Here’s our stab at a mock draft of the first round of the 2023 NHL Draft. Which player did we select for the Colorado Avalanche? Who will correctly guess the most picks? Follow along and find out when the first round kicks off on Wednesday, June 28th at 5 p.m. MT.
1. Chicago - Jackie - C Connor Bedard
The easiest pick in the draft as Bedard kickstarts the rebuild in the Windy City.
2. Anaheim - Luke - C Adam Fantilli
Having a 1-2-3 center-depth punch between McTavish, Fantilli, and Zegras is just mean, nasty, and very unfair.
3. Columbus - Evan - C Leo Carlsson
Bringing in center depth for the Blue Jackets is a necessity that Carlsson will fill to an extent.
4. San Jose - Ezra - RW Matvei Michkov
This pick was just as easy as #1 - Michkov has the skill to end up the best player of this class if Bedard falls short of his lofty expectations, and San Jose has plenty of time before they’re back in playoff contention to wait for him to come across the pond.
5. Montreal - Jackie - C William Smith
Was hoping for Michkov to fall here but the Habs are happy to pick up the super-talented Smith as a consolation prize.
6. Arizona - Luke - C/RW Ryan Leonard
Arizona goes back to the NTDP well and takes an absolute animal on and off the ice. He's got that dogg in him and he bites.
7. Philadelphia - Evan - D David Reinbacher
The first defender to be taken in this mock draft would help the rebuilding Flyers' back line and provide a good bit of scoring every once in a while too. He’s seen lots of time and success overseas and with the Austrian national team.
8. Washington - Ezra - C Dalibor Dvorsky
Dvorsky has stud top-six center potential, and the Caps are short on high-end talent at the pivot. He’s the best available player and a system fit - another no-brainer for me!
9. Detroit - Jackie - LW Danil But
With multiple first-round picks and no fear of Russians, Detroit can make this type of selection and enjoy the rewards of one of the most skilled forwards in the draft.
10. St. Louis - Luke - LW Zach Benson
I'm actually annoyed I gave the Blues Benson. He's awesome, highly skilled, and annoying to play against.
11. Vancouver - Evan - D Axel Sandin Pellikka
Another defenseman drafted by yours truly as Vancouver looks for help on defense on the right side. Pellikka (which is a heck of a name!) would provide some help in this area of the ice.
12. Arizona - Ezra - C Nate Danielson
Arizona will be tempted to take a defender here, especially having taken Leonard at six, but Danielson dropping to them is too good for me to pass up. Big fan of his two-way game and his offensive upside should make him a high-end 2C on a good team - so pencil him in as the Coyotes' next 1C (shots fired pew pew pew).
13. Buffalo - Jackie - D Dimitri Simashev
Other than Owen Power the Sabres haven’t taken a defenseman with a high pick in a while and are another org that isn’t afraid of Russian talent. They could be getting the best defenseman in the draft with this pick.
14. Pittsburgh - Luke - C Oliver Moore
The Kyle Dubas era has begun, and he selects one of the best all-around centers in the draft and will let him develop at the University of Minnesota, as previously drafted Matthew Knies did.
15. Nashville - Evan - LW Samuel Honzek
In Barry Trotz’s first season as a GM, he’ll look to add more young forwards, especially after having to deal with trading away Tanner Jeannot. Honzek is a good two-way player who can help on both ends of the ice which can help the Preds.
16. Calgary - Ezra - RW Gabriel Perrault
Can Perrault become the replacement for Johnny Gaudreau? That’s a gamble the Flames will be thrilled to take after the US NTDP star snuck through the early teens to them here. He’s a little bigger than Johnny Hockey and a worse skater, so the comparison isn’t one-to-one, but Perrault has the hockey sense and skill to become an elite play driver and power play ace like the former Calgary star.
17. Detroit - Jackie - D Tom Willander
The Wings like Swedes just as much as Russians and are thrilled to keep adding to their dynamic young blueline with this pick.
18. Winnipeg - Luke - LW/C Matthew Wood
Winnipeg grabbing another forward to add to their low key impressive young group of players (Heinola, Perfetti, Lambert, Lucius, McGroarty) Wood will add the size they like, the meh skating they like, and another player from the NCAA that they like.
19. Chicago - Evan - C Brayden Yager
Chicago’s second pick of the draft should be another forward to at least give them a good chance of providing some offense. Yager does so and is effective in all three zones to only help his and the Hawks’ game.
20. Seattle - Ezra - LW Colby Barlow
Definitely wanted Yager to drop to Seattle here, as he could become a skilled winger for Matty Beniers or Shane Wright if he doesn’t pan out as a center at the NHL level. Barlow is a very different player but an excellent replacement - he profiles as a two-way middle-six winger who can contribute on both special teams' units and already has an NHL body at 18.
21. Minnesota - Jackie - C Calum Ritchie
Unfortunately, the Wild get this well-rounded skilled center at good value outside the top 20.
22. Philadelphia - Luke - C Otto Stenberg
With their second pick in the draft, the Flyers grab a highly skilled, highly competitive Stenberg who will head back to Frölunda in the SHL.
23. NY Rangers - Evan - RW Lenni Hämeenaho
The Rangers do love their young forwards. They could add another one with Hämeenaho skating, battles along the boards, and maturity at only 18 years old.
24. Nashville - Ezra - C David Edstrom
The Predators haven’t drafted and developed their own Top 6 center since David Legwand in their inaugural season, and he was actually a third-liner. Edstrom should change that.
25. St. Louis - Jackie - LW Quentin Musty
A big winger who can score will help replace some of the forward depth St. Louis lost.
26. San Jose - Luke - RW Eduard Sale
A playmaking winger with size, who they could fast-track to North America if so choose.
27. Colorado - Evan - D Tanner Molendyk
Due to this being the Avs' only pick of the first round, everyone will have their pick but will be going off of my decision for the overall mock draft. I like Molendyk because of his already-good fit into the Avs’ defensive system. Colorado’s had a ton of success drafting defenders, and they could use another one here for their prospects if/when Sean Behrens is called up to the big leagues.
Ezra - If it were up to me, the Avs package this pick for a young 2C with a good contract. Or take Molendyk - he fits and I also think he’s the best player available at this point.
Jackie - Ideally if the draft unfolds this way the Avs trade down and grab two second-round picks because the talent pool is similar at this point. One guy I like who might not go in the first round is RW Koehn Zeimmer who scored 41 goals in 68 games with Prince George in the WHL.
Luke - C Gavin Brindley. Who? Glad you asked, Michigan's version of Arrturi Lehkonen. Intrigued? Brindley is a solid skater, with a high-end motor with a sprinkle of pest. A great two-way player, a great transitional player, with a solid shot. Only knock? 5'9, 160lbs. But... he can make the jump to the AHL as soon as this coming spring.
28. Toronto - Ezra - C Charlie Stramel
Brindley was calling to me, but I think Toronto shies away from him due to his size and goes with Stramel’s 6’3 frame, grit, and aptitude as a middle-six defensive center. He had a down year as a freshman at Wisconsin, but his game is all about size and strength - tough areas to excel as an 18-year-old playing against men. He’ll need to follow former Badger Joe Pavelski’s example and master net-front tip in goals to contribute offense at the NHL level.
29. St. Louis - Jackie - D Étienne Morin
It’s unlikely the Blues make both of their late first-round picks but anyone picking in this area of the draft could do worse than taking the highest-scoring defenseman in the draft class. Morin scored 21 goals and has physicality, size, competitiveness, and a good first pass to go along with the offensive acumen.
30. Carolina - Luke - D Mikhail Gulyayev
One of the best offensive defensemen in the draft and the Hurricanes strike again in the draft with another great value pick.
31. Montreal - Evan - G Carson Bjarnason
Bjarnason could be an answer to Montreal’s dwindling pool of goalies. With Jake Allen being subpar and the stunt in the development of Cayden Primeau, Bjarnason could be a long-term project for the Habs.
32. Vegas - Ezra - G Michael Hrabal
The Golden Knights have proven they can make decent goalies look great since they came into the league six years ago, imagine what they can do with the best goalie prospect in the draft? He has the size and athleticism to be at least the next Adin Hill.