Prospect Rambling: Rizzo and Mazur shining for UDenver; Voit, Stankoven, Bolduc leading CHL

Ben Gehrels


How deep is the 2023 draft class? Six out of the top 20 prospects ranked by PNHLe will be drafted this June. That list includes all prospects playing outside the NHL right now, and six of them haven’t even been drafted yet: Adam Fantilli (1st, 128 PNHLe), Connor Bedard (3rd, 117), Leo Carlsson (5th, 114), Lukas Dragicevic (7th, 112), Will Smith (12th, 93), and Andrew Cristall (19th, 88). 

As I pointed out last week, top four-lock Matvei Michkov does not feature here because of the scarcity of historical MHL & VHL data. If he sticks in the KHL and is given any playing time at all, expect him to appear on this ranking in a hurry.

The University of Denver Pioneers had significant changeover at the end of last year after taking home the NCAA Championship, including losing their top four scorers: Bobby Brink (PHI), Carter Savoie (EDM), Cole Guttman (CHI), and Brett Stapely.

But Denver has managed to remain one of the top teams in college hockey so far this year. One reason is that Mike Benning (FLA), Shai Buium (DET), and Sean Behrens (COL)—all members of the 2021-22 Championship squad—continue to hold down the blue line for the Pioneers. All three are solid fantasy stashes in deeper leagues, though Benning in particular continues to flash attractive offensive upside with seven points in his first 10 games. 

While Buium and Behrens will face relatively deep defensive corps for Detroit and Colorado, Florida is surprisingly wide open and Benning is arguably the Panthers top prospect on defence.