Craig's List: Fantilli, Carlsson jostle for second spot behind Bedard
Regina Pats centre Connor Bedard is the runaway favourite to be selected No. 1 overall in the 2023 NHL Draft, but the No. 2 spot is open for discussion in the eyes of TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button.
Button has University of Michigan centre Adam Fantilli at No. 2 after a fantastic freshman season for the Wolverines. The Nobleton, Ont., product has 29 goals and 64 points in 35 games and is a favourite for the Hobey Baker Award as the top NCAA men’s hockey player. He also had five points in seven games to help Canada win gold at the 2023 World Juniors.
However, Button says Fantilli has competition at No. 2 in Orebro forward Leo Carlsson, who occupies the No. 3 spot.
Carlsson had 10 goals and 25 points in 44 games playing in Sweden’s top league this season along with five assists in five playoff games. He had three goals and three assists as Sweden finished fourth at the 2023 World Juniors.
“Fantilli generates offence through the skating and that drive,” said Button. “Carlsson has imagination and playmaking qualities, puck skills. They’re different players.
“I think Carlsson has a lot of what [Washington Capitals centre] Nicklas Backstrom has.”
Russian forward Matvei Michkov slides up one spot to No. 4 in the March edition of Button’s list. Still regarded as the draft’s biggest wild card due to his passport and contract situation, Michkov has continued to demonstrate why he is one of the best prospects in the draft this season. With KHL club HK Sochi, the 18 year old had nine goals and 20 points in 27 games.
Dropping back to the No. 5 position is Czech winger Eduard Sale. Playing in the Czech Extraliga with HC Kometa Brno, he had seven goals and 14 points in 43 regular-season games this season. Despite sliding back one spot, Button compares Sale to a current Czech superstar skating in the NHL with the Boston Bruins.
“I think he's a classic case of David Pastrnak,” said Button. “And whether I'm right or I’m wrong, I'm not going to make that mistake.
“I've watched David play since he was 14 because he played with William Nylander in Sodertalje, so I was able to get to watch him play. He ended with a bad back in his draft year, didn't play all that well. Then he ends up [going in] the 20s. [Now] he's one of the best players in the league. That's how I feel about Eduard Sale.
“I see too much high end ability and potential for Eduard Sale to base anything on stats in the Extraliga. He's too good.”
Making his debut appearance in the first round on Button’s list is Fantilli’s Michigan teammate Gavin Brindley at No. 23. Standing at 5-foot-9 and 157 pounds, he has 12 goals and 38 points in 40 games as a freshman on a stacked Michigan roster. He was also one of three draft-eligible players to make the American World Juniors squad that earned bronze.
“Smaller players have to show me that they have unique qualities,” said Button. “His game has grown massively since the World Juniors.
“Three things: His brains – he’s exceptionally dialled in, understands the game in every regard. His quickness – he’s quick in his speed, quick in his hands. And he’s a massive competitor.”
Bedard’s final totals to end the 2022-23 WHL regular season are 71 goals, 72 assists and 143 points in 57 games. In comparison, Sidney Crosby recorded 66 goals and 168 points in 62 games with the QMJHL’s Rimouski Oceanic in 2004-05.
After three seasons in the WHL with 134 games played, Bedard finishes as a goal-per-game player with 134 goals and averaging two points per game with 271 points.“It’s the best season by a draft-eligible player since Sidney Crosby in 2005,” said Button. “The best. Nobody’s even close. Not [Connor] McDavid. Nobody. And like Crosby, his impact can be immediate in the NHL.”
Craig's List - March 28
|1||Connor Bedard||Regina (WHL)||C||5'9 ¾||183||57||71||143|
|2||Adam Fantilli||Michigan (NCAA)||C||6'2||195||35||29||64|
|3||Leo Carlsson||Örebro (SHL)||C||6'3||198||44||10||35|
|4||Matvei Michkov||St. Petersburg (KHL)||RW||5'10||172||30||9||20|
|5||Eduard Sale||Brno (CZE)||LW||6'2||174||43||7||14|
|6||Will Smith||USA NTDP (USHL)||C||5'11 ¾||178||49||39||100|
|7||Colby Barlow||Owen Sound (OHL)||LW||6'0 ¼||193||59||46||79|
|8||Zach Benson||Winnipeg (WHL)||LW||5'9||160||60||36||98|
|9||Andrew Cristall||Kelowna (WHL)||LW/RW||5'9 ½||167||54||39||95|
|10||Axel Sandin-Pellikka||Skelleftea (SWE J20)||D||5'10 ¾||176||31||16||36|
|11||Gabe Perreault||USA NTDP (USHL)||LW||5'10 ¾||165||52||45||105|
|12||Brayden Yager||Moose Jaw (WHL)||C||5'10 ½||162||67||28||78|
|13||Ryan Leonard||USA NTDP (USHL)||RW||5'11 ½||190||47||41||75|
|14||Oliver Moore||USA NTDP (USHL)||C||5'11||188||50||26||62|
|15||Ethan Gauthier||Sherbrooke (QMJHL)||C||5'11 ¼||176||66||30||69|
|16||Tom Willander||Rogle (SWE J20)||D||6'1 ¼||180||39||4||25|
|17||Nate Danielson||Brandon (WHL)||C||6'1 ¼||185||68||33||78|
|18||Matthew Wood||Connecticut (NCAA)||RW||6'3 ½||193||35||11||34|
|19||Dalibor Dvorsky||AIK (SWE-Als)||C||6'1||201||38||6||14|
|20||Koehn Ziemmer||Prince George (WHL)||RW||6'0 ¼||204||68||41||89|
|21||Riley Heidt||Prince George (WHL)||C||5'10 ½||182||68||25||97|
|22||Samuel Honzek||Vancouver (WHL)||LW||6'3 ½||186||43||23||56|
|23||Gavin Brindley||Michigan (NCAA)||C/RW||5'7 ½||158||40||12||38|
|24||Bradley Nadeau||Penticton (BCHL)||RW/LW||5'10||161||54||45||113|
|25||Calum Ritchie||Oshawa (OHL)||C/RW||6'1 ¾||187||59||24||59|
|26||David Reinbacher||Kloten (SUI)||D||6'2||185||46||3||22|
|27||Otto Stenberg||Frölunda (SWE J20)||LW||5'11 ¼||180||29||11||26|
|28||Quentin Musty||Sudbury (OHL)||C/LW||6'1 ¾||200||53||26||78|
|29||Etienne Morin||Moncton (QMJHL)||D||5'11 ¾||181||67||21||72|
|30||Mathieu Cataford||Halifax (QMJHL)||C/RW||5'10 ¾||188||68||31||75|
|31||Mikhail Gulyayev||Omsk (MHL)||D||5'11||172||22||2||25|
|32||Kasper Halttunen||HIFK (SM Liiga)||RW||6'2 ¾||207||18||18||24|
|33||Gracyn Sawchyn||Seattle (WHL)||C||5'11||157||58||18||58|
|34||Roman Kantserov||Magnitogorsk (MHL)||RW||5'9||176||45||27||54|
|35||Lukas Dragicevic||Tri-City (WHL)||D||6'1||192||68||15||75|
|36||Noah Dower-Nilsson||Frölunda (SWE J20)||LW||6'0||174||37||26||54|
|37||Oliver Bonk||London (OHL)||D||6'2||174||67||10||40|
|38||Carson Bjarnason||Brandon (WHL)||G||6'3||186||47||3.08||.900|
|39||Jesse Kiiskanen||Pelicans (SM Liiga Jr)||RW||5'10 ¾||178||31||20||43|
|40||Jason Shaugabay||Warroad High (USHS)||RW||5'9 ¼||153||31||33||96|
|41||Nick Lardis||Hamilton (OHL)||LW||5'10 ½||165||69||37||65|
|42||Caden Price||Kelowna (WHL)||D||6'0 ¼||186||65||5||40|
|43||Aydar Suniev||Penticton (BCHL)||LW||6'1 ½||198||50||45||90|
|44||Danny Nelson||USA NTDP (USHL)||LW||6'3||202||51||16||37|
|45||Emil Jarventie||Ilves (SM Liiga)||LW||5'9 ½||167||21||8||19|
|46||Lenni Hameenaho||Pori (SM Liiga)||RW||5'11 ½||173||51||9||21|
|47||Anton Wahlberg||Malmo (SWE J20)||C/LW||6'3 ¼||194||32||14||27|
|48||Coulson Pitre||Flint (OHL)||RW||6'0 ½||172||59||25||60|
|49||Daniil But||Yaroslavl (MHL)||LW||6'5||203||26||15||26|
|50||Nico Myatovic||Seattle (WHL)||LW||6'2 ¼||182||68||30||60|
|51||Kalan Lind||Red Deer (WHL)||LW||6'0 ¼||158||43||16||44|
|52||Tanner Moldendyk||Saskatoon (WHL)||D||5'10 ¾||184||67||9||37|
|53||Hunter Brzustewicz||Kitchener (OHL)||D||5'11 ¼||188||68||6||57|
|54||Carson Rehkopf||Kitchener (OHL)||LW||6'1 ¼||195||68||30||59|
|55||Andrew Strathman||Tri-City (USHL)||D||5'10||190||48||3||36|
|56||Charlie Stramel||Wisconsin (NCAA)||C/RW||6'3||212||33||5||12|
|57||Aram Minnetian||USA NTDP (USHL)||D||5'11||192||51||6||27|
|58||Michael Hrabal||Omaha (USHL)||G||6'6 ¼||209||29||3||.904|
|59||Alex Ciernik||Sodertalje (SWE J20)||RW||5'9 ¾||163||18||9||21|
|60||Trey Augustine||USA NTDP (USHL)||G||6'1||183||25||2.1||.930|
|61||Ethan Miedema||Windsor (OHL)||LW||6'3 ¾||206||68||20||52|
|62||Jayden Perron||Chicago (USHL)||RW||5'9||163||54||21||63|
|63||Andrew Gibson||S.S. Marie (OHL)||D||6'2 ¾||196||45||7||21|
|64||Rasmus Kumpulainen||Pelicans (SM Liiga Jr)||C||6'2||191||41||11||34|
|65||Scott Ratzlaff||Seattle (WHL)||G||6'0 ½||175||34||2.15||.918|
|66||Dmitri Simashev||Yaroslavl (MHL)||D||6'4||200||29||1||10|
|67||David Edstrom||Frölunda (SWE J20)||C||6'2 ¾||185||28||15||28|
|68||Cam Squires||Cape Breton (QMJHL)||RW||5'11 ½||165||67||30||64|
|69||Brad Gardiner||Ottawa (OHL)||C||6'0 ½||178||68||19||39|
|70||Maxim Strbak||Sioux Falls (USHL)||D||6'1 ½||205||42||5||19|
|71||Luca Cagnoni||Portland (WHL)||D||5'9||180||67||17||64|
|72||Connor Levis||Kamloops (WHL)||C||6'1 ½||189||68||27||67|
|73||Carey Terrance||Erie (OHL)||C||6'0 ¼||175||67||30||47|
|74||Adam Gajan||Chippewa (NAHL)||G||6'2 ½||167||30||2.51||.920|
|75||Noel Nordh||Brynäs (SWE J20)||LW||6'1 ½||196||38||13||27|
|76||Beau Akey||Barrie (OHL)||D||5'11 ½||170||66||11||47|
|77||Jakub Dvorak||Liberec (CZE)||D||6'5||202||24||0||2|
|78||Cameron Allen||Guelph (OHL)||D||6'0||194||62||5||25|
|79||Tyler Peddle||Drummondville (QMJHL)||LW||6'0 ½||195||64||24||41|
|80||Theo Lindstein||Brynäs (SWE J20)||D||6'0 ½||180||32||1||2|