Mock Draft: Taking a Guess at the Top-10 of the 2023 NHL Draft: Vol 1
The oh-to-familiar feeling in the hockey season for Flyers fans is officially back. Draft season.
Aside from the 2020 bubble, the Flyers haven’t been in the playoffs in 4 of their last 5 years. The 2017-2018 season, with Dave Hakstol, was the last time the Flyers were in the playoffs that weren’t played in front of empty chairs.
2018: Radko Gudas hurt Sean Couturier in practice and Sean still put up 9 points in 5 playoff games (5G-4A), with 5 of those points coming in Game 6 on a partially torn MCL.
Flyers drafted Joel Farabee 14th overall and Jay O’Brien 19th overall.
(The 14th overall pick was acquired from the Brayden Schenn trade in 2017 with the Blues, which also landed the Flyers Morgan Frost.)
Flyers have announced they will not be signing Jay O’Brien, the 2018 pick)
2019: 37-37-8. Hak Fired. Scott Gordon comes in and finishes 25-22-4.
Flyers select Cam York 14th overall.
2020: Covid year. Vigneault’s first year with the Flyers. The team was on a roll when everything was suddenly halted.
Finished 41-21-7 and lost in 2nd round to the Islanders.
The Flyers ended up selecting Tyson Foerster 23rd overall.
2021: A shortened year with teams only playing 56 games. Games were played like baseball series with 2-3 games (mostly 2-game series) between teams at a time.
No 1st-round pick. Fletcher traded Robert Hagg, the 2021 1st (14th overall which ended up as Isak Rosen), and a 2023 2nd-round pick for Rasmus Ristolainen.
2022: Finished as the 4th worst team in the league with a 25-46-11 record. Vigneault was fired and Mike Yeo helped them continue to be bad enough to secure a top-10 pick.
The Flyers drafted Cutter Gauthier 5th overall.
So since 2018, the last time we played a playoff game in front of fans, the Flyers have ended up with Morgan Frost (count him because he was involved in Joel trade), Joel Farabee, Cam York, Tyson Foerster, & Cutter Gauthier as their 1st-round picks.
That’s a pretty good young core to build on.
– Farabee improved as the season went on this year after recovering from neck surgery last off-season.
– Frost was the Flyers leading scorer since Jan. 1st with 32 points in 45 games.
– Cam York proved he is already a top-4 defenseman and there’s a case to be made he could be on his way to being a top-2 guy.
– Tyson Foerster had 7 points (3G-4A) in his first 8 NHL games ever.
– And Cutter Gauthier just scored 37 points (16G-21A) in 32 games as an 18-year-old freshman in the NCAA.
Who could the Flyers add to this group in the upcoming 2023 NHL draft? Let’s break it down team by team and see who could be available 7th overall when the Flyers step to the podium.
(This Mock is made off the idea the Flyers stayed at 7 during the draft lottery on May 8th)
1. ANA: Connor Bedard, C, Regina WHL
The best player in the draft. Generational talent. A future 50-goal scorer in the league. Anaheim will be smiling ear-to-ear as they walk up to the podium to draft the player that will help turn their franchise around.
2. CBJ: Adam Fantilli, C, Michigan NCAA
Not a consolation prize AT ALL. Won the Hobey Baker award as a freshman in the NCAA with Michigan. Had 65 points in 36 games.
He’s probably the most NHL-ready player in the draft in terms of size. He’s 6’2 190lbs and has extremely soft, elite hands. He’s the total package and would be the consensus #1 if Bedard didn’t exist.
3. CHI: Matvei Michkov, RW, SKA, KHL/VHL
Chicago tore it down to the studs and will have time to wait for the future superstar. There have been obvious concerns about Michkov regarding what’s happening with Russia right now and his current contract situation.
But at the end of the day, he’ll most likely come over (like countless Russians have in the last few years) when his contract is up in Russia and be one of the best players in the NHL.
It’ll be worth the wait.
4. SJS: Leo Carlsson, C/W, SHL
This draft is insane. Any of these guys, especially Michkov if he wasn’t a Russian, would be the #1 picks in almost every draft since the McDavid draft with arguments to be made with Jack Hughes’ and Matthews’ drafts.
Leo Carlsson is a 6’3 200 lb beast. He can skate, and he has elite hands to go along with elite hockey sense and IQ. He’s not afraid to use his size and he was just named Swedish Junior Hockey Player of the Year.
25 points in 44 SHL games as an 18-year-old kid is very impressive. And according to Cam Robinson of Elite Prospects, it’s the 5th most productive regular season, and 3rd most productive playoffs by a draft-eligible skater EVER in that league.
5. MTL: Oliver Moore, C, USDTP
The Canadiens are not shy about taking USDTP players. They took Cole Caufield in 2019, Luke Tuch in 2020, and Lane Hutson last year.
They have Dach, but they need another center to go along with Nick Suzuki…and Oliver Moore would be the perfect fit.
He’s the best skater in the draft (think Dylan Larkin), has a terrific two-way game, and has better offensive capabilities than given credit for.
Will Smith is also an option here, someone who could bring instant offense to any team, but the more polished two-way guy seems to be what Montreal needs more.
6. ARI: David Reinbacher, D, AUS
Arizona already has their 1-2 punch down the middle with Logan Cooley and Clayton Keller. Barrett Hayton is also a very nice player who finally had a solid year with 43 points in 82 games.
They have their elite RW prospect in Dylan Guenther, who looks like a future top-six fixture.
They just traded Chychrun to the Senators and honestly, I don’t see a lot of defensive depth within their system. I have to say this is where I see the first defenseman off the board.
David Reinbacher is a very fascinating prospect. He has the tools to become a #2 guy, but there are some questions, especially on the offensive side.
He’s already good defensively and has a really solid stick when anticipating incoming forwards through the neutral zone. He has the foundation to become a really good player it’s just a matter of whether can he make those adjustments to make it work.
Kind of reminds me of Mo Seider when he was drafted. The kid was big, had a right shot, could skate, and was already solid defensively, the question was just on the offensive side.
Now, I wouldn’t directly compare the two. Seider has more raw tools and is a little nastier in terms of physical play, but regarding both players’ tools that could be turned into something great, they’re similar.
I could see many saying, “Why would ARI go Reinbacher here when they could probably get him at #12?”
Pretty simple actually. I just don’t think he lasts until 12. There are always 2-3 guys that I’m not insanely high on that teams go with early. And there are always guys I love that always fall onto teams’ laps and end up being studs (please don’t do that to me Andrew Cristall).
7. PHI: Zach Benson, C/W, WHL
Briere might trip over a cord, fall down and tear an ACL from running up to the podium too fast.
Zach Benson is a Uber-talented forward with an elite hand, decent skating ability, and elite hockey sense. He finished 3rd in the WHL with 36G-62A-98P in 60 games.
I’ve seen some say they’re nervous about his ability to drive play in the NHL, but I don’t see it. He’s a good skater, has insane hands, and is one of the better playmakers in the WHL.
There are times he catches himself in a stand-still, watching the player with the puck, but for the most part, he always has his feet moving and sticks ready to accept a puck if need be.
Zach is exactly what the Flyers need. High-end talent. He’s one of the best playmakers in the draft and that’s something the Flyers desperately need with the new-found shoot-first players they have.
(Tyson Foerster, Owen Tippett & Travis Konency)
8. WSH: Will Smith, C, USDTP
Another situation where a team benefits from the Coyotes going defense in a spot most scouts and fans don’t.
Washington nabs an insanely skilled offensive player who could potentially be an 80-point player in the NHL.
The thing about Will Smith for me though is…I just don’t see him as an NHL C.
Disregard his size. I don’t take size into account nearly as hard as many people do, but Smith’s ability to drive play in a situation where he isn’t surrounded by two studs (Ryan Leonard and Gabe Perreault) is questionable.
His skating isn’t also elite like Oliver Moore’s is. Smith’s edge work is good, but his straight-line speed leaves more to be desired.
Not going to sit here and knit-pick every little thing about the kid. At the end of the day, he’s an insanely elite offensive winger in the NHL for me.
9. DET: Dailbor Dvorsky, C, AIK
This just screams Yzerman to me.
Dvorsky is a very solid two-way center already, who can absolutely wire the puck. His PP work, especially his ability to distribute the puck, was extremely impressive.
He has some size, standing at 6’1. His straight-line speed is so-so and he doesn’t have the quickest first step. But like, Tyson Foerster, reminds me of a guy who doesn’t have to be the best skater in the world because he’s just such a smart hockey player he’s in the spots he needs to be already.
DET has Larkin, Raymond, Seider, and Kasper, and now add another very solid prospect.
10. STL: Andrew Cristall, W, WHL
If it were up to me, I’d take Cristall with the 7th pick and smile the entire way up to the podium. Yeah, there are concerns. His off-the-puck play needs work, you worry about what he can do in the NHL if he’s not constantly touching the puck.
But when he has the puck? He’s easily the best playmaker and has the best hands in the draft right behind Connor Bedard. A world-class playmaker. Just the kind of player that can play with the puck on his stick like it’s on a string.
Skating is another concern from scouts and others, but I don’t see it being a detriment to his NHL development. He’s just too skilled and smart to not at least be a 60-70 point guy in a top-six somewhere.
Mandatory Credit: Johnny Ulecka