United States of America v Canada: 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship
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The 2023 NHL draft class stands to be one of the most talented and deep in recent memory. A clear favorite at the top of the table. Connor Bedard will be a highly touted prospect that will for sure be a 1.1 pickup. Going into the 2023 NHL Draft Lottery, every team at the bottom of the standings will be making their prayers to the ping-pong ball gods to pick up their generational talent.

Despite being the clear favorite, there are still a lot of projected stars going into the 2023 draft.

Here’s my projected top 10 picks in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft.

1. Connor Bedard, F, Regina (WHL)- Columbus Blue Jackets

The consensus top pick on nearly every draft site, and currently tearing up the WHL, Bedard is a generational talent. The most hyped prospect since Connor McDavid was sold when he was 14 years old. An instant boon to the franchise that picks him, Bedard would look pretty nice alongside wingmate Johnny Gauderau.

2. Adam Fantilli, F, University of Michigan (NCAA) – Chicago Blackhawks

Adam Fantilli has been playing out of his mind throughout the 2022-23 season at the University of Michigan. Heralded as one of the fastest players in the draft, Fantilli could add instant offense to a team trying to build young talent through a plethora of draft picks. Fantilli is a plug-and-play superstar in the NHL.

3. Will Smith, F, USNTDP – San Jose Sharks

One of the top prospects from the United States, Smith has the chance to skyrocket up draft boards this spring. He’s one of the youngest players in the NHL draft, which could mean teams are more likely to take a flier early on. The Sharks could offer the perfect environment for the young talent to develop.

4. Leo Carlsson, F, Orebro HK (SHL) – Anaheim Ducks

Just about every draft board regards Leo Carlsson as the “best of the rest.” That’s not a bad thing, either. Out of the top prospects, Carlsson leads in size, strength, and puck control. Carlsson also plays wing and center, which will make him doubly as valuable on draft night. Carlsson has been rising on draft boards, and the Ducks would be ecstatic to acquire his talent

5. Matvei Michkov, F, HK Sochi (KHL) – Arizona Coyotes

If it weren’t for Connor Bedard, Matvei Michkov might have been the most purely talented forward in the NHL draft. Like young Russian talents of years past, Michkov has a penchant for score-creating and creativity. Michkov’s NHL draft projections have fallen, but he could still be an electric player with a ton of upside.

6. Eduard Sale, F, Brno (CZE)- Vancouver Canucks

Eduard Sale is an intriguing pick and would add another flavor of offense to the Canucks. He can skate and shoot as well as anyone in the NHL draft. The factor that sets Sale apart from the rest is his top-tier hockey sense.

7. Andrew Cristall, F, Kelowna Rockets (WHL) – Montreal Canadiens

Andrew Cristall can play all over the ice. He’s played both defenseman and forward. The Red Wings could be the NHL team to take advantage of Cristall’s versatility. Andrew Cristall has an absolute cannon of a shot, offering the Red Wings a different aspect to the guys they already have.

8. Dalibor Dvorsky, F, AIK (SWE) – Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers will be looking for talent across the board in one of their first top 10 picks in ages. Dalibor Dvorsky has been flying up draft boards over the last two months, now cracking the top 10. Dvorsky offers elite stickhandling and passing. If his shot improves, he could be a franchise cornerstone for the Flyers.

9. Zach Benson, F, Winnipeg (WHL)- St. Louis Blues

This is a bit of a drop for Zach Benson, which would be perfect for the Blues to pick him up. Benson may be one of the most versatile wingers in the draft. He has an extremely intelligent hockey sense, which the Blues can take advantage of.

10. Colby Barlow, F, Owen Sound (OHL) – Detroit Red Wings

After picking first overall a year ago, the Canediens are in the market for a true scorer. Barlow fits the mod perfectly. He might eclipse 50 goals himself this season in the CHL.

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