2023 NHL Draft top prospects: Caden Price, David Edstrom, Tom Willander, Oliver Bonk, Brayden Yager and more
By Zach Laing2 months ago
Welcome to our series taking a look at the top 100 prospects for the 2023 NHL entry draft as ranked by Daily Faceoff’s Steven Ellis.
Today, we’re looking at the prospects ranked from number 40 to 21: Oscar Fisker Mølgaard, Caden Price, Kasper Halttunen, Gracyn Sawchyn, Daniil But, Beau Akey, Charlie Stramel, David Edstrom, Nick Lardis, Gavin Brindley, Tom Willander, William Whitelaw, Otto Stenberg, Lukas Dragicevic, Oliver Bonk, Ethan Gauthier, Cal Ritchie, Mikhail Gulyayev, Quentin Musty, and Brayden Yager.
Fisker Mølgaard played between the SHL and J20 league last season in Sweden. He’s a left-shot centre standing 6’0, 183 lbs.
Scouting Report: “Mølgaard didn’t produce much in the SHL, but the fact that a 2005-born played more than 40 games against some of the best competition in Europe is nothing to sneeze at. He was excellent against U-20 competition, and, honestly, the smart, controlled center could end up becoming one of the biggest steals of the draft given his pro-ready tools.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff
Price had a solid season in Kelowna last year scoring five goals and 40 points in 65 games. He’s a left-shot defenceman standing 6’1, 181 lbs.
Scouting Report: “His game-to-game play varies, but when Price is on, he can take over and be the best player on any given shift. He’s a strong skater who throws hits with purpose and loves to rush the puck.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff
Halttunen, a 6’3, 207 lb. right-winger, scored plenty in Finnish junior hockey this year. He found the back of the net 18 times adding another six assists in 18 games played.
Scouting Report: “Halttunen produced nothing against men but was too good for HIFK’s U-20 team. He’s big, has a powerful wrister and has produced at all levels up until Liiga. Next year will be a big one. A bit more maturity will help take his game up another level next year.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff
Sawchyn, a 5’11, 165 lb. centre, scored 18 goals and 58 points in 58 WHL games last year.
Scouting Report: “Sawchyn left the USNTDP in 2022 and used it as a chance to earn more ice time and opportunity with Seattle. After scoring at a point-per-game pace, it worked, but he’s just incredibly smart and deceptive with the puck. He’ll be a solid playmaker one day.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff
The towering Russian winger played a bit in the KHL last year, but found success with 15 goals and 2 points in 26 MHL games. He stands at 6’5, 203 lbs.
Scouting Report: “The big, skilled winger was a point-per-game player between Yaroslavl’s MHL teams this year and even scored a pair in 15 KHL games. He can do a lot of damage around the crease, both with his shot and how he pushes players around.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff
Akey quietly had a great year in Barrie scoring 11 goals and 47 points in 66 games. The defenceman stands at 6’0, 170 lbs.
Scouting Report: “While most eyes have been on Brandt Clarke in Barrie this year, it’s hard to ignore Akey jumping up 30 points this year. He does an excellent job of rushing the puck down the ice from his own zone and he panic-passes the puck far less these days.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff
Stramel had penalty issues as a freshman with the University of Wisconsin last year scoring five goals and 12 points. The forward stands a towering 6’3, 216 lbs.
Scouting Report: “After a strong World Junior Championship performance, Stramel capped things off with a good second half with Wisconsin. There’s no shortage of teams that want the services of the 6-foot-3, 216-pound forward with a high hockey IQ. Sure, the offence didn’t follow, but he’s a pain in the rear end to play against.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff
Edstrom scored a point per game in the Swedish J20 league last season. The 6’3, 187 lb. centre has some size to his frame, too.
Scouting Report: “Edstrom wasn’t previously ranked, so this is a huge jump, for sure. Getting to see him in person really opened my eyes to his skating and hockey IQ, and he’s a strong dual threat as a shooter and a passer. Edstrom has a big frame at 6-foot-3 and uses it to his advantage, and he scored everywhere he played this year. Scouts really sold me on him.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff
Lardis, a 5’11, 168 lb. winger, scored 25 goals and 46 points in 33 OHL games last year.
Scouting Report: “Late-season dominance can be very misleading, but there might not have been a more interesting forward down the stretch than Lardis. After putting up just 19 points in 36 games with the Petes, he blew up with 25 goals and 46 points in 33 games with Hamilton before going on a tear in the playoffs.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff
Size isn’t his strength, but scoring is. Brindley had 12 goals and 38 points in 41 NCAA games as a freshman with he University of Michigan. The right-winger stands at 5’9, 157 lbs.
Scouting Report: “Small but feisty, Brindley went under the radar in Michigan, largely due to Fantilli’s heroics. He’s as competitive as it comes, and he’s a solid straight-line skater, but there’s still some room to improve from an overall puck skill and hockey sense standpoint. Another year of college will help.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff
Willander is off to Boston University next year leaving Sweden for hockey in North America. The 6’1, 179 lb. defenceman has the size already to play.
Date of Birth: February 9, 2005
Weight: 179 lbs
Scouting Report: “Willander’s consistency at the U-20 level was good, and I liked how confident he looked rushing the puck during the World Junior A Challenge, in particular. Willander has been one of the biggest risers in the top 60 for me, and I think he still has quite a bit of room to improve. He could be a nice pickup for a team that’s already in a contention window.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff
Whitelaw, a 5’9, 172 lb. centre, is an offensive powerhouse and scored 36 goals and 61 points in 62 USHL games last year. He’s committed to the University of Wisconsin.
Scouting Report: “Whitelaw hasn’t let his small frame stop him from putting a beating on goalies across the United States. His 5-foot-9 frame will be the thing that tears him down the most, but the skill is apparent.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff
Stenberg will play next year in the J20 Swedish league next year. The 5’11, 181 lb. centre played in both that league, and the SHL last year.
Scouting Report: “Scouts are completely mixed here. The highs are high. The lows are low. He looked out of place in the SHL but was excellent against kids his own age. The raw talent is there, especially as a 200-foot threat that can be dangerous around both nets. His biggest asset might be his play-reads.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff
Dragicevic, a 6’1, 194 lb. defenceman, scored 75 points in 68 games with the WHL’s Tri-City Americans last year.
Scouting Report: “Dragicevic loves joining in on the attack and getting involved in the play any way he can. There aren’t many draft-eligible defenders that can set plays up like him, using as much available time as possible to make the correct play. He needs to work on his foot speed if he’s going to excel in the NHL.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff
Oliver Bonk, the son of former NHL’er Radek, scored 10 goals and 40 points last year with the OHL’s London Knights. The defenceman stands at 6’1, 176 lbs.
Scouting Report: “The son of former NHLer Radek Bonk, Oliver played a ton of minutes this year thanks to his strong own-zone play. He’s capable of creating damage in the O-zone, too. He fits the mould of a modern-day defender who can do some of everything.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff
Gauthier, a 5’11, 183 lb. right-winger, scored 69 points in 66 QMJHL games last year with the Sherbrooke Phoenix, but will don new threads next year He was traded to the Drummondville Voltigeurs in a deal involving three first-round draft picks.
Scouting Report: “One of my favourite players from a style perspective, Gauthier is fierce, aggressive and never stops moving. He saw his offensive output jump by 30 points to a nice 69 this year, establishing himself as a strong goal-scorer. His power-forward style suits him well in a middle-six role.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff
Last year saw Ritchie, the OHL’s Oshawa Generals assistant captain, scored 24 goals and 59 points in 59 games. The centre stands at 6’2, 187 lbs.
Scouting Report: “What Ritchie lacked in high-end offence this year, he made up for in extra defensive responsibility and more willingness to engage physically. And while he only had a point per game in the OHL, he decimated the Hlinka Gretzky with Canada before the season started. He’s going to be a dependable two-way center in the NHL.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff
Gulyayev split time between the KHL, VHL and MHL last year. The 5’10, 170 lb. defenceman had his most success scoring two goals and 25 points in 22 MHL games.
Scouting Report: “Gulyayev had confidence to burn in the MHL this year, looking like a man among kids. He uses the open space to his advantage and is fairly quick in bursts. He’ll bring value as a puck-moving transitional defender.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff
Musty scored 26 goals and 78 points in 53 OHL games last year. The Sudbury Wolves’ assistant captain plays the left-wing, and stands at 6’2, 190 lbs.
Scouting Report: “While I’d love to see Musty produce a bit more, he has enough pro qualities – quick release, high top-speed and active scanning – that I’m confident in the right team turning him into a great top-six scoring winger. He’s just physically built like a tank, too.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff
Yager scored 28 goals and 78 points in 67 games last year with the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors.
Scouting Report: “Statistically, 78 points in a draft year is solid. He had 50 assists and showed he can be a highlight-reel machine. But there have been enough off-games to get some scouts concerned. He can play all situations, but he rarely engages physically and most scouts wanted to see more goals out of him. I like him as a complementary winger more than a center down the road.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff
Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at email@example.com.
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