020-21 season, he recorded no goals or assists in seven games, adding two penalty minutes. During the 2019-20 season, he added a goal in 15 games with the Flyers, while with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms that same season, he had seven goals and five assists in 31 games.

Beck Malenstyn 71 OVR (Potential: Top 9 F Med)

Team: Washington Capitals
Age: 23
Position: Center
Type: Grinder
Shoots: Left
Contract: $0.750M, 1 Year Left, Two-Way
Best Attributes: 87 Aggressiveness, 85 Balance, 85 Strength

Originally drafted in the fifth round by Washington in 2016, Malenstyn will be hoping that the Achilles injury that sidelined him for the entire 2020-21 campaign is behind him as he looks to assert himself with Washington after only three games in 2019-20.

Malenstyn’s physical skills are great for a grinder, with 87 in aggressiveness and 85 in body checking, durability, and strength. He had 83 in all three speed categories, and packs a powerful shot with 85 in both shot power ratings.

His defence and puck skills are areas to target for improvement. His stick checking is 83, but his defensive awareness is 72 and shot blocking a low 72. His puck control is 77, but passing 76, hand-eye 74, and deking 73. Malenstyn is probably better suited to not be the fulcrum of any line’s attack.

His three-game stint with Washington in 2019-20 resulted in no counting statistics. In 46 games with the Hershey Bears, he had eight assists and seven goals, adding 20 penalty minutes.

All the best young grinders in NHL 22

In the below table, we’ve listed all of the best young grinders that you can find in NHL 22.

NamePotentialOverallAgePositionContractTeam
Ridly GreigTop 9 F High6319Left Wing$0.895M, 3 Years Left, Two-WayOttawa Senators
Givani SmithTop 9 F Med7723Left Wing$0.750M, 2 Years Left, One-WayDetroit Red Wings
Nicholas CaamanoTop 9 F Med7623Left Wing$0.750M, 1 Year Left, Two-WayDallas Stars
Connor BunnamanTop 9 F Med7623Center$0.750M, 1 Year Left, Two-Way ($0.750M Ext. Sal)Philadelphia Flyers
Arttu RuotsalainenTop 9 F Med7523Left Wing$1.045M, 1 Year Left, One-WayBuffalo Sabres
Carsen TwarynskiTop 9 F Med7423Left Wing$0.750M, 1 Year Left, Two-WaySeattle Kraken
Beck MalenstynTop 9 F Med7123Center$0.750M, 1 Year Left, Two-WayWashington Capitals
Lean BergmannBottom 6 F Med7522Left Wing/Right Wing$0.750M, 1 Year Left, Two-WayUFA
Reese JohnsonBottom 6 F Med7323Right Wing$0.880M, Year Left, Two-WayChicago Blackhawks
Jermaine LoewenBottom 6 F Med6823Left Wing/Right Wing$0.750M, 1 Year Left, Two-WayUFA
Michael PezzettaBottom 6 F Med6723Left Wing/Center$0.750M, 1 Year Left, Two-WayMontreal Canadiens
Hudson ElynuikAHL Top 6 F Med6823Left Wing$0.750M, 1 Year Left, Two-WayUFA
Shaw BoomhowerAHL Top 6 F Med6022Center$0.750M, 1 Year Left, Two-WayUFA
Riley McKayAHL Top 6 F Low6022Center$0.750M, 1 Year Left, Two-WayUFA
Ian McKinnonAHL Top 6 Low5823Center$0.750M, 1 Year Left, Two-WayUFA

Which of these young grinders will you choose to strengthen your team in NHL 22?


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