MHN Post-Lottery 1st-Round Mock Draft
All but four picks have yet to be determined in the first round of the 2023 NHL Draft, which means it’s time for our first top-32 mock draft.
With the final four picks still yet to be decided, they were awarded based on regular-season point totals, and are not a prediction of where each team will pick in the 2023 NHL Draft.
This year’s top of the draft will surely revolve around the selection of Connor Bedard, the intrigued over where Matvei Michkov will land and, as usual, when the first goaltender will be selected in this class.
We break down what we believe could be the outcome of the first 32 selections of this draft.
You can consult the MHN 2023 Spring Draft Rankings if you want to follow along to see how the draft shakes down.
Here we go:
1. Chicago Blackhawks: Connor Bedard
This is the most obvious pick in the draft, as Connor Bedard is widely viewed as the next generational talent in the NHL.
2. Anaheim Ducks: Adam Fantilli
Adam Fantilli has put up an impressive season in the NCAA, winning the Hobey Baker and vaulting up the rankings to take a commanding hold on the 2nd overall spot.
3. Columbus Blue Jackets: Leo Carlsson
Leo Carlsson is arguably the third-best prospect in this draft for a reason. The power-forward had one of the best draft-eligible seasons in the SHL’s history and looks prime for a long career in the NHL.
4. San Jose Sharks: Matvei Michkov
The first eyebrow-raiser is the San Jose Sharks taking a flyer on Matvei Michkov. With the Sharks still having to shed a large number of salaries that were given out by the past administration, as the lack of depth or star power in their prospect pool, they can afford to take a chance on a potential star and wait as he joins the club on the upswing in three years.
5. Montreal Canadiens: Will Smith
The Montreal Canadiens gladly scoop up what is left of this impressive top 5 by taking centre Will Smith, who will add a significant amount of skill and star power to the Canadiens’ prospect pool. He and Nick Suzuki could become the long-awaited 1-2 punch at centre that the Canadiens haven’t had in almost 30 years, providing a huge boost to the Canadiens’ rebuild.
6. Arizona Coyotes: David Reinbacher
The Arizona Coyotes are loaded with forwards at the moment, but are rather thin on the back-end. They rectify that problem by taking the reliable and smooth-skating David Reinbacher, who projects as a surefire top-4 defenceman with some potential for more.
7. Philadelphia Flyers: Ryan Leonard
The Philadelphia Flyers want to go back to their old school ways, but in a new school style. Enter Ryan Leonard, the hybrid power forward could be a big part of the rebuild going on in Philadelphia with his combination of skill and power.
8. Washington Capitals: Zach Benson
Zach Benson is simply too good to let slide at this junction, and the Capitals jump on the opportunity to select a potential top-line player that has terrorized the WHL since his first game. He could be a big part of turning the Capitals around and ensuring a proper transition once Alexander Ovechkin retires.
9. Detroit Red Wings: Dalibor Dvorsky
The Detroit Red Wings want to get bigger and bolster their centre depth, which is exactly what Dalibor Dvorsky can do. The rugged centre plays a strong, 200-foot game predicated on good positioning and strong shooting mechanics.
10. St. Louis Blues: Axel Sandin-Pellikka
The St. Louis Blues have been loading up on forwards over the last few years, but they desperately need to bring their defensive corps up to speed. Axel Sandin-Pellikka brings the skill and mobility necessary to quarterback a power play and play some important minutes at even strength.
11. Vancouver Canucks Matthew Wood
The Vancouver Canucks select a local product in Matthew Wood, who has vaulted up the rankings after leading UConn in the NCAA in scoring as a 17-year-old rookie, and following that up with a sensational performance at the U-18s. The power forward has a lot of skill and room to grow physically, making him a sure bet to be an impact player down the line for the Canucks.
12. Arizona Coyotes (Via Ottawa): Gabe Perreault
With their second pick in the draft, the Coyotes go for top-end potential and take a flyer on the highest scoring forward in USNDT history. Perreault combines high-end hockey IQ and play-making ability with some underrated deceptiveness to make highlight-reel plays.
13. Buffalo Sabres: Oliver Moore
The Buffalo Sabres are well stocked at almost every position and simply take the best player available on the board at this time, jumping on the speedster Oliver Moore to come in and solidify the organization’s centre depth for years to come.
14. Pittsburgh Penguins: Nate Danielson
The Pittsburgh Penguins need to inject some serious skill in their lineup, and that usually begins down the middle. Nate Danielson was a force for the WHL for the Brandon Wheat Kings as a 17-year-old and could be a high-value selection at this rank to jump-start the Penguin’s retool.
15. Nashville Predators: Tom Willander
The Nashville Predators have lost some big pieces on their once potent defence as of late, which means they’ll likely be looking to restock their cupboards with some new blood. Tom Willander has been a steadily improving, mobile defenceman that projects as a top-four defenceman down the line that could play in all situations.
16. Calgary Flames: Colby Barlow
The Calgary Flames want to get bigger and improve their skill level, and Colby Barlow brings both of those to the table. One of the best draft-eligible goal-scorers in Canadian major junior, Barlow could bring the goal-scoring elements that the Flames currently lack in their pipeline and on their roster.
17. Detroit Red Wings (Via NYI): Samuel Honzek
The Slovak power forward made the jump to the WHL with the Vancouver Giants and hit the ground running, thanks to his great skating ability for his size and his nose for the net. The left-winger could be a solid top-six winger for the Red Wings for years to come to complement some of their smaller forward throughout the lineup.
18. Winnipeg Jets: Eduard Sale
The Winnipeg Jets continue to add to their growing forward prospect pool with one of the better forwards left on the board. Eduard Sale combines speed, size and skill to play a very powerful game on the rush and could be another big piece in preparing the changing of the guard in Winnipeg.
19. Chicago Blackhawks (Via Tampa Bay): Andrew Cristall
With their second pick in the first round, the Blackhawks jump on another WHL talent by selecting the sensational Andrew Cristall. The dynamic winger had insane statistics for a draft-eligible player in the WHL’ but concerns over his size and skating have him fall right into Chicago’s lap.
20. Seattle Kraken: Riley Heidt
Riley Heidt has the speed and skill that the Kraken would covet at this junction in the NHL Draft. Having already picked up two centres in the last two drafts, they’ll need to start properly insulating them, and Heidt is a perfect complementary player in a top-six down the line.
21. Minnesota Wild: Brayden Yager
The Minnesota Wild run up to the podium to select centre Brayden Yager, as they have a significant need to figure out their centre line in the immediate future. Yager was initially viewed as a surefire top-10 talent, but slipped in the draft due to an underwhelming draft season, after looking so impressive last season.
22. Columbus Blue Jackets (via L.A.): Otto Stenberg
The Columbus Blue Jackets want to continue adding skill and jam to their prospect pool and take a flyer on the impressive Otto Stenberg, who proved to his doubters that he could be an impact player by being a key player for Sweden at the U-18s.
23. New York Rangers: Mikhail Gulyayev
The New York Rangers have never been shy about picking players out of Russia and have a big need for mobile defencemen moving forward to play behind K’Andre Miller, and Gulyayev fits the bill.
24. Nashville Predators (Via Edmonton): Quinton Musty
The Nashville Predators add some more punch along the wings with the smooth-skating Quinton Musty, as they look to beef up their roster and keep up with the heavier teams in the Western Conference.
25. St. Louis Blues (Via Toronto): Luca Cagnoni
The St. Louis Blues select yet another defenceman in the 1st round by grabbing one of the best-kept secrets in the WHL in Luca Cagnoni. The puck-moving defenceman could jolt the Blues’ transition game and help make them a much faster team on breakouts and in transition.
26. San Jose Sharks (Via New Jersey): Gavin Brindley
The San Jose Sharks went for pure upside with their first pick, and they do it again with Gavin Brindley here. The slippery forward would have much more hype for his impressive true freshman NCAA season if he wasn’t playing on the same club as Adam Fantilli. Despite his small stature, Brindley could quickly become one of the biggest steals of the 2023 NHL Draft.
27. Colorado Avalanche: Calum Ritchie
As they look to rebuild their organizational centre depth, the Colorado Avalanche scoop up skilled centre Calum Ritchie. The lanky centre has the size and shooting ability to be a middle-six centre down the line, with the upside of a possible second-line centre.
28. Toronto Maple Leafs (Via Boston): Dimitri Simashev
The Toronto Maple Leafs have never been shy about picking talented players out of Russia and jump on what is the best player available in defenceman Dimitri Simashev. The 6-foot-4, smooth-skating defenceman was dominant in the MHL this season and projects to be a very imposing top-4 defenceman down the line.
29.Montreal Canadiens (Via Florida): Bradley Nadeau
The Montreal Canadiens have a significant need for goal-scorers and selected one of the players with the best shooting mechanics left on the board in Bradley Nadeau. Ripping up the BCHL doesn’t do the player justice, but he is likely to open some eyes to the extent of his talent when he jumps to the NCAA next season for the University of Maine, as he displays his goal-scoring ability and high-end offensive game.
30. St. Louis Blues (Via Dallas): Daniil But
The St. Louis Blues select two defencemen earlier in this NHL Draft, and now go for a nice package of size and skill. Like the other Russians in this draft, But likely goes higher in other circumstances, but is simply too good a gamble to pass on at this point for the St. Louis Blues.
31.Vegas Golden Knights: Ethan Gauthier
The Vegas Golden Knights go back to the QMJHL and select hybrid power-forward Ethan Gauthier. Guathier combines impressive straight-line skating and great shooting ability with a fearlessness to jump into the high-danger area. That’s Vegas hockey right there.
32. Carolina Hurricanes: Tanner Molendyk
The Carolina Hurricanes routinely make intelligent draft choices, and this is another one, as Tanner Molendyk possesses the mobility and skating ability to instantly make you notice him on the ice. He projects as a top-four defenceman at the next level, but many believe there could be more if he begins to trust his offensive instincts a little more.
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I see more defencemen getting higher rankings on draft lists lately . Makes sense. Rumours are that the Habs are very high on Reinbacher. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he moved into the top group . The last few drafts saw GMs taking D-men early in picks for Seider , Luke Hughes , Sanderson and Nemec.
Cagnoni, Simashev, & Molendyk probably go in 2nd Rd. I also see Honzek, & E.Gaurhier maybe going very late 1st or early 2nd Rd. I think Augustine, Hrabal, Ratzlaff Fowler, Bjarnason – one goalie gets picked in the 1st Rd. A few names that could go late 1st Rd – Dragicevic, Haltunnen, Perron, D.Nelson, Whitelaw, Stramel, Lardis, Bonk, Conmy, C.Price, Lindstein, Strbak, Morin, Nurmi, Moolgard, N Dower Nilsson, Sawchyn, Rekhopf, Unger-Sorum, Akey, Brzuztewicz, Kantserov, Barkey, Cowan