NHL Prospect Rankings: No No. 1 Surprise

The National Hockey League (NHL) unveiled its mid-season roster for the next amateur draft on Friday, and unsurprisingly, Connor Bedard is at the top among North American skaters.

The young British Columbian is ahead of forwards Adam Fantilli (University of Michigan), William Smith and Ryan Leonard (American development program), as well as Brayden Yager (Moose Jaw Warriors).

Bedard, tipped as the first pick of the 2023 draft for several years, continues to impress in the Western Junior League (WHL). The Regina Pats product has 70 points in 29 games this season, which is on pace to beat his career high of 100 points set last year.

As if that weren’t enough, the 17-year-old center recently led Canada to gold at the World Junior Championship. Bedard broke a national record with 23 points, including nine goals, in just seven games.

“Connor Bedard has risen to every challenge over the past three years and excelled with his incredible talent. He did it each time being one of the youngest players in the team. At this year’s edition of the World Juniors, he once again demonstrated that he is a player with character. The hockey world was able to see his leadership qualities and lead his team to the gold medal, ”said NHL.com vice-president of the circuit’s Central Scouting, Dan Marr.

Carlsson en hausse

While many have long seen the Russian Matvei Michkov being selected after Bedard, the experts of the Bettman circuit have placed the Swede Leo Carlsson in first place among international skaters.

The one who plays this season in Orebro, in the elite league of his country, has amassed 15 points in 26 games. He also helped Sweden reach the semifinals of the World Junior Championship with six points in seven games.

“The big difference between [Carlsson et Michkov] right now are the circumstances, as Carlsson is in a positive environment to improve and develop, while Michkov has missed games through injury and changed teams. A good and consistent second half from everyone will determine who will be number 1 on the final list,” explained Marr.

Michkov has not played this season in the Continental League, having been loaned to the Sochi club by SKA Saint Petersburg. He was unable to play at the World Juniors due to Russia’s IIHF ban.

Defender Axel Sandin Pellikka (Skelleftea), center player Dalibor Dvorsky (AIK) and left winger Eduard Sale (Brno) complete the international top 5.

In addition, 33 players from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League are on the list. Winger Ethan Gauthier (14th, Sherbrooke Phoenix), rear Etienne Morin (24th, Moncton Wildcats) and pivot Mathieu Cataford (27th, Halifax Mooseheads) are the highest ranked Quebecers according to the NHL.

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