We’re getting to that point where we can start to build out a projectible Top-32 for the promising 2023 NHL Draft, and you know what that means.
It’s time for the *very early* 2023 NHL Draft Rankings, by yours truly.
With the Montreal Canadiens already owning two 1st-round picks in this upcoming draft, theirs and the Florida Panthers‘, they’re in a prime position to capitalize on a very interesting set of players.
The 2023 NHL Draft has been viewed as the Connor Bedard draft from the moment he was granted exceptional status to play in the WHL at 15 years old back in 2019. He burst onto the scene during the WHL bubble in 2021 and was already almost at two points per game in the 15 games he played in. He had an 100-point season as a 17-year-old, and is now trending to blow right past that total, with 27 goals and 37 assists for 64 points in just 28 games.
Adam Fantilli received a little less praise early on, but has since seen his stock rise considerably. The power forward centre has hit near historic highs in points in the NCAA as a true freshman this season, keeping pace with the likes of Jack Eichel at the same age with 11 goals and 26 points through his first 16 games in the NCAA. He will look to continue that momentum with a stacked Wolverines club and prepare himself to likely jump to the NHL right off the bat next season.
However, Matvei Michkov isn’t going to just let Bedard and Fantilli run away with the top spots. The Russian winger has been a force internationally for Russia, scoring goals where he decides to play. He looked the part playing against men in the KHL at age 16 and is set to play in the KHL yet again this season at age 17. It’s an extremely rare feat to play in the KHL at that age, let alone get meaningful usage and offensive production. This season has been a little iffy, however, as Michkov has been limited to 12 games in the VHL, but has still put up impressive numbers with ten goals during that span. He needs to play more games this season to show scouts where he is in his growth.
That being said, players like Brayden Yager should not be forgotten either. When interviewing members of the Moose Jaw Warriors in the WHL, even though the discussions were geared toward 2022 draft-eligible players like Jagger Firkus and Denton Mateychuk, the conversation always seemed to go back to Yager. After putting up 34 goals last season in 63 games, Yager showed that his game had reached another level with five goals and four assists in five games for Team Canada en route to a gold medal at the Hlinka-Greztky tournament. He will be a player to watch this season, as he too projects to be a goal-scoring top-six centre.
Last, but certainly not least, Leo Carlsson has everything you want in a top forward. He’s mature beyond his years, played a regular role in the Swedish Hockey League at age 16 and contributed in quite a respectable manner with 9 points in 35 games. He projects as that all-around forward with the ability to play in any situation and hurt you offensively with his devastating shot or his underrated playmaking ability. When you watch him on the ice, he stands out right away, for every good reason. His attention to detail and plethora of offensive tools make him an excellent candidate to round out an exceptional top-5.
And there are still more we haven’t named, like Slovakia’s Dalibor Dvorsky, Zach Benson of the WHL, Will Smith of the United States Development Team and even Mathew Wood of the NCAA.
Needless to say, the Canadiens will not have to worry about the quality at the top of the draft should they have a difficult season, in fact, they can actually look forward to it. It’s one of the main reasons General Manager Kent Hughes is looking to add another 1st round pick, as the depth in this draft is quite impressive.
Here is the full Top-32 Draft Ranking below:
|3||Matvei Michkov||Right Wing||KHL/VHL||Left||5'10||150lbs|
|5||Zach Benson||Centre/Left Wing||WHL||Left||5'10||160lbs|
|9||Matthew Wood||Right Wing||NCAA||Right||6'3||190lbs|
|11||Eduard Sale||Winger||Czech Extraliga||Left||6'1||167lbs|
|12||Andrew Cristall||Left Wing||WHL||Left||5'10||165lbs|
|14||Colby Barlow||Left Wing||OHL||Left||6'1||187lbs|
|17||Riley Heidt||Left Wing||WHL||Left||5'11||178lbs|
|18||Quentin Musty||Left Wing||OHL||Left||6'2||197lbs|
|22||Ethan Gauthier||Centre/Right Wing||QMJHL||Right||5'11||176lbs|
|24||Noah Dower-Nilsson||Left Wing||SHL||Left||5'10||168lbs|
|25||Otto Stenberg||Centre/Left Wing||SHL||Left||5'10||172lbs|
|26||Gabe Perreault||Left Wing||USHL||Left||5'11||170lbs|
|27||Charlie Stramel||Right Wing||NCAA||Left||6'3||215lbs|
|28||Luca Pinelli||Left Wing||OHL||Left||5'9||165lbs|