Though the attention is all being placed on Connor Bedard heading into the 2023 NHL Draft, Calgary Flames fans should be excited about the potential options their team will have to choose from at No. 16 overall.
This year’s draft is being raved about for how deep it is, with many players projected to go in the first round looking like they have the potential to develop into studs at the NHL level. For the Flames, their first-round selection will allow them to add to an already impressive prospect pool featured by the likes of Matthew Coronato, Dustin Wolf, Jakob Pelletier, and Connor Zary.
While nobody knows what selection the Flames are considering with their current pick (they don’t even have a general manager at the moment), there are a number of projections that can help give fans an idea of who could become a part of the organization in the near future.
A few Tom Willander (2023) clips from the previous viewings.
Still remains one of my favorite prospects in this class. Easily an above-average skating projection, strong defensively both against the rush and in-zone, relatively mistake-free on breakouts. #2023NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/tMZcwqPTqf
— Lassi Alanen (@lassialanen) February 22, 2023
- Position: Defenceman
- Size: 6-foot-1, 179 pounds
- Nationality: Swedish
- 2022-23 stats (Rogle BK, J20 Nationell): 39 GP, 4 G, 21 A, 25 PTS
If the Flames are looking for a reliable, two-way defender, Tom Willander may be worth considering. The 6-foot-1 defender is coming off of a solid season, primarily playing junior hockey in Sweden, in which he scored four goals and 25 points in 39 games.
TSN’s Craig Button is quite high on Wallinder and has him projected to go No. 16 in his most recent draft list.
Cam Robinson of Elite Prospects, who put together the EP Rinkside mock draft, also seems to be quite high on Wallinder, saying he plays a “quiet style but makes very few errors” and has “sneaky top-four upside.”
The 18-year-old was also able to get a brief taste of professional hockey this season, suiting up for two games in the SHL.
How about this MOVE though?? 😱🔥
Ethan Gauthier gets Canada on the board with just under 17 seconds left in the third period!#HlinkaGretzkyCup #2023NHLDraft
— Elite Prospects (@eliteprospects) August 5, 2022
- Position: Right wing
- Size: 5-foot-11, 175 pounds
- Nationality: American
- 2022-23 stats (Sherbrooke Phoenix, QMJHL): 66 GP, 30 G, 39 A, 69 PTS
A grittier option for the Flames to consider if they would prefer taking a forward in the No. 16 slot is Ethan Gauthier. The American-born right winger showed his goal-scoring ability with the QMJHL’s Sherbrooke Phoenix this season, finding the back of the net 30 times in 66 games.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie has Gauthier in the 16th spot on his midseason draft list. Meanwhile, David St-Louis and Mitch Brown of Elite Prospects describe him as a player that “facilitates the plays of his teammates, who wins loose pucks on the walls, transfers the puck between teammates in transition, and drives ahead to push back the defence.”
Lukas Dragicevic is currently on a 26-game point streak where he has 36 points (7G/29A).
His 43 points (9G/34A) leads Tri-City and ranks first among WHL D. Absurd production for a draft-eligible D-man.
He is proving to be one of the top offensive D in the draft.#2023NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/8pMoKnVKI4
— Ben Misfeldt (@BBMHockey) December 31, 2022
- Position: Defenceman
- Size: 6-foot-2, 181 pounds
- Nationality: Canadian
- 2022-23 stats (Tri-City Americans, WHL): 68 GP, 15 G, 60 A, 75 PTS
As far as purely offensive defencemen go, Lukas Dragicevic is one of the more exciting names heading into the draft. The 6-foot-2 blueliner put up 75 points with the Tri-City Americans this season, marking the highest total any defencemen under the age of 18 has put up in the WHL over the past 30 years.
McKeen’s Hockey has him listed in the No. 16 spot, which would be a phenomenal get for the Flames should he stay on the board that long.
There are some concerns regarding his defensive play, but his skill when it comes to the offensive side of things will make him hard to pass up if he is available when it comes time for the Flames to make their selection.
Under no circumstance do you want to give Eduard Šalé (sha-lah) any time or space.
This kid is going *very* early on draft day pic.twitter.com/6sRNAqM2Uf
— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) September 30, 2022
- Position: Left wing/right wing
- Size: 6-foot-2, 174 pounds
- Nationality: Czech
- 2022-23 stats (HK Kometa Brno, Czechia): 43 GP, 7 G, 7 A, 14 PTS
While his seven goals and 14 points in 43 games may seem underwhelming, it is important to keep in mind that Eduard Sale played professional hockey against men this season.
In their most recent rankings, Daily Faceoff has him slotted as the 16th pick. He is being regarded as one of the more intriguing prospects heading into the draft.
Sale has “some of the best hands and offensive minds in his age group,” according to Robinson.
Dalibor Dvorsky of the 2023 #NHLDraft class scores 2 nice goals in yesterday's play. Notice the quick release and accuracy of his shots! #HockeyTwitter pic.twitter.com/J0QAJLrDzx
— NHLDraftProspects (@NHLDraftPros) October 9, 2022
- Position: Centre/right wing
- Size: 6-foot-1, 201 pounds
- Nationality: Slovakian
- 2022-23 stats (Allsvenskan, AIK): 38 GP, 6 G, 8 A, 14 PTS
The final list included in this article comes courtesy of Sportsnet. They too had a different player in their No. 16 slot with forward Dalibor Dvorsky.
Like Sale, Dvorsky also spent this season playing professionally, and while he didn’t set the world on fire, he didn’t look out of sorts going up against some difficult competition. Conversely, Dvorsky tore up the U18 World Championship, scoring eight goals and 13 points in seven games for Slovakia.
“He drives the middle, attacks pockets in space and already owns advanced defensive habits,” says Robinson.
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