With the Golden Knights winning the Stanley Cup on Tuesday night, the NHL community shifts its focus to the off-season. With that in mind, the 2023 NHL draft creeps closer and closer everyday. Here’s my NHL lottery mock draft, the second edition.
#1 Chicago Blackhawks: Connor Bedard, C, Regina
In any edition of this series, Connor Bedard will always be atop the list. He’s one of the better prospects in recent memory, and an easy lock to go number one.
#2 Anaheim Ducks: Adam Fantilli, C, Michigan
Although, not in the same sense as Bedard, Adam Fantilli is pretty universally agreed upon in terms of where he’ll land. He’s an amazing prospect, and could have gone with the first pick in a number of drafts in recent years.
Anaheim should take their time with this selection, and weigh all their options. With that said, they’ve got a wonderful prospect here in Fantilli.
#3 Columbus Blue Jackets: Leo Carlsson, C, Orebo
With the first two selections, Matvei Mitchkov becomes the best player available. As such, Columbus likely gets a lot of trade calls here. However, the Jackets badly need a center, and the chance to land a franchise cornerstone in arguably their worst position is too much to pass up. Leo Carlsson’s resume is far too impressive to ignore. He goes at number three to Columbus.
#4 San Jose Sharks, Matvei Mitchkov, RW Sochi
With Mitchkov still on the board, San Jose will also likely receive some calls at this spot. San Jose doesn’t have an adequate prospect pool for the rebuilding stage that their in, and they need some players with potential badly. Mike Grier could solve that by trading this pick for multiple picks later. Instead, the Sharks should take Matvei here, as he would easily become their brightest prospect.
#5 Montreal Canadiens: Will Smith, C, USNTDP
With Mitchkov off the board, the draft becomes wide open at this point. Will Smith has a good chance of going higher than this, and Montreal subsequently feels thrilled he’s made it to number five. This is a relatively easy pick for the Canadiens, who grab their center of the future at the fifth selection.
#6 Arizona Coyotes: Zach Benson, LW, Winnipeg
As was the same in the first edition of the NHL mock draft, the Coyotes take Benson with the sixth pick. It’s usually a better idea to pick the best player available over a certain positional need, and that’s what Arizona will do here. The fact that Benson also fits a need causes this to make too much sense to ignore.
Philadelphia trades pick #7 to Vancouver for picks #11 and #89
#7 Vancouver Canucks: David Reinbacher, D, Kloten
Let’s spice things up a bit. The Flyers are a bit of a mess, and with this trade they acquire an extra third rounder, while only dropping a couple of spots in the first round.
Vancouver’s blue line could use some help, and David Reinbacher already has a bit of professional experience in Switzerland. By jumping up to the seventh pick, the Canucks are able to grab an exciting defensive prospect.
#8 Washington Capitals: Oliver Moore, C, USNTDP
Washington’s period of contention seems to be coming to an end. Their core is getting older and older, and their fifth-place finish in the Metropolitan division didn’t inspire much hope for the future. They need to get younger, especially in the middle. Oliver Moore is a great start.
#9 Detroit Red Wings: Gabriel Perreault, LW, USNTDP
At this point, Detroit has so many options on the table. With that in mind, why not take Gabriel Perreault, who just broke the USNTDP single season points record? With that record, Perreault toppled the likes of Auston Matthews and Jack Eichel, who also came up through the developmental program. Detroit shouldn’t think too hard about this one.
#10 St. Louis Blues: Dalibor Dvorsky, C, AIK
Dailbor Dvorsky went to St. Louis in our first NHL mock draft, as well. The Blues also seem to be exiting their contention window, but there’s still a good bit of talent on the roster. At the young age of 17, Dvorsky figures to add to the mix in a couple of years, as that talent gets older.
#11 Philadelphia Flyers: Tom Willander, D, Rogle
The Flyers drop back to the eleventh selection after their trade with Vancouver. This team is a bit of a mess at the moment, without a clear plan in place. By making this trade, they end up with an extra third-rounder, and are still able to help out their desperate blue line with the selection of Tom Willander.
#12 Arizona Coyotes: Nate Danielson, C, Brandon
Here’s a bit of a shake-up. Because the ‘yotes have two picks out of the first 12, they can afford to get a little frisky with their second one. After taking a winger with the first overall, they decide to go down the middle and grab Nate Danielson out of the WHL. Danielson is a well-rounded player, and should be an instant difference-maker.
#13: Buffalo Sabres: Matthew Wood, RW, UCONN
The valuation regarding Matthew Wood’s draft stock fluctuates a bit. However, it’s looking more and more likely he’ll go in the top 15. Wood is a pure scorer, and his potential is through the roof. Selecting him at 13 would be a high-value pick for Buffalo, and should immediately help their offense.
#14: Pittsburgh Penguins: Samuel Honzek, LW, Vancouver (WHL)
In the first edition, I had Pittsburgh taking a different left winger in Colby Barlow. Samuel Honzek’s skill set could suit them better, though. He’s got an impressive combination of skill, size, and speed, and should be a middle-six forward as soon as he skates onto an NHL rink.
#15: Nashville Predators: Colby Barlow, LW, Owen Sound
Barlow drops a spot, but he’ll bring immense value to Nashville. The Predators are close to becoming contenders, but haven’t been able to prove much in the past couple of years. Barlow, who has 76 goals in the last two seasons, could help Nashville change that.
#16: Calgary Flames: Oliver Bonk, London
For the final lottery pick in this NHL mock draft, the Flames take Oliver Bonk. Bonk is mostly projected to go around the end of the first round, so some may consider this a reach.
Bonk is effective in the defensive and offensive zone, and should be able to contribute very soon. Oliver would add instant blue line depth to a team that barely missed the playoffs last year.
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