Canada

The top prospects for the 2023 NHL draft from Bedard to Fantilli to Reinbacher and more

CONNOR BEDARD, center, 5-foot-10, 185 pounds, shoots right.

BORN: July, 17, 2005.

FROM: North Vancouver, British Columbia

LAST TEAM: Regina Pats, Western Hockey League

ACCOMPLISHMENTS/BACKGROUND: Bedard was the WHL’s first player — and seventh Canadian junior — to be granted exceptional status in being allowed to play at 15. … In 2021-22, he scored 51 goals to become the WHL’s youngest player to score 50. … Last season, he became the first WHL player to score 71 goals since Pavel Brendl (73) in 1998-99. And his 143 points were the most in the league since three players topped that total in 1995-96. … Bedard led this past world junior championship tournament and set a Team Canada record with 23 points (nine goals, 14 assists), which resulted in him being voted the International Ice Hockey Federation’s inaugural male player of the year. … He became Canada’s first player to sweep the CHL player of the of the year, top prospect and top scorer honors.

NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING RANKING: No. 1 North American skater.

PROJECTED TO BE DRAFTED: First by the Chicago Blackhawks.

STRENGTHS: A complete offensive package with a highly accurate shot, natural scoring ability.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING: “It’s almost like he’s pressing random buttons on the X-Box controller, coming up with some of these dangles.” — Team Canada world junior goalie Thomas Milic.

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ADAM FANTILLI, center, 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, shoots left.

BORN: Oct. 12, 2004.

FROM: Nobleton, Ontario

LAST TEAM: University of Michigan

ACCOMPLISHMENTS/BACKGROUND: As a freshman, Fantilli led all U.S. college players with 65 points and tied for the lead with 30 goals in 36 games. … He became just the third freshman to win college hockey’s Hobey Baker player of the year, joining Jack Eichel (2015) and Paul Kariya (1993). … In helping the USHL Chicago Steel win the USHL Clark Cup as a rookie in 2021, he was named playoff MVP in finishing with eight goals and nine points in eight games. … The pandemic led him to play in the USHL, and was expecting to move on to the OHL before choosing Michigan after visiting the school’s campus.

NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING RANKING: No. 2 North American skater.

PROJECTED TO BE DRAFTED: Second to Anaheim or third to Columbus.

STRENGTHS: A skilled power forward who plays a team-first game.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING: “You have Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, that’s Connor and Adam, so you’re going to win with both.” — Central Scouting director Dan Marr, comparing Bedard and Fantilli to the Edmonton Oilers’ top offensive tandem.

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LEO CARLSSON, center, 6-foot-2, 194 pounds, shoots left.

BORN: Dec. 26, 2004.

FROM: Karlstad, Sweden.

LAST TEAM: Orebro, Swedish Hockey League.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS/BACKGROUND: Carlsson was named Sweden’s junior player of the year after leading his age category with 15 assists and 25 points. His 10 goals were tied for second. … He represented Sweden at the world championships and finished tied for the team lead with three goals, while adding two assists in eight games. … Father Kenneth played professionally in Sweden as a defenseman from 1995-96 to 2003-04.

NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING RANKING: No. 1 International skater.

PROJECTED TO BE DRAFTED: No lower than San Jose, which is scheduled to pick fourth.

STRENGTHS: Two-way forward who is difficult to knock off the puck.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING: “The way he can bait defenders one on one is extraordinary. He is a natural rally starter, who can change the momentum of a shift, period or game.” — Central Scouting report.

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WILLIAM SMITH, center, 5-foot-11, 181 pounds, shoots right.

BORN: May 17, 2005.

FROM: Boston.

LAST TEAM: U.S. National Development Program.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS/BACKGROUND: Smith finished second on his team with 127 points (51 goals, 76 assists) in 60 games last season. … He won a gold medal and earned Under-18 world championship MVP honors after leading the tournament with nine goals and 20 points in seven games. … Smith is committed to playing at Boston College this season.

NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING RANKING: No. 3 North American skater.

PROJECTED TO BE DRAFTED: Anywhere between fourth and seventh overall.

STRENGTHS: Creative play-maker.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING: “Good offensive hockey sense to generate scoring chances when needed. Complete package that competes well in all areas and is capable of being a difference maker.“ — Central Scouting report.

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MATVEI MICHKOV, right wing, 5-foot-10, 172 pounds, shoots left.

BORN: Dec. 9, 2004.

FROM: Perm, Russia.

LAST TEAM: Sochi, Kontinental Hockey League.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS/BACKGROUND: Michkov finished fourth on Sochi with 20 points (nine goals, 11 points) in just 27 games after being loaned to the team Dec. 20. … He opened last season splitting between St. Petersburg’s KHL and Division II teams. … In 2021-22, he had 30 goals and 51 points in 28 regular-seasons games for SKA St. Petersburg’s junior team, and scored a playoff-leading 13 goals in 17 games. … He won a silver medal and was named MVP at the 2021 Under-18 world championships after leading the tournament with 12 goals and 16 points in seven games. … Michkov is under contract with St. Petersburg through the 2025-26 season.

NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING RANKING: No. 2 International skater.

PROJECTED TO BE DRAFTED: Anywhere between second overall and the Arizona Coyotes’ second of two first-round picks at 12. The unlikelihood of him being available to play in the NHL until 2026 could represent a red flag for some teams.

STRENGTHS: Speed and play-making ability.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING: “An explosive winger and an exceptional talent with all the tools needed to become a superstar.” — Central Scouting report.

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DAVID REINBACHER, defense, 6-foot-2, 194 pounds, shoots right.

BORN: Oct. 25, 2004.

FROM: Hohenems, Austria

LAST TEAM: EHC Kloten, Swiss League.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS/BACKGROUND: Reinbacher led Swiss League teenagers with 22 points (three goals, 19 assists) in 46 games last season. … In 2021-22, he made his pro debut at 16 and played 14 games in helping Kloten win the Swiss League championship. … He’s likely to become the seventh Austrian to be selected in the first round, and third since 2020 in joining Marco Kasper (No. 8 pick in 2022) and Marco Rossi (No. 9 pick in 2020). … Splitting hockey and college, where he’s enrolled in a business program.

NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING RANKING: No. 5 International skater.

PROJECTED TO BE DRAFTED: Could go as high as fifth to Montreal; projected as the top blue-liner available.

STRENGTHS: Well-rounded defenseman with size and speed.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING: “I’m a humble kid. I’m enjoying every minute here. It’s so exciting, especially an Austrian kid from a small town here.” — Reinbacher at the NHL combine in Buffalo, New York, earlier this month.

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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