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2023 NHL Mock Draft: Canadiens Pick Twice In Midseason Edition

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NHL Draft hosted by Montreal Canadiens

Being at the half-season mark in the NHL, it’s time for the first NHL Mock Draft of the season, where the Montreal Canadiens are slated to pick twice in the top 16.

In this exercise, Montreal Hockey Now used Tankathon‘s Lottery Simulation to project who would win the first two picks, and then utilize current NHL Standings to determine the rest of the order. To follow along with the selection, you can check out Montreal Hockey Now’s early 2023 NHL Draft Rankings.

Alright, let’s get started.

The Columbus Blue Jackets were the lucky team to jump to the 1st overall selection, while the Chicago Blackhawks grabbed the 2nd overall selection and the Anaheim Ducks slid down to third overall.

Connor Bedard going 1st overall to the Columbus Blue Jackets was an absolute no-brainer, as the young phenom has been the best prospect in major junior since Sidney Crosby; outpacing Connor McDavid and John Tavares quite easily at the same age.

With Chicago picking second, they simply do not pass up on the franchise centreman that will become Adam Fantilli, who has one of the best season in NCAA history for a true freshman. His combination of size, speed and skill make him a rare breed that could help jumpstart the rebuild for the Blackhawks.

Anaheim coming to the table has a gut-wrenching choice to make at third overall, as both power-forward Leo Carlsson and elite snipe Matvei Michkov are on the board. However, given Anaheim’s lack of size on the wings, and their likely desire to get better faster, they may very well opt for the hulking Swede to complement star centre Trevor Zegras for years to come.

The Arizona Coyotes, who are in no rush to compete in the immediate future, take advantage of Anaheim’s impatience and jump on Matvei Michkov, who projects to be a top-league goal-scorer that could quickly form a devastating line with Logan Cooley and Dylan Guenther when he comes over to North America in 2026.

The San Jose Sharks are then left with a gut-wrenching decision, they could go for the plethora of forwards available, or they could fill a crying organizational need on defence. Having drafted only one defenceman in the top-two rounds in the last three years, they may be tempted to jump on the hype train of Axel-Sandin Pellika, who projects as a bonafide power play quarterback capable of playing top-pair minutes.

It may be the shocker of the draft, and there is potential for David Reinbacher to find himself in that spot as well, but the Sharks go for pure potential here.

With the Montreal Canadiens owning the 6th overall pick, they have uber-talented forwards like Zach Benson and Will Smith available to them, and GM Kent Hughes goes for the top-end, bonafide centre in Smith. A silky, smooth forward, Smith would provide the perfect complement to Nick Suzuki down the line for the Canadiens and would allow them the luxury of playing Kirby Dach on the wing long-term.

The Vancouver Canucks are screaming for a top-end right-shot defenceman and have demanded such a return in any Bo Horvat trade, but they can also secure one for themselves here by selecting the big, Austrian defenceman, David Reinbacher, at 7th overall.

With the Senators selecting skilled forward Zach Benson and the Flyers jumping on Czechia forward Eduard Sale, the Detroit Red Wings snap up explosive winger Andrew Cristall, the Canadiens are on the clock again a the 11th overall selection, thanks to the Florida Panthers.

It’s an intriguing situation, as they have centres Dalibor Dvorsky, Oliver Moore, Calum Ritchie and Brayden Yager, or power forward types like Colby Barlow or Mathew Wood available.

Ultimately, the feeling is the Canadiens would jump on power forward Colby Barlow, as he leads the OHL in goal-scoring at 17 years of age as of today, and plays a power game that could make him an effective straight-line player in the NHL. He’s quite good at protecting the puck and is also quite the playmaker, setting up Canadiens prospect Cedrick Guindon on multiple goals this season.

EDIT* Initially, we were leaning toward Matthew Wood at this selection, but upon further review of available tape this morning, the decision was overturned to Colby Barlow, who edges out the likes of Dvorsky, Yager Moore and Ritchie for the pick at 11th overall.

Here is the full Top-16 Mock Draft below:

RankTeamPlayerPosition
1Columbus Blue JacketsConnor BedardC
2Chicago BlackhawksAdam FantilliC
3Anaheim DucksLeo CarlssonLW/C
4Arizona CoyotesMatvei MichkovRW
5San Jose SharksAxel Sandin-PellikkaRD
6Montreal CanadiensWill SmithC
7Vancouver CanucksDavid ReinbacherRD
8Ottawa SenatorsZach BensonLW/C
9Philadelphia FlyersEduard SaleRW
10Detroit Red WingsAndrew CristallLW
11Montreal CanadiensColby BarlowLW
12Nashville PredatorsBrayden YagerC
13Buffalo SabresOliver MooreC
14St. Louis BluesDalibor DvorskyC
15Colorado AvalancheMikhail GulyayevLD
16Pittsburgh PenguinsMatthew WoodRW
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Tyrone

Based on what’s available at our draft positions in the article, I’m leaning towards any 2 of Yager, Sale and Dvorsky.

Pierre B.

I concur with Marco here. Smith has very few detractors amongst the Internet published rankings thus far. Of the 13 I surveyed thus far, he’s usually # 5 or #6. His two worst rankings are Scott Wheeler of The Athletic who has him at #10, and McKeen at #9; but these date from November 1, 2022.

John Spearing

I expect us to slide a little further down and with our combined odds I’m hoping we get a little lottery luck 😉
Also not sure why you got Florida 11th rather than 10th if using current standings…
My early dreaming has us winning Bedard with our pick and grabbing a much needed RHD QB in Axel with the Panthers pick – this mock is depressing not only do we not move up, but the Panthers move down, and to top it off someone reaches for Axel earlier than anyone currently ranks him so he’s gone top 5 when he’s actually my top target at around 10

John Spearing

point % is the important number, not points. 😉

Pierre B.

Central Scouting ranks Carlsson ahead of Michkov. Michkov has dropped, and given his last published size (5’10”, 148 lbs), he might slide past 4th overall. I can see Smith being picked ahead of him, and possibly Benson or Pellikka. By draft day, we’ll have a better picture.

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