2023 NHL Draft Fantasy Rankings

Peter Harling

2023-02-24

2023 NHL Draft Fantasy Rankings

If you are not winning or competing in your fantasy league, this is a good year to be tanking.

The NHL Draft for 2023 is littered with potential impact fantasy players and at the tip of the sword is the crown jewel, Connor Bedard.

Each year the senior writers at DobberProspects reach out to the online scouting community to gather a consensus ranking for the upcoming draft. What separates this ranking from the countless others out there is this is focused on fantasy hockey. The differences may be subtle overall, but there can also be some important up and down swings on certain players. NHL teams and fantasy owners are generally looking for the same things in the draft.

  • Players that are going to make it to the NHL.
  • Players that will make an impact when they make it.

Typically, these interests align in offensive production, but in the real world, a NHL team may covet a player that has a skill set that does not translate well to the fantasy game. Players that are big and specialize in the defensive side of the game often don’t produce well or bring value in fantasy.

To help you plan on who to target and how to rank your draft list, this ranking was compiled with input from 11 writers and is focused on fantasy hockey value. Projected point production.

With Connor Bedard as the consensus top player by all 11 writers there really isn’t much to say that has not already been said. The next tier was also similar to other draft rankings with Adam Fantilli, Matvei Michkov, and Leo Carlsson as the overwhelming next three in some order or another.

Some players seeing a big boost on this list are Andrew Cristall who received a rank of third overall and fourth overall to boost him up. The biggest riser in the fantasy rankings overall is Jayden Perron, who on the EliteProspects consensus rankings is 28th overall and on the fantasy ranking comes in at 15, rising up a whopping 13 places. Other notable risers include Quentin Musty and Nate Danielson who increase by nine spots. Calum Ritchie is up by seven, and Koehen Zimmer, Luca Pinelli, and Ethan Gauthier all move into the top 32 ranking and into the first round.

Big thanks go out to the writers who helped make this ranking and submitted their top 32 players and comments.

Russ Cohen (@sportsology): NHL Radio Network, Sportsology, and EliteProspects.

Brock Otten (@BrockOtten): Director of Scouting McKeens, The Hockey News On the “O” Podcast.

Cam Robinson (@Hockey_Robinson): Director of Film Scouting EliteProspects.

Mason Black (@NHLRankKing): NHL Rank King and creator of PNHLe.

Sebastian High (@high_sebastian): Director of North American Scouting DobberProspects, Puck and Roll Podcast.

Eetu Siltanen (@siltaneneetu): Director of European Scouting DobberProspects, Scout for Mora IK (HoceyAllsvenskan)

Ben Gehrels (@beegare): Associate Editor DobberProspects.

Curtis Rines (@curtis_rines): Associate Editor DobberProspects.

Victor Nuño (@VictorNuno12): Junior Editor DobberProspects, Fantasy Hockey Life Podcast.

Aaron Itovitch (@itovitch): Junior Editor DobberProspects, Puck and Roll Podcast.

Peter Harling (@pharling): Managing Editor DobberProspects, DobberProspects Radio Podcast.

Each writer ranked their top 32 and provided commentary. Each ranking was compiled as a consensus ranking and each player’s overall score will be included. The score was how they were ranked. For example, Andrew Cristall received overall ranks of 6,8,10,10,4,6,6,8,10,8,3, totalling 79 averaged over 11 his overall score is 7.18. Each player’s rank will be included, as well as the EliteProspects consensus (EPC) rankings. And what fantasy ranking would be complete without the PNHLe ranking, that will also be listed courtesy of the NHL Rank King app.

  1. Connor Bedard, C – Regina Pats (WHL)

CAN – 5-10, 185

Score: 1

EPC:  1

PNHLe: 151

He is everything. Its not too often we project a player to step in as a draft-plus one and produce seriously at the NHL level, but we will with Bedard. Even though he’ll barely be 18 -ears-old, there’s every reason to believe that 35 goals and 70 points is extremely doable. He could break 100 next season and I wouldn’t even be that shocked. Cam Robinson.

Generational prospect with an elite skillset across the board who will change the trajectory of whichever franchise lands him this June. A bit on the smaller side but he plays with an edge and constantly attacks the net. Ben Gehrels.

Generational talent. Elite shot, rapid speed, and shifty hands. The complete offensive package. Curtis Rines.

Probably the first guy since McDavid that you legitimately take over the field as to who is going to be the best player from this draft in 10 years. No one is talking about his size because it doesn’t matter. His shot, his vision, IQ, all ELITE. I think the key is to shoot with your eyes closed. Maybe that trend will catch on.  Victor Nuño.

Ranked number one across the board by all contributors. Has the highest PNHLe by a wide margin. His certainty of playing in the NHL and being a star is 99%, the only question is will it be instantly? Peter Harling.

 

  1. Adam Fantilli, C – Michigan University (NCAA)

CAN – 6-2, 187

Score: 2.18

EPC: 2

PNHLe: 120

The best consolation prize since Jack Eichel. Cam Robinson.

Has a blend of toughness and finesse that’s rarely seen.  Russ Cohen.

Fantilli may not be as refined as some are propping him up to be, he still needs to work on the consistency of his habits, but his combination of power, creativity, and skill is the best we’ve seen since Matthews. Sebastian High.

The perfect archetype for a modern NHLer. Big, fast, middle-driven, and powerful. Could be a second-line centre in the NHL right now as an eighteen-year-old, with the ceiling of being a top centre in the league. Aaron Itovitch.

Did not rank lower than three by any writer. He is having a freshman season for the ages, only players like Jack Eichel and Paul Kariya had similar production as NCAA freshmen. That is elite company. Peter Harling.

 

  1. Matvei Michkov, RW – HK Sochi (KHL)

RUS – 5-10, 148

Score: 3.18

EPC: 4

PNHLe: 124

Has the second highest goal-scoring upside of the whole draft class. Very good offensive skills and vision, but his arsenal of goal-scoring is his biggest strength. Eetu Siltanen.

If you can wait for him in your league, he will reward you. Maybe none of his skills are elite, but all are well above average. He can beat you many different ways and certainly has top line upside. Might be the 2nd best prospect in this draft, but the fact that you have to wait knocks him back a bit. Victor Nuño.

The second most electric prospect in the class. The wait time sucks, but the payoff should be huge. Cam Robinson.

I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t believe that Michkov is the second most “purely” talented player in the draft behind Bedard. I’d have him fourth in my actual rankings due to some other concerns (contract in Russia, off puck play, overall decision making), but if we’re talking fantasy rankings, his upside is unquestionably the second highest in the draft.  Brock Otten.

Scored as high as second by two writers, but no lower than fourth. The wait time is what keeps him out of second overall, those who waited on fellow Russians such as Kirill Kaprizov are reaping the rewards now. Peter Harling.

 

  1. Leo Carlsson, C/W – Obrebo (SHL)

SWE – 6-3, 194

Score: 3.81

EPC: 3

PNHLe: 85

The 6-3 forward has a well-rounded offensive toolkit, with elite hockey sense, excellent puck skills and great playmaking abilities. Eetu Siltanen.

Solid playmaker with excellent vision. His mix of size (6-3) and skill is a package that NHL teams covet. Top-six upside at both center and on the wing.  Curtis Rines.

I guess the big question here is do you see Carlsson as a center or a wing long term? Either way, he has an impressive all-around skill set and should have a long career in the NHL as a top six player. He was impressive in the big moments at the WJC’s. Brock Otten.

Carlsson has looked dominant against men in the SHL, repeatedly undressing pro-level defenders with slick little moves that create space for him and his teammates. He plays with his head up and keeps the puck on a string. Ben Gehrels.

 

  1. Zach Benson, C/W – Winnipeg Ice (WHL)

CAN – 5-10, 159

Score: 5.45

EPC: 5

PNHLe: 90

Benson is insanely dynamic on offence. He processes plays rapidly and has the hands and edgework to delay with the puck until seams open up in opposing defences. One of this draft’s premier playmakers. Ben Gehrels.

Arguably the smartest player in the class, Benson uses every weapon in his arsenal to overcome his size coupled with not being lightning quick. He’s played wing in junior, but moving to the middle in the pros is a real possibility. Cam Robinson.

Benson is a scout’s dream, he’s methodical, decisive, and clinical, but his fantasy upside isn’t as high as his real-life upside is. His point production ceiling is a bit more limited compared to the top-5, but he will be very valuable in leagues valuing primary assists, PK time, and +/-. Sebastian High.

Smartest player in the draft.  Russ Cohen.

 

 

  1. Will Smith, C – U.S. National U18 (USDP)

USA – 6-0, 172

Score: 7.18

EPC: 6

PNHLe: 95

What he’s doing at the USNTDP is in the Jack Hughes neighborhood of awesome! As a really young 17-year-old, it’s impressive. I wonder if all his skills will translate to the professional ranks, but he’s pretty adaptable. Pretty equally dangerous as a shooter and playmaker. Victor Nuño.

Could become a high-end second line centre with a good floor of being a bottom-six centre. Features a lot of the qualities NHL teams love, with a lot of translatable skills. Aaron Itovitch.

Crafty dual-threat center with ability to undress any opponent with his puck skills. Also has excellent hockey sense and ability to anticipate and read the play. Eetu Siltanen.

Two to three times a game he creates great offensive chances.  Russ Cohen.

 

  1. Andrew Cristall, LW – Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

CAN – 5-10, 165

Score: 7.18

EPC: 8

PNHLe: 93

As far as point production goes, Cristall has the fourth-highest ceiling in the class. He’s a tremendously creative and intelligent playmaker with a good shot, great off-puck offensive habits, and impressive agility, but he has some catching up to do in his own zone and with his top speed. Sebastian High.

He’s either going to be an NHL all-star, or not a player at all. I like his chances at the former. Cam Robinson.

Pure upside. Andrew Cristall has the smarts and the skills to have a 100-point season in the NHL. If he’s developed properly, he could be a consistent Art Ross contender. Elite playmaking and a great scoring touch.  Aaron Itovitch.

I’m not quite as sold on Cristall as some of my colleagues at McKeen’s Hockey, but it’s hard to argue that his offensive upside is not incredibly high. He’d be lower on my actual draft list due to concerns over his quickness in combination with his lack of size, but his high-end creativity gives him a chance to overcome that. Brock Otten.

Cristall earned a third overall ranking from one writer, and no lower than tenth from two others. Peter Harling.

 

  1. Oliver Moore, C – US National U18 (USDP)

USA – 5-11, 176

Score: 10.0

EPC: 12

PNHLe: 58

His speed through the neutral zone is special.  Russ Cohen.

At this point, Moore might be my favourite player eligible this year outside of the big four. The most dynamic skater eligible for the draft IMO and someone who has multiple paths to being an NHL player. I think the offensive upside is higher than he’s given credit for. Hard for him to stand out more consistently behind that dominant NTDP first line. If he had better wingers… Brock Otten.

Probably the best skater in the draft affords him great latitude to flex his other skills, primarily playmaking. Despite him playing away from the top line of Will Smith, Ryan Leonard, and Gabe Perreault, Moore is putting up a ton of points and doing it with far less to work with. When surrounded by top talent, I bet he can put up a ton of points in the NHL. Victor Nuño.

An energetic forward, fastest skater of the class who can fly through the neutral zone for a scoring chance. Eetu Siltanen.

Scored between six and sixteen overall, but his ranking moves up by four on the fantasy list. Peter Harling.

 

  1. Ryan Leonard, C – US National U18 (USDP)

USA – 5-11, 181

Score: 11.63

EPC: 13

PNHLe: 67

A toolsy, rough and tumble shooter. Give him a slick pivot and watch him click 30 on the regular. Cam Robinson.

Leonard is a versatile, two-way player who relentlessly attacks the middle of the ice. He does everything well, giving him a solid floor in fantasy, but he lacks the dynamism of other top players in this class. Ben Gehrels.

Powerful player that elevates every line he’s on. My personal favourite of the USNTDP class of 2023, and a very comfortable floor. Aaron Itovitch.

Smart, fast, gets to the net and takes puck battles personally. Russ Cohen.

A rank of 24th overall pulled down his final score, but he still moves up four spots vs the EliteProspects consensus rankings. Peter Harling.

 

  1. Eduard Sale, RW – HC Kometa Brno (Czechia)

CZE – 6-1, 168

Score: 12.18

EPC: 7

PNHLe: NA

A creative and skilled forward with pretty good skating ability. Has a good wrist shot and can protect the puck with his frame. Eetu Siltanen.

So much god damn skill it makes you want to pull your hair out when he doesn’t give a consistent effort. But if he decides to? Watch out! Cam Robinson.

Sale absolutely destroyed the Czech U20 league last year at age 17, posting the best D-1 equivalency of any 2023-eligible not named Bedard or Michkov. His numbers have cooled playing in the country’s top pro league, but his puck handling, vision, and creativity remain elite. Ben Gehrels.

Sale has excellent skating, hands, and playmaking ability. Against his peers, he’s been dominant. Playing in the Czech league, his totals are a bit muted. Has first-line upside if all breaks right or could be more like a middle-six playmaker. Victor Nuño.

His fantasy ranking dropped by three due to scores of 15,16,17 from three contributors. His highest grade was seventh. Peter Harling.

 

  1. Axel Sandin Pellikka, RD – Skelleftea AIK (SHL)

SWE – 5-11, 181

Score: 14.09

EPC: 11

PNHLe: 58

Offensive defenseman with elite mobility, great puck skills and excellent offensive upside. Eetu Siltanen.

Strong puck-moving two-way defenseman. Has the ability to start plays from his own end with ease and projects to be a top-end quarterback on the powerplay. Curtis Rines.

I like Sandin-Pellikka’s odds of becoming a good NHL defender. I’m just not sure about his high-end upside. Good skater and effective in transition. Shows potential at the defensive end too. But is he more than a Calvin de Haan type in the NHL? Brock Otten.

Sandin Pellikka excels in transition, creates with every puck touch, and dances the point with poise. Excellent four-way mobility, vision, and confidence under pressure are his calling cards. Ben Gehrels

 

  1. Brayden Yager, C – Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)

CAN -6-0, 165

Score: 14.45

EPC: 9

PNHLe: 59

Fast on the rush. Fast release on his wrist shot.  Russ Cohen.

The reigning CHL rookie of the year has one of the best shots in the draft and is a threat whenever the puck is on his stick. His game can be one-dimensional at times, particularly on defence. With a greater commitment to consistency at both ends of the ice, Yager still has potential as a high-end NHL sniper. Ben Gehrels.

Plays a high-pace game, has great energy, and possesses a great release. Another forward with a good point-scoring upside. Eetu Siltanen.

Have to admit, I’m often left wanting more when I watch Yager. I don’t see him as a primary play driver at the NHL level. But he does have significant goal scoring potential and can be a fairly versatile player at the NHL level if he develops properly. Brock Otten.

A wide range of scores for Yager, two seven ranks pushed him up, but  a 20, 22, and 23 pulled him down. His fantasy ranking is three lower than his EliteProspects ranking. Peter Harling.

 

  1. Dilibor Dvorsky, C – AIK (HockeyAllsvenskan)

SVK – 6-1. 201

Score: 14.45

EPC: 10

PNHLe: 55

I feel very confident that Dvorsky is going to be a good NHL player. I love the two-way skill set. But is he Alex Barkov/Anze Kopitar, or is he more of a high-end middle six type who can play up and down the lineup? Since returning to the Swedish J20 league, he has been dominating offensively. Brock Otten.

His biggest strengths are his strong puck skills and ability to create chances, but he can also shoot the puck. Eetu Siltanen.

Could be more middle six than top six, but there’s an assured pro in there. Cam Robinson.

The appeal in Dvorsky is his projectability. He’s powerful down the middle, smart enough, strong skating mechanics and a good shot. He lacks creativity that other players in this tier have, however. Aaron Itovitch.

 

  1. Riley Heidt, C/W – Prince George Cougars (WHL)

CAN – 5-11/179

Score: 17.37

EPC: 17

PNHLe: 74

Strong playmaking pivot. Slick and deceptive through transition and the opposition’s zone. Has the skill set to be a top-six offensive driver. Curtis Rines.

Excellent skater with great offensive problem solving. His shot is pretty underrated. His D-1 totals were muted due to being on a rebuilding team. Victor Nuño.

Heidt has really diversified his offensive game since September, which has helped his NHL projection a fair bit, his combination of skating, skill, playmaking, and goalscoring could make him a steal in the early twenties. Sebastian High. 

This kid could already run an NHL power play. He’s skilled. He’s feisty. He’s good. Cam Robinson.

  

  1. Jayden Perron, C/W – Chicago Steel (USHL)

CAN – 5-8,157

Score: 17.45

EPC: 28

PNHLe: 51

Perron is a tremendous offensive player, who I think will translate to the NHL in a few years’ time. He has a great motor, is a wonderful playmaker, has really improved his shot, and his off-puck movement, especially in the offensive zone, is among the three best in the class. Sebastian High. 

Very small, but very exciting. Jayden Perron has a motor like few others and has all of the aspects of an elite top-six playmaking winger. Less certain than others in this part of the draft, however. Aaron Itovitch.

Potential to be a top-six playmaking winger. Possesses noticeable mobility and solid puck skills. Consistently impactful offensive force Curtis Rines. 

One of the best in the draft with the puck on his stick. He generally makes the best play to exploit the weakness in the defense, however that manages to present itself. That time of offensive manipulation should translate to the highest levels, regardless of his size. Victor Nuño. 

The biggest riser on the fantasy rankings at 15th overall moving up from 28th overall on the EliteProspects consensus. Peter Harling.

 

  1. Quentin Musty, LW – Sudbury Wolves (OHL)

USA – 6-2/205

Score: 18.27

EPC: 25

PNHLe: 85

He’s working hard to change the narrative surrounding him under new Sudbury coach Derek MacKenzie. He’s playing harder in the offensive end and is obviously extremely skilled. Defensively, he’s got a long way to go. And I’m a bit concerned as to why he’s not scoring despite having such a great shot. But the offensive upside is significant. Brock Otten.

Shooter’s gonna shoot. He’s got all sorts of offensive skill but can annoy with his complacency too. Cam Robinson.

Has a great wrist shot and a very strong offensive toolkit, but his below-average hockey sense is quite concerning. Eetu Siltanen.

An athletic winger with a heavy shot and slick puck handling. His lack of hockey sense raises some concerns about his game, but it’s hard to argue against his level of production this season. Curtis Rines.

Another big riser moving up nine spots. Was ranked as high as 10th overall and as low as 30th. A very polarizing player. Peter Harling.

 

  1. Mikhail Gulyayev, LD – Omskie Yastreby (MHL)

RUS – 5-10/170

Score: 18.9

EPC: 15

PNHLe: 25

Excellent skating and offensive acumen. Clearly too good for the MHL. He could certainly run a top power play in the NHL. Victor Nuño.

Smallish, but very dynamic puck-moving defender with strong puck skills, and great offensive upside. Eetu Siltanen.

A smooth skating defenseman who is confident in his puck skills along the blue line. Although he can sometimes lack in defending, his offensive toolset makes him the modern-day build that most NHL teams love in their blueliners. Curtis Rines.

Man, it’s so hard to scout Russian players these days. The MHL is a league that befuddles me. But Gulyayev is an extremely impressive skater and I think he has high end potential as a puck mover. Next to Dragicevic, I see him possessing the second most upside in the draft. Brock Otten.

 

  1. Gavin Brindley, RW – University of Michigan (NCAA)

USA – 5-9/175

Score: 19.45

EPC: 22

PNHLe: 53

Brindley (5-7, 170lbs) makes up for being outmatched physically at times with his sublime skating, which allows him to push the play with pace and create scoring opportunities at a high rate. Ben Gehrels.

Playing on a line with Adam Fantilli, Brindley has been a massive proponent to his teammates’ success. One of the better offensive toolkits in the class, and brilliantly creative. Aaron Itovitch.

If he can get past his small stature, Brindley brings a lot of translatable skills. He hounds pucks, his pace is elite. He has some of the best hands in tight and small spaces in the draft. If he can continue to avoid big hits while not shying away from contact, there is an NHL future for Brindley and one where he scores a lot of points. Victor Nuño. 

A true freshman who is fast and a playmaker who has some scoring ability.  Russ Cohen.

 

  1. Colby Barlow, LW – Owen Sound Attack (OHL)

CAN – 6-1/187

Score: 19.72

EPC: 14

PNHLe: 72

Barlow would be much higher on my list if this were just a straight draft ranking. Rare to find power wingers who can score and defend the way that Barlow does. He’s just a really smart player. There might be some skill limitations that prevent him from being a top line winger, but I see a player who has a long career playing through the middle six. Brock Otten.

Barlow has a powerful, accurate shot and attack-first mentality. If he can round out his game further, including his skating and playmaking, he could become a valuable sniper and powerplay weapon at the NHL level. Ben Gehrels.

Already a man and knows how to utilize the strength advantage. We’ll see if he can do the same against NHLers. Cam Robinson.

Most of his skills are above average and should translate to a top of the lineup player in the NHL. Victor Nuño.

Polarizing player was not ranked by one writer, and as high as 11th by another. His overall score fell by five vs the consensus. Peter Harling.

 

  1. Gabe Perreault, RW – US National U18 (USDP)

USA – 5-11/165

Score: 22.27

EPC: 24

PNHLe: 106

Perreault’s individual tools may leave something to be desired—he’s not the flashiest, strongest, or fastest—but he is seemingly always in the right place at the right time. His 1.88 points per game leads the USDP and is not far behind Jack Hughes’ mark at the same age. Ben Gehrels.

Besides some red flags in his skating, Perrault is a creative playmaker with a great knack for finding is teammates in open spaces. An intelligent winger with high hockey IQ. Curtis Rines.

He’s more than a passenger on the USNTDP’s top line, but certainly the least interesting of the three. Serious questions remain if he can be as productive away from Smith and Leonard, but it is hard to ignore his ability to intelligently find soft spots in the offensive zone. He might just be an elite complementary player and those guys can be extremely valuable too. It isn’t always easy to play with elite talent. Victor Nuño. 

He’s fast with a good, deceptive shot.   Russ Cohen.

Despite not being ranked by two writers and receiving low scores of 27, and 32, he still climbed by four vs the consensus with high scores of a 12 and two 14’s. Peter Harling.

 

  1. David Reinbacher, RD – EHC Kloten (NL)

AUT – 6-2/187

Score: 24.09

EPC: 20

PNHLe: NA

Reinbacher is mobile, intelligent defenseman who drives play in all three zones. Although he has no elite-level skills, he has no real gaps in his game either. His solid performance in the top Swiss men’s league this year suggests he could be one of the more NHL-ready defenders in this draft. Ben Gehrels.

Excellent one-timer. Wins puck battles. Blocks shots.  Russ Cohen.

Mobile defender with a good frame and well-rounded two-way game. Eetu Siltanen.

Playing in a tough league against men in his draft year is impressive. Probably more of a two-way defender, but there is offensive upside there, which may be unleashed sooner since his defensive game is so mature. Victor Nuño.

 

  1. Matthew Wood, C/W – University of Connecticut (NCAA)

CAN – 6-3/190

Score: 24.63

EPC: 23

PNHLe: 68

Not the best skater but has the IQ to arrive ahead of the puck. Great offensive instincts and has a great shot. If the rest of his game rounds out, he could be a scoring winger in the. NHL Victor Nuño. 

Wood is pushing a point-per-game as the youngest player in college hockey. He has looked overwhelmed at times and will need to improve his speed and defensive play, but his shot and puck handling are elite. His age gives him more runway to develop than most in this class. Ben Gehrels.

Pro shot, terrific on the power play. Youngest player in college hockey.  Russ Cohen.

Big winger with an impressive skill set. Has the potential to dominate down low. Works really well as a complementary piece already. The key to unlocking his potential will be whether he can improve his quickness and overall skating ability. Brock Otten.

 

  1. Calum Ritchie, C – Oshawa Generals (OHL)

CAN – 6-2/187

Score:25.18

EPC: 16

PNHLe: 50

I know there are lots of people out there who are concerned about Ritchie’s pace. No question he will need to improve his quickness. However, he’s more clinical and methodical in his approach to the game. He is just so smart. Similar to Danielson, he’d be higher on my actual draft list, but I’m not sold on his potential being quite as high as others. Brock Otten.

Ritchie is falling down quite a few draft boards, mine included, but his intelligence, intensity, and playmaking games will pave him a road to the NHL and likely a third-line role. Sebastian High.

Goal scorer from a lot of different places.  Russ Cohen.

Large framed, good skater. Looks like an NHL player, but his play sometimes seems like he is either too good or not good enough for the OHL. His inconsistent play is frustrating to watch, but if he can even that out, he could be a top 6 forward in the NHL. Victor Nuño.

Ritchie fell on the fantasy rankings by seven spots. He was not ranked by three writers and his highest scores were 14, 15. Peter Harling.

 

  1. Otto Stenberg, C/W – Frolunda HC (J20 Nationell)

SWE – 5-11/181

Score: 25.45

EPC: 21

PNHLe: NA

Very well-rounded center with good frame and all above-average tools, but has no clear-cut weapon, like Michkov (goal scoring) and Sandin-Pellikka (mobility). – Eetu Siltanen.

Strong skater and good transition player. Very well-rounded, but no skill is elite, which is why he is so low. Part of it is that he might not be able to show his skill as much at such a high level in the SHL. There is more dynamic skill on display in the J20 Nationell. Victor Nuño.

Stenberg has the ability to turn a game in his teams’ favour, but he’s very inconsistent. Depending on the game, he looks invisible, or he’s in the MVP conversation. Continuously looks better in the SHL than the J20, which is a great sign for his projectability. Aaron Itovitch.

 

  1. Lukas Dragicevic, RD – Tri-City Americans (WHL)

CAN – 6-2/181

Score: 25.63

EPC: 27

PNHLe: 101

Dragicevic has a blend of size, offensive skill, a big shot and plays physically. He is producing well over a point per game as a sophomore in the WHL and could be a big-time fantasy player in a few years producing points, shots, hits, blocks and PIM’s. Peter Harling.

Dragicevic is a big, aggressive blueliner who shines with the puck on his stick in the offensive zone, where he loves to unload his powerful shot. Persistent defensive issues may slow his transition to the big leagues. Ben Gehrels.

It’s not a great year for defensemen. I’m not sold on Dragicevic’s defensive IQ and ability to be a quality pro. But what I am sold on is his offensive potential. He’s the most skilled defender available this year and for that reason, he deserves to be high on a list like this. Brock Otten.

 

  1. William Whitelaw, C – Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)

USA – 5-9/172

Score: 25.81

EPC: 31

PNHLe: 51

Able to make skill plays with pace. Can effortlessly fool defenders at the USHL level. His game will have to mature but will also have more skilled teammates to play with. Unsure if his skill will translate to higher levels of hockey, but there is a lot of raw skill. Victor Nuño.

Truly boom or bust, but the boom could be legendary. Has the mind to become a top-six offensive force, but the floor of never making it to the NHL. Brilliant playmaker with an above-average shot, and strong skating mechanics. Aaron Itovitch.

He changes angles on his hard wrist shot. He works well in traffic too.  Russ Cohen.

Whitelaw is one of the biggest boom-bust players in this draft. He prefers to shoot whenever possible and will need to develop his playmaking to keep pro defenders guessing. His edgework and vision are fantastic, and he is dangerous in transition with the puck on his stick. An excellent late-round gamble in fantasy. Ben Gehrels.

 

  1. Nate Danielson, C – Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)

CAN – 6-1/185

Score: 26

EPC: 18

PNHLe: 59

Similar to Colby Barlow, Danielson would be much higher on my actual draft list. I just love his versatility. Very well-rounded player who I think is a slam dunk to be a middle six NHL player. But he doesn’t possess the same kind of offensive upside as the guys I’ve got ranked ahead of him for this fantasy based list. Brock Otten.

One of the oldest draft-eligibles this year, Danielson is a complete, two-way player with a higher floor but lower ceiling than other top forwards in this class. Ben Gehrels. 

Super smart two-way center who is crafty with the puck. He should be a top six pivot in the NHL. Victor Nuño.

Well-rounded skill set and is a strong play-driver in the defensive end. Has been the bright spot on a poor Wheat Kings squad. Curtis Rines.

Ranked nine places higher on the fantasy ranking despite not being ranked by two writers. Scored consistently in the low 20’s with a high grade of 17 from one writer. Peter Harling.

 

  1. Dmitri Shimashev, LD – Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)

RUS – 6-4/201

Score: 26.3

EPC: 29

PNHLe: 0

Another guy who would be higher on my actual draft list. Really intrigued by Simashev’s potential as a top four defender. At worst, he’s probably a big, physical, potential shutdown type. At best, the offensive skill set, and confidence continues to grow. He’s the number one defender on my actual draft board, but on a fantasy list like this, I’d have him a bit lower. Brock Otten.

Excellent stick and puck control. Great shot.  Russ Cohen.

The type of player every team loves. Big, great skater, and an underrated offensive toolkit. Phenomenal defensively, and elite hockey IQ. Aaron Itovitch.

Simashev is an incredible skater and is the best in-zone defender in the class, keeping a suffocating gap, playing with composure and confidence in the KHL, and flashing impressive playmaking as well, though the production doesn’t quite reflect the offensive skill. Sebastian High.

 

  1. Samuel Honzek, C – Vancouver Giants (WHL)

SVK – 6-4/185

Score: 26.63

EPC: 26

PNHLe: 66

What a year it’s been for Honzek in the WHL. He has exploded onto the draft radar. Blends size, power, and skill together and looks to be a guy who has top six upside. Brock Otten

NHL teams love players like Samuel Honzek. Big, strong, and effective in different roles on the ice. Could become a middle-six complementary winger. Aaron Itovitch.

Solid in every phase of the game. Makes his teammates better. Will definitely be an NHL player but might be more of a two-way guy. Victor Nuño.

High-end vision with deceptive skating abilities, making him a force in transition. His large frame does not take away from his speed. Should be a solid middle-six scorer at the NHL level.  Curtis Rines.

 

  1. Koehn Ziemmer, RW – Prince George Cougars (WHL)

CAN – 6-0/194

Score: 26.9

EPC: NR

PNHLe: 70

Riding the coattails of Heidt a bit, but he’s got the size, skill, and smarts to be an NHL winger. Can do a lot on his own as well, can beat defenders one-on-one. Good at finding soft ice and unleashing his wicked shot. Victor Nuño.

Ziemmer is one of the top snipers in this year’s draft class, boasting a deadly arsenal of shots and the positional sense to use them effectively. His skating and defensive play need work but he has clear top-six NHL potential. Ben Gehrels.

Explosive sniper with brilliant puck skills. Has the ceiling of being a complementary top-six sniper, but the versatility of a bottom-six offensive producer. Aaron Itovitch.

 

  1. Luca Pinelli, C – Ottawa 67’s (OHL)

CAN – 5-9/161

Score: 27.45

EPC: NR

PNHLe: 54

Pinelli has rapidly and steadily improved and developed his entire game. While not a physically impressive player, he has a tremendous motor and impacts every game in a variety of ways. He backchecks, forechecks, has great speed and can finish. He is a player coaches will love as he is versatile and dependable, similar to Dawson Mercer. Peter Harling.

Pinelli is an intense and highly intelligent forward who breaks down defensive structures with precision and quick passes. His goalscoring game has evolved a lot over the past year, and he projects as a valuable piece in all three zones, possibly even at center. Sebastian High.

Luca Pinelli is definitely not as projectable as the players around him, but he has an incredible hockey mind. He’s a playmaking first versatile winger that has so much fun when he’s on the ice. Non-stop motor with relentless forechecking ability. Aaron Itovitch.

 

  1. Ethan Gauthier, RW – Sherbrook Phoenix (QMJHL)

USA – 5-11/176

Score: 28.7

EPC: 19

PNHLe: 53

Gauthier is more of a complementary type of player, but his strong skating and puck skills still give him a top-six upside. Do not be fooled by his 5-11 frame, as he possesses an effective level of physicality in his game. Curtis Rines.

Had a hard time determining who would be my #32 and ultimately went with Gauthier, another player that I really like, but who, maybe, has questionable NHL upside. Gauthier isn’t really involved in transition, but he’s so effective down low and in traffic, and that translates well to the next level. Brock Otten.

Quick hands, quick release on his shot. Russ Cohen

Not the best skater but plays with good pace. Has great offensive IQ and can beat players one-on-one and in small spaces. He’ll have to work hard to become and NHL top sixer, but he seems ready to do that. Victor Nuño.

 

Honorable Mentions:

The following players received several votes but were just outside the top 32 consensus fantasy ranking.

 

Gracyn Sawchyn, C – Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)

Sick hands, good wheels, creative. Likely more of a passenger in the top six but could pop. Cam Robinson.

 

Daniil But, LW – Loko 76 Yaroslavl (MHL)

Massive forward with an impressive skill set. High end goal scoring potential that can be reached if he learns to use his size more consistently to play through the middle of the ice. Brock Otten.

 

Charlie Stramel, C/W – University of Wisconsin (NCAA)

He’s fast, physical and plays a 200-foot game.  Russ Cohen.

 

Alex Ciernik, LW/RW – Sodertalje SK (HockeyAllsvenskan)

Ciernik is a creative playmaker with his head on a swivel, constantly aware of his surroundings and with the patience to wait for openings to naturally come up. Solid upside as a middle-six creator. Sebastian High.

 

Kasper Halttunen, RW – HIFK (Liiga)

Big winger with cannon of a shot and a good offensive toolkit but lacks hockey sense and consistency. Eetu Siltanen.

 

Tanner Molendyk, LD – Saskatoon Blades (WHL)

 Molendyk’s production may not impress, but his tracked results in all three zones are at the top of this class. His defensive skillset is built for NHL success and provides an ideal foundation for future offensive growth, though his fantasy ceiling is still an open question. Ben Gehrels.

 

Hunter Brzustewicz, RD – Kitchener Rangers (OHL)

One of the best puck-moving defensemen in the draft. His shot has a lot of room for growth, but as a one-man breakout machine, he has all the characteristics of a solid top-four blueliner at the NHL level. Curtis Rines.

Luca Cagnoni, LD – Portland Winterhawks (WHL)

Offensive defenseman who times his pinches well and manipulates the opposition, but offensive and defensive. Has a little bit of Olen Zellweger in him. Victor Nuño.

 

Timur Mukhanov, C – Omskie Yasterby (MHL)

For a 5-8 player, Timur Mukhanov is incredibly projectable. He’s tenacious and strong, and it’s easy to imagine him in a top-six role, with a safer floor than other small players. Aaron Itovitch.

 

Oliver Bonk, RD – London Knights (OHL)

Rising up the draft rankings into a lot of peoples first round. The son of former NHL star Radek Bonk, Oliver is a big mobile defender with a very high hockey IQ. His fantasy upside may be limited, but it’s not irrelevant. Peter Harling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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