Top 130 Big Board for the 2023 NHL Draft - Final Rankings

Hands down one of the most talented groups of prospects I've seen. This is a very detailed long read.

Matvei Michkov (No.39) of Russia U20 seen in action during...
Matvei Michkov (No.39) of Russia U20 seen in action during... / SOPA Images/GettyImages

Professional scouts, team media, bloggers, or just hockey fans all do lists before the draft. Some try to be accurate based on reports, some go team by team to try and read the "tea-leaves"... I only have one criteria for my top 130 though: NHL projection. Out of all the draft eligible players, whom is going to contribute in the NHL the most.

As I watched the CHL, NCAA, USHL, and European leagues throughout the year it came down to a few factors:

1. Which of these players deficiencies were fixable and which were not

2. Are the players' "plus" traits going to translate against NHL competition

3. Does the player compete when it matters most (international tournaments, playoffs)

This is a list that will not be common when you look around, I do not take into my process what the consensus is at the moment. I've written these lists for more than 2 decades now and my process has seen some surprising hits. The funny thing about lists like this, either from a novice or from a full time paid scout is that no one will know whom is correct for 5 years.

I will list my players by tiers, so that we can get a good gauge on where the Blackhawks' picks are in relation to the tier. If we are at #19 and we want Gabe Perreault for instance, well we will have to move up it's as simple as that. Again, this is a list based on how I see their careers unfolding and NOT how I think the draft will go.

Tier 1:

Connor Bedard
2023 Kubota CHL Top Prospects Game - Practice / Dennis Pajot/GettyImages

* Connor Bedard has been described as a generational talent for years now. From his shot, compete, to his offensive IQ in clutch moments there are very few players throughout the history of the NHL that compare to Bedard's game. Only perhaps the great Marcel Dionne, to me, seems to be cut from a similar cloth. With over 700 goals and nearly 1800 points, who wouldn't want a career (stats wise) like the one the Little Beaver produced?

1. C Connor Bedard

Tier 2:

Adam Fantilli
Canada v Germany : Final - 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Finland - Latvia / Eurasia Sport Images/GettyImages

* These two players to me have seperated themselves from the next tier as I see them as franchise changing forwards. Fantilli should be a force as a two way center from day 1 and Michkov could come in as an older rookie and be immediately a top line RW putting up eye popping numbers.

2. C Adam Fantilli

3. RW Matvei Michkov

Tier 3:

Zach Benson
Seattle Thunderbirds v Winnipeg Ice - Game 2 / Jonathan Kozub/GettyImages

* Carlsson, Benson, and Smith represent to me players that project as top line stars, however I believe they are not on the same trajectory as my top 3 players. Carlsson I feel is the most ready from a physical standpoint and has produced against higher competition. I have Benson over Smith in a close pick, however I feel Benson offers maybe the best compete level in the draft. His recent measurements also are a boon to his stock as he is not the 5'8.5-5'9 most thought and instead projects to a more favorable 5'10 RW. Smith is dynamic inbetween the dots and is a leader on his line. There isn't much to complain about any of these 3 players.

4. C Leo Carlsson

5. RW Zach Benson

6. C Will Smith

Tier 4:

Samuel Honzek
Slovakia v United States: Group B - 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship / Dale Preston/GettyImages

* Tier 4 is the final tier in which I feel confident that every one of the players will become top 6 or top 4 NHLers. Starting with Danielson, this is a player that I've had inside my top 10 long before anyone else. It was his team around him and the lack of wins that was shading most scouts from his ability to be an elite prospect in this draft. It's his skating for me, shades of a young Nathan MacKinnon with his edge work that drew me in to take a closer look. With good size and a very healthy compete, I think Danielson looks like a top 2 center in the NHL before long.

Moore, Dvorsky, and Honzek are all different players, but I think all present very exciting skill traits for NHL clubs. Moore is hands down fast as lightning out there and that is just something that doesn't come along too often. He also is a great backchecker and never gives up on plays. With the right line, he could be a star. Dvorsky is the safe pick here, but that doesn't mean he should be thought of as a low ceiling prospect. I see him as a perfect 2nd line 2 way center. Honzek has incredible in tight hands and edge work. He always looks smooth out there and is a threat every time he has the puck.

After much thought, I can't deny Dmitri Simashev as a potential superstar anymore. This is a massive 6'4 200lb left shot defenseman that can truly skate with anyone out there. Against older professionals or in a purely defensive league he really shows elite mobility despite his size. His gap control and blue line drop coverage shows me that he is very intelligent and steady with his assignments. He is a defensive defenseman that I think is on his way to stardom if he is given the freedom to not be rushed and to continue on his course. Reinbacher is more the two way D-man and has good size and skill to back it up. While I believe he will be a good all situations player inside a teams top 4, I can't see his ceiling being that of Simashev (with his defense, skating, and size).

Leonard, Perreault, and Wood are the 3 remaining wings of what I consider the last "sure-fire NHLers" tier. All 3 collegiate (current and future) wings are going to be really good. I see them all as similar (different players with similar projection to a top 6 role) with a slight edge to Leonard for his ferocious compete he gives to a team. Leonard is rumored to go as high as 5th and I understand why as I could see him coming in day 1 and improving an entire team with the way he plays out there. Perreault offers a smooth game and knows where to be for his center. Wood has size and early production against good competition.

7. C Nate Danielson

8. C Oliver Moore

9. LD Dmitri Simashev

10. C Dalibor Dvorsky

11. RD David Reinbacher

12. RW Ryan Leonard

13. LW Gabe Perreault

14. C Samuel Honzek

15. RW Matthew Wood

Tier 5:

Brayden Yager
Moose Jaw Warriors v Winnipeg Ice / Jonathan Kozub/GettyImages

* With the Blackhawks picking 19th at the present moment, this group likely represents the players that we will likely be picking from. This is a very talented group that will likely see 1 or 2 of them jump out as "steals" 5 years from now. Players like Nadeau and Fisker-Molgaard I simply kept coming back to as guys with some elite tracking skills that represent NHL qualities that should fair well quickly at the next level. The other 6 are commonly in this range and have been discussed at length in prior articles. If the Blackhawks were to pick any of these players at 19 I really couldn't be upset.

16. LW Quinton Musty

17. LW Daniil But

18. LW Colby Barlow

19. LW Brayden Yager

20. C Oscar Fisker-Molgaard

21. RD Tom Willander

22. LW Bradley Nadeau

23. RD Oliver Bonk

Tier 6:

Riley Heidt
2023 Kubota CHL Top Prospects Game / Dennis Pajot/GettyImages

* This group of players is now a tier that has both clear faults and clear positives to their projections. It's the question marks that see them likely as late 1st or early 2nd round players. Ciernik is a player I am quite high on, especially for our Blackhawks. He is fast, has puck skill, and can really finish off drives for talented centers. I believe that Chicago will target him and have written about this months ago at this point. Edstrom is an interesting one as his skill set is as being a good sized defensive center. I wouldn't say he has a low ceiling, but I really feel he is destined to be a good reliable middle 6 center.

24. LW Alex Ciernik

25. RD Axel Sandin-Pellikka

26. RW Ethan Gauthier

27. C David Edstrom

28. C Riley Heidt

29. LD Etienne Morin

30. C Calum Ritchie

Tier 7:

Eduard Sale
Czech Republic v Sweden: 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

* The 5 players in this group all have question marks about their NHL projections to me. They also are among the highest "what if" ceilings when you look past #15. Dragicevic could be a legit power play quarterback one day. Ziemmer really put up big numbers and has a good frame to grow into. Stenberg is exciting and shows flashes of elite game breaking ability at times. Sale and Gulyayev are as skilled as anyone, but for me maybe too one dimensional in their forecasts. I think that these players are late 1st to early 2nd round picks.

31. RD Lukas Dragicevic

32. RW Koehn Ziemmer

33. C Otto Stenberg

34. LW Eduard Sale

35. LD Mikhail Gulyayev

Tier 8:

Beau Akey
2023 Kubota CHL Top Prospects Game / Dennis Pajot/GettyImages

* Tied for my biggest tier of the draft, this is a group of talented players that will need to work through a variety of labels. From too small, can't skate, and inconsistent play all 11 players here are prospects I see as guys that will have to work hard to solidify their NHL futures. The Blackhawks picking 35th and 44th could be looking at a handful from this tier with those 2 picks.

36. C Gracyn Sawchyn

37. LD Tanner Molendyk

38. RW Lenni Hameenaho

39. LW Andrew Cristall

40. RW Gavin Brindley

41. G Michael Hrabal

42. RD Beau Akey

43. LW Nick Lardis

44. C Danny Nelson

45. LD Theo Lindstein

46. LW Noah Dower-Nilsson

Tier 9:

Maxim Strbak
Canada v Slovakia: Quarterfinals - 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

* As we get into the later stages of the 2nd round and beyond this is likely where alot of scouts will see big differences in others' opinions. I am no different as alot of players I will list in this tier and the tiers to follolw may seem "off trend" if you will. I feel however that as you get into the later rounds that is where you are trying to find your high floor prospects or at the very least players that have 1 skill trait or tool that is of NHL caliber. Tier 8 is likely the last of my tiers that has a complete list of players that do project to at least some sort of an NHL future. All prospects listed after tier 8 I believe are not locks for the next level though there will of course be some that break through.

47. LW Noel Nordh

48. LD Jakub Dvorak

49. LW Carson Rehkopf

50. RW Mathieu Cataford

51. RD Maxim Strbak

52. RW Jayden Perron

Tier 10:

Charlie Stramel
Slovakia v United States: Group B - 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship / Dale Preston/GettyImages

* Like tier 8 this is my largest group and it represents some really talented players. I expect alot of the prospects listed to be in contention for the Hawks late in the second round or their pick at #67. I know Charlie Stramel is a name that everyone knows, but there is a reason his season didn't go the way we all thought it would this season. Talent is there for the young Badger though.

53. C Jaden Lipinski

54. RW Martin Misiak

55. G Carson Bjarnason

56. LD Tristian Bertucci

57. RW Jesse Kiiskinen

58. C Felix Nilsson

59. C Anton Wahlberg

60. LW Emil Jarventie

61. RW Charlie Stramel

62. LW Kalan Lind

63. RD Hunter Brzustewicz

Tier 11:

64. RD Gavin McCarthy

65. LW Luca Pinelli

66. Kasper Halttunen

67. RW Roman Kantserov

68. C Nico Myatovic

69. G Jacob Fowler

70. LW Juraj Pekarcik

71. LD Luca Cagnoni

72. LD Caden Price

73. G Adam Gajan

Tier 12:

74. C Rasmus Kumpulainen

75. RD Adam Gibson

76. LW Jakub Stancl

77. RW Coulson Pitre

78. LW Carey Terrance

79. C Denver Barkey

80. LD Andrew Strathmann

81. RW William Whitelaw

82. C Nikita Nedopekin

83. LW Timur Mukhanov

Tier 13:

84. LD Quinton Burns

85. LW Alexander Rykov

86. LD Arttu Karki

87. LW Aydar Suniev

88. RW Connor Levis

89. RD Matthew Mania

90. C Brad Gardiner

91. LW Jesse Nurmi

Tier 14:

92. G Trey Augustine

93. RD Aram Minnetian

94. RD Cam Allen

95. LW Ethan Miedema

96. LW Nikita Susuyev

97. LD Albert Wikman

98. LD Drew Fortescue

99. LW Jake Fisher

100. RW Zach Nehring

The next 30 players to keep an eye on include: LW Cowan, LW Molnar, C Petr, LW Ludtke, C Szture, LD Hagens, RW Fine, C Shaugabay, RW Adams, RW Knuble, G Ratzlaf, LD Fischer, LD Robertson, RW DeAngelo, LW Unger-Sorum, RW Vidicek, LW Forsfjall, RW Shahan, LW Townsend, RD Tourigay, RD Minkkinen, G Milic, RW Soto, LD Mittelstadt, C Peddle, LW Carlssen, LD Hanzel, G Blomquist, LD Pieniniemi, and RW Fiala


This is a fantastic draft that could be one of the all time great producers of NHL talent. The Blackhawks are blessed to have such draft capital in a year where they can grab a lot of players that should be apart of our immediate to near future.

At #1 the Chicago Blackhawks will select Connor Bedard. For this reason alone, the 2023 NHL Draft will be a huge success for the Hawks. Let's not waste this massive opportunity though that has presented itself. With deft moves and foresight, Kyle Davidson has amassed a haul of valuable picks that should turn into players that could wear the Blackhawks' jersey in years to come.

If you simply went by my list 1-100, the Blackhawks would select: 1. C Bedard, 19. LW Yager, 35. LD Gulyayev, 44. C Nelson, 51. RD Strbak, 55. G Bjarnason, 67. RW Kantserov, 93. RD Minnetian, and 99. LW Fisher. I don't know about you, but I'd take that group in a heartbeat.

With only one week remaining until the draft, expect the rumor mill to get into a higher gear. This is one of the most exciting drafts ever for Chicago as a city. Let's celebrate and welcome in a host of new future Blackhawks June 28-29th!