The Blackhawks were a winner in this draft as soon as they won the lottery on May 8. With the first overall selection, they were able to take a generational prospect in Connor Bedard. It was the easiest pick of the first round for good reason, and Bedard will come into the NHL next year looking to make an immediate impact for a storied franchise in desperate need of some fresh excitement.
The winning didn’t stop with Bedard, though, as the Blackhawks also picked up Oliver Moore with the 19th overall pick. Moore was ranked higher than 19th on almost every prospect ranking heading into the draft, making him a very intriguing piece to the Chicago puzzle. Although he may still be a few years away, Moore could end up playing a large role for many years in Chicago alongside the franchise center Connor Bedard. Picking Bedard was already a win, but paired with a guy like Oliver Moore, the Blackhawks undoubtedly had a fantastic first round.
The Flyers were another team with two picks in this year’s first round and although their first selection fell after six teams had already made a pick, Philly may have gotten the second-best player in the draft with Matvei Michkov. The Russian forward is an extremely talented player who will still be under contract for three years in the KHL. Although this clearly scared some teams off, his talent was too much for the Flyers to pass on. Of course, we won’t know for a few seasons, but some teams in the top six may look back and seriously regret letting Michkov fall to Philadelphia.
The Flyers then selected defenceman Oliver Bonk with the 22nd overall pick. He’s also a few years away from cracking the NHL roster, but his 6’2 frame and right-handed shot must excite the organization. Last year, Bonk put up 40 points in 67 games with the London Knights as a kid who was 17 at the beginning of the year. He’s projected to reach a new level in the 2023/24 campaign.
St. Louis Blues
The Blues were the only team with three first-round picks this year, and they started their draft with Dalibor Dvorsky at the tenth spot. Dvorsky is a big, 18-year-old forward who already plays with grown men in Sweden’s second league. He’ll spend some more time overseas, but with his work ethic, Dvorsky has a very high ceiling. In the past World Juniors, he shined against his peers for Slovakia, scoring eight goals and five assists in the tournament.
St. Louis selected forward Otto Stenberg and defenceman Theo Lindstein with their next two picks. Both are Swedish skaters who have already started playing in the SHL. Although the stats don’t jump off the page just yet, the development of both players in this league could have them ready to make the jump to the NHL in two to three years. Even if only one of these two players ends up playing a legitimate role for the Blues, the first round of this draft was a success. Unless, of course, Dvorsky doesn’t pan out, either. Only time will tell!