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2023 NHL mock draft: Michkov slides in post-lottery projection

Julian Catalfo / theScore

The lottery results are in, so theScore's Kyle Cushman, Nick Faris, John Matisz, and Josh Wegman are here to project all 32 first-round picks of the 2023 NHL Draft. A second mock will be published closer to draft day on June 28.

Note: We used series betting odds and Stanley Cup odds from Monday, May 8, to determine the order for the eight remaining playoff teams.

Connor Bedard, C, Regina (WHL)

The first pick is a tap-in. Bedard bagged 81 goals over 64 WHL games in his draft year. He shattered the Canadian single-tournament scoring record at the world juniors. His release is phenomenal. His stickhandling spellbinds defenders, creating space for teammates to receive his passes and wreak havoc. Adding Bedard will revive the Blackhawks and eventually propel them into the Stanley Cup conversation again.

Adam Fantilli, C, Michigan (NCAA)

Fantilli is an all-situations force who's fresh off winning the Hobey Baker Award after tallying 65 points in 36 college games. A first overall pick most other years, the Canadian immediately rockets to the top of the Ducks' list of forward prospects. Fantilli skates very well, competes extremely hard, and is a dual threat capable of distributing and burying the puck on any given shift. Missing out on Bedard hurts, sure, but getting Fantilli is an ultra-soft landing.

Leo Carlsson, C, Orebro (SHL)

The Blue Jackets fell in the lottery but still get the franchise center they so desperately need. Carlsson spent much of the season on the wing in Sweden's top pro league - where he tallied an impressive 25 points in 44 games - but he possesses all the traits to be an elite player down the middle. Nobody would call him a burner, but he's a smooth skater for someone who's 6-foot-3, plus he possesses high-end skill, vision, and playmaking abilities.

Will Smith, C, USNTDP U-18

The Sharks land a much-needed offensive stud in Smith. The USNTDP star thrashed the U18s en route to tournament MVP and the gold medal, matching Jack Hughes' American record for scoring at the event. Smith is a well-rounded threat with a quality shot and passing ability, but it's his elite puck skills that truly make him a dynamic player. A coveted right-shot center, San Jose lands its future top-line pivot and running mate for William Eklund.

Zach Benson, LW, Winnipeg (WHL)

Benson racked up a point per night for the Ice when he was 16 years old. At 17, he surged to third in league scoring behind Bedard and WHL overager Chase Wheatcroft. Benson could tear up junior hockey next season before he graduates to the Canadiens' top six. Smart, slippery, scrappy, and defensively attentive, his toolkit justifies the decision to add a second diminutive winger beyond Cole Caufield.

Matvei Michkov, RW, Sochi (KHL)

The wild card of the draft, Michkov slides out of the top five and into Arizona's lap. The small, dynamic winger possesses game-breaking abilities. He's an elusive skater and nifty stick-handler with tremendous upside. Michkov, who's under contract in Russia through 2025-26, played for four different teams this past season, most notably piling up 20 points in 27 games for Sochi in the KHL. The Coyotes are in no rush to be competitive and desperately need an otherworldly talent like Michkov to sell to the local market.

Dalibor Dvorsky, C, AIK (Allsvenskan)

Dvorsky is the latest product of Slovakia's recent impressive run of player development. At 6-foot-1, 201 pounds, his pro-ready build could put him on the fast track to the NHL. Dvorsky will need to improve his skating if he's going to stick at center, but his high motor and pure offensive skill should make him a productive player, regardless of position.

Ryan Leonard, RW, USNTDP U-18

Washington takes Leonard with its first top-10 pick since 2007. A versatile, hard-nosed winger, Leonard was a dominant goal-scorer with the USNTDP this season. Despite an average 5-foot-11 frame, he plays with tenacity and has a nose for the net. He's a coach's dream and heads to Boston College in the fall.

David Reinbacher, D, Kloten (Swiss National League)

Detroit nabs a coveted defenseman for the third time in five drafts. If Moritz Seider remains paired with Jake Walman for years to come, Reinbacher and Simon Edvinsson could partner up to form an influential second pair. A mobile 6-foot-2 righty, Reinbacher's gap control and stretch passing are two of his top attributes.

Colby Barlow, LW, Owen Sound (OHL)

Barlow has "future St. Louis Blue" written all over him. The 6-foot-1, 187-pounder is a hard-working, physically mature, all-situations winger with a wicked shot. Barlow, captain of his junior team, accumulated 46 goals and added 33 assists for 79 points in 59 games this past season. The Blues own three first-rounders. Using the first pick on Barlow - a surefire NHLer with scoring touch - allows them to swing for the fences later in the round.

Axel Sandin Pellikka, D, Skelleftea (SHL)

The Canucks would've loved it if Reinbacher fell to them here, but Sandin Pellikka is an excellent consolation prize for an organization in dire need of defensemen - especially right-shooting ones. The 5-foot-11, 181-pounder lacks size, but his offensive creativity and puck-moving ability could make him a special player.

Brayden Yager, C, Moose Jaw (WHL)

The Coyotes swing for the fences on Michkov at No. 6 and add more scoring prowess with Yager at No. 12. After scoring 34 goals in 2021-22 and capturing CHL Rookie of the Year, Yager became more of a playmaker in Moose Jaw this season, doubling his assist total from a year prior. A superb showing in the WHL postseason should see him move back up draft boards.

Oliver Moore, C, USNTDP U-18

Buffalo drafted three standout young forwards - Matthew Savoie, Noah Ostlund, and Jiri Kulich - in last year's first round. Joining their ranks is Moore, an excellent skater whose doggedness at both ends of the ice heightens his floor as a prospect. He's committed to play for the University of Minnesota next season.

Nate Danielson, C, Brandon (WHL)

Danielson is arguably the best player available. Versatile and big, the Red Deer, Alberta, native also packs enough offensive punch to warrant a top-15 selection. Danielson, who narrowly missed the age cutoff for the 2022 draft, averaged more than a point per game in the WHL this past season. Some evaluators believe he can become a reliable second-line center.

Eduard Sale, LW, Brno (Czechia)

Sale may take time before arriving in the NHL, as he needs to add weight to his 6-foot-1, 168-pound frame. However, his upside is tantalizing. He's a superb skater with great hands and vision. He impressed at the 2023 world juniors, helping Czechia win silver with six points in seven games as a 17-year-old.

Riley Heidt, C, Prince George (WHL)

The only WHLer with as many assists as Heidt this season was Bedard. The deft playmaker was particularly dominant on the power play, leading the league with 39 assists on the man advantage. A lackluster performance at the U18s hasn't helped him move up the board, but the Flames take a swing on Heidt's upside in the hopes he rounds out his defensive game and develops as a goal-scorer.

Matthew Wood, RW, UConn (NCAA)

Wood only turned 18 in February, yet paced a solid Huskies team in scoring as a college freshman, showing off his pinpoint shot and dexterity with the puck at 6-foot-4. Despite lacking quickness, Wood slots in behind Marco Kasper as Detroit's premier forward prospects.

Tom Willander, D, Rogle (J20)

Willander is a two-way, right-shot blue-liner with excellent skating chops. The 6-foot-1, 179-pounder spent this past season in Sweden's top junior league and plays in the same Rogle system that produced Bruins star Hampus Lindholm, among others. Winnipeg's prospect pool is low on NHL-bound defensemen. In Willander, the Jets steal a potential top-four guy at 18th overall.

Andrew Cristall, LW, Kelowna (WHL)

The Bedard-Cristall combination could be one of the league's most exciting duos for years to come. Cristall is polarizing among scouts because he's small (5-foot-10, 165 pounds), and his skating needs work. But his hands and shot are truly special traits that helped him produce 95 points in 54 games this season.

Otto Stenberg, LW, Frolunda (SHL)

Stenberg's stock has soared following an exceptional U18s with Sweden. He matched the nation's points record with 16 at the event, first done by William Nylander. Stenberg's struggled at the SHL level but has flashed a great shot against junior competition. The Wild dip back into the Swedish pipeline for a third straight first round.

Gabe Perreault, LW, USNTDP U-18

The fourth NTDP alumnus off the board set the program's single-season scoring record in 2022-23. Perreault racked up 53 goals and 132 points on Smith's wing. Don't mistake him for Hughes, Auston Matthews, or Patrick Kane, the erstwhile NTDP superstars he outproduced. Perreault is slight and not explosive, but he processes the game extremely well and is a visionary playmaker.

Calum Ritchie, C, Oshawa (OHL)

Despite puzzling scouts with stretches of inconsistent play this past season, Ritchie projects to be a two-way center down the road. He's physical and has power-play utility, thanks to a scorer's touch. The question is, where in an NHL lineup will he slot in during his prime seasons? Second line? Third? Fourth? At any rate, the Rangers' pipeline could use a right-shot forward of his ilk.

Samuel Honzek, LW, Vancouver (WHL)

The Blues have an organizational need at center and took a winger at No. 10, but while Honzek dabbled down the middle this season, he's probably best suited on the wing. Regardless, the Slovak is too tantalizing to pass up at this point in the draft. He might not become an elite point producer, but he projects to be a highly competitive two-way player due to his 6-foot-4 frame and strong skating ability.

Oliver Bonk, D, London (OHL)

The Blues take Bonk with the second of back-to-back picks and their third first-round selection. The 6-foot-2 right-shot defenseman has played a vital two-way role - no small feat for a draft-eligible player on the Knights. With an aging group of blue-liners, St. Louis adds an intriguing defensive piece to its prospect pool.

Lukas Dragicevic, D, Tri-City (WHL)

San Jose hasn't drafted twice in the first round since 2007. After landing Smith at fourth overall, adding a defenseman with playmaking instincts makes sense. Dragicevic's 75 points ranked fourth among WHL defensemen. He needs seasoning but could ascend to the NHL around the time the Sharks' playoff drought finally ends.

Mikhail Gulyayev, D, Omskie (MHL)

The 2022 Cup champs need to upgrade, well, just about everything in their system. Gulyayev is an undersized defenseman who toyed with Russia's top junior league to the tune of 25 points in 22 games this past season. His toolkit, which is highlighted by terrific skating and hockey sense, should translate well to the NHL, where transporting the puck efficiently is key.

Quentin Musty, LW, Sudbury (OHL)

This would mark the Golden Knights’ highest pick since the club took Peyton Krebs 17th overall in 2019, and they make the most of it here. Musty lacks foot speed but makes up for it with superb offensive skill, creativity, and an NHL-ready frame at 6-foot-2, 190 pounds.

Gavin Brindley, RW, Michigan (NCAA)

Brindley ticks all of the boxes the Maple Leafs covet in the draft. As a speedy skater and excellent forechecker that plays a defensively responsible game, everything about Brindley screams future top-nine complementary winger. He played an important role at Michigan as a freshman and earned a spot on the U.S. world junior team over higher-ranked draft-eligible prospects.

Ethan Gauthier, RW, Sherbrooke (QMJHL)

The son of rugged former NHL defenseman Denis Gauthier, Ethan is creative and hard-nosed for a 5-foot-11 winger. Gauthier might have the offensive touch to produce alongside Matty Beniers or Shane Wright toward the top of Seattle's future lineup.

Daniil But, LW, Yaroslavl (MHL)

But is already massive at 6-foot-5, 203 pounds. A point-per-game player in Russia's top junior league, he moves well for his size, unsurprisingly protects the puck with ease, and is armed with a dangerous shot. The Hurricanes love high-upside prospects with strong analytical profiles, and 30th overall is a spot in the draft where they should pounce on a player like But.

Dmitri Simashev, D, Yaroslavl (KHL)

Simashev is raw and needs seasoning, but there simply aren't many 6-foot-4 defensemen who can skate the way he does. He won't put up gaudy point totals in the pros, yet he has all the tools to become a modern-day shutdown defender.

Charlie Stramel, C, Wisconsin (NCAA)

Nashville completes the first round with Stramel. Once thought of as a top-15 prospect in the class, a disappointing freshman campaign with the Badgers has seen him plummet down rankings. The Predators bet on Stramel's 6-foot-3 frame, positive skating, and physical style in the hopes he rebounds in 2023-24.

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