The first round of the 2023 NHL Draft took place Wednesday, June 28, and to no surprise, the Chicago Blackhawks took Connor Bedard first overall.
With the second pick, the Anaheim Ducks surprised some people as they selected Leo Carlsson. Adam Fantilli rounded out the top three, going to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The first round of the 2023 NHL Draft had no trades, but there were some surprise picks. On that note, here's grading Round 1 of the 2023 NHL Draft:
#1. Chicago Blackhawks: Connor Bedard, C, Regina
Connor Bedard is considered a generational player and immediately helps Chicago turn its rebuild around. He will play in the NHL next year and will be a first-line center. This was a no-brainer selection and A+ is the only grade to be made.
#2. Anaheim Ducks: Leo Carlsson, C, Orebo
This pick was a bit of a surprise as many had Adam Fantilli as a better player. But, Carlsson still projects to be a first or second-line center in the NHL and could play in the league next season.
#3. Columbus Blue Jackets: Adam Fantilli, C, Michigan
Adam Fantilli was widely considered the second-best player in this draft and Columbus gets an A+ for selecting him at three. Fantilli has the size to translate to the NHL and could skip going back to college and play in the league next season.
#4. San Jose Sharks: Will Smith, C, USNTDP
The four centers were expected to go with the first four picks and Will Smith is a great choice for the Sharks. He is a great playmaker and although he will take a few years to get to the NHL, he should be a first or second-line center.
#5. Montreal Canadiens: David Reinbacher, D, Kloten
David Reinbacher is the best defenseman in this draft, but Montreal already has a ton of defensive prospects. There were better options at forward, including Matvei Mitchkov here.
#6. Arizona Coyotes: Dmitri Simashev, D, Loko Yaroslav
The first real surprise of the draft was Dmitri Simashev who seemed like a big reach for the Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes likely could have gotten him with their other first-round pick.
#7. Philadelphia Flyers: Matvei Michkov, RW, SKA. St. Petersburg
The only reason why this pick by the Flyers isn't an A+ is because Michkov won't be in the NHL for three years. Michkov was arguably the second-best player in this draft and the Flyers should feel great about selecting him with the seventh overall pick.
#8. Washington Capitals: Ryan Leonard, RW, USNTDP
This is a great pick by the Capitals as Leonard could have gone fifth overall to the Canadiens. Leonard's play should translate well to the NHL and he may only need one year in college before making the jump.
#9. Detroit Red Wings: Nate Danielson, C, Brandon
Danielson seems like a safe pick for the Red Wings as he should be a second or third-line center in the NHL. His floor is super high and he should be a solid NHL player, albeit not a perennial All-Star by any means.
#10. St. Louis Blues: Dalibor Dvorsky, C, AIK
Dvorsky was the best player available and also fits a position of need for St. Louis.
Grades for the rest of the 1st round of the 2023 NHL Draft
11. Vancouver Canucks: Tom Willander, D, Rogle: Grade B
12. Arizona Coyotes: Danil But, LW, Loko Yaroslavl Jr.: Grade C-
13. Buffalo Sabres: Zach Benson, LW, Winnipeg: Grade A
14. Pittsburgh Penguins: Brayden Yager, C, Moose Jaw: Grade A
15. Nashville Predators: Matthew Wood, RW, UCONN: Grade A
16. Calgary Flames: Samuel Honzek, LW, Vancouver: Grade B
17. Detroit Red Wings: Axel Sandin Pellikka, D, Skelleftea: Grade A-
18. Winnipeg Jets: Colby Barlow, LW, Owen Sound: Grade A
19. Chicago Blackhawks: Oliver Moore, C, USNTDP: Grade A-
20. Seattle Kraken: Eduard Sale, LW, Brno: Grade B
21. Minnesota Wild: Charlie Stramel, C, Wisconsin: Grade C+
22. Philadelphia Flyers: Oliver Bonk, D, London: Grade B
23. New York Rangers: Gabe Perreault, RW, UNTDP: Grade A
24. Nashville Predators: Tanner Molendyk, D, Saskatoon: Grade B
25. St. Louis Blues: Otto Stenberg, C, Frölunda HC J20: Grade B+
26. San Jose Sharks: Quentin Musty, LW, Sudbury: Grade B+
27. Colorado Avalanche: Calum Ritchie, C, Oshawa: Grade B+
28. Toronto Maple Leafs: Easton Cowan, RW, London: Grade D
29. St. Louis Blues: Theo Lindstein, D, Brynäs IF: Grade B-
30. Carolina Hurricanes: Bradly Nadeau, LW, Penticton: Grade B
31. Colorado Avalanche: Mikhail Gulyayev, D, Omskie Yastreby: Grade B-
32. Vegas Golden Knights: David Edstrom, C, Frölunda HC J20: Grade B-
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