Every year prior to the NHL Draft, staff members take a shot at predicting the opening round. Like many drafts, there is a consensus on the first-overall pick, with Regina's Connor Bedard sitting in that spot. After that, Torie Peterson, Ryan Dittrick, and Alex Medina's selections go in different directions.

1. Chicago Blackhawks

Connor Bedard - C - Regina (WHL)

Shocker, I know. Bedard has been everything as advertised and more with the point production just ridiculous with 143 points in just 57 games with the Pats, and an impressive showing during the 2023 World Junior Championship. With a lethal shot, excellent puck handling, decision making, he has it all.

2. Anaheim Ducks

Adam Fantilli - C - Michigan (NCAA)

In another year, Fantilli could be the number one overall pick. The centreman impressed with 65 points, highlighted with 30 goals, with the Wolverines in his freshman year. A combination of skill, power and competitiveness, Fantilli has all the tools to be an elite #1 centre for years to come.

3. Columbus Blue Jackets

Leo Carlsson - C - Orebro (SHL)

If you were to build the perfect centreman, it would be Leo Carlsson. The Swede plays a full 200-foot game and always seems to be a play or two ahead of the competition. With elite hockey sense, his vision and crafty puck handling make him a threat whenever he has the puck, while he's not afraid to use his size to drive to the net.

4. San Jose Sharks

Matvei Michkov - RW - SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)

The contract situation will hurt his draft stock but Michkov is the real deal. His creativity with the puck is among the best of the class, and of course let's not forget about that shot. Pick your poison: wrister, snap, one-timer, he can fire it from anywhere in the offensive zone, making it look effortless.

5. Montreal Canadiens

Will Smith - C - USA U-18 (USNTDP)

Welcome to Miami, I mean Montreal. But on a serious note, Smith is a special player. He seemingly turns nothing into something with the ability to pull off highlight reel plays over and over thanks to his silky mitts. He's a dual threat that can light the lamp as much as he can dish it, posting 50 goals and 76 assists in 60 games.

6. Arizona Coyotes

David Reinbacher - D - Kloten (SUI)

Reinbacher had maybe one of the fastest rises throughout the year, thanks to his play in the top Swiss league. With 22 points in 46 games, the rearguard plays a rock solid defensive game, eliminating time and space while intelligently using his reach and stick to strip pucks away. He makes quick transitions out of the zone using his skating and passing.

7. Philadelphia Flyers

Ryan Leonard - RW - USA U-18 (USNTDP)

Every shift no matter the score, Leonard's competitiveness never changes. Tie that in with his skating, playmaking and deadly shot, you get a complete package. In just 54 games, he posted 94 points with 51 being goals, equal levels a finisher and distributor that commands the puck and bulldozes his way.

8. Washington Captials

Dalibor Dvorsky - C - AIK (HockeyAllsvenskan)

With a class that's filled with top centremen, Dvorksy fits into that category bringing an intelligent two-way game. He saw his stock rise and fall over the course of the season but continued to showcase his blistering, accurate shot time again. He is very strong on the puck and slows things down to find the right play if needed.

9. Detroit Red Wings

Zach Benson - LW - Winnipeg (WHL)

A player that I personally have been high on since he broke into the WHL, Benson is a game changer. He consistently drives the play using deception with the puck, using quick decision making and elite playmaking which saw him post 98 points in 60 games. It's hard not to notice the winger, as he is arguably the smartest and hardworking in the class, with a motor that never ends.

10. St. Louis Blues

Oliver Moore - C - USA U-18 (USNTDP)

Speed, agility and motor. Moore makes it look oh so easy how he zips around to be involved in each play and battle. With the ability to play centre or the wing, Moore creates a lot of plays with his skating, opening things up for teammates where he is able to find them with his great playmaking.

11. Vancouver Canucks

Tom Willander - D - Rogle Jr. (J20 National)

Having a defender you can rely on to kill a play and quickly get it up the ice is something every team desires. Willander does just that, oh and the bonus being a right hand shot, uses his quick footwork to stick with puck carriers and force them to make an error. He's relentless when competing for the puck and quietly gets the job done offensively.

12. Arizona Coyotes (via Ottawa)

Matthew Wood - RW - UConn (NCAA)

Wood put together a strong year freshman year, posting 34 points in 35 games. From his days in the BCHL, his shot has always been the focus of his game with how quick and hard he can shoot the puck but he quickly developed solid playmaking as the year went on to become a dual threat, leaving defenders guessing what he'll attack with.

13. Buffalo Sabres

Axel Sandin Pellikka - D - Skelleftea AIK (SHL)

Looking for an offensive defenceman who can quarterback a power play? Look no further. Sandin Pellikka is always a threat when the puck is in the offensive zone, quickly able to walk the blueline to either fire on net or find an open man, he plays with a lot of poise when under pressure.

14. Pittsburgh Penguins

Brayden Yager - C - Moose Jaw (WHL)

That shot is no joke. Yager's shot is picture perfect, exploding off his stick as he snapes it off without breaking stride. His shot makes him a threat to score from anywhere but he also worked on becoming more of a dual threat this season, adding playmaking to his arsenal. He ended with 78 points in 68 games in and added 16 points in 10 playoff tilts.

15. Nashville Predators

Gabriel Perreault - RW - USA U-18 (USNTDP)

132 points in USNTDP, the most by any player. That doesn't happen by accident. Perreault plays to his strengths, using his sense and playmaking to always put the puck in a scoring position while thinking of ways to create something. Sure, the skating is what has held him back in rankings but he's an offensive dynamo that puts the puck in the net.

16. Calgary Flames

Quentin Musty - LW - Sudbury (OHL)

A power forward with the vision to be a set-up man while also being a finisher. Musty does a little bit of it all but first and foremost is a playmaker. He finds the open man consistently but also has the intelligence to make a play happen and the patience in waiting for the play develops. With 78 points in 53 games, he's a play driver that also wrecks havoc in front, not shy using his big frame.


17. Detroit Red Wings (via Vancouver, via New York Islanders)

Dmitri Simashev - D - Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (KHL)

With a large frame at 6'4", the Russian defenceman has one of the smoothest strides. Seriously, how quick he moves for a big body is impressive. He closes the gap quickly while keeping up with the puck carrier with ease and knows when to make his move making him a nightmare to try and beat. Potential to be the best defender of the class years from now.

18. Winnipeg Jets

Eduard Sale - LW - HC Kometa Brno (Czechia)

Sale on talent alone is arguably among the very best of the class. His potential is through the roof with exceptional stick handling and playmaking, he is very intelligent when the puck is on his stick. Playing well above his age group, the winger didn't look out of place showcasing how skilled he is.

19. Chicago Blackhawks (via Tampa Bay)

Colby Barlow - LW - Owen Sound (OHL)

More often than not, it looked like Barlow was a man among boys. And it's not because of the awesome beard. Barlow scored at a crazy rate with 46 goals in 59 games, thanks to his quick, hard release. When he's not firing lasers, the winger has no problem going to the dirty areas and using his size to power to the goal and battle for rebounds.

  1. Seattle Kraken

Andrew Cristall - LW - Kelowna (WHL)

One of the more dynamic forwards, Cristall always seemed to start and finish the play with the puck in the net. He is a creative puck handler and playmaker, using feints and head movements to fool defenders. He has no problem beating defenders one-on-one using his crafty stick handling and excellent hockey sense.

21. Minnesota Wild

Samuel Honzek - C - Vancouver (WHL)

In his first season in North America Honzek did not disappoint recording 56 points in 43 tilts. He's a strong player who uses his finesse to protect the puck to then finish things off with his wicked wrister. A combo of skill and hard nosed play, it wouldn't be shocking to see him play in the NHL shortly after being drafted.

22. Philadelphia Flyers (via Columbus via Los Angeles)

Gavin Brindley - RW - Michigan (NCAA)

Brindley is the Swiss Army Knife of the class. With a high motor, Brindley zips around all over the ice whether it be creating scoring opportunities or hounding the opposition to get the puck back. His playmaking took to another level, with 26 of his 38 points being assists. He's a player you would be comfortable to throw out whenever especially with his high defensive awareness.

23. New York Rangers

DaniIl But - LW/RW - Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)

You'd think with his stature of 6'5" But would be the typical power forward. On the contrary, the Russian is all about skill. When he has the puck, But uses his stick handling and decision making to make plays, while possessing a textbox shot. He really can do whatever is needed offensively.

24. Nashville Predators (via Edmonton)

Oliver Bonk - D - London (OHL)

A shutdown defender, Bonk plays a very mature game defensively with his ability to force skaters to dump the puck in or turn it over. He is always scanning the ice to spot a possible threat while quickly moving the puck up the forwards when he gets it. He can play physical when needed and is very consistent.

25. St. Louis Blues (via Toronto)

Bradley Nadeau - RW - Penticton (BCHL)

Nadeau was turning heads all season with his play, posting 113 points in just 54 games with the Vees. He's a deadly sniper with a shot that is equal levels power and accuracy, while also being more than comfortable being a set-up man. His play off the puck is impressive and when he does find open space, look out.

26. San Jose Sharks (via New Jersey)

Nate Danielson - C - Brandon (WHL)

Danielson doesn't have one thing that sticks out but that's because he does everything well. He plays a responsible two-way game, and was a play creator for his club, leading the Wheat Kings in scoring with 78 points. He plays in all situations and plays with maturity with and without the puck, making him any coach's dream centre.

27. Colorado Avalanche

Calum Ritchie - C - Oshawa (OHL)

Ritchie always seems to make an impact in some way when he steps out on the ice. He can play with or without the puck, always making himself available as support while also being an intelligent passer. When he doesn't have the puck, he gets to work using his strength, motor and smarts to win 50/50 battles with ease.

28. Toronto Maple Leafs (via Washington, via Boston)

Riley Heidt - C - Prince George (WHL)

Heidt can beat defenders and goalies in a multitude of ways. His versatility to create chances with his handling, passing and shooting give headaches while also being an absolute beast on the power play. Give him too much time and space he'll make you pay while also playing a fierce style, finishing checks and getting under opponents skin.

29. St. Louis Blues (via New York, via Dallas)

Mikhail Gulyayev - D - Omsk (MHL)

Gulyayev is excellent in transition, with his game all built on his skating. He's able to create off the rush thanks to that smooth stride, with potential to quarterback a power play. He still is working on the defensive side but is more than capable, using his skating to close the gap early and get out of trouble.

30. Carolina Hurricanes

Otto Stenberg - C - Frolunda (SHL)

The Swede often made defenders look silly, looking like he has the puck on a string. He wants the puck and thrives when the pressure is on, using creativity and deception to keep defenders guessing oh and let's not forget about his wicked shot. Stenberg dazzled with 16 points in seven games at the U-18's.

31. Montreal Canadiens (via Florida)

Ethan Gauthier - RW - Sherbrooke (QMJHL)

The son of former Flames defenceman Denis, like dad Ethan loves to throw hits while playing a responsible two-way game. He manages the game when he has the puck, not forcing a bad pass as he waits for the perfect time to set up linemates, while also very intelligent in finding space to make himself an option.

32. Vegas Golden Knights

Lukas Dragicevic - D - Tri-City (WHL)

The argument can be made that he is the best offensive defeceman of the draft. No joke, he has it all with puck skills, vision and creativity, it's amazing to watch and even more when you realize that he's a defenceman. Tri-City's offence went through him, feeling like they had a fourth forward on the ice with his commitment to activate.