The Chicago Blackhawks had the Third worst record in the NHL this season but won the draft lottery to land the number 1 pick. However, they have a lot of issues to address in this draft. This is a mock draft for the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2023 NHL Draft.
1. Connor Bedard, C, Regina Pats/WHL
Connor Bedard is one of the most hyped-up prospects coming into the NHL since Connor McDavid and thus far has not disappointed, as he has exceeded expectations at every level he played at. Bedard is going to be a special player in the NHL and is a franchise-changing player; the question is will the Anaheim Ducks who have a 25% odds to land the 1st overall pick win the draft lottery. He has such an incredible wrist shot that you could drop him in the NHL this year and he’d feast; his wrist shot is absolutely deadly and will be one of the best shots in the league for a long time. If Bedard was only an excellent shooter, he would be a lot easier to shut down, but he also has elite playmaking, vision, skating, stickhandling, creativity, and above all, hockey IQ/Sense. After entering the WHL a year early, Bedard showed the world what he’s made of in his second year with the Regina Pats, scoring an absurd 51 goals and 100 points in 62 games. He one-upped himself in the 2022-23 season, scoring 71 goals, 72 assists, and 143 points in 57 regular season games with the Regina Pats, along with an absurd 10 goals and 20 points in 7 playoff games. Bedard was all-world at the U20 WJC, scoring 9 goals, 14 assists, and 23 points in 7 games, including the Gold Medal clinching goal for Canada. There is no doubt that Connor Bedard will be a superstar talent in the league, the question is how soon that will be and with the Chicago Blackhawks winning the Draft lottery, they will likely select him first overall. Bedard gives Chicago a franchise player to replace Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, I guess some teams just get all the lottery luck.
19. Otto Stenberg, LW/RW, Frolunda/SHL
Otto Stenberg is a well-round and dynamic offensive player who can create with his playmaking and vision as well as his quick release. Stenberg spent the last season playing for Frölunda’s J20 and J18 teams. He was able to produce at a pace of two points-per-game in the J18 with 24 points in just 12 games, and near a point-per-game at the J20 level, notching 16 goals and 19 assists in 38 games. He was a leading forward for the U17 national team and despite only scoring two goals in six games at the U18 Worlds, he had a strong showing in that tournament. This past August, he was a leading forward for his country at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, captaining the team and notching an impressive five goals and four assists in 5 games to help guide Sweden to a silver medal. Stenberg is an energetic and offensively skilled forward with a dynamic skillset. He has a very well-rounded offensive toolkit and the ability to produce points with his playmaking and vision, as well as his shot, which comes off his blade with force and accuracy. Stenberg has great puck skills, high-end vision, and good playmaking ability that allows him to pick apart defensive coverages and find teammates in open space. He is average-sized but not small and is actually quite solid on his skates, and his skating and motor are both great. Stenberg has been playing both center and wing in the junior ranks but will likely end up as a winger at the NHL level. Stenberg should be a good fit on a line alongside Connor Bedard in the future.
35. Etienne Morin, D, Moncton Wildcats/QMJHL
Etienne Morin is exactly what NHL teams are looking for in a defenseman. He is a mobile, two-way player who excels in transition. Last season, he averaged just under 21 minutes per game for the Moncton Wildcats in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) as a 16-year-old rookie. Morin plays heavy minutes in all situations, especially offensively, with 20 goals and 65 points in 64 games. He is the main weapon and the quarterback on the QMJHL’s tenth-ranked power play (PP). His offensive instincts also allow him to combine his vision with excellent edgework, which he uses to make direction changes, opening up time and space to make a play or to walk the blue line where he can use his hard and accurate shot to score or generate rebounds. Defensively he is very capable as well. He has strong gap control and uses his skating and puck handling to his advantage against attacking forecheckers, as he retrieves pucks quickly and is able to identify passing lanes that he uses to begin the counter-attack in transition. In the defensive zone, Morin is able to play physically along the boards in one-on-one battles and in front of the net. Morin is a safe pick for a team looking to add defensive depth to their prospect pool. He is projected to become a two-way defenseman who could fill a role on the second power-play unit, this makes him a perfect pick for Chicago’s first pick in the second round. Although Chicago added some solid D prospects in the draft last year, you have never have an overabundance of good defensemen.
44. Michael Hrabal, G, Omaha Lancers/USHL
Michael Hrabal is an imposing 6 foot 6 goaltender, who checks off all the boxes for what scouts look for in a goaltender prospect. Listed at 6-6, he anticipates play well and is capable of shutting down shooters in tight with effective body and glove positioning. He has a hybrid style of a goaltender, who uses his large frame to his advantage, the strength of his legs makes it tough for shooters to stuff pucks by him. Hrabel established himself as a top goaltending prospect for the 2023 NHL Draft in his D-1 season at the Czech U20 level, posting a 2.14 GAA and .936 SV% in 24 games with HC Sparta Praha U20. He also had a strong performance at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, putting up a 2.73 GAA and .917 SV% in 4 starts. It’s been a couple of years since we had a goaltender worthy of selecting in the first round, but Hrabal fits the bill for a goalie that is worth using a first-round pick on. He is arguably the biggest boom-or-bust prospect if a team chooses to use a first-round pick on him because he could turn out to be a bust or he could turn into a Ben Bishop-type goalie. With the right development, Hrabal has potential to be a star goalie in the league. Hrabal will be in competition for a starting job in Chicago in 3-4 years.
52. Daniil But, LW, Loko Yaroslavl/MHL
Daniil But is one of the most polarizing players in the 2023 NHL Draft, with some scouts have him ranked as a top-10 talent while others, see him as a mid-second round pick.
But is one of the larger players in the entire draft class standing at 6-foot-5 despite just turning 18 in February. He has the size that NHL general managers dream of, and he has great puck skills and shooting mechanics for a player of his size. However, his skating is a bit sub-par at the moment, as is common for taller players, and might hold him back from ultimately reaching his full potential in the NHL someday. But’s shot is heavy, a symptom of his raw strength and his shooting mechanics, and he can even be seen pulling the puck towards his skates in the moment before shooting to change the angle and make the opposing goalie’s life even tougher. The power and cleverness to his release make it clear that his shot will be an NHL-caliber weapon, especially as a finisher on the powerplay. Despite being so much bigger than the vast majority of his competition in the Russian junior leagues, But isn’t the most adept physical player, though I think it’s fair to assume he’ll become more comfortable with his large frame once he stops growing. The 2021-22 season was But’s first in the MHL, and he made himself known quickly, with 17 goals and 44 points in just 49 games. That was enough for him to lead all U17 MHL players in goals, points, and point-per-game (min. 5 games played). This year in the MHL, But is a point-per-game player, putting up 26 points in 26 games. But has a chance to be a special talent in the NHL, if he improves his skating, but even if he doesn’t, he should stil be a reliable top 6 forward. When building a team around Connor Bedard, it is important to get players with both Skill and size, so they can help create space for him, especially during his first couple years in the league.
58 Luca Pinelli, C, Ottawa 67’s/OHL
Luca Pinelli is a well-rounded and intelligent forward who makes those around him better. He does just about everything you could hope for an undersized centreman with limited skating ability to do, and he is a clear first-round talent, something I’m even more sure of now than I was when I campaigned to have him feature on DobberProspects’ preliminary rankings, on which he ended up an honorable mention, just missing out on the top-32. Pinelli is second on his team in points, with 10 – including five goals – through six games, behind draft+2 player Jack Beck, who has 11. Pinelli is the smartest player on his ragtag but dominant team, and it’s not particularly close. He has played on Vinzenz Rohrer’s wing all season so far, along with Tyler Boucher. However, his habits, awareness, and off-puck movement still make him an easily projectable center at the next level. He pre-scans better than most first-year draft-eligible players in junior hockey, which he often flashes when getting the puck off the boards and onto the tape of a teammate’s stick in space while under heavy pressure. Despite being undersized, Pinelli isn’t afraid of getting physically involved and has demonstrated an increasing amount of grit as his OHL experience has grown. His defensive play is also a strength. He is consistently positionally sound, and he knows when to pressure the puck carrier to really make life difficult for his opponent. After forcing turnovers and under heavy pressure, Pinelli consistently makes the quick smart play to help start the breakout, whether it be a pass to a defenseman, a breakout pass, or a quick shoulder fake to weave around the forechecker. Pinelli is a coach’s dream, and scouts believe he has genuine top-six potential down the middle in the NHL Chicago could definately use a versatile, and talented forward like Pinelli, who can play multiple positions.
67 Jesse Nurmi, LW, KooKoo/Liiga
Jesse Nurmi is critisized for being undersized, but he is a prospect with good instincts, getting himself to the right areas, and despite his size gets involved physically and attacks the slot, makes deflections, and delivers lots of dangerous attempts on net. He is a fine skater withh Brandon Hagel type hustle and has soft hands that allow him to handle hard quick passes that stick to his blade while moving. Not flashy, just always in advantageous spots on the attack, and displays good vision, nice touch in his passes and good finish. Nurmi lacks creativity, and hasn’t shownhe is capable of being a prolific point scorer, which is which he keeps falling on mock drafts. Nurmi is a pretty safe pick for the first pick in the third round, and even if he isn’t a top 6 forward, he can still fill out a role on the third line. Chicago is not only looking elite talent but they are also looking for players who can slot up and down the lineup if needed.
88. Nicholas Lardis, RW, Brantford Bulldogs/OHL
Nick Lardis has set the OHL on fire since his trade to the Hamilton Bulldogs, scoring 30 goals in 39 regular season and playoff games. This was no flash in the pan either, Lardis is a capable goalscorer with a set of diverse and well-above-average releases. He pairs this with multiple plus-level tools. His passing (when he scans for teammates), skating, and handling are all clear strengths as well. That said, Lardis is a diminutive winger who regularly gets physically overpowered and is quite passive on the defensive side of the puck. There are clear hurdles he will need to overcome to reach the NHL. If he can elevate his skating from very good to great, that transition will be facilitated, as would a heightened defensive engagement and a focus on building lower body strength and leverage mechanics for physical battles. In the middle rounds of the NHL draft, few players typically remain available who possess tangible top-six upside. If Lardis is still available at the end of the third round, it would be a streal of a pick, considering the potenital that he has. Lardis is a player who can play a bottom 6 role even if you doesn’t live up to his
offensive potential, Chicago likes Lardis’ speed, which is something that the new NHL is looking for.
99. Ondrej Molnar, RW, HK Nitra/Slovakia
Ondrej Molnar is an interesting prospect due to his unique skill set of being able to find open ice, cycle the puck, and provide support both in the offensive and defensive zones. Molnár is a pass-first type of player and used his edgework to separate from defenders while scanning the ice at an elite level. He was often the first forechecker into the offensive zone, applying pressure and stripping pucks due to his good stick checks. Molnár always seems to be in the right place on breakouts and is one of the better players at slowing down the play to allow his defensemen to gather their footing in the defensive zone. Due to his great skating, he is excellent in transition as he is a very capable stick-handler. Molnár excels off the cycle in the offensive zone and abuses the opposing team’s defensemen all game with his excellent support. Molnár is under the radar because his game doesn’t scream “high-end,” but his IQ, cycling ability, and edgework are some great tools to have in his toolbox going into a full year with HK Nitra. Already showing his over all game speed in the Slovakian Senior league, he plays with bot set up ability and a finesse scoring touch. Still small at 5″ 11 / 174, and more of a playmaker than pure shooter, he uses his soft hands, high tempo speed game, and ability to stay low in his possessions, in order to maintain possession, and not get pushed of the puck by bigger defenders. Still growing and maturing physically, a team may wait for the final product but it looks like a quality NHL attacker. He is agile laterally and elusive and has a really good first step burst. Plays the right wall on the power plays and the extra space will transform into a solid scorer with more space out on the ice. A deceptive shooter who diguises his release point and plays fast. Molnar could take a few years to develop but if he pans out, this will be a steal of a pick for Chicago.
Connor Bedard (C)
Otto Stenberg (W/C)
Etienne Morin (D)
Michael Hrabal (G)
Luca Pinelli (C)
Jesse Nurmi (LW/RW)
Nicholas Lardis (RW)
Ondrej Molnar (LW)
One thought on “2023 NHL MOCK DRAFTS: CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS”