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2023 NHL Draft - A Glance at the Metro

by J.T. Toth

Photo courtesy of Nova Caps.

The NHL held their annual draft this week in Nashville, and it started how everybody knew it would—with the Chicago Blackhawks taking phenom center Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats. Anaheim went a little off-script when they took center Leo Carlsson from Sweden over Adam Fantilli from Michigan.

But the most amazing part of the draft was there were no trades in the first round.

No trades?

In a year when goalies were said to be on the move (Hellebuyck, Driedger, etc.) experts expected teams with multiple first round picks to make moves to obtain veteran talent to bolster their rosters. But alas, this did not happen.

However, Draft 412 wanted to do a deeper dive for fans of the “412” focusing on the Penguins and their rivals in the Metro division. Did the Pens do well? Which rivals did better? Which did worse?

Without further adieu, here’s Draft 412’s Metro Division analysis:

Carolina Hurricanes

30. Carolina- Bradly Nadeau, LW- Penticton (BCHL)

With the 30th pick in round one, Carolina grabbed a player who could be a future playmaker for their organization. Nadeau has talent, a powerful shot and strong stickhandling abilities. Perhaps a steal at thirty, Nadeau will make for a top six winger for the Canes in a few years. After winning the Metropolitan Division in 2022-2023, the Hurricanes kept adding to their talent pool, this time for the future.

Columbus Blue Jackets

3. Columbus- Adam Fantilli, C- Michigan (NCAA)

The Anaheim Ducks passed on the Michigan superstar, Adam Fantilli, to select Leo Carlsson out of Sweden, and the Columbus Blue Jackets wasted no time and jumped all over the chance to select the Wolverine centerman.

Listening to Fantilli and the Jackets in post-draft interviews, both parties expect him to be in Columbus next fall, and skipping a possible return to Ann Arbor for another year. With his skill set, he should be able to center the first line between Patrik Laine and Johnny Gaudreau. Fantilli will produce for years, and the Penguins will have their hands full as this Blue Jackets' team keeps adding young, exciting players.

New Jersey Devils

The New Jersey Devils did not have a first round draft pick but were busy during the week of the draft. They extended winger, Timo Meier, for eight years, they traded goalie, Mackenzie Blackwood, to San Jose for a draft pick. Finally, they obtained LW, Tyler Toffoli, from Calgary for youngster, Yegor Sharangovich. Toffoli had 34 goals and 73 points last season for the Flames. If the Devils can get themselves a bona fide #1 goalie, look out Metro!

New York Islanders

Like the Devils, the Islanders did not have a first round pick. This is welcomed news for teams of the Metro, as the Islanders are loaded up front with the likes of Mathew Barzal, Bo Horvat, and Brock Nelson to go along with young superstar goaltender, Ilya Sorokin.

New York Rangers

23. NY Rangers- Gabriel Perreault, RW- USA U-18

The Rangers got a nice surprise at pick #23 as RW, Gabriel Perreault, slid down the board and was there for the taking. Perreault is the kind of kid you can win Stanley Cups with. He has an incredible hockey IQ, scored at a point per game last season and will add to the stable of young talent in Manhattan.

Philadelphia Flyers

7. Philadelphia- Matvei Michkov, RW-Russia

22. Philadelphia- Oliver Bonk, D- London (OHL)

It was said going into the draft that RW, Matvei Michkov, could be the second best talent behind Connor Bedard. The only knock on Michkov was that he cannot play in the NHL until 2026-2027. The top 6 teams in the draft did not take the chance on Michkov, leaving the talented winger there for the Flyers' first selection in round one. Michkov projects as a future superstar and will jump start the Flyers, similar to what Kirill Kaprizov did for the Minnesota Wild.

The Flyers also added defenseman, Oliver Bonk, at #22. Son of longtime NHLer, Radek Bonk, Oliver Bonk has the potential to be a shutdown defender in the league while bringing a touch of offensive upside to their future blue line.

Washington Capitals

8. Washington- Ryan Leonard, RW- USA U-18

The Capitals just missed out on having Michkov fall into their laps by one pick, so they took an American winger who gets compared to their very own Tom Wilson. Ryan Leonard will be a pain to play against. He is gritty, hard working, and known to excel at the biggest moments. His hard, accurate shot will torment Penguins fans when he arrives in DC. What’s worse than playing against Tom Wilson? Playing against two Tom Wilsons.

Pittsburgh Penguins

14. Pittsburgh- Brayden Yager, C- Moose Jaw (WHL)

The Penguins had some choices to make when choosing at #14. Draft 412 had other prospects ranked higher than Yager (such as C-Oliver Moore, RW-Matthew Wood, and RW-Gabriel Perreault), but the Penguins tapped the young center out of Moose Jaw (WHL) with their first round selection.

Yager has quality skills, an accurate shot and size that is coveted at the position. Draft 412 sees him as a future 2nd or 3rd line center in the league. Yager may be a little more “vanilla” compared to the aforementioned prospects, but he’s got the chops to be an impact player in the league for years.

For fans that wanted a more “exciting” pick, chances of the Penguins selecting somebody at #14 who could contribute to the Crosby/Malkin ERA was slim. The hope within the organization is that Yager adds to the rebuild of the Pens' farm system.

Below is a list of the first round picks in the NHL Draft.

1. Chicago- Connor Bedard, C- Regina (WHL)

2. Anaheim- Leo Carlsson, C- Sweden

3. Columbus- Adam Fantilli, C- Michigan (NCAA)

4. San Jose- Will Smith, C- USA U-18

5. Montreal- David Reinbacher, D- Switzerland

6. Arizona- Dmitri Simashev, D- Russia

7. Philadelphia- Matvei Michkov, RW-Russia

8. Washington- Ryan Leonard, RW- USA U-18

9. Detroit- Nate Danielson, C- Brandon (WHL)

10. St. Lous- Dalibor Dvorsky, C- Sweden

11. Vancouver- Tom Willander, D- Sweden

12. Arizona- Daniil But, LW- Russia

13. Buffalo- Zach Benson, LW- Winnipeg (WHL)

14. Pittsburgh- Brayden Yager, C- Moose Jaw (WHL)

15. Nashville- Matthew Wood, RW- UCONN (NCAA)

16. Calgary- Samuel Honzek, LW- Vancouver (WHL)

17. Detroit- Axel Sandin Pellikka, D- Sweden

18. Winnipeg- Colby Barlow, LW- Owen Sound (OHL)

19. Chicago- Oliver Moore, C- USA U-18

20. Seattle- Eduard Sale, LW- Czechia

21. Minnesota- Charlie Stramel, C- Wisconsin (NCAA)

22. Philadelphia- Oliver Bonk, D- London (OHL)

23. NY Rangers- Gabriel Perreault, RW- USA U-18

24. Nashville- Tanner Molendyk, D- Saskatoon (WHL)

25. St. Louis- Otto Stenberg, C- Sweden

26. San Jose- Quentin Musty, LW- Sudbury (OHL)

27. Colorado- Calum Ritchie, C- Oshawa (OHL)

28. Toronto- Easton Cowan, RW- London (OHL)

29. St. Louis- Theo Lindstein, D- Sweden

30. Carolina- Bradly Nadeau, LW- Penticton (BCHL)

31. Colorado- Mikhail Gulyayev, D- Russia

32. Vegas- David Edstrom, C-Sweden

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