By DraftPro Staff

A few of our scouts from this season have been asked to give us what they think are some ‘hot takes’ on the 2023 NHL draft as we are just hours away from the first round.

‘Hot Takes’ are draft thoughts or even opinions that might be a bit of a shock to the public consensus but what they believe could or will happen. Thoughts from our evaluators after two years watching these prospects develop and seeing the NHL talent hounds following their every move.

We know many of these will not happen, but this is a fun little exercise that will hopefully give our readers some entertainment, even discussion points, as you wait for the first pick to be announced in mere hours.

Draft Picks

“In a year highlighted by Russian risk, it’s been a very prominent storyline in the NHL all season. At the top end of the draft, you have a talent too good to pass up in Matvei Michkov, and not far behind him, Daniil But and Dmitriy Simashev who are too good to pass up as well. But aside from those 3, multiple Russian talents have gone under-scouted and under-appreciated. My hot take is very simple: I believe the duo of Alexander Rykov and Timur Mukhanov will show to have first-round talent careers going forward and will be well worth the wait for whoever drafts these players no matter which round they may be drafted in.” – Seth Ditchfield

“After being passed over as a first-time draft eligible last year, Windsor Spitfires defenseman Rodwin Dionicio will be selected anywhere between the fifth and seventh rounds and go on to be a steal for his team as a bonafide top-four offensive defenceman who can put up points in the NHL, despite some defensive deficiencies.” – Jonah Fleisher

“Theo Lindstein has had a great second half of the season during his draft year. He spent much of the first half of the year in Axel Sandin Pellikka’s shadow and as scouts started to look for other top defenders they looked back to Sweden and found another excellent defender who is agile and can move the puck. Lindstein is not the biggest player but he develops into a Jeff Petry type second pair defender. His skating is average but his hockey IQ is what separates him from the pack, he sees the ice and what is going to happen next. Lindstein will end up being a very consistent defender with a good offensive touch who is placed properly as the top guy on the second pair on a deep team that can make a long playoff run. Much like Petry again, he is traded away by the team that drafts him as he takes at least four years to start to really show his potential.” – Andy Miller

“Connor Bedard will NOT win the Calder in 2023-24, That will go to Buffalo’s Matthew Savoie, an older and a bit more experienced prospect. Bedard will play well but he will be a streaky player playing on a team that is not very deep in talent. Another issue that Bedard will have to deal with is that the Chicago forwards are not the biggest and will not buy him much time or space on the ice. Bedard will be fine and become a star in the NHL, but his bust-out season will not be his rookie season.” – Andy Miller

“Despite being the fifth defenseman selected and near the end of the first round, Lukas Dragicevic will lead this draft class in career points by a defenseman and will be a top 10 player overall at the position after three or four years in the league.” – Jody Horak

“Tanner Adams will likely be a late second or third round pick, but could slide in the draft and will be a solid NHLer with a long productive career. In the USHL this season he was a very productive player who elevated those who were on the ice with him. He is not a big player but can play tough and works hard. He will take a few years to get to the top stage but when he arrives and is put on a line with one or two other skilled players he will become an excellent third line player or a very good second liner. He will round out his defensive abilities and he will continue to be able to both set up and finish in the offensive zone.” – Andy Miller

“The first three goaltenders selected in the NHL draft (Carson Bjarnson, Michael Hrabal and Trey Augustine) will all be busts in the league and relegated to a backup role or playing in the minors. Jacob Fowler will establish himself as a solid starter after developing for two seasons at Boston College and winning the Mike Richter Award while leading BC to back-to-back Frozen Fours.” – Jody Horak

“This isn’t so much of a hot take as it looks more and more likely as the days go on. Michkov’s off ice antics are making it very apparent he only wants to be drafted by one team. The Russian prospect wants to be taken by the Capitals and take over for the Great 8. Ovechkin’s deal ends at the conclusion of the 25-26 season as does Michkov’s KHL deal. Andrei Nikolishin the Caps’ Russian Scout is not sold on Michkov’s work ethic or attitude which is very concerning and could lead to the Caps passing over the Russian. Vancouver would be the next logical destination and that would be at 11. Only time will tell but as the draft draws nearer It looks like Michkov could be waiting awhile.” – Tyler Karoway

“Predator’s fifth rounder, Cooper Foster from the Ottawa 67s in only three years becomes a reliable NHL player. By year four or maybe five he is a very responsible third line player with an offensive upside as the Nashville development worked with him and helped to further develop his skill set to become a well rounded NHL player who is a strong penalty killer and a reliable five on five player. The organization’s defense first attitude really helps Foster round out his game. Foster’s work ethic has improved and puts forth the same effort from puck drop to the final buzzer. He has gotten in the gym and added size and strength to allow him to utilize the offensive vision he has.” – Andy Miller

“With Stamkos getting older and his body wearing down Tampa will need a new premier sniper. Insert Daniil Bourosh, the Belarus native has one of the most lethal shots in this draft and due to him being an overage draft eligible he won’t have the same pedigree as other prospects allowing him to slide to the 6th or 7th round. With Stamkos being 34 next year and being a UFA, he’ll only get a 3-year deal at max allowing DB to develop and take over the powerplay Sniper role. GM Patrice Brisebois and Al Murray looks like genius’ once again with a draft steal and Tampa continued terrorizes the league.” – Tyler Karoway

Trade Frenzy

“Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman uses the 2023 NHL Draft to reshape his Wings roster and shave off years in the rebuild by make a couple trades to bring in much needed goal-scoring talent. His first move is trading pick #9 and Boston’s 2024 first round selection to Montreal for pick #5 where they take highly skilled Russian W Matvei Michkov with the understanding they will not have him until the scoring winger turns 22 years old. He then turns around and trades pick #17, Pick #43, W Filip Zadina and D Gustav Lindstrom to Ottawa for W Alex DeBrincat. In making these trades Yzerman adds two prime talents in the desired age bracket for his rebuild.” – Dan Stewart

“New GM Danny Briere got an absolute nightmare situation handed to him. No blue-chip prospects outside of Cutter Gauthier and a team that’s full of underperforming players. With Provorov already being moved it might be time to set the nukes off. Travis Konency, Travis Sanheim, Carter Hart, Joel Farabee, and Scott Laughton could all be in new homes once the Draft concludes. With such a deep draft the Flyers are in a prime position to reload the prospect drawer. Wednesday night concludes with these blockbuster deals. Konecny to Detroit in exchange for 17th overall and Cross Hanas. Hart and Laughton to Toronto in exchange for Joey Woll, Nick Robertson and 28th overall pick. Travis Sanheim to Buffalo for Henri Jokiharju and Philly gets it 2nd rounder back in this draft.” – Tyler Karoway

“Buffalo makes a big splash to make their team more competitive, trading their first rounder among other assets to Winnipeg in exchange for Nikolaj Ehlers and Dylan DeMelo, signing the latter to an extension to pair with one of Dahlin or Power for the foreseeable future.” – Jonah Fleisher

“In a blockbuster three team trade between Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and St. Louis, the Penguins get goaltender Carter Hart from Philly and the #29 pick in the 2023 draft from the Blues. The Blues receive C Kevin Hayes from Philly and Pittsburgh’s first round pick at #14. The Flyers haul in Defenseman Colton Parayko (waveing his no move clause), and the Blues pick at #25 and also receive from the Penguins, G Casey DeSmith and a 2024 2nd round selection that becomes a first if the Penguins make it to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Blues go on to draft David Reinbacher and Brayden Yager at picks #10 and #14 while gaining a veteran center as they continue to work on re-tooling and not re-building. Same goes for the Flyers who get a solid D man in Parayko and haul in another first round pick they use to select the versatile Danny Nelson from the USNTDP. Pittsburgh gets forward Samuel Honzek to fall into their lap at #29 and he thrives with Crosby and Guentzel, becoming one of the biggest steals in the draft. Pittsburgh wins one more cup and has this trade to thank for it as Honzek goes on to enjoy a better NHL career than either Reinbacher and Yager.” – Jody Horak