Note that players picked between 5-20 are all in the same range of potential. Let’s see if we can win some longshot bets.
1) Blackhawks – Connor Bedard – No brainer, potential ceiling is to be the GOAT. Bet the under on point totals year 1 though, the Blackhawks have nobody else really.
2) Ducks – Adam Fantilli – The Ducks could play the long game here and go with Matvei Michkov, but ultimately they are going with Fantilli here and potentially moving Trevor Zegras to the wing. The Ducks are rebuilding the correct way, and could be nasty here soon with Mason McTavish and Jamie Drysdale as well.
3) Blue Jackets – Leo Carlsson – No real surprises here. Carlsson has been a top 5 projection for about 18 months now. He has some fixable flaws to his game, but is a 6’3 big bodied center that has a very high hockey IQ, soft hands, and is very good in the neutral zone. The CBJ have needed a top 6 center forever, and here is a stallion to play quality NHL minutes forever.
4) Sharks – Matvei Michkov – The steal of the draft! Michkov most years would be the unanimous 1st overall pick, and the Sharks get him at 4 here. The Blue Jackets needing a center helped in this regard. Michkov could be a perennial 40 goal scorer after his KHL contract is up in 2 years. This fits the Sharks plans as they won’t be good till then, and then they can just pencil in an absolute weapon. If the KHL contract didn’t exist, Michkov would be picked 2nd, Fantilli 3rd, and so on.
5) Canadiens – Will Smith – The Habs add another potential stud here at 5 with Smith having an absolute sky high offensive ceiling. With Lane Hutson also coming, oh my, the Habs will arrive soon. Slafkovsky, Hutson, Smith, to go with Caufield and Suzuki is a sick core for the Habs in the future.
6) Coyotes – Zach Benson – The Yotes get the best defensive center in the draft, who also has sick mits. This kid could be the future captain of wherever the Coyotes end up. Benson is my favorite player in this draft, and although he is undersized; he has the best work ethic in this draft, mixed with tons of talent. It’ll be Cooley and Benson as the Yotes top 2 centers forever in my predictions.
7) Flyers – Oliver Moore – With Kevin Hayes potentially getting traded, and only Morgan Frost really on the Horizon, the Flyers and new President Keith Jones will draft who they deem the best available center, and for me, that may be Oliver Moore. Very good all around player, seems like a Flyer.
8) Capitals – Axel Sandin Pellikka – The Capitals are in need of major help defensively, and I think ASP has jumped over Reinbacher for me in this draft. The Caps traded for another young Swedish defenseman at the trade deadline in Rasmus Sandin, and ASP is a similar player. ASP is very smart with the puck on his stick, which is very rare for a player that age. A smooth skating and smart Swedish defenseman, do we know of any of those?
9) Red Wings – Matthew Wood – The Wings have every position covered with young studs coming in. Whether it’s Simon Edvinsson, Marco Kasper, or even goalie Sebastian Cossa, the Wings are a-comin. The Wings have lacked a mean SOB to deal with, and that is Wood’s game. Since both young and old Bertuzzi left, as well as Johan Franzen, the Wings have needed some jam. Smooth offense and skating and raw power is Matthew Wood to a tee.
10) Blues – Ryan Leonard – Keeping this one short. A big, smart, talented, leadership quality center is what the Blues need, and it is what they shall get here. Great fit.
11) Canucks – Brayden Yager – The Canucks need defense in the worst way, but Yager is simply a superior hockey player to Reinbacher for me. With J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser potentially on the trading block, the Canucks need a center, some scoring, and some responsibility. Yager checks those boxes. Yager helps them a little bit on defense, is capable of being an NHL caliber centerman, and adds some scoring touch as well. He is a swiss army knife kind of player.
12) Coyotes – David Reinbacher – They went center at pick 6 with Benson, and now they go defenseman at 12 with Reinbacher. This would be an amazing draft-class for the Coyotes to influx their roster with A-tier prospects. Reinbacher isn’t great at one particular thing, but he is good at most things. This is a nice return for the Jakob Chychrun trade if you ask me.
13) Sabres – Eduard Sale – This Czech winger is tall, can get stronger, is smart, and has a nice offensive game with his shot being sneaky good. With Cozens and Thompson down the middle, Power and Dahlin on defense, the Sabres grab an offensive threat for their middle 6 on the wing here. This is a great fit for them.
14) Penguins – Dalibor Dvorsky – I have Dvorsky a bit lower than most, but he is still a strong all around center with an NHLer’s game already. Dvorsky isn’t going to blow you away with anything, but he is good at everything. He has Pittsburgh written all over him, because he will be a pain in the ass to play against. Crosby, Malkin, Granlund, and Carter, are all 1 million years old, and can’t play NHL hockey forever.
15) Predators – Colby Barlow – The Preds could really go any direction here, but in their eyes Colby Barlow is the best player available and fits the bill. Barlow is a big centerman with a nice shot, who has some NHL scoring upside. Johansen and Duchene are veteran centers he could learn from, with Barlow and Cody Glass potentially being their top 2 centers of the future; not bad.
16) Flames – Gabe Perreault – The Flames don’t “need” anything, but they could’ve used timely goals last year, which enters Gabe Perreault. This kid has game sense, period. Very smart offensively with a tendency to score in many different ways. I think with a new coach, the Flames may open up their scoring as well.
Honorable Mentions: Calum Ritchie, Andrew Cristall, Nate Danielson, Lukas Dragicevic, Otto Stenberg, Riley Heidt, and Samuel Honzek