The day we see Connor Bedard finally attached to an NHL franchise has arrived, with the 2023 draft kicking off on Wednesday. Meanwhile, teams not named the Chicago Blackhawks will look to re-tool with some of the other elite options available at the top of the draft and beyond.
Bedard’s NHL future will undoubtedly begin in Chicago, which was gifted the golden ticket at the draft lottery on May 8. He’s joined at the top by prospects Adam Fantilli, Matvei Michkov, and Leo Carlsson, who have been considered wire-to-wire top-five picks. Beyond this group, the shuffle will occur in what looks to be a draft that remains deep through the first two rounds.
Here is Yahoo Sports' final ranking of the Top 100 prospects for the 2023 NHL Draft:
Connor Bedard, C, Regina (WHL) - "Bad for Bedard" paid off for the Blackhawks, who are getting a bonafide superstar. His skating, vision, and release are elite, and should carry over to the NHL pretty much right away. Chicago’s biggest issue this offseason will be bringing in skilled enough players to keep up with him.
Adam Fantilli, C, Michigan (NCAA) - Fantilli’s game-winning goal for Canada in the World Championship semifinals was a sign of what’s to come. He’s a well-rounded, big, skilled player who can flash and dash, but also does plenty of off-puck work — a 200-foot menace who's anything but a "consolation prize."
Matvei Michkov, C, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL) - Picking this high in the draft, teams have to realize that good things come to those who wait. Waiting for Michkov until 2026 seems excessive, but he has dazzling hands and looks like one of the best Russian forwards to emerge in the last decade or more. Do GMs think they can get more out of others sooner? That’s the question.
Leo Carlsson, C, Orebro (SHL) - Big, bullish, fast. It’s hard not to be impressed by Carlsson, who didn’t look out of place alongside Lucas Raymond on Sweden’s top line at the World Championships. While power is a key component of Carlsson’s game, his hands in tight and at top speed can turn heads. He's close to NHL ready.
Will Smith, C, USNTDP (U18) - His play at the U18 World Championships was…ridiculous. Twenty points in nine games blew away the competition and showed just how elite his playmaking is. Smith will have at least a year at Boston College developing and testing his creativity against stronger competition.
Zach Benson, C, Winnipeg (WHL) - Evasive with a high end-release. Benson seldom takes a shift off, and rarely attacks in a straight line. He drives play by keeping defenders on their heels and exploiting shooting lanes he creates with his own pace. Looks like a future top-six lock.
Ryan Leonard, LW, USNTDP (U18) - On a USA U18 roster loaded with scorers, everyone benefited from Leonard. He would happily capitalize off the efforts of others, and at times does, but generally, Leonard is driving the play, creating, and generating chances through his relentless approach to the game, both on the rush and on the forecheck.
Axel Sandin Pellikka, D, Skellefteå AIK (U20 Sweden) - Sandin Pelikka or David Reinbacher, flip your coin now for first defender off the board. Sandin Pellikka is a smooth skating blueliner who devoured the competition amongst peers. A good first pass and ability to transport the puck up ice himself, Sandin Pelikka has tremendous untapped upside yet to be realized as he finds his confidence against older competition.
David Reinbacher, D, Kloten (NL) - Calling Reinbacher a top ten pick to begin this season would have drawn laughs. Not picking Reinbacher in the opening half of the first round could get GMs laughed at in the future. He’s big, he’s reliable, and he has offensive upside. After two strong seasons in Switzerland, the Austrian blueliner should make a seamless transition to North America next year, and could see an NHL audition depending on the philosophy of the team that picks him.
Dalibor Dvorsky, C, AIK (Allsvenskan) - Dvorsky has huge upside, and he could go anywhere after the top four depending on team wants and needs. He’s been dominant against his peers in international competition for Slovakia. Next season Dvorsky will look to capture some of that success against pros.
Oliver Moore, C, USNTDP (U18) - If you close your eyes and dream of a middle-six center on a championship team, you might be envisioning Moore. Defensively reliable with oodles of offense, Moore will not disappoint. His game always involves balance, but because of that, he often generates chances from his two-way play. Not to mention, Moore has excellent acceleration and top-end speed.
Eduard Sale, RW, Brno (Czechia) - It’s unclear how far Sale will slide in this draft after earning some consideration as a top-five pick earlier in the year. On good shifts and good nights, he is a top-10 pick. On an off night or off shift, slide him down to 20. He’ll need to find that consistency next season, and a team could opt to bring him to the AHL to guide that process. Good speed, excellent on the powerplay. The tools are there, but tools don’t do the job alone.
Gabe Perreault, RW, USNTDP (U18) - There’s a lot to love about Perreault. He can undeniably produce. His offensive gifts are clear and the critiques about his game — whether it be a perceived reliance on others, defensive deficiencies or his skating — don’t actually equate when you look at what he’s done. Even if he’s relying on others, he finishes. And teams can always find a set-up person when they have a player like Perreault to support. Hard to pass on the top-six scoring potential.
Matthew Wood, LW, UConn (NCAA) - Wood started high, drifted back in the rankings, and here we are again, talking about the powerful forward as a possible mid first-round pick. Wood likes to take the puck to the middle of the ice and effectively utilizes his size and strength to win battles. He had a great rookie campaign in the NCAA, and was the best of a bad batch for Canada at the U-18s. One more year in the NCAA and there’s a pro hockey player waiting in Wood.
Andrew Cristall, LW, Kelowna (WHL) - Incredible vision, excellent playmaking, completely dominant in the WHL this year. He’s not the best skater, and had a bad U-18 championship. Is it enough to scare scouts? Probably not. Just hand Cristall a puck and the questions disappear.
Colby Barlow, LW, Owen Sound (OHL) - Similar to Cristall, Barlow has room to grow in his overall game, but he can flat out score. A great shooter, who finds ways to get the puck through by adjusting his release. The upside is immense.
Nate Danielson, F, Brandon (WHL) - Danielson is good, everywhere, in almost every way. His game looks effortless, and his two-way competencies are enticing items for teams. He’d be the perfect “second” first-round pick for a team who gambled higher in the draft, because Danielson will be an effective pro, even if it’s on a third line.
Dmitri Simashev, D, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (KHL) - He didn’t put up big numbers, but he's a big, 6-foot-4, mobile defender who effectively transitions the puck and is not afraid to carry it himself. Production could come, but what you’re getting is a mobile, physical defender, who can play in a variety of situations.
Riley Heidt, C, Prince George (WHL) - When he’s on, there are few as promising as Heidt offensively. Consistency and play away from the puck are question marks. What are not questioned are his passing and playmaking abilities.
Mikhail Gulyayev, D, Omskie Yastreby (KHL) - When people say “modern defender,” they mean undersized, good skater, ability to distribute the puck and power-play potential. Gulyayev is a modern defender.
Samuel Honzek, C, Vancouver (WHL) - Big body, big hits, reliable two-way player. Is he a top-line player? That’s yet to be determined. Will he be a consistent winger who teams covet that can play up and down the lineup as needed? Yes.
Otto Stenberg, C, Frolunda (J20 Sweden) - How to define Stenberg’s season? There was a struggle against men in the SHL. There was also brilliance at the U-18 World Championships for Sweden. A good skater with good puck control, more development is on the way for Stenberg, who is trending up.
Brayden Yager, C, Moose Jaw (WHL) - Few can shoot the puck like Yager, and it would be naive to say he won’t go 10 spots higher than this if a specific team hones in on his best attributes. He’s decent away from the puck, but sometimes can stay a little too far away playing on the perimeter. Luckily, he can score from anywhere.
Calum Ritchie, C, Oshawa (OHL) - Ritchie looks like a safe bet to become a solid pro. As a top-10 projected prospect heading into this season, Ritchie is also a decent bet to become a steal. His skill set is balanced, and he has good size. It just wasn’t the dominant season some expected. He was good on a bad Canadian U-18 team.
Quentin Musty, LW, Sudbury (OHL) - Describe Ritchie, but flip the fortunes of his second season in the OHL, and that’s Musty. Good size, chooses his spots wisely. Opting almost equally to shoot and distribute, Musty exploded this year on a bad team.
Tom Willander, D, Rogle (J20 Sweden) - An excellent skater who thrives in transition and at evading checkers, Willander is headed to North America next season to play at Boston University. He was great for Sweden at the U-18s, and was one of the biggest risers in the rankings this year.
Lukas Dragicevic, D, Tri-City (WHL) - Whether it's joining the rush, sliding in from the blue line, or running a power play, Dragicevic has the tools. He finds shooting lanes, and can manage an offensive set up as well as anyone. His U-18 performance was concerning. The focus on his development will rest in two areas - defensive zone reliability and foot speed.
Oliver Bonk, D, London (OHL) - This is the first time Bonk has cracked our first-round draft rankings, and after his playoff run with London, it seems like the right positioning. He played a ton of minutes down the stretch for the Knights, and his D-zone coverage is strong. He doesn’t give a lot away from his own blue line in, and as his skating continues to evolve, the offensive upside he flashed with London can grow.
Daniil But, LW, Loko Yaroslavl (MHL) - There is a lot to say on But. He’s 6-foot-5 with above average skating and skills of an undersized player. The issue with But is he doesn’t effectively utilize his size to win pucks…yet.
Gavin Brindley, LW, Michigan (NCAA) - Relentless on pucks with penalty-kill potential and offensive upside. Brindley is a smaller player that projects as a middle-six speedster who does all of the important things without taking the glory.
Charlie Stramel, RW, Wisconsin (NCAA) - Stramel is probably going lower, but he’s not fun to play against and is a physical presence. Offensive output aside, he played like a first-round pick.
Bradley Nadeau, C, Penticton (BCHL) - Who knows where Nadeau belongs? He has dazzling hands and sees the ice well, but did it all against lesser competition. He’s the best player in Junior A hockey, and that has to count for something. He’ll have the chance to contribute top-line minutes in Maine next year, but without star-studded support.
Jayden Perron, C, Chicago (USHL)
Nick Lardis, LW, Hamilton (OHL)
David Edstrom, C, Frolunda (J20 Sweden)
Ethan Gauthier, RW, Sherbrooke (QMJHL)
Kasper Halttunen, RW, HIFK (Liiga)
Luca Pinelli, C, Ottawa (OHL)
Lenni Hämeenaho, RW, Assat (Liiga)
Koehn Ziemmer, RW, Prince George (WHL)
Michael Hrabal, G, Omaha (USHL)
Étienne Morin, D, Moncton (QMJHL)
Oscar Fisker Mølgaard, C, HV71 (SHL)
Noah Dower Nilsson, C, Frolunda (J20 Sweden)
Beau Akey, D, Barrie (OHL)
Theo Lindstein, D, Brynas (Sweden)
Alex Ciernik, LW, Sodertalje (J20 Sweden)
Luca Cagnoni, D, Portland (WHL)
Tanner Molendyk, D, Saskatoon (WHL)
Jakub Dvorak, D, Bili Tygri Liberec (Czechia)
Caden Price, D, Kelowna (WHL)
Hunter Brzustewicz, D, Kitchener (OHL)
Roman Kantserov, RW, Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk (MHL)
Kalan Lind, C, Red Deer (WHL)
William Whitelaw, C, Youngstown (USHL)
Timur Mukhanov, C, Omskie Yastreby (MHL)
Trey Augustine, G, USNTDP (U18)
Maxim Strbak, D, Sioux Falls (USHL)
Cameron Allen, D, Guelph (OHL)
Jesse Kiiskinen, RW, Pelicans (J20 Finland)
Gracyn Sawchyn, C, Seattle (WHL)
Mathieu Cataford, F, Halifax (QMJHL)
Alexander Rykov, RW, Chelyabinsk (VHL)
Emil Jarventie, LW, Ilves (Liiga)
Zeb Forsfjall, C, Skellefteå AIK (J20 Sweden)
Anton Wahlberg, C, Malmo (J20 Sweden)
Jordan Tourigny, D, Shawinigan (QMJHL)
Aram Minnetian, D, USNTDP (U18)
Adam Gajan, G Chippewa (NAHL)
Gavin McCarthy, D, Muskegon (USHL)
Coulson Pitre, C, Flint (OHL)
Denver Barkey, C, London (OHL)
Andrew Gibson, D, Soo Greyhounds (OHL)
Carson Rehkopf, C, Kitchener (OHL)
Nico Myatovic, LW, Seattle (WHL)
Danny Nelson, C, USNTDP (U18)
Tyler Peddle, RW, Drummondville (QMJHL)
Jayson Shaugabay, C, Warroad High (USHS)
Kalem Parker, D, Victoria (WHL)
Felix Unger Sorum, RW, Leksand (J20 Sweden)
Noel Nordh, LW, Brynas IF (J20 Sweden)
Brady Cleveland, D, USNTDP (U18)
Jacob Fowler, G, Youngstown (USHL)
Aydar Suniev, LW, Penticton (BCHL)
Matthew Mania, D, Sudbury (OHL)
Cole Knuble, C, Fargo (USHL)
Aiden Fink, RW, Brooks (AJHL)
Tanner Ludtke, C, Lincoln (USHL)
Arvid Bergstrom, D, Djurgardens (J20 Sweden)
Martin Misiak, C, Youngstown (USHL)
Rasmus Kumpulainen, C, Pelicans (U20 Finland)
Jessi Nurmi, LW, KooKoo (U20 Finland)
Ryan Fine, LW, USNTDP (U18)
Carey Terrance, C, Erie (OHL)
Ignat Lutfullin, RW, SKA 1946 (MHL)
Tristan Bertucci, D, Flint (OHL)
Quinton Burns, D, Kingston (OHL)
Easton Cowan, C, London (OHL)
Brady Stonehouse, RW, Ottawa (OHL)
Ondrej Molnar, LW, HK Nitra (Slovakia)