Prospect Ramblings: 2023 ‘NHL Ready’ Eligibles

Aaron Itovitch

2023-04-17

Prospect Ramblings: 2023 ‘NHL Ready’ Eligibles

I’m still under the belief that no player from the 2022 draft was NHL ready come September. There were obvious growing pains for Juraj Slafkovsky, Shane Wright spent the bulk of the season in the OHL, and Simon Nemec and David Jiricek were mostly AHLers.

The story is very different in 2023, however, as this draft holds some of the most refined talent I’ve seen from people my age in any facet of life. I am in fact a 2023 draft-eligible, and I can guarantee that I don’t do anything as well as these players’ elite skills!

Beyond the almost certain top-2, of Connor Bedard, and Adam Fantilli, several other players could be impactful in the NHL come September, and this will raise their draft stock significantly.

For contenders, this means they could add a piece that helps them right now, and for rebuilders, high-quality players could slip further that they’d ever should.

Nate Danielson

There’s nothing about Nate Danielson’s game that doesn’t scream NHL-ready. Beyond having the pedigree of being a major-junior captain at 18-years-old, Danielson plays a role that will transition seamlessly to the NHL.

A responsible centre, that doesn’t necessarily drive play, but definitely doesn’t hold it back, Danielson is always useful when he’s on the ice.

He’s a shifty playmaker with size, and fits the mould of an exceptional third-line NHL centre.

This type of near-instant floor is what will lead Danielson to go as high as the top-10.

Colby Barlow

A bulk of this list (it’s only three players, and it’s the case for all three of them), is just players that I’m slightly lower on than consensus. This is because I value different things than NHL GM’s and scouts. I don’t have a job on the line, so I can hedge a bet on a riskier player.

When it comes to Colby Barlow, I see a blistering shot, but not much else, but even I have to admit that his elite shooting ability will get him far. Whether he’s a Mike Hoffman on the power play, putting up 35 goals with the right playmaker, or if he actually develops into a play-driving two-way sniping threat with size, there’s an above-average chance that Colby Barlow will be a productive NHLer.

I wouldn’t be shocked if a team reaches and grabs Barlow in the top-10, and I’d be shocked if he falls past 15. His shooting talent is incredible, and his NHL-ready game is very exciting for teams on either side of the contention spectrum.

David Reinbacher

David Reinbacher is very clearly NHL ready. This scares me, because, with him being a righty, he will be picked very high. I think it’s incredible how well he plays in a men’s league, granted I’m not all that familiar with the NL. There’s a lot to like, but I have my doubts on upside above a #3. That aside, what he’s doing right now in a men’s league must excite teams close to contending, especially considering he’ll be on ELC money for the next three seasons.

He plays a very appealing physical style, and there is a high-energy nature to his game that is hard not to love. He reminds me a lot of Kaiden Guhle, which is a good thing, but not for a top-10 pick in a draft like this one.

In my own personal rankings, I’ll always lean towards upside, but, if I were an NHL scout, I would definitely rather put my job on these players, and if I were the GM of a soon-to-be contender, like the Sabres or the Red Wings, these would be very exciting options for me.

Thanks for reading! You can catch me on Twitter with bi-weekly personal rankings updates @itovitch , and at the Puck and Roll Podcast!

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