FCHockey
Staff
June 30, 2023

Scout Survey: Analyzing what we saw at the 2023 NHL Draft

The 2023 NHL Draft has come and gone.

Connor Bedard was crowned as the expected No. 1 pick to the Chicago Blackhawks, and after that all bets seemed to be off.

And with the 2023 draft now in the rearview we polled five scouts — Austin BroadMiroslav SimurkaJake Janso, Rasmus Tornqvist, and Erik Sjolund — on what we saw shakedown at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

Here’s our post-draft Scout Survey.

Which team had the best showing at the 2023 NHL Draft?

Janso: I think Chicago had a great showing this year and not because of Bedard. Sure, they got the big name of the draft, but they also took some awesome players in Roman Kantserov, Oliver Moore, and Nick Lardis.

Broad: I think it was close between Chicago and the Columbus Blue Jackets. Both had amazing drafts in my opinion but I’ll give a slight edge to the Blue Jackets because I think their class is extremely fun. Adam Fantilli falling to third was huge, then add in Gavin Brindley, William Whitelaw, and Luca Pinelli. Amazing value and upside with these picks.

Tornqvist: Chicago is the obvious one here, and Columbus had a pretty solid draft too. But I also really liked what the San Jose Sharks did with their picks; Will Smith was an extremely exciting pick-up for them, and they complemented that with a couple of big, skilled guys in Quintin Musty and Kasper Halttunen. Luca Cagnoni was also a really nice pick in the fourth round, after he dropped quite significantly lower than anticipated, probably because of his size.

Sjolund: I think Columbus got good value with many of their selections. Fantilli is a great pick at No. 3. He will be a core piece for the future of the Blue Jackets. Aside from Fantilli, they picked several players who I had ranked higher than where they were selected. Some examples of that are Brindley in the second round and Andrew Strathmann in the fourth.

Simurka: It is almost impossible to take out just one team. Chicago, Columbus, San Jose, and the Philadelphia Flyers all drafted very well, but I think the Carolina Hurricanes, with picks like Bradly Nadeau, Jayden Perron, and Timur Mukhanov bring a lot of upside and great value at their position in the draft.

Which pick was your favorite amongst the 224 made at the 2023 NHL Draft?

Janso: My favorite pick was Mikhail Gulyayev to the Colorado Avalanche at No. 31. I was afraid he’d drop out of the first round but I love this match for him. I think Colorado has been great at letting their dynamic offensive defensemen develop and Gulyayev should thrive in that setting.

Broad: My favorite pick would have to be Rodwin Dionicio to the Anaheim Ducks in the fifth round. He’s such a wildcard, he has immense offensive talent and upside but needs to round out the rest of his game. I love this pick because the gamble in round five is so perfect, and if he hits Anaheim has another amazing offensive talent on their backend.

Tornqvist: Really liked Axel Sandin Pellikka to the Detroit Red Wings at No. 17. Detroit has a really good track record with Swedish players, and with Moritz Seider and Simon Edvinsson who’ll provide size to the back end, Sandin Pellikka will be free to work his magic in the offensive zone.

Sjolund: As a Swede who is really high on Leo Carlsson it is impossible not to choose him. I truly believe he has the potential to be a first line center with the right development, and Anaheim has no reason to rush him.

Simurka: Whitelaw at No. 66 and Alex Ciernik at No. 120 are my favorite picks. Both are undersized, great skaters with a lot of skills. A lot of high-end potential and it will be very interesting for me to watch if they are going to fulfill their potential or fall because of their flaws.

Which pick do you feel was the best value at the 2023 NHL Draft?

Janso: The best value pick in my opinion was actually Matvei Michkov at No. 7. I think the Flyers got first overall potential six spots slower, and there really aren’t any picks before him — besides Bedard — that have that upside. Philadelphia should be very very happy with that selection.

Broad: I think there’s a ton of choices here, but Zachary Benson at No. 13 to the Buffalo Sabres feels like one of the best value picks. Given his ranking, point production and his all-around game he probably should have went way higher, but he slid and the Sabres were able to pick up immense value with him in my opinion.

Tornqvist: Michkov is definitely one that instantly comes to mind, and there are probably a lot of good choices for this one. Personally, I really liked Oscar Fisker Molgaard at No. 52 to the Seattle Kraken. Purely based on hockey IQ I think he should’ve gone in the end of the first round, and it will be interesting to see what he’ll look like once he puts on some muscle.

Sjolund: Michkov at No. 7. Of course, there are a lot of question marks surrounding him, but the Flyers wouldn’t have picked him if they didn’t believe he wants to play for them down the line. Arguably the second-best prospect in the draft. It’s going to be interesting to see how it pans out. I also believe Aram Minnetian to the Dallas Stars with the No. 125 pick can end up being a steal.

Simurka: This feels like cheating but the only right answer for me is Bedard at No. 1.

Which pick felt like the biggest reach at the 2023 NHL Draft?

Janso: It’s hard not to give this to Dmitri Simashev at No. 6 to the Arizona Coyotes. I love the prospect but not at that slot. If he had gone around 10-12 I think it would’ve been a good fit but it’s hard to ignore the talent Arizona left on the board at that spot.

Broad: I think I’d say Daniil But at No. 12 is my biggest reach. But has the physical tools and skill to be very good NHLer but he’s so raw and there’s a lot of uncertainty in his game. If he pays off the Coyotes will look smart, but I think he was more of a second round selection in my opinion.

Tornqvist: For this one I gotta say Simashev at No. 6. Arizona seemed to value size over a lot of other things during this draft, but as far as defensemen go, I think there were better options available. Not to talk about forwards.

Sjolund: David Reinbacher is probably the first one that comes to mind. In my opinion there were better players available at No. 5 for the Montreal Canadiens. The same thing can be said about Simashev at No. 6 to Arizona, but I like Simashev more than Reinbacher, so the Austrian is my choice for this one.

Simurka: Easton Cowan to the Toronto Maple Leafs is the only name that really surprised me within the first round. Outside of the first round it has to be Jiri Felcman at No. 93 to the Blackhawks. He is a good center, big, solid hands and good playmaker. But his skating and production felt much more like possible late-round pick or no draft than first three rounds.

Which player were you most surprised went unselected at the 2023 NHL Draft?

Janso: There are a few players I was shocked didn’t get a pick and they’re all overagers for this draft. Ilya Kvochko, Tomas Suchanek, and Gabriel Szturc all deserved a pick in my opinion but I was most shocked by Suchanek. After putting up great numbers in the WHL and internationally over the past few seasons, I thought he’d for sure get a look in a class with more ambiguous goalie talent. I wouldn’t be shocked to see these players invited to camps later this year.

Broad: I will go with Ondrej Molnar. He’s a highly skilled player and while there were struggles in the OHL I am very shocked he didn’t get picked as a late-rounder. There’s upside in him, and I thought personally his upside outweighed his inconsistency.

Tornqvist: Probably Oskar Asplund. Although an overager, I thought some team would’ve taken a shot of him. Has developed nicely in the HockeyAllsvenskan, and will play in the SHL next season. Despite not being the biggest or most physical guy, he’s a smart player who makes good decisions with the puck on his stick, something a team never can have a surplus of in their draft pool.

Sjolund: I wasn’t too surprised by anyone. I would have been surprised if Emil Jarventie went undrafted, but he came of the board late. The player who I had ranked the highest who wasn’t selected was Arvid Bergstrom who is a smooth skating two-way blueliner. It will be interesting to follow his development the next few years.

Simurka: Not sure if I am surprised, but Molnar still a ton of potential and value.

What storyline were you most curious about heading into the 2023 NHL Draft, and how did you see it play out?

Janso: The storyline I was most interested in during this draft was definitely where Michkov would fall to. The discussions pre-draft were all over the place. Some people had him as Anaheim’s target at No. 2, others were saying he’d be available around No. 15. He ended up right in the middle at seventh overall to the Flyers and they should be ecstatic about the value they got with that pick.

Broad: It has to be Michkov. There were so many ranging opinions on him and where he’d go, and if he’d try to angle himself to a specific team. Arguably the second best player in the class, him falling to seventh and going to Philly felt like the most likely scenario, but it was easily the most interesting storyline.

Tornqvist: Michkov would be the obvious answer here again, but I’m gonna go with the battle to be the first defenseman off the board. I wasn’t too surprised that Reinbacher was the first one, although it was a bit of a surprise he went in the top five. Definitely didn’t expect Sandin Pellikka to be the fourth defenseman chosen though.

Sjolund: The Michkov saga. He is arguably the second-best prospect from this draft class, so it was interesting to see which teams passed on him, or rather which teams Michkov wasn’t interested in. I like that he ended up with the Flyers. Their timeline fits Michkov’s contract quite well and if he is motivated to play for them, he could become a great player for them in the future.

Simurka: Clearly it was Michkov. My second choice would be Molnar. A good skater with good skills but had a tough draft season.


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