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Inside The Draft Class of 2023

Credits: Bruce Bennet

The 2023 NHL Draft class is loaded with talented young prospects ranging from around the globe. From across Canada to around the States and all over Europe, this year's class of prospects are special. With the order of picks in place the idea of roughly which player will go to what team is set.

The order of the top 10 picks are as follows: 1) Chicago Blackhawks 2) Anaheim Ducks 3) Columbus Blue Jackets 4) San Jose Sharks 5) Montreal Canadiens 6) Arizona Coyotes 7) Philadelphia Flyers 8) Washington Capitals 9) Detroit Red Wings 10) St. Louis Blues.

Many names have been floating around this class of players such as Leo Carlsson, Gavin Brindly, Colby Barlow and of course Connor Bedard. In the next sections I will be going through a quick preview of each player projected to be picked in the top 10.

1. Connor Bedard, 17, Centre, Regina Pats, Canada

Widely acknowledged as one of the best prospects since Connor McDavid, Bedard has had a stellar draft season. Leading the World Junior Championship in points helping Canada to gold in the World Juniors and a record breaking season for the Regina Pats. In 57 games Bedard had 71 goals and 72 assists for a total of 143 points. He is said to have “all the attributes that you need to get to the next level” by former Vancouver Canucks player Henrik Sedin (The Hockey News)

NHL Player Comparison: Sidney Crosby

Credit: Michigan Photography

2. Adam Fantilli, 18, Centre, University of Michigan, Canada

Hobey Baker Award winner, Worlds champion and World Junior champion with Canada and leader in the NCAA in points with 63 all as a freshman. In any other year Fantilli may have gone first overall but despite this he will be a killer addition to any team and has the ability to shift into a top line. Depending on whether or not Fantilli choses to play in the NHL right away or play his sophomore season at the University of Michigan, he will be an asset to any team and if he plays his sophomore year then all the more experience he will have under his belt.

NHL Player Comparison: Nathan MacKinnon

3. Leo Carlsson, 18, Centre, Orebro, Sweden

A top player for Sweden in the World Juniors and for the Worlds, Carlsson put up 3 goals and 3 assists in 7 games in the World Juniors and 3 goals and 2 assists in 8 games in the Worlds. Playing with the men's national team definitely gave Leo the chance to prove that he is ready to play in the NHL.

NHL Player Comparison: Ryan O’Rielly

4. Matvei Michkov, 18, Right Wing, Saint Petersburg, Russia

The 18 year old is described as a "rare triple threat winger" by Elite Prospects and has the stats to prove it. When he was just 16 years old Michkov had a career high of 109 points in 26 games while playing for Russia's Lokomotiv-2004 Yaroslavl U16 team. While questions continue to be asked about when in the draft he will be picked due to his contract with his current team that ends in 2026, he is still regarded as one of the best prospects in this draft class.

NHL Player Comparison: Cole Caufield

5. Will Smith, 18, Centre, USNTDP, USA

Committed to play college hockey in Boston, Will Smith is ranked the 3rd best North America skater in the draft by NHL central scouting. A flashy player on the ice has drawn some comparisons to Anaheim Ducks centre Trevor Zegras. Smith had 15 goals and 27 assists for 42 points in 20 games while playing for the USNTDP Junior team in the USHL.

NHL Player Comparison: Trevor Zegras

Credit: Minas Panagiotakis

6. Dalibor Dvorsky, 17, Centre, HockeyAllsvenskan, Slovakia

Another player who got to show off his talent at the World Juniors this year, Dvorsky is noted as a player who is "capable of keeping the puck under pressure" by scouts at Elite Prospects. While he isn’t a prolific goal scorer, the 17 year old has made some waves while playing in Sweden. He has a good skill set already and on a good team who play him in his preferred position, Dvorsky can make an impact.

NHL Player Comparison: Elias Lindholm

7. Oliver Moore, 18, Centre, USNTDP, USA

Committed to the University of Minnesota, Moore has been playing his junior hockey with the US National Team Development Program where he has turned some heads. Playing with the U18 national team Moore had 31 goals, 44 assists for a total of 75 points in 61 games. One of the best skaters in the draft, he has the speed and the attitude to do well in both university and eventually the NHL.

NHL Player Comparison: Dylan Larkin

8. Zach Benson, 18, Left Wing, Winnipeg Ice, Canada

Three seasons in the WHL with the Winnipeg Ice has brought Benson some success. A wild regular season and an impressive playoff run, the 18 year old had 98 points in 60 games and 17 points in 15 playoff games. Scouts at Elite Prospects have said he is a player who, "away from the puck-is constantly scanning the ice". A player like this will be a huge addition to any team and in a few years will be 100% ready for the big stage.

NHL Player Comparison: Brad Marchand

9. Axel Sandin Dellikka, 18, Defenseman, Skelleftea, Sweden

One of the few defenseman predicted to go early in the draft, Axel Sandin Dellikka is described as "an engaged defender, particularly stout between the blue lines and along the boards" by scouts at Elite Prospects. He has played for both the junior and pro teams at Skelleftea, which has given him an edge in experience over most players in the draft. Not the tallest defenseman, measuring in at 5 '11, Axel has other important traits as a defenseman other than height and strength, such as his skating ability and puck moving skills.

NHL Player Comparison: Shea Theodore

Credit: Doug Westcott

10. Brayden Yager, 18, Centre, Moose Jaw Warriors, Canada

Two full seasons in the WHL under his belt, Brayden Yager is well on his way to becoming a household name. 78 points in 60 games this season is impressive. With what some call his signature shot "an inside leg wrister" Yager scored 28 goals for the Warriors. While he didn’t have a career season his draft year, there is no doubt he can’t become an effective NHL centre after a few more developmental years.

NHL Player Comparison: Bo Horvat

Credit: Jeff Svoboda

Overall there are many talented players at this year's draft and it will be very interesting to see teams decisions and just how special some of these players can become.

All player comparisons credit to The Hockey News

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