The midterm rankings are out from NHL Central Scouting for the 2023 draft, and unsurprisingly, Connor Bedard takes home the top spot among North American skaters. The Regina Pats forward set a number of records at the recent World Juniors, and won’t turn 18 until July, making him one of the younger players in the draft. Dan Marr, vice president of NHL Central Scouting, has this to say about the WHL phenom:
Connor Bedard is an outstanding talent with the ability to utilize all of his skills and assets at top speed, placing him on a level of his own right now as the No. 1 prospect for the 2023 NHL Draft. He is one of the more natural scorers to come along since Patrick Kane with a Draft hype reminiscent of Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby. Like those three, Bedard is a player that can bring you out of your seat.
Adam Fantilli, another Canadian forward prospect with huge upside, ranks second behind Bedard in the NA list. A freshman for the University of Michigan, Fantilli has racked up 11 goals and 26 points in just 16 games. He is a good bet to go second overall but didn’t have the runaway World Junior tournament that Bedard experienced, which seems to have widened the gap considerably between the two.
The top ten North American skaters are:
- Connor Bedard, Regina Pats (WHL)
- Adam Fantilli, Michigan (NCAA)
- William Smith, USNTDP
- Ryan Leonard, USNTDP
- Brayden Yager, Moose Jaw (WHL)
- Oliver Moore, USNTDP
- Zach Benson, Winnipeg (WHL)
- Matthew Wood, UConn (NCAA)
- Samuel Honzek, Vancouver (WHL)
- Colby Barlow, Owen Sound (OHL)
Not to be forgotten is the international list, which could be considered an even deeper top-10. While the top-ranked Leo Carlsson from Sweden isn’t quite to Bedard’s level, he is a difference-making talent in his own right. The 18-year-old center is already in his second SHL season playing regular minutes, and has 15 points in 26 games for Orebro HK. The kind of two-way player that can anchor a lineup, Carlsson seems to do everything right, all the time. Marr had this to say about the top European:
Leo Carlsson is a competitive two-way forward with all the tools needed to excel. He is very athletic, a quick and fluid skater, strong on the puck and effective in battles. A very consistent performer capable of making the game look easy with his deceptive smarts and skills. He generates chances at crucial times and is capable of changing the momentum of games.
Beyond Carlsson though is a group of excellent talents that teams will be clamoring over in the summer. Matvei Michkov, a Russian forward that was once considered a potential rival of Bedard’s for the first-overall pick, comes in second. The dynamic Michkov constantly drives the puck to dangerous areas with slick skill and agility, while possessing a hard snapshot and one-timer that make him a weapon on the powerplay. Since a recent move to HK Sochi so that he could actually get some KHL playing time, he has four goals in nine games.
The top ten International skaters are:
- Leo Carlsson, Orebro (SHL)
- Matvei Michkov, Sochi (KHL)
- Axel Sandin Pellikka, Skelleftea (SHL)
- Dalibor Dvorsky, AIK (Allsvenskan)
- Eduard Sale, Brno (Czechia)
- Otto Stenberg, Frolunda (Sweden Jr.)
- Lenni Hameenaho, Assat (Liiga)
- Mikhail Gulyayev, Omsk (KHL)
- Kasper Halttunen, HIFK (Liiga)
- David Reinbacher, Kloten (NL)
The full rankings, including the goaltending lists, can be found here.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images