NHL Draft

2023 NHL Draft Prospects that might go higher than anticipated

If you missed it, The Win Column published our consolidated draft rankings for the 2023 NHL Draft in April. Our rankings included those from Future Considerations, My NHL Draft, Scouching, Bleacher Report, THW’s Logan Horn, Sportsnet’s Sam Cosentino, THW’s Peter Baracchini, The Athletic’s Corey Pronman, DFO’s Steven Ellis, Smaht Scouting, McKeen Hockey, and EliteProspects.

Since then, the NHL lottery has taken place, so we know exactly where teams will be drafting, pending trades of course. The Chicago Blackhawks won the draft lottery, so they have the privilege of drafting Connor Bedard. The Anaheim Ducks dropped to the second overall pick, and it looks likely they’ll select Adam Fantilli.

After that, there seems to be tons of differing opinions, with the amount of good players in this draft driving a ton of conversation. One of the biggest conversations surrounds Matvei Michkov, who is insanely skilled, but his contract in the KHL runs through 2025–26. This has led to him being all over draft boards, from third overall to as low as the teens. He is no doubt a top-three player in this draft class, but with so many other great players, it’s hard to pin down where everyone will land.

We always see some surprises at the NHL Draft, with recent examples being Jesperi Kotkaniemi being drafted third overall by the Montreal Canadiens, or Moritz Seider being drafted sixth overall by the Detroit Red Wings. Some players in this draft, like Andrew Cristall and Eduard Sale, are projected to fall below the draft rankings in April, others are projected to rise. Let’s look at some of those names, including a few Swedes who shot up rankings due to strong performances at world events.

Tom Willander (54th overall in April consolidated rankings)

Willander has really shot up the rankings recently. Many now project him to be gone by the time the Flames are picking at 16th overall. Why? The Swedish defenceman had a strong tournament at the U18’s, in which he had eight points in seven games. Willander is a smooth-skating defenceman who projects to be a very good shutdown defender in a few years. He already has a good frame at 6’1, 179 lbs, which NHL teams love. You know what else NHL teams love? Right shot defencemen. Enough said.

I see a lot of similarities to Chris Tanev, a smooth skating defenceman who is incredibly solid in transition and defence, with Willander likely bringing a little more offence to the table. If Willander is available at 16th overall, he should definitely be in the mix for the Flames to select.

Daniil But (30th overall in April consolidated rankings)

But is raw, but the potential is massive. The Russian right-shot winger already stands at 6’5″, 203 lbs, which of course will interest NHL teams. He is a very unique player, as he doesn’t resemble the typical power forward player types have. He isn’t overly physical, and instead possesses very good hands. Along with his hands come his shot, which is incredibly lethal. As you could imagine, the biggest area of concern for But is his skating, which makes sense given the large frame he already has. It’s not particularly bad, but it needs a lot of work to get to NHL level.

I can see teams targeting But early in the draft, because the unique package of size and skill probably leads to comparisons of Tage Thompson. Since he doesn’t have the physical or other player types that normal power forwards possess, But does have boom or bust potential. I could see a team with a stacked prospect pool already taking a chance on But.

David Edstrom (not rated in April consolidated rankings)

Another Swede who shone at world events this season, Edstrom looks poised to be a late first round selection. The Swedish centre wasn’t even featured in the top 85 draft prospects in our April consolidated rankings. This shows just how much he’s been gaining over the past month and a half. He seems to have gone under the radar for most of the year, but his strong U18 performance shot him up the chart and got teams paying attention. In the U18’s, Edstrom had five goals and eight points in seven games.

Edstrom possesses NHL-ready size, at 6’3″ and 187 lbs. He’s not particularly great in any facet of the game, but he’s really solid in all of them. I see some similarities to Mikael Backlund, where you get a centre who is solid in every aspect of the game, contributing effectively to a team’s middle-six. The offence projection won’t be as high as others, but he’s going to project highly to teams, given his size, position, and ability in all areas of the ice.

All TWC 2023 NHL Draft Profiles

Check out more of our individual player profiles of selected 2023 NHL Draft prospects:
Connor Bedard | Matvei Michkov | Adam Fantilli | Leo Carlsson | Zach Benson | Andrew Cristall | Oliver Moore | Will Smith | Ryan Leonard | Eduard Sale | Colby Barlow | Axel Sandin Pellikka | Dalibor Dvorsky | Brayden Yager | David Reinbacher | Nate Danielson | Riley Heidt | Matthew Wood | Quentin Musty | Mikhail Gulyayev | Calum Ritchie | Gabe Perrault | Jayden Perron | Ethan Gauthier | Dmitri Simashev | Samuel Honzek | Lukas Dragicevic | William Whitelaw | Otto Stenberg | Gavin Brindley | Daniil But

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