2023 NHL Mock Draft: Predicting Where the Top 2023 Prospects Will Land In The First Round
2023 NHL Mock Draft: Predicting Where the Top 2023 Prospects Will Land In The First Round
The 2022 NHL season was one of the best seasons the NHL has had in quite some time last year. The NHL expanded its coverage to other networks and saw parity across the league. Then 2022 NHL Draft shocked everyone with the top overall prospect sliding down to fourth overall during the opening round. What does this mean for NHL managers in the upcoming season?
Does it mean that managers were thinking for the long term with how the draft panned out How will general managers use their draft compensation to mold their roster after this upcoming season?
Matt MacKay is back to predicting how the first round of the 2023 NHL Draft will look 11 months from now while factoring in current free agency signings. So tighten that chinstrap as we dive into the future!
Early 2023 NHL Mock Draft Round 1 Prediction
1. BLACKHAWKS: CONNOR BEDARD, C, REGINA (WHL)
Chicago gets its crown jewel in Connor Bedard. He's been widely touted as the No. 1 overall prospect in the 2023 draft class. However, after a 100-point season in the WHL, including 51 goals, there's little reason to think Bedard slides down draft boards as Shane Wright did a few weeks ago.
2. COYOTES: COLBY BARLOW, RW, OWEN SOUND (OHL)
Arizona continues to load up on their offense, selecting Colby Barlow to add to their winger depth in 2023. Barlow finished 2022 with 30 goals for Owen Sound, and while he's still a bit raw, the Coyotes have enough talent from their 2022 draft haul to invest in Barlow's upside.
3. DUCKS: ADAM FANTILLI, C, CHICAGO STEEL (USHL)
Anaheim is building its young core of centers and selects Adam Fantilli to immediately step in as a contributor on the upper attack lines in 2023. Fantilli is a 6-3 center with strength and power to match a hard shot. In addition, he's a good skater and can be a complete two-way player for the Ducks.
4. CANADIENS: BRAYDEN YAGER, C, MOOSE JAW (WHL)
Brayden Yager had a breakout campaign for Moose Jaw in 2022, scoring 34 goals and adding 25 assists in 63 games. He's a lighter center at 160 pounds, but his lack of strength is countered with elite decking ability, skating, and scoring. Montréal adds a stud to bolster their impressive depth on offense.
5. KRAKEN: CHARLIE STRAMEL, RW, USNTDP (USHL)
Seattle has all the makings to be a playoff contender after the selection of Charlie Stramel. His frame is impressive, measuring 6-3, 216-pounds, and his hockey IQ and shot combine to make Stramel a franchise-altering draft pick.
6. SHARKS: LEO CARLSSON, LW, OREBRO HK (SWE)
Size is the most notable attribute that Leo Carlsson possesses, which makes San Jose pounce at sixth overall. Carlsson's numbers won't pop out in the box score but he's a 6-3 winger who can also play center due to high-end skating and puck handling.
7. SABRES: DALIBOR DVORSKY, C, AIK (SWE JR.)
Buffalo continues its search for replacing former star center Jack Eichel and land a huge value with Dalibor Dvorsky. He slides outside of the top five but has one of the most impressive scoring resumés in the 2023 draft class, finishing 2022 with 20 goals and 20 assists in just 33 games.
8. FLYERS: ZACH BENSON, LW, WINNIPEG (WHL)
Zach Benson is among the smallest wingers in the 2023 draft class but he possesses burst, puck handling, and utilizes his high motor to compensate for his 5-10, 150-pound frame. The Flyers need scorers and Benson is certainly up to the task in 2023, scoring 25 goals and pouring in 38 assists for Winnipeg's WHL team in 2022.
9. DEVILS: NATE DANIELSON, C, BRANDON (WHL)
New Jersey has assembled quite a nice young roster but they aren't satisfied. Nate Danielson has all the makings to be a true two-way center, meaning he can defend and facilitate with ease. Danielson scored 23 goals and 34 assists for the Brandon Wheat Kings in 2022 and will be a nice asset for the Devils to utilize in 2023.
10. BLUE JACKETS: CAM ALLEN, D, GUELPH (OHL)
The run-on offense finally takes a pause with Columbus selecting top-ranked defenseman Cam Allen. He's only played one season in the OHL but he dominated in the offensive zone, scoring 37 points in 65 games. Allen is not the biggest defenseman but he's strong and skates well, making him a nice depth piece at a suddenly talented position for the Blue Jackets.
11. JETS: KASPER HALTTUNEN, LW, JOKERIT (FIN)
Kasper Halttunen is a big-bodied Finnish winger who was adept at manufacturing goals in 2022. Halttunen will need to clean up his penalties but his size and goal-scoring ability are too much for a lower-tier offense like Winnipeg to pass up.
12. SENATORS: CALUM RITCHIE, C, OSHAWA (OHL)
Ottawa lands a playmaker with Calum Ritchie at 12th overall. Ritchie is a talented center with high-caliber skating and scoring abilities out of the OHL, finishing his first year for Oshawa with 19 goals and 45 total points.
13. BRUINS: MATTHEW WOOD, RW, VICTORIA (BCHL)
Matthew Wood falls to Boston and could wind up skating 15 minutes for the Bruins as soon as he completes his 2023 season for UConn. The 6-3, 185-pound winger lit up netminders for 45 goals and added another 40 assists for Victoria in 2022.
14. PREDATORS: MATVEI MICHKOV, RW, SKA (KHL)
Somehow, some way, Matvei Michkov slips to Nashville at 14th overall. Michkov played in the Russian MHL in 2022, where he finished with 22 goals and 16 assists. The speedy winger was even more impressive in the playoffs, scoring 13 goals across 17 games for SKA-1946 St. Petersburg.
15. PENGUINS: MIKHAIL GULYAYEV, D, AVANGARD (MHL)
Pittsburgh stays in the MHL and drafts Mikhail Gulyayev to bolster their defense. The undersized defenseman is very talented as a skater and facilitator in the offensive zone, relying on his innate vision and hockey IQ to create positive possessions. Gulyayev had a 4:1 assist to goal ratio for Omskie Yastreby in 2022.
16. RED WINGS: EDUARD SALE, LW, HC KOMETA (CZE)
Detroit has been on quite the run over the last couple of seasons in terms of their activity in the draft and free agency. The Red Wings' offense is still figuring out its best version but Eduard Sale will add notable firepower to their lower-line attack in 2023.
17. ISLANDERS: WILL SMITH, C, USNTDP (USHL)
Will Smith will play 2023 for Boston College but he's going to be drafted by the New York Islanders beforehand at 17th overall. He has nice puck handling ability and possesses the high motor and fearlessness needed to compensate for being lighter (172 pounds) when battling pucks in the offensive zone.
18. CANUCKS: THEO LINDSTEIN, D, BRYNÄS IF (SWE)
Vancouver ignores the lack of production and invests in the hype surrounding Theo Lindstein. He's a 6-0, 176-pound defenseman who mitigates mistakes and plays like an asset, instead of a liability, within the offensive zone.
19. KINGS: HUNTER BRZUSTEWICZ, D, KITCHENER (OHL)
The Kings invest in a high-motor defenseman with puck handles and hockey IQ by drafting Hunter Brzustewicz. He's particularly strong in the defensive zone and will instill youth on an aging Los Angeles roster while utilizing his skillset to produce goals from the back-end of the attack.
20. CAPITALS: RILEY HEIDT, C, PRINCE GEORGE (WHL)
Washington needs younger goal scorers, so they don't hesitate to go with Riley Heidt. He poured in 21 goals for Prince George in 2022 but slides down the draft board due to his 5-10, 179-pound frame.
21. WILD: GAVIN BRINDLEY, RW/C, TRI-CITY (USHL)
Gavin Brindley is a slight build at 5-9, 157-pounds but he has a high motor and an elite vision when handling the puck in the offensive zone. Brindley is another versatile player who can skate minutes at multiple positions, which Minnesota will leverage to enhance the scoring on their lower-line attack.
22. STARS: ALEX CIERNIK, LW, SÖDERTÄLJE SK (SWE)
Dallas gravitates towards Swedish winger Alex Ciernik to strengthen their scoring depth chart. Ciernik buried 20 goals and another 27 assists in 2022 and has nice skating and puck handling abilities to create abundant opportunities for his team.
23. BLUES: TYLER PEDDLE, C, DRUMMONDVILLE (QMJHL)
One season for Drummondville yielded Tyler Peddle 17 goals and 18 assists. Peddle doesn't have elite size or speed but he does possess elite vision and hockey IQ to always put himself and his teammates in plus situations. St. Louis has a solid roster but they like what Peddle offers and draft him to compete on their lower-line attack.
24. FLAMES: OTTO STENBERG, C, FRÖLUNDA (SWE-JR)
Calgary gets a talented center by drafting Otto Stenberg out of Sweden's junior league. While he isn't the top-ranked center in a crowded position in this draft class, Stenberg did score 16 goals in 2022. He also has good size and speed to be an asset for the Flames' rebuild.
25. OILERS: GABRIEL PERREAULT, LW, USNTDP (USHL)
Edmonton has the best center tandem in the league but Gabriel Perreault fills a gaping need at wing. While Evander Kane was a nice fit in 2022, Perreault is a 5-10, 154-pound speedster who scored 50 points, including 18 goals, for the USNTDP last season.
26. HURRICANES: KOEHN ZIEMMER, RW, PRINCE GEORGE (WHL)
Carolina winds up with the steal of the first round, selecting Koehn Ziemmer out of the WHL. Ziemmer is a sturdy 6-0, 194-pounds and scored 30 goals for Prince George in 2022. He also added 27 assists and will be a real contender to earn minutes on the top two lines for the Hurricanes in 2023.
27. PANTHERS: QUENTIN MUSTY, LW, SUDBURY (OHL)
Quentin Musty is another draft board slider despite high accolades, going 27th overall to Florida. The Panthers secure a 6-2, 203-pound winger who scored 12 goals and 31 points in 50 games for Sudbury during his first season in the OHL.
28. LIGHTNING: NOAH DOWER NILSSON, C, FRÖLUNDA (SWE)
Tampa Bay opts to draft a smaller-framed center out of Sweden, selecting Noah Dower Nilsson. He's 5-11, 168-pounds but earned his keep during the playoffs over in Sweden's U18 league, scoring three goals and three assists across six playoff games. His clutch ability makes Nilsson a favorite in the Lightning draft room.
29. RANGERS: DANIIL BUT, LW, LOKO YAROSLAVL (RUS)
Daniil But slides to the New York Rangers at 29th overall. He's a towering winger, measuring 6-4, 198-pounds, who finished 2022 with 42 points, including 17 goals. But needs to improve his puck handling and skating but his physical stature and strength allow him to create space in key areas of the offensive zone.
30. GOLDEN KNIGHTS: ANDREW CRISTAL, LW, KELOWNA (WHL)
Vegas rejuvenates their roster with youthful scoring, drafting Andrew Cristal out of the WHL. Cristal is a freak with the puck and his skating ability, leveraging these skills to finish 2022 with 28 goals. He's a complete player who should be drafted higher but slides due to his 5-9, 150-pound frame.
31. MAPLE LEAFS: JAYDEN PERRON, LW, CHICAGO (USHL)
The recurring theme of smaller players with elite scoring ability holds up here, as Toronto opts to select Jayden Perron out of the USHL. Perron is just 5-8, 157-pounds but he scored 17 goals and 45 total points for Chicago during his first season in the USHL.
32. AVALANCHE: KALLE CARLSSON, C, ÖREBRO (SWE-JR)
Colorado likes what they see with Kalle Carlsson's puck handling and vision, so they draft him with the final pick in the first round. Carlsson is a solid build at 6-0, 180-pounds and finished 2022 with 27 points, including 19 assists. He's aggressive and a fluid skater, creating plenty of opportunities for the other elite players on the Avs to continue their surge in 2023.
Matt is an avid writer, editor, and researcher. He enjoys analyzing the game within the game which is fantasy sports and sports betting. Music is another constant in his daily life. Matt loves spending time with his wife and three pets. He likes to read, listen to podcasts, and is constantly motivated to create the most accurate and engaging content in the sports betting industry.