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2023 NHL Draft: Connor Bedard tops Bob McKenzie’s standings

Unsurprisingly, it is Connor Bedard who occupies the first position of the preseason classification of TSN for the 2023 NHL Draft. Quebecer Ethan Gauthier is 12th in the top-16 of the TSNwhich you can see at the end of the text.

The 10 recruiters surveyed by TSN have the Regina Pats center ranked No. 1 to start the 2022-2023 season.

Was there any doubt? To answer with one word, no.

“We didn’t have to think too much about this decision,” said a recruiter.

Since the North Vancouver native was awarded exceptional player status in 2020 (to enter the WHL at 15), before going on to score seven goals in seven games at the U18 World Under-18 Championship ‘IIHF when he was two years younger than the majority of players, the hockey world anticipates that the 2023 draft will be the Connor Bedard Derby.

And here we are.

 

Not to mention that there aren’t many unanswered questions surrounding Bedard.

How good is it? How good will it get? Among the NHL’s young superstars, where will he fit?

Could he become a generational talent, whose yardstick is now incredibly high with Connor McDavid?

Does he have what it takes to become the NHL’s next great goal scorer, to join a universe that includes more physically dominant players like Alexander Ovechkin and Auston Matthews?

And considering the outcome of the 2022 draft – as the player who was unanimously chosen for the first overall pick Shane Wright, slipped to fourth overall in the draft – will Bedard really be the first to hear his name? June 28 in Nashville?

 

“Well, I guess anything is possible, but when you look at how he shoots, his innate talent for scoring goals and when you project his future as a player who could very well score 50-60 goals in the NHL, how could a team go without him with the first overall pick? asked one of the recruiters.

“Forget that option,” said another recruiter. For Bedard not to be selected first overall, he will have to have a disappointing season and other prospects will have to have outstanding seasons. This year’s draft class is fantastic; it is made up of several excellent players, but I am skeptical [qu’un autre joueur que Connor Bedard puisse être choisi au premier rang le jour du repêchage].”

But it is for this reason that they practice this sport, as the expression says.

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Another consideration that plays against the chances of another player dethroning Connor Bedard from the top of the prospect rankings at some point this season is that his biggest threat is winger Matvei Michkov, who is No. 2 in the TSN rankings. .

There are many similar points between the two players. They are both 5’10 forwards. They are both elite scorers who seem unfazed by the spotlight and the impossibly high expectations of them. They both have the “wow” factor in their game.

But Michkov is a Russian. A Russian under contract in the KHL until 2026 and therefore, who should not make the jump to the NHL for three years.

 

“From a strictly hockey point of view, it’s very tight [entre Bedard et Michkov]says another recruiter.

“If we forget all the aspects that we can’t really forget, it would probably be a very good race between the two players to be the first overall pick in the draft,” he laughs.

Obviously, “the aspects that cannot really be forgotten”.

Russia continues its attack on Ukraine. The war led to sanctions against Russian hockey. The result is that Michkov cannot play in any IIHF event, including the 2023 World Junior Hockey Championship or the 2023 World Hockey Championship.

 

The vast majority of NHL scouts, besides those based in Russia, are not going to travel [en Russie] to see Michkov or another prospect this season. NHL general managers who might see Michkov as a potential first-overall pick aren’t going to make that trip this season.

“Think about it for a moment,” explains one of the recruiters. Will there be an elite prospect, who would normally be in the discussion for the first overall pick, who will be scrutinized less live than Michkov this season? It is unprecedented.”

 

Evgeny Kuznetsov and Vladimir Tarasenko found themselves in similar contract situations to Michkov in their draft year, but neither was a potential first-choice overall.

“Michkov is possibly the second best prospect in the entire draft, maybe even the best, and considering his contract status, I’m not even sure if he will be part of the first five selections in June, launched a scout of the NHL. This is a very talented class. If you have the chance to choose in the top-5, and you have the choice between a Russian, whose arrival in the NHL will have to wait at least three years, and another excellent prospect who will be available as soon as he is selected… this will be intriguing to see the outcome for Michkov.”

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At the moment, this is still a moot point.

 

Michkov is currently injured. He took a hard hit from former Canadiens Alexei Emelin in early August. Recruiters will assess any impact this may have.

The other factor in this equation is the third-ranked player in the rankings of TSN, forward Adam Fantilli, a University of Michigan center from Toronto. He’s already said he’s not conceding first place overall to Connor Bedard or any other prospect.

Fantilli has an advantage that Bedard and Michkov do not have: his physique. At almost 6’2, Fantilli is a talented big guy who is as skilled as he is competitive. He is a great skater who controls the game, competes hard, physically plays in difficult areas of the rink and he has above average offensive talent.

In the survey of TSN with recruiters, Bedard received 10 first-place votes; six scouts placed Michkov second and the other four placed him third, while four scouts placed Fantilli second while the other six placed him third. The trio distanced themselves from the rest of the prospects.

“With his physique and his skating skills, Fantilli can do certain things [que Bedard et Michkov] can’t do, but as good as he is, he’s not an elite scorer like the other two players, a scout explained. But let’s look at what his scoring stats are going to look like in the NCAA this season. It will be a pleasant year for this group of hopefuls.”

 

Here’s what the rest of the top-10 look like TSN in anticipation of the 2023 draft:

Brayden Yager (4e) – The Moose Jaw Warriors center has all the tools to be a good No. 1 center, or in the worst case a quality No. 2 center, who can have an impact as much offensively, defensively, scoring goals or as playmaker. His sense of the game is perceived as elite and he has no obvious weaknesses.

Leo Carlson (5e) – The big Swedish striker, who has the versatility to play center or wing depending on the circumstances, has already racked up several good early-season comments for his play in Europe. He can score goals or set the table for games, and this attacking potential, combined with his physicality, allows him to climb into the top-5 at the start of the season.

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Cal Ritchie (6)e) – The Oshawa Generals center has the combination of physicality, talent and skating to become an excellent No. 2 center in the NHL and he has the potential to become a first-line center as well.

Zach Benson (7e) – The Winnipeg Ice winger is a dynamic player who bothers the opponent a lot. He is not an elegant skater, but he has the talent to score goals, make plays and have an influence that can disturb the opposition.

Cam Allen (8e) – An offensive and defensive threat on the Guelph Storm blue line, he is the only defenseman in the top-16 of TSN. He’s less than six feet tall, but he plays with the aggression that allows him to be a good defender. Allen is a powerful skater who has good puck skills, allowing him to contribute offensively in all three zones.

Dalibor Dvorsky (9e) – The Slovak center has the physicality, the power, the talent and the competitiveness to become a very good all-around second-line player.

Charlie Stramel (10e) – At 6’03 and 212 pounds, the University of Wisconsin American has a rare combination of physique, talent and the ability to physically punish the opponent. He has all the tools to become a power forward in the NHL.

TSN Top 16
Rank Player Information for 2022-2023 Statistics 2021-2022
Matches Goals Points Differential
1 Connor Bedard Center, Regina (WHL) 62 51 100 +42
2 Matvei Michkov Right Winger, St. Petersburg (KHL) 13 2 5 +2
3 Adam Fantilli Central, Michigan (NCAA) 54 37 74 +13
4 Brayden-Yager Center, Moose Jaw (WHL) 63 34 59 +18
5 Leo Carlson Centre/Winger, Orebro (SHL) 35 3 9
6 Cal Ritchie Center, Oshawa (OHL) 65 19 45 -7
7 Zach Benson Left winger, Winnipeg (WHL) 58 25 63 +40
8 Cam Allen Defenseman, Guelph (OHL) 65 13 37 +13
9 Dalibor Dvorsky Center, AIK (SWE-Als) 17 2 3 -2
10 Charlie Stramel Center, Wisconsin (NCAA) 26 10 22 +11
11 Nate Danielson Center, Brandon (WHL) 53 23 57 +18
12 Ethan Gauthier Centre, Sherbrooke (QMJHL) 65 18 39 +10
13 Eduard Sale Left winger, Brno (CZE) 39 42 89 -1
14 Otto Stenberg Right Winger, Frolunda (SWE J20) 38 16 35 +3
15 Colby Barlow Left winger, Owen Sound (OHL) 59 30 47 +2
16 Kasper Halttunen Right Winger, Jokerit (SM Liiga) 41 24 38 +10

 

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