The 2023 NHL Draft will commence from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on June 28th and 29th as it’ll be one of the most anticipated classes in years. While last year’s draft was headlined by Juraj Slafkovsky, Simon Nemec, and Logan Cooley, the 2023 class has more talent and is a deeper group throughout.
The Chicago Blackhawks hold the first overall pick, followed by the Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets, San Jose Sharks, and Montreal Canadiens. As we have just over a month until the festivities of draft week begin, let’s take a look at the top prospects heading into next month.
Top Five 2023 NHL Draft Prospects
5. Zach Benson (Left Wing)
What makes Zach Benson one of the top 2023 NHL Draft Prospects is his overall hockey sense and decision-making. He’s consistently involved in the play with or without the puck. He can create plays due to his stick handling and quick hands. Benson also has the ability to pass and shoot through multiple lanes without hesitation. This makes him a dangerous scoring threat, especially in areas with a lot of traffic.
Despite his 5’10”, 159-pound frame, his all-around talent and skill set makes up for the lack of size. Benson is one of the smartest overall players in this draft and will show it when the opportunity comes in the league.
4. Leo Carlsson (Center)
With the physical and mental tools possessed on ice, Leo Carlsson can be a special player in this league for years to come. The 6’3″, 194-pound center is best known as a playmaker, using his high hockey IQ and awareness to move the puck with quickness to find teammates in open space. To further elaborate on that, Carlsson is constantly able to read and find his options when needed.
He will always be a pass-first type of player but don’t sleep on his ability to score because if you do, that’s when he’s at his most dangerous. The 18-year-old is expected to go in the top five and there are a few teams that need an all-around center down the middle to create plays.
3. Matvei Michkov (Right/Left Wing)
The top 2023 NHL Draft prospects in this class are center iceman but the best winger is Matvei Michkov. Many think his size at 5’10”, 148 pounds would be a disadvantage but it’s actually the opposite. Because of his size and skills as the best stick handler in the draft, he’s able to move around and get passed defenders when needed.
Michkov is a really good playmaker and his zone entries even further his ability to create for not only himself but others. His scoring ability only adds to his overall skill and that’s what makes him a future star in this league. It would be a surprise to no one if he went second overall in this draft.
2. Adam Fantilli (Center)
As the second-best center in this draft, Adam Fantilli does it all down the middle of the ice. What people most know him for is his elite offensive prowess. He has a powerful wrist shot and can score at the net. Fantilli is able to flip a switch and create offense in just a matter of moments.
For all the offensive talk, Fantilli displays a nice all-around game. He’s not afraid to throw his body around and force turnovers by taking away lanes from opponents, making him a pretty good forechecker that also can create offense off of that. Fantilli is a complete player, making him one of the most dangerous in the NHL Draft.
1. Connor Bedard (Center)
Vision, anticipation, execution, stickhandling, shooting/skating ability, quick hands. These elite skills and more is exactly why Connor Bedard is the best prospect since Connor McDavid in 2015. Whenever on the ice, he’s always a scoring threat and can make incredible plays that few rarely make.
In the Western Hockey League this year, Bedard had an outstanding 71 goals and 72 assists for 143 points in 57 games. He also had 2.51 points per game, the highest by a WHL player since 1991. In the 2023 World Junior Championship, he tallied 23 points for Team Canada, the fourth-highest total by any player all-time in the tournament. Bedard is a generational talent who is expected to change the course of a franchise, which will be the Blackhawks, who have the first overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft.
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