Connor Bedard is expected to go first overall in our NHL Mock Draft

2023 NHL Mock Draft: Michkov Falls To Canadiens

It's the first big event of the NHL offseason; the Entry Draft. Where teams get to (hopefully) select the superstars of tomorrow. I've gone and predicted the entire first round of the draft.

I've even made two trades with teams picking up a few first-round picks by moving some big-name players.

1. Chicago Blackhawks - Connor Bedard (C), Regina, WHL

There's no question Chicago takes Bedard. You can't even get betting odds on who will go first. It's Bedard and that's it. The Blackhawks will run to the podium to make this pick, thinking they've just nabbed their own version of Connor McDavid.

2. Anaheim Ducks - Adam Fantilli (C), Michigan

Fantilli is committed to playing at Michigan next year, but if you're the Ducks you don't pass up on drafting the center. Fantilli led all NCAA skaters in points with 65 tallies in 36 games. He even outscored 2022 third-overall pick Logan Cooley.

The oddsmakers agree. Fantilli is the favorite to go second overall with -700 odds.

Odds to go second overall at 2023 draft
Adam Fantilli-700
Leo Carlsson+600
Matvei Michkov+1600
Will Smith+2500

Odds as of March 21

3. Columbus Blue Jackets - Leo Carlsson (F), Orebro

Carlsson had a wildly impressive season putting up 10 goals and 25 points in 44 games in his native Sweden as a 17-year-old in a pro league. Columbus's aim is to draft the best available player and after Bedard and Fantilli, that's Carlsson*. This is an easy pickup for the Blue Jackets.

The oddsboard again agrees giving Carlsson -180 odds to go third overall. Will Smith is right behind him at +210.

*Matvei Michkov is a more talented player but as I'll get to later, his geo-political situation complicates things. 

4. San Jose Sharks - Will Smith (C), USNTDP

Smith torched anyone he played against last season with 169 points in 80 games for the USNTDP. He's a goal-scoring center that should become a top-line pivot in this league, an ideal pickup for San Jose. 

5. Montreal Canadiens -  Matvei Michkov (LW), SKA

Michkov should be going second overall in this draft. He's that good. He's dominated the KHL's development league (MHL) for a while now and then brought that dominance to the KHL with a loan to Sochi where he scored nine goals and 20 points in 27 games as a 17-year-old.

There are a few reasons Mickov falls to number 5:

  • He has a contract with SKA until 2026 
  • Russia is still engaged in a territorial invasion of Ukraine
  • The KHL doesn't have a transfer agreement with the NHL (like the other European pro leagues).

I have Montreal nabbing him because they strike me as a franchise that has the patience to wait for Michkov to become NHL-eligible or they can utilize resources to get him here earlier than 2026.

But look, I could see Michkov falling further if I misread Montreal's patience level.

6. Arizona Coyotes - David Reinbacher (D), Kloten

I don't trust the Coyotes to draft the best available player. I think they go off-script and draft a defenseman because they don't really have one in the pipeline. Maverick Lamoureux is a fine player, but he won't reach the heights of someone like Reinbacher (even if Lamoureux is 6'7").

7. Philadelphia Flyers - Zach Benson (F), Winnipeg

Benson is supremely talented with 98 points in 60 WHL games this season. The 5'10" forward's production was only behind Connor Bedard and 21-year-old Chase Wheatcroft in the WHL last year. 

8. Washington Capitals - Colby Barlow (LW), Owen Sound

The Capitals haven't drafted this high up since 2007 when they took Karl Alzner with the fifth overall pick. Barlow has serious scoring chops with 46 goals in 59 games. An excellent pick-up for them.

9. Detroit Red Wings - Dalibor Dvorsky (F), AIK

The Czech-born forward put up some solid numbers at the Swedish U20 level with 21 points in 10 games. Graduating to the Allsvenskan (Swedish second-tier pro hockey) he added another 14 points in 38 games. According to, one of Dvorsky's closest comparables is Steve Yzerman. Music to the Red Wing GM's ears.

10. St. Louis Blues - Ryan Leonard (C), USNTDP

Some draft boards have Leonard as high up as No. 6, but I think his lower production rate in the USHL (20 points in 17 games) will have him drop. Not by much. I've got him sliding to 10th where St. Louis will be ecstatic to get him. 

11. Vancouver Canucks - Eduard Sale (RW), Brno

The 17-year-old could very well become a star in the NHL. He can skate very well. He finds soft ice effortlessly and he can score. Vancouver is going to love this kid.

12. Arizona Coyotes (From Ottawa) - Oliver Moore (C), USNTDP

The 'Yotes picked up the 12th overall pick from Ottawa in the Jakob Chychrun trade. After going rogue with their earlier pick, they'll step up to the podium and take the best available player and that's Oliver Moore.

13. Winnipeg (From Buffalo) - Calum Ritchie (C), Brandon

If Connor Hellebuyck is on the trade block you better believe Buffalo will make a deal. A solid number-one goalie like Winnipeg's former Vezina winner is exactly what the Sabres need to break their 12-year playoff drought. This 13th overall pick, A-level prospect Matthew Savoie and a young roster player could get it done. 

14. Pittsburgh Penguins - Matthew Wood (F), UConn

Wood had 34 points in 35 games as a true freshman last year for UConn. The Lethbridge, Alberta native has real shades of Jake Guentzel and Y'inz knows the Pens love him.

15. Nashville Predators - Axel Sandin-Pellikka (D), Skelleftea

Barry Trotz wants his scouts to take risks. Taking Sandin-Pellikka isn't a wild selection, just about every mock draft has the Swedish defenseman going in or around 15th. But you don't see offensive defensemen who are under 6'0" go in the first half of the draft often. 

16. Calgary Flames - Ethan Gauthier (RW), Sherbrooke

The son of former NHL defenseman Denis Gauthier had a solid QMJHL season with 69 points in 66 games. But he stood out for his contributions to Canada's quest for Gold at the 2022 Helinka-Gretzky tournament.

17. Ottawa Senators (From Detroit via NY Islanders), Gabe Perrault (LW) USNTDP

The Senators are shopping Alex DeBrincat around the league. Detroit has a need for young talented NHL players to push their program forward. DeBrincat is also a Detroit-area native. After selecting ninth overall already, the Red Wings don't need this pick. A trade gets worked out here and Ottawa makes the pick. 

18. Winnipeg Jets - Riley Heidt (F), Prince George

With 97 points their year, Heidt was one of the top-scoring players in the WHL. Hockey-Prospecting gives the Saskatoon native a 40% star probability. If that comes true, getting Heidt at 18 would be a masterful steal for the rebuilding Jets.

19. Chicago Blackhawks (From Tampa) -Samuel Honzek (C), Vancouver

The Slovakian center did well as a 16-year-old putting up 14 points in 49 games in the Slovak pro league two years ago. Making the jump to the WHL last year didn't slow him down as he scored 56 points in 43 games.

20. Seattle Kraken - Quentin Musty (LW), Sudbury

A versatile forward that took a big step up in his second year in the OHL. This feels like a player Seattle can mold into a good middle-six NHL'er eventually. 

21. Minnesota Wild - Andrew Cristall (LW), Kamloops

Cristall had a starring role on a powerful Kamloops side. In 54 games the young forward scored an eye-popping 95 points. 

22. Philadelphia Flyers (From Los Angeles via Columbus) - Brayden Yager (C), Moose Jaw

Philly scouts might take a bit of a risk on Yager. The Moose Jaw player didn't take as big of a step up this year. But he's a really good player who can score. Philly can work with this. 

23. New York Rangers - Tom Wallinder (D), Rögle

The 6'1" Swedish defenseman had 25 points in 39 U20 games last season and earned a call-up to the senior team for a few games. 

24. Nashville Predators (from Edmonton) - Jayden Perron (F), Chicago 

Perron shouldn't go this high in the draft, but Barry Trotz wants his guys to take swings, and taking the 5'8" Perron would be just that. With 72 points in 61 USHL games, he has the production to be a first-round pick, but his size is what would normally hold him back. 

25. St. Louis Blues (From Toronto) -  Lukas Dragicevic (D), Tri-City

He's a defenseman who scored 15 goals and 75 points in 68 games at the WHL level. He might go earlier than 25.

26. San Jose Sharks (From New Jersey) - Oliver Bonk (D), London

Son of former Ottawa Senators Radek Bonk, Oliver, was a key player on the blue line for London scoring 40 points in 67 games.

27. Colorado Avalanche - Otto Stenberg (F), Frölunda

The now 18-year-old spent much of the year playing at the SHL level for Frölunda. That alone speaks to the quality of this player. 

28. Toronto Maple Leafs (From Boston via Washington) - Gavin Brindley (RW), Michigan

As a freshman, he put up 38 points in a strong Michigan program and added four points in seven WJC games for the US. 

29. St. Louis Blues (From Dallas via NY Rangers) - Daniil But (LW), Yaroslavl

Teams might stay away from Russian players. It's going to be hard to pass on But, who was a point-per-game player at the MHL level for Yaroslavl.

30. Carolina Hurricanes - Bradley Nadeau (C), Penticton

Committed to U of Maine, Nadeau scored 113 points in 54 regular season games for Penticton of the BCHL and then 35 points in 17 playoff games. 

31. Montreal Canadiens (From Florida) - Kohn Ziemmer (RW), Prince George

With Vegas defeating Florida in the Stanley Cup Finals, the Panthers' first round (which Montreal owns) will be the 31st. I see the Habs going after Zimmer who had 41 goals on the season.

32. Vegas Golden Knights - Mikhail Gulyayev (D), Omsk

The Knights take Russian defenseman Mikhail Gulyayev. With Omsk's MHL side, the 5'10" defenseman put up 25 points in 22 games.