Final 2023 NHL Draft Rankings

Photo Credit: Keith Hershmiller / Regina Pats

Alexander AppleyardSpokedZClare McManusMatthew SommaGray MatterBen JordanJordan MaletteAustin Garret and Josh Tessler combined their draft rankings and put together the official Smaht Scouting 2023 NHL Draft Final Rankings.

Below you will find the rankings and a high level summary on each player.

Published scouting reports are hyperlinked on player names. The Smaht team is working on several reports, so if you don’t see one yet, stay tuned.

#1 – Connor Bedard

Connor Bedard is an extremely gifted generational offensive talent. Whichever team is lucky enough to have the lottery balls fall their way will be sprinting to the podium on June 28th to draft Bedard. Bedard’s innate scoring ability is one that we haven’t seen in along time, and I could see Bedard as a challenger for the 50-goal mark in most seasons he is not hampered by injury. Chicago won’t be challenging for a Stanley Cup in the next couple years, and the continuous losing may spark a commitment to the defensive side of the game for him, like we saw with Connor McDavid a few seasons back. (Ben Jordan)

#2 – Adam Fantilli

Adam Fantilli has every tool that an NHL team would dream of having with their top overall selection. He’s got the physical tools of size, strength, speed and lateral mobility. He has amazing puck skill with the ability to do it at full speed and in small area situations. He can protect the puck, put his shoulder down and power through a defender, or put it under a defender’s stick and put them through the spin cycle.

His vision is high-end with the ability to find lateral teammates and move defenders out of passing lanes to open up new scoring opportunities. He has a heavy wrist shot and a dynamite one-timer.  The power play could run through Fantilli or he could be the trigger man. (Austin Garret)

#3 – Matvei Michkov

A smart, dynamic goal-scoring winger, Michkov dictates play when he’s on the ice. With constant delays and changes of pace, baiting poke-checks to freeze defenders just enough to get by them, making up for his lack of a high-end top speed. Making give-and-go plays all along the ice, using his teammates effectively, he’s not afraid to turn back in transition in order to maintain possession and open up new opportunities. He finds open ice extremely well and always positions himself to be a great passing option in the offensive zone. All this is designed with the end goal of creating space for himself in dangerous areas to let his lethal shot fly. He may look small, but he’s not easily knocked over, and he doesn’t shy away from physical battles; his physical game has improved a lot over the course of the season as he’s gotten stronger, and it should improve even more from here. There are flashes of great playmaking ability, but it’s not consistent; his ideas and vision are great, but the execution is often poor. Overall, since moving teams, he’s been playing a much more projectable game, and not trying to do everything himself so much, which was an issue before, as well as playing a much better defensive game, though it’s still not a strength of his. He has the potential to be a game-breaking talent, but it’s not a guarantee, although I’m less concerned than I previously was. (Gray Matter)

#4 – Leo Carlsson

Carlsson has been played extremely well at the SHL level this season for Örebro. In the offensive zone, he will take over the cycle and will move laterally quickly to shift away from pressure as he sees that if he moves laterally he will skate into a quality passing lane that he can exploit. Carlsson’s vision and stick-handling can get him out of well-pressured jams in all three zones. He will find quality passing lanes in the neutral zone when looking for a teammate in stride to pass to and has no issue with maneuvering the puck around tight pressure. Carlsson hunts for loose pucks with speed and has the physicality to deliver quality checks along the boards to cause puck disruption in tight board battles. Carlsson is a prospect that we see being a reliable playmaker and playing in a line one role at the NHL level. (Josh Tessler)

#5 – Zach Benson

While I don’t necessarily see Zach Benson reaching the top of the superstar bucket, (Tavares, Kane, Stamkos etc…) I do envision him being a cornerstone piece for the franchise that selects him this June.

When thinking of a player comparison, I get drawn to a few different players. From an offensive skills standpoint, I personally see a lot of similar traits to Cole Perfetti. Great vision, feet always moving, and just very technically sound with every movement. Benson has a motor on him though that never stops running. To me, very similar to watching Brayden Point roam around. There just seems to always be a certain intensity when both of them are on the ice and hunting down pucks. Both great at carving out pockets of space, and tremendous at distributing or finishing plays themselves. (Ben Jordan)

#6 – Will Smith

What makes Will Smith so tantalizing as a prospect is when he has the puck on his stick in the offensive zone. His ability to maneuver around defenders and retain control of the puck and maintain perfect balance in small areas makes him a human highlight reel. He has a great wrist shot, and is able to thread passes and create passing lanes at an elite level. He never was the dominant puck transporter on his line, and his defensive engagement level wasn’t high end even to finish the year. While I question if he sticks at center in the NHL, there is no denying he has one of the highest offensive potentials in the draft. (Austin Garrett)

#7 – Oliver Moore

Oliver Moore has been consistently one of my favorite prospects in this draft class. He was one of the best puck transporters in transition in the entire North American draft class as he utilizes his speed, puck skill, and elite edges to exit and enter the zone. His wrist shot beat goalies clean from distance all year, and he looks to dangerous areas of the ice to make passes. I would’ve liked to see a more well rounded and puck dominant offensive zone game at the end of the year as he had Hagans and Eiserman on his line for a good portion of the second half. He is extremely engaged defensively and is hard on pucks. I think he projects as a perfect 3rd line center on a Cup contending team with the offensive tool kit to develop into a top 6 role. (Austin Garret)

#8 – Axel Sandin Pellikka

Axel Sandin Pellikka has consistently been one of the most fun players to watch this season. He’s an elite skater with quick hands that, combined with a hard shot and fantastic passing ability, make him a nightmare for the opposition. His lateral agility enables him to move freely along the offensive blue line with the puck on his stick, creating passing or shooting lanes with flashes of deception in the form of head or shoulder fakes. He remains patient with the puck and is able to create scoring chances from the back end all on his own. He also already has many professional defensive habits that should enable him to be an effective two-way defenseman in the NHL. He is always scanning the ice and anticipating, which allows him to close on players quickly in the neutral zone and kill transitions. He’s able to eliminate scoring threats before they even begin. His ability to avoid the opposition’s forecheck and start breakouts also improved significantly throughout the year, which earned him more responsibility and ice time in the SHL with Skelleftea AIK. These foundational tools and playmaking ability make him one of the highest ceiling players in this draft class. (SpokedZ)

#9 – Gavin Brindley

Gavin Brindley plays the game of hockey exactly how I’d want a player to play. He’s got great speed and very good edges. He was the primary transition player on a line that included Adam Fantilli and Rutger McGroarty for the second half of the year. His lack of point production to start the year was bad puck luck, as he was a great dangerous shot generator and facilitated play extremely well as he earned the second line starting center role on one of the best teams in college hockey. When Fantilli was brought on his line he was able to showcase being a facilitator to two great shooters, and he was rewarded with a positive regression in his point production. He has tremendous awareness on the ice and his ability to read plays and position himself offensively and defensively to continuously make an impact won over my adoration. The only real fault I have in his game is his lack of strength when going by players in the interior of the zone, but with a few years in college and his high-end motor, I don’t see this as a reason to drop him in the rankings but rather just an elongated timeline to get to the NHL compared to other players in the top 10. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Brindley as a Hobey finalist before his collegiate career is over. (Austin Garret)

#10 – Dmitri Simashev

In my opinion, Simashev is quite possibly the best defenceman in this draft, and by far the best defensive player. He’s fluid on his skates, and very mobile, especially for a guy his size. He shuts down plays before they start; he reads and anticipates play very well, stepping up in the neutral zone with perfect timing to prevent entries without taking himself out of the play. He uses his size effectively and protects the puck really well, extending his long reach and using his free arm to shield off pressure. He’s not the most physical yet, but I think that’ll come when it’s necessary, he doesn’t really need to be right now, and he won’t take himself out of the play to throw a pointless hit. But don’t underestimate his offence either, there’s a lot more potential there than he gets credit for. If he has the puck, good luck getting it away from him; he controls the puck exceptionally well and adapts to pressure instantly, weaving through defences in transition and making it look easy. He’s a breakout wizard, great at escaping pressure with the puck, recovering it along the boards and combining his skating and puck protection to evade incoming pressure; he sniffs out contested pucks and turns them into offensive rushes in an instant. The stats still don’t suggest a very offensively skilled defenceman, but then you’ll watch him pull off like five insane plays in one shift that no other defenceman in this draft does, and you start to really see the potential that he has. To me, his upside is some of the highest in this draft, and I really believe that he can be a good #1 defenceman in the NHL some day. (Gray Matter)

#11 – Ryan Leonard

I see Leonard as a winger who can provide teams with top six goal scoring production at the next level. He’s also got grit to him and will use it rather effectively behind the red line in the offensive zone.

He doesn’t have the toolsy flashy handling to dance around pressure that is Kent Johnson or Mitch Marner like, but he’s got tools on his tool-belt to evade the pressure and create separation for himself.

But, I’d like to see Leonard start to come up with plan B or plan C strategies when he has committed to driving the puck to net front. NHL defensemen will start to pick up on Leonard’s playbook and he will need to come up with alternative strategies at a drop of a hat.

In addition, I’d like to see Leonard continue to develop his physicality in both the neutral zone and the defensive zone. He does like to target vulnerable attackers with the puck, but doesn’t always implement the pressure to truly make the attacker feel vulnerable. If he can work on taking away space with more assertion, he will create more and more vulnerability. (Josh Tessler)

#12 – Andrew Cristall

Andrew Cristall was the premier playmaker in North America this past year while playing in the WHL. With the puck on his stick he facilitated the entire offense for Kelowna as he used great deceptive skating and puck skill to create passing lanes for himself to create scoring chances. He was no slouch in getting his own shot off either, as he was able to work into the interior to score as well as use his skill to create a rather impressive highlight reel of making defenders look silly. Cristall rarely engaged in the defensive zone in the WHL and struggled to find a consistent role in the u18s. As a smaller player he lacked explosive north-south speed to create separation from defenders. I’d bet on the offensive talent and that I attribute his skating to lack of strength and not skating mechanics in my viewings. (Austin Garrett)

#13 – Quentin Musty

I believe that Musty is a top six winger at the next level.

Musty has an excellent shot from range, distributes quite well off of the rush and does a great job of creating space for himself. His ability to create consistently at 5v5 is a credit to how well he handles pressure. Musty will take advantage of tight lanes when looking to thread the needle and will look to complete drop passes when hitting a wall. He’s got so many tricks that he can rely on to open up space when he is right about to shoot. There are times where he struggles to navigate the puck around tight pressure, but it’s become far less frequent as the season has gone on. 

The next step in his development is to work on his physicality. He has the frame and the power stride to get himself into situations where he can shut down puck movement, but a lot of the time, he ends up following through on the check too late. At the NHL level, Musty will be called upon to provide more physicality and so he will need to do a bit more fine tuning next season. Plus, if he can work on building up momentum with his crossovers when changing directions, he will be a handful to deal with when he is bearing down on you. You won’t be able to pivot out because Musty will be able to keep pace and pivot when you pivot. (Josh Tessler)

#14 – Nate Danielson

While Danielson’s development is still in progress, he brings quite a bit of quality tools to the table like his ability to generate quality speed in transition, his manipulation tactics to open up space for himself and quick decision making under pressure. Those tools allow him extremely effective at the WHL level and are going to come in handy once again at the NHL level. I have no doubt that Danielson is going to be an effective NHLer in a middle six role. The vision that Danielson has is going to lead to a lot of quality scoring chances in NHL play. He is going to be able to put pucks into high danger areas consistently because of how quick he is to identify space to use when traffic becomes daunting. Should he run out of options, he has a lethal shot that he can use from range. 

At the end of the day, whoever takes Danielson is getting a player with an extremely safe floor and a second line ceiling. (Josh Tessler)

#15 – Jayden Perron

Jayden Perron is an undersized forward in the draft, but doesn’t let that get in the way as he shines offensively. He can serve as a duel-threat attack both as a playmaker and goal-scorer. With the puck on his stick, he is super evasive and fools the opposition with his slick hands and patience with the puck. When Perron uses his mobility and puck-handling skills to enter the offensive-zone, he becomes an immediate threat to the other team. He has good straight-line speed, but could work on developing a longer skating stride, which would make him even more dangerous of a player. His balance and edge work make him very dangerous when you combine that with his stick-handling ability. Perron can be a hard player to knock off the puck as he uses his lower-body and edges to block defenders. On the power play, he can play on the point as the quarterback as well as led the breakout of the defensive zone. The only thing Perron will have to work on in his offensive game is to not be overly flashy at times. (Clare McManus)

#16 – Mikhail Gulyayev

Gulyayev has the mobility and the speed to be productive off of the rush, but isn’t really using his mobility to generate open ice for himself. With that said, he really needs to get out of his comfort zone and stop settling for low danger shots. I do believe that the mobility is there and he just needs to deploy it. But, every other facet of his game is well-rounded.

Even if he doesn’t use his mobility more and plays more of a conservative game at the NHL level, he will still earn plenty of minutes because of his defensive pressure, but he won’t have as big of a role. I do see Gulyayev playing in a top four defensive role, but if he doesn’t end up using his mobility more and more, he will likely end moving up and down in the lineup. But, at the same point, Gulyayev has been trained to play more conservatively like quite a few Russian defensemen and there are NHL teams that are looking for more conservative defensemen. Some teams will want Gulyayev to use his mobility and some might ask him to stay put along the blue line in the offensive zone.

He can be an asset on the power play at the NHL level with how well he toes the line to open up space for himself when an attacker is present, but he still needs the mobility to pinch up and drive play into / towards the slot.  (Josh Tessler)

#17 – Riley Heidt

I believe that Riley Heidt possesses the characteristics needed to be a high-end, middle six center. His attention to playing down low paired with his hockey sense, are the main attributes I think he can enhance and feed off that will allow him to play center at the next level. Offensively he has outstanding distribution skills that won’t be lost at the next level, and quite frankly probably take away from some of the chatter surrounding his shot and release. The puck is on and off his blade so quickly, and Heidt has an absolute cannon for a one timer. I have no questions as to whether Heidt can play on an NHL powerplay. He most definitely can, and will.

For Heidt, the next step is filling out his body. Adding some muscle will make him heavier on the puck and make it even harder for defenders to strip the puck off of him. This will lead to further grade-A scoring chances. Overall Heidt is a very strong two-way defender who will almost assuredly hear his name called on day 1 of the NHL Draft. (Ben Jordan)

#18 – Eduard Šalé

Šalé is one of the most talented players in a stacked draft in terms of raw skill and physical tools. There is really nothing much on paper that he lacks in order to be a high-end NHLer in the future. His game is built around plus skating, great passing (he is amongst the best playmakers in the entire draft) and an extremely high hockey IQ, especially in the offensive zone. He also has a quick – if at times awkward – release, is dangerous on the cycle, and is solid defensively. So why is he not a nailed on top 10 pick in this draft? There are a few reasons. He was buried in a 4th line role most of the season in the Czech Extraliga, and he played better than the stats suggest. He also struggled both at the Pro and Youth International level with his consistency. Furthermore, he is physically immature despite being 6’1, and is a bit too aggressive when on the wrong side of the puck. But if he falls past 15th overall? With time, patience and maybe a bit of luck? He could well turn out to be one of the steals of the draft. (Alex Appleyard)

#19 – Dalibor Dvorsky

Dalibor Dvorsky had an up and down draft year. He’s a big, strong center with two-way capability and a super high motor. The way he approaches the game at both ends of the ice should allow for him to adapt to the NHL style quickly and be fairly effective early on. In the defensive end, he gets low to support his teammates. He’s aggressive and tenacious, not shy to use his strength to fight for inside ice and win puck battles. He forces attackers to make quick decisions and capitalizes on mistakes. Dvorsky has some playmaking ability, however his strongest weapon offensively is his shot. He has a lightning quick release and can generate serious power. If he can hone in on his accuracy, he has the ability to be a goal scoring threat. There are certainly questions about just how high his ceiling is, but he’s a workhorse who can drive play at both ends. (SpokedZ)

#20 – David Reinbacher

If 18 year olds were the finished product in hockey? Reinbacher would be a nailed on top five pick. He is already a very good player in the NLA, the Swiss top professional tier that is arguably around the level of the AHL. He is better than players like Roman Josi and Mark Streit were at the same age, and is already the best blue-liner on the Austrian national team, and maybe even the best defenseman the nation has ever produced if he never developed from here on out. In terms of safe picks? The rangy right-handed defenseman has an unbelievably high floor. If he does not become at least a good NHL #4 defenseman in the near future it would be a shock. He has virtually no holes in his game, with good skating, good IQ, good gap-control, a great transition game, solid hands, a nice shot. So why is he not higher in our list? The easy answer? He does not have too many stand-out tools, and that likely prevents him from ever being a legit NHL #1 Dman, even if he does have clear-cut #2 potential. (Alex Appleyard)

#21 – Gracyn Sawchyn

Sawchyn has excellent vision and does well at taking advantage of situations with limited space. He will get the pass off. Sawchyn is constantly looking to re-position himself as his teammates shift their own positioning so that way he can constantly provide his teammates with quality passing lanes should they need to pass. That has lead to goals at 5v5 for Sawchyn. 

I believe that Sawchyn can be a well-rounded offensive asset at the NHL in a middle six role. But with where Sawchyn is right now in his development, I would put deploy him as a winger instead of a center. He doesn’t have a power stride yet. If he does develop a strong power stride, I would definitely without a doubt deploy him at center because the combination of his handling, mobility and strong north-south strides would pave the way for Sawchyn to create more chances on his own with the puck in medium and high danger. In addition, I want Sawchyn to have the ability to create opportunities for himself off puck and he’d have far less of those opportunities mid-cycle in a center role. Also, you have to consider that he is usually isn’t the primary transporter in the neutral zone. But, if he can develop that power stride then I’d want to him to move into a center role as his role with possession of the puck would lead to far more scoring chances at center given the many tools that he has in the toolbox. (Josh Tessler)

#22 – Otto Stenberg

Otto Stenberg has a lot of excellent tools in his arsenal that make him a second line upside day 1 NHL Draft target. He’s shifty, mobile and has excellent stick-handling that he’ll use to get out of tight jams at centered ice. If he runs out of room and simply can’t navigate out with his footwork or handling, he makes use of whatever passing lane he has and more than often at the SHL level that meant passing underneath the stick of the attacker. When he has the puck on his stick, he’ll rely on his crossovers to create the separation to go one-on-one with the goaltender at net-front. If he simply can’t pull away from pressure, he’ll look to pepper the slot with passes. In transition, he won’t force the puck into dodgy situations and will button hook. Stenberg will then identify a secondary lane and take advantage. He’s got great problem solving skills. (Josh Tessler)

#23 – William Whitelaw

I believe that Whitelaw is a top six winger at the NHL level. While he has played center in his youth, if you play him at center in the NHL, you would have to change his puck hunting approach and In my opinion that would be a huge mistake.

I would go with Conor Garland as a player comparison for Whitelaw. Like Garland, Whitelaw is tenacious in his pursuit of the puck in the offensive zone and does a great job with distribution when the pressure is on.

If you draft Whitelaw, you want him to keep developing his physical play in all three zones. He is constantly looking to pounce on attackers for the puck in the offensive zone, but it’s a little bit less prevalent in the neutral and defensive zones. In addition, I’d like to see Whitelaw work on his shot angling and pass to the slot more when pressure closes up on him. If Whitelaw replaces a few of his shots from distance when pressure is present to passes to the slot through tight lanes, his assist totals will go up. (Josh Tessler)

#24 – Samuel Honzek

Honzek is a powerful centreman that uses his plus agility and edgework to get to dirty areas in front of the net. He is great a creating chances using little stick lifts and plays to free up lanes to his stick. With this being Honzek’s first year playing in North America, he has showed that his game is best suited for the smaller ice surface. He has shown a willingness to be dogged on pucks in the defensive zone, but filling out his frame is the next step on route to being a dominant modern day power forward. (Ben Jordan)

#25 – Timur Mukhanov

Mukhanov is a high upside pick. The tools in his tool-belt will come in handy at the NHL level and I’m confident that he will eventually slot in as a top six winger. As I mentioned a few times throughout the hyperlinked (^^^) report, I believe that his lack of a power stride holds him back from playing center. But, Mukhanov does have excellent distribution and finds gaps to pass through routinely when the pressure is on. 

If you are looking for a NHL comparable, I’d go with Andrew Mangiapane. A forward, who is undersized, but tenacious and has a motor that just won’t quit.  (Josh Tessler)

#26 – Brayden Yager

NHL head coaches are likely to debate whether or not they would place Yager at center or wing at the next level. Yager’s ability to use his power strides to get into open space to key up back door passing lanes is something that you will see far less of if Yager would be deployed at center at the next level. Instead of looking for opportunistic passing lanes for his teammates to use to feed him the puck, he will have to be the main driver of play and the pressure is only intensifying faster at the next level which means that Yager’s stick-handling in tight spaces will have to improve. If he’s deployed as a winger, he is going to do what he does best and that’s leverage his speed off puck to get into open ice. But, if he is deployed as a center at the NHL level, he will likely have to play more of a conservative role at times and that will mean that he playing further back in the offensive zone. If I’m drafting Yager, I want to leverage his shot and I don’t want him stuck under pressure along the perimeter.

With all of that said, if you take Yager and move him to the wing, I see him being a top six winger at the NHL level. He’s going to create give and go opportunities. Yager is going to score one-timers and backdoor goals. But, I do think that playing center at the next level will hinder his offensive upside. (Josh Tessler)

#27 – Gabe Perreault

Going into the preliminary ranking I was conflicted on what to do with Perreault. There were times he flashed an amazing ability to one-touch pass and spring his linemates open, as well as he possesses a high level of skill to create passing lanes through sudden puck manipulation moves that darted by the defenders stick. However, when the pace of play picked up I found Perreault’s impact on the game began to diminish. When space was not given to him I found that he struggled to slide off defenders to create optimal plays, which often lead to turnovers. However, he was the most involved player in transition on the best line in junior hockey, sported great dangerous passing metrics, and his off-puck ability in the offensive zone found him the recipient of a lot of high danger scoring chances. If Perreault can learn to operate in a faster paced game and create the space and time to do what he does best he’s going to outperform this ranking, however the concerns remain even if he did break Auston Matthews NTDP single season scoring record. (Austin Garret)

#28 – Oscar Fisker Mølgaard

Simply put, Oscar Fisker Mølgaard needs to be talked about a whole lot more than he is right now. The 6’0” 165 lb center didn’t leave his home country of Denmark for Sweden until the 2021-22 season, and less than 18 months later he found himself centering the second line on HV71’s SHL squad. Fisker Mølgaard is a highly intelligent, hardworking center who displays an advanced understanding of inside play both offensively and defensively. He’s a strong skater and is constantly in motion, scanning and surveying the ice in front of him. Despite his slight frame, he’s capable of winning puck battles vs. players far bigger and heavier than he is due to his high compete level and tenacity. Though the tools and flashes of playmaking are apparent and intriguing, it’s unclear just how much point production there will be at the NHL. The playmaking can be inconsistent and he doesn’t boast an NHL calibre shot to this point. There are questions about just how much offensive upside there is at the next level, and that may be a deciding factor in whether he hears his name called on day 1 or day 2. Still, the recent upward trajectory and the high-end tools make him an intriguing player to track as we get closer to June. (SpokedZ)

#29 – Daniil But

But is a power winger who I believe has some of the highest upside in the entire draft. When he’s at his best, he’s dominant; using his massive frame and high-end small area skill to bully MHL and sometimes even KHL competition. From a pure tools standpoint, But is one of the best bets you can make; 6’5” with a ton of skill is always gonna be an enticing combination. He’s always been a good finisher with a good shot, and I’ve wanted to see him become more of a playmaker, because I think it suits his game very well, plus he’s a very good passer when he does do that thing; very good at drawing defenders away, opening passing lanes in a variety of ways, and his actual passing ability is quite good. And through my viewings, I feel like he has trended in that direction; his playmaking has improved and become more frequent over the course of the season, and I’m liking the new But quite a lot. So why 29? Well, the skating is a bit of a mess at times, and for a guy his size, his physical game is not quite where it needs to be; he should work on his puck protection, and using his body more effectively. But more than anything, there are still concerns in terms of the general decision-making area. It has improved, which gives reason to think it can keep improving, but a lack of scanning and awareness, and often just a poor understanding of the game in general it feels like, certainly isn’t what you want to see. Questioning a player’s sense and smarts as much as I do with But is a bit of a red flag to me. At the same time, the talent and potential is undeniable, and it’s difficult to pass up at this point. It’s easy to imagine a world in which he goes top 10 in a re-draft, maybe even top 5; but the risk could be nearly as high as his potential is. (Gray Matter)

#30 – Colby Barlow

Barlow, often referred to as the “Man Child”, has been a man amongst the children in the OHL this season. Barlow can get to inside ice with ease against smaller junior opponents, and once there, use his heavy shot to generate offense. Barlow is also effective off give and go’s where he can find soft pockets of space in and around the crease to free up his stick. Both are the main areas he saw success during his dominant draft year campaign with Owen Sound. He finished the season with 46 goals and 79 points across 59 games. (Ben Jordan)

#31 – Matthew Wood

Matthew Wood is a power forward prospect who just finished his freshman campaign at the University of Connecticut. Wood is particularly good at mopping up loose pucks behind the red line and then making a quick pass to a teammate in the slot. He’s got an excellent shot and is quite good with puck manipulation prior to shooting. Wood will delay, force the goaltender to completely shift over and then strike at the gap that the goaltender provided him. At this point in his development, I really want to see his speed improve. He doesn’t have great pace and he’ll need it for the next level. (Josh Tessler)

#32 – Bradly Nadeau

Bradly Nadeau paired up with his older brother to dominate the BCHL with his speed, shot, and puck skill. He was one of the most involved offensive transition players in my data set, was in the top 10% in terms of passes sent to high/medium dangerous areas, and was a top shot generator. He could be a bit passive in the defensive zone, but his speed, skill, and shot were very notable to track. I question his NCAA choice (Maine with his brother) and the BCHL’s top scorers haven’t produced into top 6 scoring roles recently, but his skill-set is one I’d bet on. (Austin Garrett)

#33 – Calum Ritchie

Ritchie is one of the smarter players in this class, and that’s what puts him into the first-round conversation for us. He is committed to the defensive side of the puck and uses his pro-sized frame to make plays under pressure to break out. When at his best offensively, Ritchie uses his stickhandling superbly to get past defenders and create space for himself. As his game evolves, we would like to see more moves to the inside, and movement from east to west. (Ben Jordan)

#34 – Beau Akey

If there’s a player I’m most likely higher on than most it’s Beau Akey. He took a backseat to Brandt Clarke once he came back to the OHL and thus diminished his power play time and suppressed his point totals. What makes Akey so intriguing is his ability to generate offense by carrying the puck out of the defensive zone and his awareness as a passer to hit players all over the offensive zone. He’s the only player to attempt >35 passes in a game and complete >90% of them. He moves up into the zone to take his shot. He can have defensive lapses and his gap control can get away from him at times, but he’s a great high-upside pick in the late second-third round. (Austin Garret)

#35 – Tom Willander

Tom Willander is a big, mobile, right shot defenseman playing for Rögle BK. He’s a very intelligent defenseman who uses his high-end mobility to evade forechecking pressure and make life easy for teammates with a successful first pass. He’s solid defensively both in-zone and against the rush, and he plays a conservative style that enables him to play relatively mistake free hockey. That conservative style is effective in his own end, but it also limits his projection from an offensive standpoint. He oftentimes will rely on hopeful shots from the point instead of experimenting with the tools in his arsenal, ultimately hindering his ability to be an offensive threat on a consistent basis. I’d like to see Willander occasionally step outside of his comfort zone and add a layer of unpredictability in his offensive game,. (SpokedZ)

#36 – Alex Čiernik

The talented forward had an up-and-down season. The talent is clear to see at every level. A plus skater, he also has excellent play-making ability, is impressive in transition, has great hands and a good release, especially on his one-timer. Additionally, when playing versus players his own age especially he excels at 5v5, driving play and getting to danger areas with regularity. He played on two different Allsvenskan – Swedish 2nd tier – clubs this season, his “mother” club Södertälje, where he had a reduced role and struggled to assert himself, and on loan at Västervik, where he was one of the teams more dangerous players in a bigger role. As potential second round picks go there will not be many with more skill, but to reach his potential Ciernik needs to better understand how to deal with the pressure and intensity of professional hockey, and improve in his own zone. The worry with the talented Slovak is that unless he develops really well he might end up the proverbial NHL “tweener”, with no defined bottom six role. However, he plays at a high-tempo and with a good development path can comfortably become an NHL second line forward. (Alex Appleyard)

#37 – Luca Pinelli

I’ll start by saying that I adore Luca Pinelli. He’s the perfect combination of high skill and creativity, rendering a player who is a joy to watch. He’s a strong puck manager who prioritizes possession and will rarely concede control of the puck. In the offensive zone, he can pick apart opposing defence with deceptive moves to open up passing lanes that he can swiftly exploit before they close. Especially in small areas and along the halfwall, Pinelli can create something out of nothing and it can be remarkable to witness. Listed at 5’9 and 161 lbs, the obvious knock is size. It’s not an obvious limitation, as he doesn’t let it hinder him too much, as he plays with some peskiness and doesn’t get bounced around. However, to find success, he’ll need to add a few extra steps of explosiveness and overall quickness to maintain his style of play at the next level. It’s an upside swing but one that can truly pay off as high-end playmaking wingers are difficult to acquire. (Jordan Malette)

#38 – Denver Barkey

I believe that Barkey ends up on the wing at the next level in a middle six role. 

Barkey reminds me a bit of Mats Zuccarello. He has the ability to navigate around pressure in every zone and can identify tight passing lanes to utilize on the fly. Barkey has a playbook full of tactics to get out of pressure and doesn’t hesitate. He executes. 

While he has predominantly played center for the London Knights, I don’t see him playing center at the next level. He has shown that he can navigate around threats with his crossovers at the OHL level, but at the NHL level, he is going to need a power stride as well if he is to be deployed at center. If he can unlock the power stride, he could potentially play center at the NHL level. (Josh Tessler)

#39 – Michael Hrabal

Hrabal does project to be a starting NHL goaltender, but there are a few areas in his game that will need refinement in order to get him NHL ready. I’d like to see Hrabal shift quicker to shooting threats who are in back door areas. When in the butterfly, he is struggling to shift over in time and take on shots squared up. With that said, Hrabal is forced to make more desperation saves. In addition, as I just mentioned in the hyperlinked report, he also needs to address reading the trajectory and reacting with a well-placed glove extension on far side shots.

Hrabal does offer great post security, quick re-shifting when standing up, athleticism and the ability to maintain sight lines when traffic intensifies at the crease. Those attributes are exactly what I’m looking for in a goaltender. Hrabal does have some areas to work on, but offers more than others in the 2023 NHL goaltending class.

#40 – Tanner Molendyk

Molendyk is great in transition. He’s got excellent crossovers that spark his coast to coast puck movement. But, should he run into obstacles he’s shown over and over that he loves to give and go. Over the course of the season, I saw his vast improvement with his shot especially at 5v5. It was particularly rusty towards the start of the year, but by mid-March Molendyk was lighting up the lamp routinely. While his shot improved, the next step will be work on shot selection as he is shot heavy from the point. In his own zone, Molendyk will throw his weight to cause puck disruption. Molendyk has a second pairing projection. (Josh Tessler)

#41 – Trey Augustine

Trey Augustine is Smaht’s second highest ranked goaltender for the 2023 NHL Draft and will be playing for the Michigan State Spartans next season. Augustine does a great job of widening his frame in the butterfly to take away as much space as he can. It also allows him to shift from side to side quickly and that comes in handy on backdoor shot. Augustine’s rebound control is great and is able to push pucks routinely to low danger. His puck tracking and glove work are strong as well. Augustine does need to work on overcommitting and going too far out of his net, but he’s a great early day two option for a team that is looking to add to their goaltender pipeline. (Josh Tessler)

#42 – Charlie Stramel

Charlie Stramel projects as a checking line forward at the next level. He uses his size well to trap attackers at both ends of the ice and will lay down checks along the boards to cause puck disruption. Stramel isn’t the fastest north-south skater, but he does like to be involved in transitional play. He will utilize his crossovers to get the speed that he needs to carry the puck up ice, but defenseman are able to trap him before he can get down low with the puck. So, he’ll look to re-distribute in low danger. (Josh Tessler)

#43 – Luca Cagnoni

Cagnoni is an offensively minded blueliner who is always looking for opportunities to get up into the play. As the season has progressed, he has gotten better at picking his spots, and making the most of the times he activates. As he gets bigger and stronger, his shot will become more of a threat. He’s doing a great job selecting times to shoot and does a great job walking the line to find lanes. Cagnoni’s best attribute is that he creates offense while always moving. This often draws more defenders to him which has opened up more points of attack for Portland down low in the offensive zone. (Ben Jordan)

#44 – Lukas Dragicevic

Dragicevic is one of the more dynamic offensive threats from the backend in this draft class. His passing is superb, and he kickstarts many plays in transition using it. He is best hitting teammates on the move, and this creates many odd-man opportunities for his squad. Skating is another area where Dragicevic separates himself from his peers. He is confident carrying the puck, has great four-way mobility and can maintain these traits while under pressure. In the defensive zone, he will be a bit of a project. He lacks consistent scanning in the defensive zone, and this effects his positioning, and efficiency retrieving pucks in his own end. (Ben Jordan)

#45 – Anton Wahlberg

Anton Wahlberg is another prospect out of Sweden who has recently seen his draft stock rise, and one who I fully expect scouts & GM’s to fall in love with thanks to his 6’4”, 190 lb frame and aggressive style. In the junior ranks, he’s able to use that size and strength to take over games and dominate against smaller players with ease. He’s also a decent skater for a player his size . He’s scored multiple highlight reel, coast to coast goals in the J20 this season due to the fact that nobody can take the puck off him. Now graduated to Malmo’s SHL team, he’s not able to rely solely on his size and strength. He’s learned to play a more calculated, mature game with more of a focus on the finer details. Over time, he’s adapted quite well and started to produce points after his recent promotion to the top six. He continues to take strides defensively as well, and has shown he can be a useful two-way forward. If he can add layers to his game offensively beyond just being a bull in a china shop, he has the foundational tools to become a decent middle-six power forward. (SpokedZ)

#46 – Kalan Lind

Kalan Lind is pure energy that has zero qualms with scoring big goals while engaging physically. He is most dangerous when playing instinctively and crashing the net. Even with a smaller build, he loves to clean up dirty areas and get to places net-front that many others don’t. He is an effective straight-line player that naturally pushes back defenders and up space for himself. As is the case with many of these player builds, Lind is an established and successful forechecker. He has a great stick in tight areas and can secure many free pucks while applying pressure along the wall and behind the nets. In the defensive zone, Lind is constantly hounding the puck carrier and pressuring them intensely with hopes of turning the puck over. (Ben Jordan)

#47 – Aydar Suniev

Aydar Suniev has been lighting the lamp for the Pentiction Vees routinely throughout the season. Suniev has an excellent shot from range even in contested situations. But, he can also create space for himself by pushing play around pressure at open ice and then quickly using the space that he created by putting a quality shot on net. When Suniev is off-puck in the offensive zone, he is looking to establish open ice down low and that has led to quite a few high danger passes coming his way. (Josh Tessler)

#48 – Nick Lardis

Nick Lardis has a fantastic shot which has been at the forefront of his success in Hamilton. Either off the rush or catch and release, Nick is a threat to score from almost any angle or distance. Lardis is always hovering around the offensive zone, looking to find a split second of open space to be open for a pass that will allow him to unleash a shot quickly. He plays at a high pace and can push defenders on their heels, which makes for the occasional highlight reel goal when combined with his slick hands. Not only does he possess the top-end shot and puck skills, Nick is also a fairly creative passer and can connect plays together through quality playmaking.  It’s an upside swing, but one that makes sense as we get into the mid to late 2nd round. (Jordan Malette)

#49 – Lenni Hämeenaho

If the young Finn one day makes the NHL, no matter what his role you can be assured he will be a fan favourite. He is the kind of player that incites the old hockey cliché of “playing the right way”, and combines that with a high IQ in each zone as well as a good shot and a decent set of hands. This season he established himself as a good player at the pro level in Liiga – the Finnish top tier – and kept improving as the season went on. He is a North-South player who excels on the boards and is great at getting space around the net. While lacking the high-end skill to be a future top line player he is confident with the puck on his stick and a relentless fore-checker who is good at picking pockets in every zone. His skating is the main area that will need improvement in order to fulfil his potential, but if he can iron out the kinks there he is very likely to be at worst a good NHL bottom sixer, with the upside to play a complimentary role on a second line. (Alex Appleyard)

#50 – Caden Price

Price started out the year as one of my top defensemen and a sure fire first rounder. As the season has played its course, my tune has changed quite drastically. He is a transition darling. He can get the puck up to the forwards quickly and get plays moving north quite effectively. There is some offensive upside with Price as he does generate some scoring opportunities with his above average passing and 4-way mobility. These skills open up lanes to the net for him to create. Defensively he has trouble at times holding a clean gap, but that is in large part because he like to pinch up and squeeze pucks against the wall. Understanding the time to activate and keep plays alive will allow Price to stay engaged in more plays throughout the course of a game. (Ben Jordan)

#51 – Jacob Fowler

Jacob Fowler received a lot of praise this season and rightfully so as he had the lowest GAA in the USHL this past regular season. In the playoffs, he slammed the door shut for Youngstown and recorded a 1.36 GAA / .952 SV% in nine games played. He will be playing for the Boston College Eagles this fall.

Fowler does an excellent job of widening his stance in the crouch when facing a threat in high danger. He’s also quick with his pads and can slam the door shut in the butterfly by shifting over with his pads. While he does do a good job of widening himself and quickly reseting in butterfly position, I’d like to see him work on extending his glove to take away space top shelf. (Josh Tessler)

#52 – Kasper Halttunen

Two years ago the hulking Finnish winger was being talked about as a potential top 10 pick. It is easy to see why. At 16 years old he was 6’3 and over 190lbs, with a booming shot, good hands and who is not afraid to get physical as well as working hard up and down the ice. But over the last year his stock has fell significantly. However, since stepping up to the pro level and not being able to physically bully opponents, he has struggled, and while he has still been able to produce in junior international play there have also been concerns with “how” he has played. He often tries to force plays that are just not there, shoots when he should pass and passes when he should shoot. Versus men he also does not use his size well enough, despite being a modern “power-forward” and liking to get to the net and boards, and seems to get frustrated easily and let that take his mind off the end-game. However, he still has the potential to be a top-six goal-scorer if he develops well, matures and learns to read the game better. (Alex Appleyard)

#53 – Andrew Strathmann

An offensive minded defenseman who likes to be creative with the puck on his stick. The North Dakota commit has a few flaws in his game that will need to be fixed if he wants a shot at the pro level. He tends to give up the puck in dangerous areas which can lead to turnovers. He can skate well and use his shot to his best ability. But sometimes gives up a passing opportunity because of his poor decision making. (Clare McManus)

#54 – David Edstrom

Edstrom is projected third line center at the next level. He has been effective with two-way play in J18, J20 and in the SHL this season. He’s got great side to side speed from his crossovers that allows him to pounce on attackers behind the red line. Edstrom is defensively responsible and sits back in the neutral zone when the oppositional rush breaks out. He’s got an active stick and has good reach to rely on when scooping up loose pucks. Edstrom is solid with his distribution and uses whatever space is given to him. He does a great job of spotting potential passing lanes for his teammates to use and skates into them timely. That has paved the way for goals at net front. (Josh Tessler)

#55 – Aram Minnetian

Minnetian is the one player on the NTDP that soared up my personal rankings these past two months. He’s always been a fantastic skater, but he showed a great progression in his ability to transport the puck from the beginning of the year. Given that he also started to activate with deception the last month as well: he’s a player whose skill-set has begun to break through recently and could continue to develop into a top four player. (Austin Garrett)

#56 – Matthew Mania

Mania is a player whose ability and dataset has intrigued me throughout the season. While he’s fluctuated in his distribution metrics, he’s always been an involved player in offensive transitions for a defenseman. His puck skill to be a potential carry-out/carry-in player combined with flashes of deception and vision makes him an intriguing pick as a potential offensive defensemen. He moves up into the zone and utilizes space to get his shot off, and his defensive game features an active and effective stick when keeping a gap. His lack of physicality in front of the net and his inconsistency in my dataset bump him here, but I think there’s plenty there for a team to develop. (Austin Garret)

#57 – Carson Bjarnason

The tools that Bjarnason has makes him a rather intriguing goaltender prospect for the 2023 NHL Draft. The athleticism, the glove, the blocker and the puck tracking are excellent. He is showing that he can react quickly to puck movement and shut down scoring chances on routine. He extends his blocker and pads out just in time to push pucks to low danger areas. Bjarnason keeps his head on a swivel and does an excellent job of puck tracking even when traffic builds up at net front is a tool that will come in handy at the NHL level when the opposition is bigger and faster.

The area that I would like to see improvement on the most is his stance. If Bjarnason can improve his crouch and butterfly stance in net to take up more space, those tools are going to blend nicely and thus he has NHL starter potential written all over him. (Josh Tessler)

#58 – Martin Mišiak

Misiak is a player who plays with a high motor, an aggressive F1 forechecker, and makes the right play on a very consistent basis. While I don’t think he possesses a lot of puck skill to be a puck transporter nor do I think he’s going to drive chain-linked plays in the offensive zone; I do believe that Misiak is able to be a one-touch, positive transition player who can feed pucks to dangerous areas and would be a solid middle-six player. (Austin Garrett)

#59 – Ignat Lutfullin

One of the first things you’ll notice when watching Lutfullin is that, well . . . his team is awful. Most of the time I’ve spent watching him, his team is just getting caved in, and he’s stuck playing in the defensive zone for most of the game; not a great environment to evaluate him as an offensive player. But when he’s actually able to gain control of the puck, it quickly becomes clear that he’s—usually—the best player on the ice. He basically drives all the offence for his team, and he doesn’t really get a ton of support, which is why his numbers don’t pop quite as much as some other MHLers on this list. He plays at a high pace; he executes on his plays and passes very quickly, and processes the game just as fast. His creative playmaking is his strongest asset, always making smart reads and creating clever passing plays that could result in much more if his linemates were on the same level as him, and able to drive offence more effectively. Although I’ve found puck control to be an issue presently, he’s a very skilled and quick handler, and he’s good at using his hands to navigate in tight spaces. Overall, he’s very creative in the plays he makes, and I can see him becoming a good playmaking play-driver in the NHL if everything goes right with his development. He’s definitely a swing I would take at this point in the draft. (Gray Matter)

#60 – Roman Kantserov

Kantserov is a skilled and creative dual-threat winger. He’s known more as a playmaker, but I think his finishing ability and scoring instincts are quite strong, and his shot—though nothing amazing—is underrated. On that note, while his shot may not be the best out there, his shot selection and decision-making in general is typically very good I find, which is what makes his finishing potential stand out to me. He’s a very skilled handler and passer; I’ve noticed improvement in his small area skill, and he uses his hands to beat pressure a bit more often than I saw early on in the season. But again, what stands out the most to me is his general sense, awareness, and decision-making. They’re not always executed to perfection, but the plays he tries to make are almost always the right ones. With the puck, he’s always looking to use his skill to create separation, get to the middle of the ice, and either find a shooting lane, or open up more space for him to feed a teammate; I only really see him take low percentage shots as a last resort. With all that, I find it easy to see his game translating to the NHL. Many will point to his size at 5’9” and say he probably won’t make it, and I will point to his size at nearly 180 lbs already and say I don’t think it’s an issue. (Gray Matter)

#61 – Jakub Dvorak

Jakub Dvorak is second pairing projected defensive defenseman. Dvorak does a great job of taking up space with his positioning and has a great active stick that he’ll use to keep attackers at a distance. Typically, he looks to put implement tight pressure on any puck carrying attacker when they get to the perimeter line. He will throw his weight and will look to be physical especially in the corners. Unfortunately, he was hurt for roughly 3-4 months and returned just in time for the U18s. At the U18s, his mobility wasn’t as shifty as it was prior to injury and he was slightly less effective with his distribution, but you have to expect that anyone coming back from that long of an injury will be a tad sluggish from the get-go. (Josh Tessler)

#62 – Theo Lindstein

Once upon a time the Swedish blue-liner was posited as a player who would be the first defenseman off the board in this draft. Not only was he playing in the SHL at 16 years old, his physical skill-set is one that has very few holes. A very good skater in all directions who has a low sense of gravity and is strong for his size, he has everything you want in that area for a modern NHL blue-liner. Lindstein also has plus puck skills, is a good passer, and is intuitive in transition. In the offensive zone he is good at creating space, and defensively he defines himself by impressive anticipation and gap control. However, while he improved as the season went – to the point that over the last month of the season he was arguably Brynäs’s best defenseman – he has a bad habit of giving the puck away in dangerous positions, and is not as impressive in the offensive zone as he is when coming up ice, to the point that there are serious questions as to whether he would ever be a consistent offensive threat in the NHL. Lindstein has arguably fell too far though in consensus rankings, and certainly has second pairing upside at the highest level. (Alex Appleyard)

#63 – Arvid Bergström

Arvid Bergström is another intriguing defenseman in this draft class. The foundation of his game is skating. He’s technically sound with strong acceleration and speed, enabling him to thrive in transition. He can skate the puck up the ice himself with ease, and he’s also an excellent puck mover. Bergström sees the ice well and is always in anticipation mode, and this helps him avoid oncoming forecheckers. His point production and play style don’t necessarily stand out, but this skill makes him a quietly effective player on any team. He also shows great mobility along the offensive blueline, which should allow for him to potentially develop into a powerplay option down the line. (SpokedZ)

#64 – Alexander Rykov

An energetic, smart, and defensively responsible forward, Rykov probably won’t have a massive offensive impact in the NHL, but he’ll bring some decent speed and a good motor, along with a smart, well-rounded, and relatively low-risk game. He doesn’t excel at any one particular thing, but he’s just solid across the board, and he thinks the game well. He’s elusive, especially along the boards, he spins off checks well and accelerates quickly to escape pressure. He’s a good skater, but he plays a bit too fast at times, particularly away from the puck, not slowing down in space and just skating full speed in a straight line; but this isn’t a frequent occurrence in his game, and I don’t see it as a long-term concern. He puts himself in good spots offensively without the puck, and he’s a skilled passer, able to adapt his passes to different situations. A lack of offensive creativity likely limits his upside, but he reads play well, and just makes smart, simple plays all the time, while bringing a great motor; he’s always active and making an effort at both ends of the ice. (Gray Matter)

#65 – Nico Myatovic

I project Myatovic to be a middle six winger at the next level. He has the tools to be a power forward on a scoring line at the NHL level. I believe he will more than likely come off the board in the second round. Myatovic’s tools are very projectable to the NHL and he will feel like a safe bet for NHL scouts. 

Ultimately, I’d like to see Myatovic further develop his physicality in all three zones and look to leverage his long range passing more and more to get pucks to the slot when he is in low danger. In the defensive zone, I’d like to see Myatovic use more of an active stick, but if his physicality improves I believe that it will only translate into Myatovic using an active stick more and more to isolate attackers. (Josh Tessler)

#66 – Yegor Zavragin

If you lost out on Hrabal, Augustine, Fowler and Bjarnason, Yegor Zavragin is an excellent consolation prize. He’s quick and nimble. When in the butterfly, he takes up a lot of space in net. Zavragin has an excellent glove and is rather effective with his glove on high danger chances. His rebound control is quite good and is constantly pushing pucks to low danger areas. (Josh Tessler)

#67 – Noel Nordh

I’m very interested to see where Noel Nordh ends up being selected in this draft. He’s a big, smart winger who is able to be a very useful and effective player at both ends of the ice. He doesn’t have the profile of a point producing playmaker, but his hockey sense and decision making should make him a solid play connector in a middle six role. Defensively, he makes smart reads and uses his size and strength to keep attackers to the outside. Though he’s not the quickest or best skater in this class, he’s still able to carry the puck through the neutral zone and generate entries to set up play in the offensive zone for his teammates. He seems to have a good understanding of what type of player he is. He rarely turns the puck over or makes mistakes trying to make plays he isn’t capable of making. His ability to be useful in all three zones along with his projectable frame should make him an intriguing option for teams in the middle rounds of the draft. (SpokedZ)

#68 – Easton Cowan

Cowan is an excellent two-way forward that has elite vision, passing and hockey IQ. He has a great motor that allows him to be engaged in every play throughout his shifts. Since the Knights acquired Ryan Winterton from the Hamilton Bulldogs, Cowan has been the glue that holds that line of Cowan-Winterton-Barkey together. He is willing to dig pucks out of the corners and uses his great vision and passing to set up scoring chances. He loves to drive the net and pick up loose change that he can bury or turn into second chance offense for his linemates. Defensively, Cowan has an active stick, and is constantly hovering above his opponent looking to strip the puck and get the play started the other way. (Ben Jordan)

#69 – Quinton Burns

Quinton Burns is a solid rush defenseman. He usually maintains good positioning. Burns stays well-aligned with the rush in the neutral zone and looks to force oppositional dump-ins into the Kingston zone. He then uses his lengthy stride to put him on the inside track to the loose puck. When the attacker who is engaged in the loose puck battle with Burns closes in on him, Burns does a good job of utilizing the boards to pass the puck off of. Burns is more of a defensive defenseman and will need to continue to work on developing his east-west speed and pivoting to ensure that he can stay aligned to puck carriers who are rather shifty. I would project Burns to be a second pairing defenseman and hopefully if he can develop stronger east-west speed that will only pave the way for more physical defending and closing out pressure at a faster rate. (Josh Tessler)

#70 – Tanner Adams

Tanner Adams as a puck transporter is a dream. He was over 43% offensive involvement with a 79% success rate. He facilitates play so well, is defensively responsible, but had some of the worst puck luck I’ve seen while tracking a player. The Providence College commit could take a full three years to hit an offensive output that puts him on the NHL’s radar in college, but I like his game enough to bet on him. (Austin Garret)

#71 – Felix Nilsson

Nilsson has all the stand-out traits that teams in the NHL crave when it comes to reliable bottom six pivots. He has an extremely high hockey IQ, links up play fantastically whether it is as a medium between the blue-line and wingers coming up ice, or creating inefficiencies in opposition coverages on the cycle, and is diligent, aware and engaged when it comes to play in his own zone. The Stockholm centre is also not lacking in skills, with good passing, a solid shot, and hands that he shows from time-to-time. The young Swede is also a plus penalty-killer with some grit, even if he could be a bit more physical. There are not exactly many “stand-out” traits in his game, but he is above average in basically every area. As can be imagined from such a skill-set, down the line he could well turn into a solid 3rdline centre in the NHL. (Alex Appleyard)

#72 – Étienne Morin

Étienne Morin in the offensive zone is fantastic. He has great deception on the blue line and creates passing lanes with the puck on his stick. He’s super offensive and operated as almost a fourth forward when he was on the ice in terms of creating offense. However, Morin trying to escape forechecking pressure or making a pass under the threat of being hit was cringeworthy. His gap control wasn’t great and didn’t separate players from the puck at the QMJHL level, which made me feel like he’d struggle to be a positive defensive player in the NHL. I’d bet on the offensive tools and hope that he develops enough defensively to be a top 4 defensemen. (Austin Garret)

#73 – Felix Unger Sorum

The Norwegian born, Swedish registered winger has been a late riser up NHL draft lists. The u-18 World Juniors were a big part of that, as he flashed skill and scoring alongside his good two-way game. He was totally off the radar at the start of the season, despite having already played at the u-20 level since he was 16 years old. This might be because he is one of the youngest players in the 2023 draft, in fact, were he born just a day later he would be 2024 draft eligible. Over the 2022-23 season he put up over P/GP at the J20 level, made his junior national team debut, and then made his SHL debut. The main this that jumps out about his game is his play-making. Not only does he have a wonderful, deft touch to his passing, he can also pick out line-mates from virtually anywhere on ice. Furthermore, for a player who is pass first, he does a lot of damage from the slot, and does not mind going to high-danger areas. He is also very creative with the puck on his stick, and for such a skilled player works very hard in his own zone. His upside is likely a second-liner in the NHL. However, to get there he needs to improve his release, as it sometimes takes him too much time to get shots away, and also work on his skating, as his stride lacks power and drive. (Alex Appleyard)

#74 – Carson Rehkopf

Rehkopf is bigger build with an interesting blend of size and skill. He has a pro level frame and shot already that both project extremely well. He has also shown the ability to play both down the middle and on the wing. Based on past trends and knowing what NHL teams cherish in players, Rehkopf should hear his name called somewhere in the first 50 selections. If able to develop his skill set effectively, there could be a very dominant middle-six forward that can dominate middle ice. He also has the length and active stick to provide value on a penalty kill unit. There are concerns about Rehkopf’s engagement with the play off the puck, as well as his commitment to physical play but many teams may see this an opportunity to further round out his game. (Ben Jordan)

#75 – Koehn Ziemmer

Ziemmer is a power forward build that excels when the puck is on his blade. He’s got a great shot with the ability to change angels quickly and is an great at weaving around defenders with shoulder fakes and quick stickhandles. Defensively he can become mis engaged quite quickly, but he does do a good job intercepting cycle plays and hard rims around the boards. Where Ziemmer slips below his counter parts is the skating. His stride mechanics are extremely wonky, and his being hunched over paired with extreme ankle flexion causes for some trouble to accelerate and the rate needed to keep up at the pro level. (Ben Jordan)

#76 – Tristan Bertucci

Bertucci is your prototypical modern-day defender. He’s got a nice blend of size and skill and has great defensive acumen. He is positionally sound, and always in the right place to break up passes or scoring attempts. I find he as great at retrieving dump ins and pucks from behind his own goal. He uses scanning so effectively and understands body position at an elite level so that he can free his stick and start breaking the puck up the ice. There are times where he lacks aggressiveness in his defending and can let opponents back him up. (Ben Jordan)

#77 – Carter Sotheran

Sotheran has been an effective defensive defenseman for the Portland Winterhawks this season. When his usual defensive partner, Luca Cagnoni has pinched up, Sotheran has fallen back. He’s got excellent gap control and great footwork that keeps himself aligned to the attack. If there is a defenseman that I’m willing to bet on being a solid shut down defenseman at the next level in the mid-rounds, I’m betting on Sotheran. (Josh Tessler)

#78 – Noah Dower Nilsson

The man from the shores of the Skagerrak Strait is, in terms of skills alone, one of the most talented players in the 2023 draft. His hands are close to elite, he has great vision, alongside plus passing and shooting. Alongside his high-end skill he is also not lacking in grit. For a player with a high skill level he is perfectly happy to get in close around the net and work hard on the boards too. The result of this skill-set? Dower Nilsson put up 54 points this year, 7th most in league history for an u-18 player. His upside is certainly that of a top-six NHL player, even if likely at wing. So what are his weaknesses? There are several. His skating needs to improve, with it being merely average for a player of his size. Furthermore, he need to play with more intensity when he does not have the puck, he gets lost in the defensive zone at times and seems to float waiting for play to go the other way. Additionally, far too often he makes low percentage passes that get picked off and send play the other way, and – connected to this – has a habit of panicking when under intense pressure. (Alex Appleyard)

#79 – Ethan Gauthier

Ethan Gauthier is coming off of his second season with the Sherbrooke Phoenix and averaged roughly a point per game. Gauthier projects to be a bottom six forward at the next level and will be called upon to provide grit / physicality in order to cause puck disruption. But, I do want to note that his physicality has been far more prominent on the forecheck than on the backcheck. While he does project to be more a grit / physical forward than a game changer, he will be able to rack up points by using his frame to fight for open passing lanes at net-front and by using his physicality to steal control of the puck on the forecheck and quickly distributing the puck. (Josh Tessler)

#80 – Hoyt Stanley

Hoyt Stanley just finished his last season in the BCHL with the Victoria Grizzlies and is headed to Cornell University in the fall to play for the Big Red. Stanley is a solid puck moving defenseman and was a great distribution from the blue line all season long. While the bulk of his assists, his passes even when they were defense-to-defense, those passes were more strategic. If he saw that he couldn’t get a clear pass to the slot but his defensive partner could, he was going to feed his partner the puck. While in transition, he loves to complete passes off the boards when looking to get the puck around an attacker in front of him and to a teammate further up in the neutral zone. (Josh Tessler)

#81 – Griffin Erdman

Griffin Erdman is a defensively responsible forward and one who projects to be a bottom six forward at the next level. He’s tenacious and has excellent activation that he relies on to go after loose pucks. When in transition, he likes to utilize give and go passing to drive up the ice. In the offensive zone, if he has control of the puck and pressure is keeping him in low danger, he’ll look to distribute the puck and go find space in the trenches so he can provide the teammate that he passed to with a juicy passing lane. (Josh Tessler)

#82 – Coulson Pitre

Pitre is an incredibly smart, versatile forward. His best attribute is his awareness, and this has enabled him to play in any forward slot throughout a lineup and build chemistry with new linemates throughout a game. This trait was shining bright at the CHL top prospects where Pitre saw many linemates and was seemingly able to be the glue of those lines. Pitre also uses his strength to aid his impressive 200ft game where he wins a ton of puck battles. He will be an enticing option come day 2 of the NHL draft in Nashville as he is a very projectable, safe, and versatile forward. (Ben Jordan)

#83 – Ryan Fine

Ryan Fine is the most underrated forward on the NTDP. He’s a great puck transporter and has great skill, his high school highlight reel is insane, and at times was the best player on the Moore/Terrance/Fine line at the u18s. He was stuck on the third line for much of the year at the NTDP in a checking role, but at Harvard, he should assume a scoring role as soon as this year given their departures. (Austin Garret)

#84 – Jesse Kiiskinen

Kiiskinen is one of the youngest players in this year’s draft, and despite that managed to lead all Finnish draft eligible players in P/GP at the u-20 level with 1.39 over the season (43 in 31). He also impressed enough to get a few games in Liiga as the season went on, picking up his first professional point in the process. While he has a solid offensive skill-set, with quick hands, nice passing and a big shot, what stands out most when you watch the young Finn is “how” he plays the game. He is constantly on the move like an Energizer bunny, even when set up on the power-play half-wall he is rotating, adjusting, trying to give the best lane possible. He forechecks relentlessly and is a real pest for defensemen, getting sticks in lanes and finishing checks. Kiiskinen is also rarely out of position in any zone, creates space for team-mates and loves to get to the high danger areas around the net and in the slot. His potential? Likely an all-around middle six winger who can put the puck in the net. He is not without flaws though. His skating needs work, and he is also slightly trigger happy even when line-mates are in a better position than he is. But if he can improve in these two areas? He has a good chance to contribute in the NHL. (Alex Appleyard)

#85 – Matthew Soto

Matthew Soto’s counting production didn’t line up with my four game tracked data. He showed a great ability to generate dangerous scoring opportunities through his passing and he was pretty active in his transition numbers, but his counting stats never materialized. Coupled with his deft puck skill, ability to get by first layer defenders and create plays, and able to play at an NHL pace I think he’s a player that could see a boom in his post draft year in terms of production. He’s an upside swing to make, but the Kingston winger has the skill set, the opportunity to improve his production, and a very late birthday in this class that he could be an interesting mid-late round swing for a team. (Austin Garret)

#86 – Oliver Bonk

Bonk has been a steady force on the London blueline this season. He isn’t the flashiest most dynamic player out there, but he makes all the plays and isn’t talked about much. For guys like him, that is best. He does an extremely good job controlling gaps and has an extremely active stick. He effectively shut down many top OHL units and was also able to chip in offensively with 40 points in 67 games. All those points with just about no powerplay time, which was eaten up mostly by Logan Mailloux and Sam Dickinson. Bonk reminds me a ton of T.J. Brodie, and should a team come away from day 2 of the draft with T.J. Brodie, they should be ecstatic. (Ben Jordan)

#87 – Cole Knuble

He thinks the game so well off the puck, he processes under pressure very well with the puck, and gets to areas of the ice where goals are scored. He is the catalyst of everything good that happens on his line in Fargo. He’s able to jumpstart transitions, thread passes to open teammates, and make a quick small area move to free up a passing lane. (Austin Garret)

#88 – Larry Keenan

Larry Keenan was a smooth-skating, big LHD who also has a cannon from the point. He’s a bit raw in his offensive game and his defensive game was never challenged in my viewings. However, he’s my top prep/HS player coming into this year’s draft. (Austin Garret)

#89 – Carey Terrance

Terrance is a two-way north-south centerman who facilitates plenty of transitions at the OHL level. He shines when he is exploding through the neutral zone at high pace, gets a step by a defender to the exterior, and cuts in for a scoring chance. That sequence alone was a constant theme way back at the Hlinka, however, it was a recurring element I kept spotting every time I watched him with the Otters. Defensively he is frequently in the correct position to deny chances from developing into dangerous chances, further adding to his value as a centerman. There are flashes of high-end skill that you sometimes see shine through that makes me think there is a glimmer of offensive potential in his game. At the very least, Carey has the building blocks to develop into a two-way depth centerman if everything breaks right. (Jordan Malette)

#90 – Gennadi Chaly

Gennadi Chaly is has some neat offensive tools in his tool-kit. He does a great job at manipulating goaltenders from range by positioning the puck to one side to get the goaltender to commit to that side. Then he strikes the other side. He will drag the puck back towards himself from range to drag the goaltender a bit further out from his net to create gaps. His shooting is quite good and I just want to see more and more 5v5 production. Chaly will be back in Waterloo next season and will join the University of Vermont Catamounts in 2024. (Josh Tessler)

#91 – Hunter Brzustewicz

Brzustewicz is great on his edges. In the offensive zone, walking the blueline and finding creative ways to get pucks on net is his strength. In the defensive zone with the puck on his stick he uses his edges to pivot and spin out of passes. Given his ability to make a strong first pass up ice, being able to spin out of pressure is a massive asset. He is committed to both ends of the rink, and never takes a shift off. Going beyond his draft year, I would love to see Brzustewicz add some muscle to fill out his frame. This will help his shot power and his ability to dominate board battles. (Ben Jordan)

#92 – Yegor Klimovich

An undersized skilled playmaking winger, it admittedly may be a bit of a longshot for Klimovich to make the NHL. He plays bigger than he is; his feet are quick, but he’s not the fastest guy in the world, and he often relies on strength and puck protection mechanics to navigate around pressure, which works at the junior level, but won’t be so easy against better competition. But he’s bursting with offensive creativity and skill; it’s hard not to love him. His game is built around just nonstop creative moves and crafty passes to dangerous areas, it’s no surprise that he torched the MHL this season. There’s much risk of his game not translating, for sure, but I can also easily see a world where he’s looked at as a massive steal in a few years. If you’re going to make a bet on pure skill and creativity, he’s one of the best options available. (Gray Matter)

#93 – Andrew Gibson

Gibson was one of the more noticeable defensemen out there for team Canada at the most recent U18 tournament. He has a great first pass and is able to start his team in transition super effectively. Unfortunately, due to different injuries, Gibson was only able to play in 45 games this season for the Soo Greyhounds, but in those games, he showed off his raw skill. This is a prospect that will need some extra time to fill out the frame and understand his body, and how to use it. Through his play this season, there is no question that he is a dynamic skater. He is a great passer and has great vision to thread lanes all around the ice, and in all three zones. He plays physically in the defensive zone and uses his length very well to direct opponents and chances to the perimeter. (Ben Jordan)

#94 – Petter Vesterheim

While one of the older players in the 2023 draft, Vesterheim has only really just started to pop up on draft radars in the last few months. That surge up draft rankings is not just down to one thing. First came his performance in the World Juniors Division 1A, where he led Norway in scoring with 7 points in 5 games as they decimated the competition on their way to five wins from five games and a comfortable promotion to the top level. Then came his promotion to the professional level with Mora in the Allsvenskan, where he helped his side to the semi-finals and did not look out of place. Finally, he made his senior international debut for Norway and went on to play every game at the World Championships, helping them avoid relegation in a depth role. The young center stands out due to his high IQ and high compete level, two things that stand him in extremely good stead going forward. He might not be the most skilled player, but can pass a puck, has a solid release, and also skates pretty well. Defensively he is very mature for his age, and will only get better with time. There are no gaping holes in his game, and if things go well development wise he may turn into a solid NHL 3rd liner down the line. (Alex Appleyard)

#95 – Brandon Svoboda

Brandon Svoboda has a checking line forward projection, but does have the tools to be a rather productive points-wise in the offensive zone. Svoboda does a good job of utilize his frame to get past attackers, keep the puck secure and drive to the net. The Pennsylvania native played lower in the Youngstown Phantoms lineup and as a result was on the ice for less time compared to other Phantoms forwards who are draft eligible. I’m confident with more ice time that Svoboda will score more and more. Next season, he will be player for the Boston University Terriers at Agganis. (Josh Tessler)

#96 – Emil Järventie

Järventie’s best asset is his shot. It’s not perfect, but his shot is heavy, his release is fairly quick, and he usually changes the angle by dragging the puck closer to his feet on release. The shot is the main standout tool in his arsenal, but I would say his passing ability is very good as well, though he uses it far less frequently. Although he’s fallen a lot for me over the course of the season, I still just enjoy watching him play; he brings energy, quickness, elusiveness, as well as an active stick away from the puck. He could stand to add some strength, as he gets knocked over easily, and heavily struggles in physical battles. He’ll probably never be the primary driver of offence on his line, but a complementary winger who will score some goals by being in the right spot, or sniping off the rush, and will play on the power play for you, I can definitely see that. (Gray Matter)

#97 – Brady Cleveland

Brady Cleveland played for the USNTDP this past season and provided the team with an excellent shut down defenseman. Cleveland moves quite well for his size and that allows to retain good gap control when applying tight pressure. When in the corners and along the boards, Cleveland will use his frame and execute shoulder and hip checks with ease. He’ll be suiting up for the University of Wisconsin Badgers next season and I can imagine will be a fan favorite in Madison. (Josh Tessler)

#98 – Tanner Ludtke

Tanner Ludtke is a player that rarely gets mentioned in the public sphere. The 6’0 forward can look a bit awkward in his skating mechanics and his pace of play is a question mark. However, he plays the game so well. He’s very involved as a one-touch puck transporter, is one of the top shot generators in the USHL in my data set, and has enough skill that his pace doesn’t hinder him from making plays. The University of Nebraska-Omaha commit hasn’t produced much in terms of NHL talent recently, but I have a hard time not advocating for him to be on this list given his productivity both in counting and micro stats. (Austin Garret)

#99 – Cameron Allen

At the Hlinka it was widely believed Cam Allen could end up being the top CHL defender in the 2023 draft, but his decision making and passing decisions drove him down my personal rankings. He preferred to take low percentage shots rather than trying to facilitate play, threw pucks out of the zone instead of hitting teammates, and made defensive positioning decisions that I questioned throughout the year. However, there are flashes of skill and deception as well as his skating is a plus aspect of his game. He’s a player that I think would be super interesting if he had a change of scenery next year, but for a team willing to develop his game I could see him playing NHL games. (Austin Garret)

#100 – Juraj Pekarcik

Pekarcik is a fun one to keep an eye on, he’s a bit raw at the moment, and likely a longer term project, but the potential is definitely there, especially as a playmaker. He’s a very good passer, both in ideas and creativity, and in technical skill. His passes are generally quick, hard, and precise; but he knows when to feather one instead, he tailors his passes to the situation effectively, often changing the angle and using his reach to pass around opponents or under sticks. As well, he’s just as good a passer with both sides of his blade, able to thread passes through tight lanes in many situations. He’s also a skilled handler, especially in tight spaces, and can dangle the pants off of anyone in close or on the rush; this combines with the crafty playmaking, and his work-in-progress power game, to shape the foundation of his offensive potential. He plays a pretty good power style, but is lacking in some of the fundamentals he needs to make it a big strength in the NHL. He’ll likely need to improve his skating, and work on his puck protection and better utilising his reach, in order to be more effective in his playstyle at higher levels. His best play has unsurprisingly come in the second tier Slovakian league, where he’s about as dominant as he should be, but in the main pro league in Slovakia, he hasn’t been as impressive, though he’s also had very limited ice time, averaging around 8 minutes a night. Regardless, being largely unproven at higher levels of competition is a big reason why he’s not high on too many lists. But he shined at the U18s, and showed that he can perform just as well against significantly better competition, which at least alleviated some of my own concerns. (Gray Matter)


Damian Clara, Kristian Kostadinski, Michael Burchill, Francesco Dell’Elce, Albert Wikman, Dylan Hryckowian, Oliver Tulk, Adam Dybal

Full List

1Connor BedardReginaC
2Adam FantilliUniv of MichiganC
3Matvei MichkovSKA St. PetersburgRW
4Leo CarlssonÖrebroC
5Zach BensonWinnipegF
6Will SmithUSNTDPC
7Oliver MooreUSNTDPC
8Axel Sandin PellikkaSkellefteåRHD
9Gavin BrindleyUniv of MichiganC
10Dmitri SimashevYaroslavlLHD
11Ryan LeonardUSNTDPRW
12Andrew CristallKelownaF
13Quentin MustySudburyLW
14Nate DanielsonBrandonC
15Jayden PerronChicagoF
16Mikhail GulyayevOmskLHD
17Riley HeidtPrince GeorgeF
18Eduard SaleBrnoLW
19Dalibor DvorskyAIKC
20David ReinbacherKlotenRHD
21Gracyn SawchynSeattleC
22Otto StenbergFrölundaC
23William WhitelawYoungstownC
24Samuel HonzekVancouverC
25Timur MukhanovCherepovetsC
26Brayden YagerMoose JawF
27Gabe PerreaultUSNTDPF
28Oscar Fisker MølgaardHV71C
29Daniil ButYaroslavlLW
30Colby BarlowOwen SoundRW
31Matthew WoodUniv of ConnecticutF
32Bradly NadeauPentictonC
33Calum RitchieOshawaC
34Beau AkeyBarrieRHD
35Tom WillanderRögleRHD
36Alex CiernikSödertäljeLW/RW
37Luca PinelliOttawaC
38Denver BarkeyLondonC
39Michael HrabalOmahaG
40Tanner MolendykSaskatoonLHD
41Trey AugustineUSNTDPG
42Charlie StramelUniv of WisconsinF
43Luca CagnoniPortlandLHD
44Lukas DragicevicTri-City (WHL)RHD
45Anton WahlbergMalmöC
46Kalan LindRed DeerF
47Aydar SunievPentictonLW
48Nick LardisHamiltonRW
49Lenni HämeenahoÄssätF
50Caden PriceKelownaLHD
51Jacob FowlerYoungstownG
52Kasper HalttunenHIFKF
53Andrew StrathmannYoungstownLHD
54David EdstromFrölundaC
55Aram MinnetianUSNTDPRHD
56Matthew ManiaSudburyRHD
57Carson BjarnasonBrandonG
58Martin MišiakYoungstownC
59Ignat LutfullinSKA St. PetersburgF
60Roman KantserovMagnitogorskF
61Jakub DvorakLiberecLHD
62Theo LindsteinBrynäsLHD
63Arvid BergströmDjurgårdenLHD
64Alexander RykovChelyabinskF
65Nico MyatovicSeattleF
66Yegor ZavraginYugryG
67Noel NordhBrynäsRW
68Easton CowanLondonC
69Quinton BurnsKingstonLHD
70Tanner AdamsTri-City (USHL)C/RW
71Felix NilssonRögleC/W
72Étienne MorinMonctonLHD
73Felix Unger SorumLeksandRW
74Carson RehkopfKitchenerC/LW
75Koehn ZiemmerPrince GeorgeRW
76Tristan BertucciFlintLHD
77Carter SotheranPortlandRHD
78Noah Dower NilssonFrölundaC
79Ethan GauthierSherbrookeRW
80Hoyt StanleyVictoriaRHD
81Griffin ErdmanWaterlooF
82Coulson PitreFlintC
83Ryan FineUSNTDPF
84Jesse KiiskinenLahtiF
85Matthew SotoKingstonRW
86Oliver BonkLondonRHD
87Cole KnubleFargoC/RW
88Larry KeenanCulver Military Academy PrepLHD
89Carey TerranceErieC
90Gennadi ChalyWaterlooRHD
91Hunter BrzustewiczKitchenerRHD
92Yegor KlimovichNovosibirskF
93Andrew GibsonSault Ste. MarieRHD
94Petter VesterheimMoraF
95Brandon SvobodaYoungstownC
96Emil JärventieIlvesF
97Brady ClevelandUSNTDPLHD
98Tanner LudtkeLincolnF
99Cameron AllenGuelphRHD
100Juraj PekarcikNitraLW
HMDamian ClaraFärjestadG
HMKristian KostadinskiFrölundaLHD
HMMichael BurchillDubuqueF
HMFrancesco Dell’ElceSt. AndrewsLHD
HMAlbert WikmanFärjestadLHD
HMDylan HryckowianCedar RapidsRW
HMOliver TulkCalgaryF
HMAdam DybalKarlovy VaryG

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