The 2023 NHL Draft is just a few weeks away, and so it’s time for the final MHN Mock Draft of the season!
With the final two 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 2023 NHL 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: Will Smith
The Sharks consider a trio of youngsters, but, ultimately, the talent and Massachusetts connection are too strong to ignore Will Smith. The 18-year-old brings a significant amount of skill and star power to the Sharks’ prospect pool, as he would instantly vault himself to the top of the line in terms of their future success.
5. Montreal Canadiens: Ryan Leonard
With Smith off the board and uncertainty in regard to Matvei Michkov, the Montreal Canadiens elect to go with the bad ass of the 2023 NHL Draft in Ryan Leonard. The power forward combines a game of skill, aggressiveness and top-end shooting ability to make him one of the more unique and dangerous forwards in the draft. Some players help you get to the playoffs, and some players help you get through them
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: Matvei Michkov
Daniel Brière has already shown he’s going to be making some bold calls as the new GM of the Philadelphia Flyers, and he does so again by drafting Matvei Michkov. With the Flyers just beginning their rebuild, they’ll have the time to wait for Michkov should he be ready in three or five years, depending on his contractual status.
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: Tom Willander
The Buffalo Sabres are deep at every single position in their organization, save for top-flight right-shot defencemen, and they remedy that need with this pick. 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.
14. Pittsburgh Penguins: Nate Danielson
The Pittsburgh Penguins need to inject some serious skill into 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 Penguins’ retool.
15. Nashville Predators: Oliver Moore
The Nashville Predators are looking fo swing for the fences, and there is arguably no player with more top-end potential than Oliver Moore at this rank.
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: Brayden Yager
Likely losing Pierre-Luc Dubois and possibly Mark Scheifele this summer, the Winnipeg Jets 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.
19. Chicago Blackhawks (Via Tampa Bay): Dimitry Simashev
The Chicago Blackhawks are in it for the long haul and secure their defensive corps by jumping on one of the most intriguing prospects on the back end in Dimitry Simashev.
20. Seattle Kraken: Calum Ritchie
The Kraken continue their push to cement their centre depth, as they seemed rather set along the wings and on the back end for now. They opt for the lanky centre Calum Ritchie, who can play a strong, physical game and has a ton of potential to hit a few extra levels.
21. Minnesota Wild: Daniil But
The Minnesota Wild aren’t going to be phased with the Russian factor in this draft, especially with Kirill Kaprizov on their roster and the likes of Danila Yurov and Marat Khusnutdinov in the pipeline, and they opt for the giant Daniil But to add more skill and size their forward corps down the line
22. Philadelphia Flyers (via L.A.): Eduard Sale
The Philadelphia Flyers continue to add more top-end skill to their forward corps by selecting the electric Eduard Sale. Sale had a very inconsistent year, but could become an interesting top-six winger for the Flyers if he can put it all together.
23. New York Rangers: David Edstrom
The New York Rangers want to bolster the future of their centre line and look to David Edstrom, who has rocketed up the rankings since the U-18s. Capable of playing both sides of the ice, Edstrom has the smarts and skill to carve himself a path to the NHL down the line.
24. Nashville Predators (Via Edmonton): Quenton Musty
The Nashville Predators add some more punch along the wings with the smooth-skating Quenton 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 in the same club as Adam Fantilli. Despite his small stature, Brindley could quickly become one of the biggest steals of the draft.
27. Colorado Avalanche: Mikhail Gulyayev
The Colorado Avalanche are going to have to make some important decisions on their blueline in the coming year and thus want to reinforce the decision with the best defenceman left on their board with Mikhail Gulyayev.
28. Toronto Maple Leafs (Via Boston): Oliver Bonk
The Toronto Maple Leafs are looking for value at this junction of the draft, and they look for a safe selection in Oliver Bonk, who looks primed to become a stable, hard-hitting top-four defence capable of logging some important minutes.
29. St. Louis Blues (Via Dallas): Ethan Gauthier
The St. Louis Blues select two defencemen earlier in this 2023 NHL Draft, and now go for a nice package of size and skill. Ethan Gauthier plays a game akin to Josh Anderson, possessing solid inside speed and a knack for rushing to the front of the net.
30. 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.
31. Montreal Canadiens (Via Florida): Andrew Cristall
The Montreal Canadiens are looking to take big swings at the draft table and step up to bat in drafting one of the more talented players left on the board and one of the most intriguing players of the 2023 NHL Draft, Andrew Cristall.
32. Vegas Golden Knights: Otto Stenberg
The Vegas Golden Knights opt for a pure shooter at this rank and chose to select Sweden’s standout performer at the U-18s, Otto Stenberg.