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MHN 2023 NHL Mock Draft: Pre-Lottery Edition



NHL Draft

The 2023 NHL Draft Lottery is just a few days away, and we did a simulated mock draft to give you a taste of what could go down on May 8.

We at MHN decided to have a little bit of fun and do both a Draft Lottery simulation, followed by a Top-16 Mock Draft to give you an idea of who your favourite team could select.

Using Tankathon, the first two selections went to the San Jose Sharks and the Columbus Blue Jackets respectively, with the rest of the order determined by the NHL Standings.

If you want to follow along, check our most recent 2023 NHL Draft Rankings here.

Here’s how it shook down:

1. San Jose Sharks: Connor Bedard

The easiest pick in recent memory for the San Jose Sharks, who run to the podium and make the selection before they wake up from their amazing dream.

Connor Bedard is the most exciting prospect since Connor McDavid and could quickly help the Sharks turn their fortunes around, by providing them with a franchise forward that could terrorize the NHL for years to come.

2. Columbus Blue Jackets: Adam Fantilli

The Columbus Blue Jackets are looking to improve their organizational centre depth, and drafting Adam Fantilli would be a great way to do that.

The reigning Hobey Baker winner has been nothing short of exceptional this season, being only the third freshman to win the prestigious award next to Jack Eichel and Paul Kariya.

Likely able to make the jump to the NHL as of next season, Fantilli would join a crop of high-end prospects that Columbus has accumulated over the last few drafts which could lead to some sustainable success.

3. Anaheim Ducks: Leo Carlsson

The Anaheim Ducks are looking for some offensive punch with size, and Leo Carlsson fits the bill perfectly.

The 6-foot-three, 198-pound forward plays a very powerful game, while having an elite skill set that could help him drive a line on his own.

Putting up some exceptional numbers in the SHL against men, Carlsson looks like he could be a premier power forward in the NHL for years to come, giving Trevor Zegras some much-needed support.

4. Chicago Blackhawks: Matvei Michkov

GM Kyle Davidson is playing the long game in Chicago and looking to add elite pieces slowly but surely.

With the 2024 and 2025 drafts likely a priority for Davidson, he wouldn’t be as jaded with selecting Matvei Michkov as other teams in the bottom five, as he isn’t looking to substantially improve just yet.

With Matvei Michkov playing in Russia until 2026, it will give the Blackhawks ample time to continue their rebuild without a potential star in their lineup, all while Michkov continues to develop in the KHL.

With fears of Russian-born players coming to North America slowly dissipating with a multitude of prospects making the jump this week, the Blackhawks could get a superstar on their roster for the 2026-2027 season by showing a little bit of patience.

5. Montreal Canadiens: Will Smith

Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes wants to add players with skill and speed to his lineup, and Will Smith is exactly that kind of player.

Notwithstanding the relationship between Hughes and Smith, the U-18s MVP is a perfect fit for the Canadiens; as he brings incredible skill to a growing young core.

He plays a game predicated on high-tempo offence and can take over a game when the puck is on his stick.

Whether he plays centre or left-wing at the NHL level, Smith could very well be the missing top-line player the Canadiens need.

MUST READ: Will Smith On Growth, Ties To Canadiens Hughes

6. Arizona Coyotes: Zach Benson

Zach Benson has been a standout in the WHL since he first laced up his skates as a 15-year-old.

Despite being 5-foot-10, Benson plays with significant grit and doesn’t back down from contact in the corners. He has an electric offensive game that could translate quite well to the NHL level, as his Hockey IQ and shooting ability are off the charts.

He could easily become one of the best players in this draft class when all is said and done; especially if he spends a lengthy amount of time lining up next to Logan Cooley or current teammates Conor Geekie down the line.

7. Philadelphia Flyers: Ryan Leonard

Ryan Leonard is the perfect blend between old-school and new-school, combining strong physical play with exceptional offensive abilities.

For the rebuilding Philadelphia Flyers, that’s exactly what the doctor ordered, as the franchise looks to restore its identity as one of the most feared teams in the league.

Leonard plays a power forward game, but has the stick-handling and shooting ability to make highlight-reel plays on the rush.

The gritty forward has really improved by leaps and bounds this season and was one of the most prolific goal-scorers in the U-18s this past month.

Should he hit his top potential, the Flyers will certainly not regret this selection.

8. Washington Capitals: David Reinbacher

With their defensive ranks in shambles, the Washington Capitals look to rectify their organizational need by selecting the first defenceman in the draft.

David Reinbacher has risen on many draft boards as of late, due to his exceptional performances in the Swiss A league as a U-18 defenceman.

Reinbacher’s combination of size and mobility make him one of the more unique players in the draft, but also one of the safest bets to become a top-4 defenceman down the line.

With the Capitals looking for John Carlson’s eventual replacement on the right side of their back end, Reinbacher could one day be the guy to run the Capitals defence, next to Rasmus Sandin.

9. Detroit Red Wings: Oliver Moore

The Detroit Red Wings know a thing or two about selecting centremen from the USNDT, and they go back to that well here with Oliver Moore.

Arguably the most dynamic skater of the draft, Moore is one of the most dangerous forwards on the rush for his age group.

Equipped with quick feet and a devastating wrist shot, Moore overwhelms the opposition by beating them to loose pucks and attacking open ice with authority.

Playing on the USNDT’s second line, Moore doesn’t have the same numbers as Smith or Leonard, but he certainly has an equally impressive ceiling.

By selecting Moore, the Red Wings effectively ensure the long-term viability of their centre line, with Dylan Larkin signed long-term and Marco Kasper coming through the ranks.

10. St. Louis Blues: Dalibor Dvorsky

The St. Louis Blues want to make this a quick turnaround, and Dalibor Dvorsky is one of the most physically developed prospects left on the board at this time.

Breaking onto the scene in 2021 after a dominating Ivan Hlinka tournament at 16, Dvorsky is a highly touted, physical centre with a nose for the net.

He wasn’t able to reach another level offensively playing against men in HockeyAllsvenskan, but dominated against his own age group at the junior level.

He was one of the standout performers of this year’s U-18s, pushing Slovakia within a goal of a medal finish in Switzerland with his clutch goal-scoring and relentless motor.

Dvorsky projects to be a top-six centre down the line that could support a top centre like Robert Thomas by playing in all situations.

11. Vancouver Canucks: Axel Sandin-Pellikka

The Vancouver Canucks have been looking for a top-end right-shooting defensive prospect for years and finally have an opportunity to snag one at 12th overall.

Sandin-Pellikka was a standout in the SHL as a 17-year-old, playing some good minutes for such a young player in a league predicated on defence.

On top of some stellar performances in the SHL, the young defenceman was a force at the U-20 level, potting 36 points in just 31 games.

He followed up his dominance at the U-18s, where put up an impressive 11 points in just seven games.

Poised to be a smooth-skating, power-play quarterback in the future, ASP has all the makings of a modern-day Top-4 defenceman.

12. Arizona Coyotes (Via Ottawa): Gabe Perreault

The Arizona Coyotes continue their push for elite talent by picking up the high-scoring forward in USNDT history, Gabe Perreault.

Perreault possesses incredible hockey IQ and vision, allowing him to complete high-skill plays with ease wherever he is on the ice.

Despite not having the most blazing set of wheels, Perreault has quelled many of the concerns about his footspeed with significant improvement in his straight-line explosiveness.

He’s quickly able to change the look of a game and find the soft spots behind the opposition’s defence to complete plays and destabilize his opponents.

Playing a versatile game, Perreault could help the Coyotes take their rebuild to the next level.

13. Buffalo Sabres: Matthew Wood

Playing as a true freshman in the NCAA at 17 years old, Matthew Wood had one of the best seasons in recent memory for a player of his age.

Unlike Fantilli, Wood is born in 2005, meaning he played the whole season as a 17-year-old and was one of his team’s leading scorers with 34 points in 35 games.

The 6-foot-four power forward added to his resume with an exceptional U-18 tournament playing next to 2024-draft-eligible Macklin Celebrini.

Although there were initially some concerns about Wood’s mobility, his quick hands, imposing size and excellent spatial awareness are simply too sweet for Buffalo to pass up.

14. Pittsburgh Penguins: Nate Danielson

The Pittsburgh Penguins need some help up front, specifically at the centre ice position.

At this junction of the draft, there isn’t one centre that could be viewed as more complete than Nate Danielson.

A 200-foot player, Danielson took his game to the next level for the Brandon Wheat Kings; leading a very mature junior club in scoring at just 17 years of age.

Danielson can play in any situation and has the hockey IQ and playmaking ability to possibly become a top-six centre down the line.

15. Nashville Predators: Colby Barlow

The Nashville Predators need some goalscorers in their pipeline to help them fast-track their rebuild, and Colby Barlow is just that.

The OHL standout potted 46 goals for the Owen Sound Attack this season in just 59 games, while also being named captain of the club at just 17 years old.

The 6-foot, 190-pound forward plays a power forward’s game, with a nose for the net and a shot that will have you hitting the replay button.

He projects to be a middle-six winger with high-end goal-scoring ability, just the kind of player the Predators need down the line.

16. Calgary Flames: Eduard Sale

After a very disappointing season, the Calgary Flames hope to quickly turn it around by selecting skilled forward Eduard Sale.

Sale has been on the radar for this draft for months now and has been a dangerous player on the ice internationally.

Sale’s vision and puckhandling skills are significant strengths, allowing him to create space for himself and set up his teammates on the rush.

He possesses a very potent shot and some interesting skating ability that could help establish himself as a top-six player down the line.

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Interesting that San Jose won your mock draft lottery. I’ve been running trials all season long just for kicks, and the team that won the lottery more than any other team regardless of where they were in the standings all year long was San Jose. They even won it 4 spins in a row one day when they were still back around the 5-7th best odds at that time. If we don’t win Bedard, having him end up in the Western Conference is the best case scenario. If you are wondering what team won the lottery the 2nd most times after San Jose, it was Detroit. If that happens, we’re doomed. If any team in the Atlantic (other than us) wins Bedard, good luck getting past the 2nd round of the playoffs for the next decade.


Exaggeration. Edmonton has not seen playoff success with the current best player in the world (in addition to another excellent player at his side). Even as a generational player, Bedard needs a TEAM. You have flooded this board with your constant refrains for Bedard and everyone agrees; it would be great of the Habs could grab him. That is unlikely but he alone is not going to be the cause of MTLs possible failures if he lands in the East.


Yes. Glad you recognized that I was exaggerating. Congrats.

Pierre B.

Only 16 picks? I want to know who you would pick next.
Amongst the top prospects available are:

  • Andrew Cristall, a 5’10” 165 lbs LW who can provide tremendous offense
  • Brayden Yager, a 6’0″ 165 lbs R-C who can provide a lot of offense while carrying his defensive duties
  • Calum Ritchie, a 6’2″ 187 lbs R-C who can play a physical game but needs to add quickness
  • Riley Heidt, a 5’11” 179 lbs L-C who’s a creative and intelligent playmaker with speed and mobility
  • Samuel Honzek, a 6’4″ 186 lbs L-C who projects more as a middle-6 LW
  • Etc.

I know that Marco is lower on Yager than most, so he would not choose him. Cristall is a boom-or-bust LW – the CH already has Caufield and Slafkovsky for the top-6. There are also a few RHD available, but a late-1st-round or a 2nd-round pick will do.
This mock draft is the scenario in which I hope that Hughes trade the FLO 1st-round pick.


Good list . As a Habs fan I agree that’s it’s important to draft a top rated center. We have a 70% (approx.) of drafting at 5 or 6 . Just based on the recent u18 worlds , I’d be looking to take Dalibor Dvorsky at these picks . He was dominant against teams to lead the challenge for a bronze vs Canada . He’s also a left shot , bigger than Smith and IMO equally skilled . The Habs have Suzuki , Dach , and futures Beck and Mesar as right shots at center , it’s important to find a top 6 quality lefty . I’m also of the opinion that adding Dvorsky would benefit the development of fellow Slovaks , Slafkovsky and Mesar and help each of them as they transition to the North American game .


Agreed 👍. Wouldn’t be shocked if dvorsky got picked in the top 4 . Most nhl scouts have him higher then will Smith. Also will Smith will move to the wing . I don’t see him as a center

William O'Neill

Did you watch the U18’s? If Smith hasn’t moved into top three I’d be shocked

John Spearing

no one has Dvorsky ahead of Will Smith… Smith is a top 5 lock…
the top 5 this year are clear, the only one that could slide is Michkov but even that has nothing to do with his ability and everything to do with his situation…

john LeGrand

why did you stop at 16?

MHN 2023 NHL Draft

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