Prospect Ramblings: Hedging My Bets in 2023
The 2022 draft already seems to be a minor success from the standpoint of my personal rankings. I messed up royally on guys like Jimmy Snuggerud, but hit on David Jiricek, Noah Ostlund, and most importantly Lane Hutson.
The 2023 draft will be a real test, however. As I’ve developed more of a scouting identity for myself, and strayed much further from the consensus, the bets I’ve hedged will become much more defining for me.
With my updated rankings coming out on Monday, I’ll provide a small sneak peek into what they are looking like. I can assure you they won’t end up being right, but there’s a lot of fun players in there.
While I had him stapled in at third overall for some of the earlier months of the year, I’ve come slightly back down to earth with Andrew Cristall. At a certain point, I could no longer deny the upside of Matvei Michkov, Leo Carlsson, and Zach Benson, but it doesn’t mean I’m not insanely high on Cristall. He has the upside of being one of the better playmakers in the league – in the mould of a Mitch Marner type. He has an elite offensive mind, and if his toolkit can improve slightly, he can become a PPG+ player in the NHL.
Dmitri Simashev is my favourite defenseman in the class, and it’s not particularly close. I feel almost like an NHL scout when I go out praising his size and speed combo, but he really is a ‘horse’. 6’4″, 201lbs, and he skates like the wind? NHL GM’s should be lining up to take him excessively early, but unfortunately him being a leftie, and the Russian factor, will make him drop. I think Simashev has the highest possibility of being a first-pairing defenseman in the league, similar to a Dougie Hamilton or Moritz Seider, and his incredible defensive mind gives him a pretty solid floor.
While it doesn’t show on the scoresheet, he also has a creative offensive mind. Simashev is really the full package.
All 5’8″, 173lbs of Denver Barkey is fantastic. If my scouting identity isn’t clear enough yet, I don’t shy away from small players. Barkey will most likely fall out of the first round, but I’ve seen games where he has been truly dominant. With the right development, Barkey could be an incredibly entertaining, and shockingly effective middle-six forward. His floor is risky, but the payoff could be huge. No matter where he goes, he’ll assuredly be a fan favourite.
Otto Stenberg does a lot of good things well. He also doesn’t have all that many deficiencies in his game. He doesn’t really have the elite trait I look for in prospects, but when an eighteen-year-old is so sound in the SHL, making mature and responsible plays consistently, it is hard not to root for them to have success in the NHL.
This one is different than the others. On David Reinbacher, I am hedging my bet that he’ll be exactly what I and many others project him to be – a very solid, intelligent, second-pairing guy. This is something every team wants, and that is an incredibly hot commodity. Because of this, he’s going to be picked very high, and fortunately/unfortunately, it is very possible my Montreal Canadiens snatch him up at a prohibitively high draft slot. If the Habs draft him I won’t be mad, as it is filling a serious team need but Reinbacher just doesn’t have the shine and the upside of guys I’ve ranked higher, which, among defensemen, is Dmitri Simashev, Axel Sandin Pelikka, Mikhail Gulyayev, and Luca Cagnoni.
Knowing how passionate of a Habs fan I am, however, I’ll turn around on him pretty quick if he’s wearing bleu blanc rouge threads!
This draft is full of talent. The only question is, will my bets pay off?
Thanks for reading! You can catch me on Twitter with bi-weekly personal rankings updates @itovitch , and at the Puck and Roll Podcast!