2023 NHL DRAFT: PLAYERS TO WATCH FOR THIS SEASON

Here are some 2023 Draft prospects to watch out for this season.

Next: Prospects to Watch for in the 2022 WJC

1. Emil Jarventie, Ilves U20, U20 SM-sarja

Emil Jarventie is one of those players who slipped under the radar last year, due to the sheer amount of offensive talent in this draft class, but Jarventie also had an outstanding year last season. Emil split last season between Ilves U18 and U20 team. With their U18 team, he averaged 2 points per game in the regular season and had 15 points in 10 playoff games,
as well as 13 goals and 21 points in 20 games with Ilves U20. Jarventie was drafted by the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL, where he put up 6 points in 19 games. Emil was a standout player for Finland at the 2022 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, where they won Bronze, and at the U20 WJC, where Finland won silver. He is expected to play for Ilves U20 in the 2022-23 season and is expected to see some playing time on its Liiga team as well. Jarventie is already a really an exceptional two-way forward and penalty killer, but he doesn’t have any elite offensive
abilities. He is one of those players who is a safe first-round pick but is in danger of being passed on draft rankings by prospects with higher potential.

2. William Whitelaw, Youngstown Phantoms, USHL

William Whitelaw is definitely one of the many players to watch next season as he makes his transition from the USHS-Prep league to the USHL. He is committed to the University of Wisconsin for the 2023-24 and will be playing for the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL this upcoming season. In his final season with Shattuck Saint Mary’s, Whitelaw put up 46 goals and 110 points in 55 games, then joined the Phantoms for the remainder of the 2021-22 season. Whitelaw only played in 11 games with the team, but he was able to put up 4 points in those games. In the 2022-23 season, Whitelaw is expected to play a huge role on the team and will have much to prove heading into his draft year and trying to get himself ready for college hockey the following season. The biggest knock on Whitelaw is his size, as well as the shortcomings on the defensive side of the puck, but he is a very hard-working player and will strive to improve on something every offseason. Right now, Whitelaw is a borderline first-round talent, but depending on how he does this season, could either rise or fall on the draft rankings.

3. Koehn Ziemmer, Prince George Cougars, WHL

Koehn Ziemmer had a solid season for the Prince George Cougars of the WHL this past season, scoring 30 goals and 57 points in 68 games. Ziemmer has shown throughout his junior career to be a consistent goal scorer, and he has just had a knack for scoring goals. The Knock on him is that he is not a great skater, but he makes up for it with his hockey sense and knowledge of where to be in the offensive zone. With how much today’s game is dependent of skating,
if he doesn’t improve his skating, it would not surprise me to see him fall in draft rankings even if he has great offensive production this season. Right now, I can see Ziemmer as a 2nd round pick, as he is not a finished product by any means, but should his skating improve drastically this season, he could become a 1st round talent.

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4. Arttu Karki, Tappara U20, U20 SM-sarja

Arttu Karki started at the U18 level and ended up playing top-four minutes on a playoff team in the U20 league, Kärki has been one of the risers of the season. He finished up the 2021-22 season as the best point producer among draft-minus-one defencemen in the U20 circuit by a large margin. Karki plays with a lot of confidence and isn’t scared to try stuff with the puck. Very good hands, even if he relies on them a bit too much at times. Could provide real value as a puck-mover defenseman, and could be a potential top 4 defenseman in the future. Although being a top 4 defenseman at the NHL level is a bit of a stretch for Karki, he should be a safe bet to be a top 6 defenseman, which is still pretty good. Besides Cameron Allen, the rest of the defensemen in the 2023 class are about the same, and depending on the scout the rankings can vary. At the moment, Karki is a 2nd/3rd-round talent, but if he has another great year, he could be a 2nd-round pick.

5. Jakub Dvorak, Bili Tygri Liberec, Czechia

Jakub Dvorak is a tower left-handed defenseman, at 6’5/203, out of Czechia, that has all the makings of the ideal shutdown defenseman if developed properly. With teams now preferring to draft tall defensemen, it would not be surprising to see Dvorak’s name make waves now and leading up to the draft. Similar to Lian Bichsel, who was taken in the 1st round of the 2022 draft by the Dallas Stars, Dvorak is very raw and will take a few years to be NHL-ready. Although he doesn’t have the offensive potential of Bichsel, he is better defensively than him and he has immense potential as a top 4 shutdown defenseman at the NHL level. Jakub is a player everyone needs to be paying attention to because while he may not be putting up high offensive totals, his size alone will make teams overlook a lot of weaknesses in his game. For this reason, it wouldn’t be surprising if he is picked as early as the 2nd round.

6. Connor Levis, Kamloops Blazers, WHL

Connor Levis is a big center, at 6’2/194, that still has room to grow, and has all the makings of a natural playmaking center. With the Kamloops Blazers last season, Levis scored 16 goals and 42 points in 68 games in the regular season, then 10 points in 17 playoff games. Aside from his on-rink success, Levis was also named WHL Scholastic Player of the Year for the 2021-22 season.
Levis has great size/strength, along with good speed and puckhandling ability, to go along with very good passing skills. Levis is far from a finished product though, his defensive play
needs work and he doesn’t play like he is 6’2, as he doesn’t throw his weight around enough. Right now, I have Levis as a 3rd round pick, but it is possible for him to work his way up
the rankings if he has a great year in 2022-23.

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Published by Hockeywiz777

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