Here are my Preseason Player rankings for the 2023 Draft: #11-22.
Related: Rankings #1-10
11. Cameron Allen
Cameron Allen is my top-ranked in this draft; he is a reliable presence at both ends of the ice playing a style consisting of his hockey IQ and vision. Allen was named the OHL Rookie of the Year playing for the Guelph Storm and was named Canada’s captain of the Ivan Hlinka Gretzky Cup Tournament.
The most noticeable thing about his game is his confidence and poise when he is on the ice, very few players his age are that composed when under pressure with the puck. He is a strong puck-mover who boasts a strong and subtle offensive game, however, getting his name on the scoresheet is not his first priority. Stemming from his ability to read the game well, Allan has a great defensive stick that is always in the right place to disrupt plays and poke pucks loose. He is a strong two-way player on the ice that has all of the skills necessary to make it to the next level. His hockey IQ should allow Allen to be a top pair, two-way defenseman at the NHL level. It is more than likely that he is taken with a top 10 pick because he is a right-handed defenseman, and teams can never have too many on the team.
12. Charlie Stramel
Charlie Stramel is a prototypical power-forward at 6’3/215 and has the tools necessary to become a scoring threat as well. Playing for the US National U18 team, Stramel tallied 10 goals and 22 points in 26 games, as well as 7 goals and 15 points in 16 games for the USNTDP Juniors in the USHL. He was a part of team USA at the U18 WJC, where he put up 2 goals and 5 points in 6 games. Although Charlie is listed as a Right winger and excels by playing a physical and gritty game; in the 2021-22 season, he started to play a little center as well, which adds more to the profile. The University of Wisconsin commit has only recently in the past two seasons started putting everything all together, and the combination of his size, physical play, and offensive upside makes him an attractive prospect for the 2023 draft. If he continues to improve his offensive game, he has the potential to be a top 6 forward, if he doesn’t, he can still be an effective role player because of his playstyle. At this point in time, I have Stramel just outside the top 10, but if he improves his offensive production, he would definitely be a top 10 pick.
13. Quentin Musty
Quentin Musty is a dynamic player with no shortage of skills, he already has the size needed to succeed at the highest level, at 6’2, 203, and is usually one of the biggest presences
on the ice. His size combined with his high-end skill makes him an extremely dangerous player whenever he steps foot on the ice. Most defencemen have no luck stopping Musty and
it often takes more than one defender to contain him as he uses his size efficiently to protect the puck. What is noticeable about his game is how calm he remains on the ice as he does not show any signs of pressure which makes him a hard player to read. One minute he looks like he’s sleeping on the puck, and in an instant; he has broken through defenders and driven to the net so they cannot afford to take their eyes off him. Musty shoots the puck at lightning speed with laser-like accuracy making it tough for the defensemen to stop him. He boosts a high-end shot and great playmaking abilities and is always a dangerous player in the offensive zone. Quentin Musty has the potential to be an elite player and should be a top
15 pick in the draft.
14. Leo Carlsson
Leo Carlsson is big bodied, Swedish Center, at 6’3, 185, who handles the puck well, displays excellent vision, plays a two-way game, and shows competitiveness in his battles for pucks.
He played as a regular with Orebro HK in the SHL last season and dominated the J20 league as well. In 14 regular season games, Carlsson tallied 10 goals and 27 points with Orebro HK J20,
then put up 8 points in 4 playoff games. Leo also played 35 SHL games and put up 9 games, which is pretty good considering he was 16/17 playing in the second-best professional league in
the league. What is noticeable about Carlsson is that is capable of creating offense himself and beating defenders one on one. Although he is listed as a center, he mostly played wing
in the SHL, so he would have as much responsibility. The Swede has good hands, and feet and there is room on his frame for more size and strength as well. He’s an unselfish playmaker who
can score goals, play in all situations, and is a team leader, as he Captained Sweden’s U18 team. Leo Carlsson has the potential to be a top 6 forward and a top 15 pick in the 2023 draft.
15. Theo Lindstein
Theo Lindstein is another contender to be the top defender in the 2023 draft. Unlike Gulyayev and Allen, he is more of an offensive-minded defenseman and plays very similar to Simon Nemec, Second overall in the 2022 Draft by the New Jersey Devils. Lindstein is a mobile defender with an excellent IQ and has already played 12 games in the SHL and played 34 games with the Sweden U20 league as an underage player, which makes him the best defender in his age group amongst Swedes. Lindstein has a very well-rounded profile and it is this “safeness” about his game that made him an SHL player already. He makes sound decisions with the puck and shows strong awareness at both ends. The big question mark with Lindstein is can improve physically in the defensive end and can he take his offensive game to the next level. Although Lindstein is far from a finished product, it is not out of the possibility that he gets taken in the top 15 because this year’s crop of defenseman is not very strong, and he has top 4 upsides.
16. Will Smith
Will Smith is a member of the US National U18 team and is committed to playing for Boston College starting in the 2023-24 season. Smith started the season with the U17 team, where he put up 17 goals and 37 points in 35 games before being promoted to the U18 team, where he tallied 14 goals and 27 points in 28 games. He also played for the USNTDP Juniors of the USHL, where he tallied 14 goals and 28 points in 36 games. Smith’s game is already very well rounded; He skates well and shows a soft touch in the slot and near the crease. Will can find passing options in transition, his puck skills are sound and plays well in all three zones, and displays strong defensive awareness. Despite having a good skillset, he doesn’t do anything at an elite level, which is why I have him ranked lower than in some rankings. Regardless, Will Smith definitely still is a safe pick in the first round and should be a top 6 two-way center.
17. Riley Heidt
Riley Heidt is a skilled offensive player produced for a struggling Price George team in the WHL. His 21 goals and 58 games made him the top-scoring player last season. He finished just two points short of the team record for points by a rookie, set by Brett Connolly in 2009. Heidt profiles as a player with high-end hockey sense and skating ability. He knows exactly where to position himself on the ice in order to contribute offensively and he constantly moves to keep himself in a position to create something. Heidt possesses a good shot, strong playmaking ability, and soft hands, but where he’ll make his mark is on the mental side of the game. Few players can process the game as quickly as Heidt can, and even fewer are able to act on it. Because of His elite hockey sense and skating ability, Riley Heidt has the potential to be a top 6 forward at the NHL level and should be a top 15 pick in the draft.
18. Mikhail Gulyayev
Mikhail Gulyayev is another defender who could challenge Cam Allen as the draft’s top defenseman. A dynamic and slick puck mover, Gulyayev was a standout at last summer’s
Hlinka/Gretzky Cup as an underager and his 35 points in the MHL this year smashed the previous record of 20 by a U17 defender. Not the biggest defender at 5’10, Gulyayev makes up for it with high-end four-way mobility and elusiveness. He is incredibly difficult to pin down in the offensive zone with how good he is on his edges. Gulyayev is also extremely skilled,
showing an ability to blend creativity with his high-end quickness. Gulyayev already shows well in the defensive end, using his strong mobility to stay with attackers. He also will engage physically in the open ice and lower the boom on players who try to drive on him. Without question, he shows the potential to be a strong two-way force on the back-end. Without question, he shows the potential to be a strong two-way force on the back-end, but the Russian factor will cause him to fall to at least the 20s.
19. Oliver Moore
When you talk to scouts about Oliver Moore, the first thing they would say is that his speed is the No. 1 thing that stands out when you see him play. He’s really good on his edges and able to separate from opponents with the puck. He’s really hard to defend due to his speed and the skill that he has with it. He can do things at a really high rate with the puck. Moore was a dominant force for the US National U17 team, tallying 24 goals and 39 points in 43 games as well as 12 goals and 26 points in USHL with the USNTDP Juniors. Oliver also played 11 games for the U18 team, he tallied 7 points in those games. The University of Minnesota Commit is a speed demon and has the potential to be a top 6 forward at the NHL level. At this point in time, Moore should be a top 20 pick in next year’s draft.
20. Alex Ciernik
Alex Ciernik is a Slovakian-born sniper, who has played his been playing in Sweden since 2018-19, where he tallied a point per game with Flemingsbergs IK U16. The next season Ciernik scored 30 goals and 56 points in 20 games with Flemingsbergs IK U16, a 1.65 G/GP average, and 2.8 Points per game as a 14/15-year-old. Ciernik moved to Sodertailje SK for the 2020-21 season but didn’t do much that season, but the following season the J20 team put up 20 goals and 47 points in 43 games. Ciernik’s bread and butter is his puck handling ability and vision, along with his tremendous passing ability, which makes him a very good playmaking winger. There are questions about his size and physical toughness, as he is only 5’10/172, but his skills are good enough to make him a premier playmaker at the NHL level. With time, Ciernik has the potential to be a top 6 playmaking winger in the NHL and projects to be a top 20 pick in the 2023 draft.
21. Matthew Wood
Matthew Wood has everything you want in a forward prospect. He’s got the size, shooting ability, and offensive prowess that can allow him to blossom into a premier NHL prospect. He was a goalscoring machine for the Victoria Grizzlies of the British Columbia Hockey League last season, scoring nearly a goal-per-game and led the league with 85 points (45 goals, 40 assists) in 46 games. Wood exited the season as the league’s top scorer, an MVP finalist, a First-Team All-Star, and Rookie of the Year. He was also the first player to eclipse the 40-goal plateau in his 16-year-old season since Powell River Kings forward Robb Gordon accomplished the feat in 1993. All of this success caught the attention of Hockey Canada, giving Wood the opportunity to represent his nation at the Capital City Challenge for Team Red, where he finished tied for the team lead in scoring with seven points. Because of the league Wood played Wood doesn’t get as much attention but what he was able to do as a rookie is nothing short of spectacular. He has all the potential in the world to be an elite goal scorer at the NHL level and could be a top 20 pick in the draft.
22. Hunter Brzustewicz
Hunter Brzustewicz was the top-ranked US-born defenseman in the 2023 draft. Brzustewicz played on the US National U18 team, where he put up a solid 20 points in 55 games; he also played for the USNTDP Juniors of the USHL, tallying 9 points in 25 games. Hunter will be playing for the Kitchener Rangers next season, where he looks to improve his skill set, especially on the offensive side of the puck. He is a Hit or miss pick for me because he has displayed flashes of his high offensive upside while playing a good defensive game, but his production has been spotty. Hunter has all the tools to be an effective top 4, two-way defenseman at the NHL level, but it will take some time as his offensive game is still pretty raw at this point in time. Even if Brzustewicz doesn’t live up to his offensive potential, he should still be an NHL-caliber defenseman because of his defensive play and skating; this makes him worth picking towards the end of the first round.