For those who follow Bob McKenzie's draft rankings like a kid following Santa's flight path on Christmas (cough), his final ranking for the 2023 draft arrived Thursday afternoon. You can see his commentary and his full list of 96 rankings and 14 extra honourable mentions.

Intrigue and excitement in the Year of Connor Bedard at the NHL Draft | TSN
The 2023 NHL Draft is about so much more than just the phenom who will go first overall to the Chicago Blackhawks in Nashville, Bob McKenzie writes. Scouts are very enthused about the depth of this year’s class.

Why is this important? Because Bob's rankings have been proven to be the most accurate reflection for what will actually happen on draft day. The higher up in the draft we're talking, the more accurate his rankings are. So when I am choosing which draft profiles to write, I am basing it off of his rankings.

Problem is, I start writing my profiles long before I know what his final rankings are, so I have to guess based on his mid-season rankings plus knowing what prospects are "risers" or "fallers" late in the year.

For a refresher, I have all of my draft profiles listed here:

NHL Draft - PPP Leafs
Coverage of the NHL Entry Draft and draft prospects.

So, how does Bob's final rankings change things?


So far, I have written 16 full profiles, with one more to come tomorrow. After that I have some lists for groups of prospects, like goalies and overagers and my own honourable mentions.

First and most sadly, it looks like Dmitri Simashev (19th), Tom Willander (20th), and Daniil But (22nd) rose far enough to likely not be available when Toronto picks. There is a slight chance that one of them falls, but bigger players and defensemen are usually the ones that get taken earlier than Bob's rankings – they almost never fall. Looking at the players ranked below them all, I don't see enough other prospects I could see being taken before them to push them down. And honestly, that's about where I'd rank the three of them with the exception of maybe But.

However, the good news is Quentin Musty (25th), Andrew Cristall (27th) and Gavin Brindley (30th) stayed within range of 28th overall. They're all high octane offensive players and point producers for their age and levels, even if they all play very different stylistically. I'd be more than happy to land any of the three.

The rest of the players I profiled with the first three rounds of the draft in mind, they wound up ranked in a range where they could be trade down targets:

For the players I profiled with the later rounds (5th and 6th) in mind, there was not a lot of changes. The big riser was Felix Nilsson, who went from not being even an honourable mention on Bob's mid-season rankings to ranked 54th now. So you can add him to potential trade down targets.

All of the others – Matthew Mania, Beckett Hendrickson, Timur Mukhanov and Vojtech Port – remained unranked and were not included in the honourable mentions. They remain possibilities as later round picks, though I still think Mania will probably get taken before the 5th round.


Elite Prospects has a helpful tool that aggregates the rankings from a number of public scouts or scouting groups and creates a "consensus" ranking based on that. So if you believe that the combined scouting might of the public has the potential to find hidden gems that the NHL teams don't like as much or just miss, then here's a list of players that the public likes a lot more than the NHL (via McKenzie).

First, here are the players on the consensus top 100 that McKenzie did not have ranked or honourably mentioned at all (consensus ranking in brackets):

  • Timur Mukhanov (75th)
  • Matthew Mania (83rd)
  • Carter Sotheran (87th)
  • Albert Wikman (88th)
  • Jordan Tourigny (90th)
  • Joey Willis (95th)
  • Ondrej Molnar (100th)

It's easy to see why Mukhanov has never been included on any of McKenzie's rankings this year, despite how much public scouts like him. He's very small, and he didn't put up a lot of points even when he was in junior. He flashes a lot of skill and looks like a very effective player in a pro league despite his size, but he's someone I for sure think will be available in later rounds if Toronto likes him.

Mania is a guy I profiled and still like as a later round option, but I think I'd even like him for a trade down candidate in the 3rd round. That's why I think even if he wasn't on Bob's final list of 110 prospects, he'll be gone before Toronto's 5th round pick (153rd).

Sotheran and Wikman are two bigger defensive prospects whose strengths lie more in their defense than offense, but who seem interesting for their tools. Sotheran looks more toolsy and not as refined, while Wikman is a pretty underrated defensive prospect. Tourigny I looked into a bit and I think I disagree with the public here. He scores a bit of points in a high scoring league, and his tracking data looks very poor. As a later round guy maybe? Toronto's scouts may see something in him I don't, and I'd trust them over me anyway.

Willis is an interesting forward option for the later rounds. He's a bit smaller (5'10") and didn't have a very high amount of points (44 in 68 games), but he has pretty solid all-around tracking data and didn't get top ice time or power play role.

Molnar is another forward prospect who is... interesting. He had a bit of hype earlier in the year, playing with Slovakia at the Hlinka and in their pro league. But then he was charged for assaulting another kid at a school floorball tournament, back in December. Worth noting that according to reports, he was attacked first... but he did also hit the other kid enough, or hard enough, for him to require surgery. By pure coincidence I'm sure he left Slovakia to play in the OHL not long after. There he had okay point production and okay impacts in his tracking data.

For the prospects who were ranked both by the public and by McKenzie, you can see other potential steals who have a big difference in their rankings. This list is longer so I'll break them up by position.

First, the forwards:

  • Eduard Sale (24th by Bob vs 14th by consensus)
  • Andrew Cristall (27th vs 19th)
  • Gracyn Sawchyn (49th vs 35th)
  • Nick Lardis (50th vs 39th)
  • Jayden Perron (58th vs 33rd)
  • William Whitelaw (65th vs 45th)
  • Alex Ciernik (75th vs 59th)
  • Luca Pinelli (81st vs 60th)

Most of this list is pretty easily explained... all of them, except Sale, are high producing offensive forwards who are currently listed under 6'0". You can pretty safely assume that the bigger the difference between the two rankings, the smaller the player is. Nothing really new or shocking here.

Sale is a bit unique. He's actually 6'2" per Bob's listings, and he was ranked on the cusp of being a top 10 prospect on Bob's pre- and mid-season rankings. He seems to have fallen off because it's a deep draft and a bunch of guys were newly considered top 10 or close to it, and someone had to get pushed down as a result. But he also had a relatively disappointing year. His early season hype came from the strength of his excellent international play for the Czechs, at last year's World U18s when he was 16, the Hlinka Gretzky last summer, and playing for their World Junior team as a 17 year old this winter. But his play in the Czech pro league was reportedly a bit disappointing compared to expectations of him.

To be honest, I'm surprised he fell that far. He was someone I thought may have been ranked too high earlier just because I'm wary of guys who get all their hype from short international tournaments and he does have his flaws. But 24th would put him in Toronto's range, and I think he would make a good pick for us – just not as good as, say, Musty or Brindley.

The defense:

  • Beau Akey (61st vs 47th)
  • Caden Price (67th vs 42nd)
  • Aram Minnetian (74th vs 52nd)
  • Luca Cagnoni (78th vs 56th)
  • Andrew Strathmann (79th vs 62nd)

Honestly, these are more surprising. Cagnoni and Strathmann are both smaller, more offensively minded 'puck moving defenders' – so they are perhaps not that surprising. But Strathmann profiles as being at least pretty good defensively, and was on the USHL championship winning team as their top defenseman. He's also 5'11" and 190 lbs, so not a very small defenseman. Cagnoni is smaller (5'10") and not as good defensively but he is one of the more talented offensive defensemen in this draft.

Akey and Minnetian are both average sized defenseman (6'0") who both flash real interesting tools both offensively and defensively, but did not have a lot of points. Minnetian in particular seems more surprising because he was on the US National Development Team, and would have had a lot of eyes on him as one of their top defensemen. I thought both had more hype around them than they apparently do, considering their tools. Guess points for defenseman are still considered more important!

Caden Price is surprising only in that the public still seem relatively high on him, collectively. As I mentioned in his profile, his stock has been falling all year and for good reasons. But I am still interested in his potential to put it all together more consistently, and to take him with a traded down pick.

And the goalies:

  • Trey Augustine (63rd vs 46th)
  • Jacob Fowler (92nd vs 67th)

If you were to guess that both are considered "smaller" goalies compared to the ones that Bob has ranked ahead of the public, you'd be right! And that's all the commentary I can lend about these two for now.


So considering all of the above... who in Bob's final rankings would be in Toronto's range that would be solid picks? Well, I can give my opinions...

For the first round pick (28th overall) there are a few guys I would take straight up, not even thinking to trade down if they were available. I already mentioned Musty, Cristall and Brindley, but I'll add Sale and Gulyayev to those three. Sale I talked about above, and Gulyayev I will talk about in an upcoming mini-profile list of my honourable mentions that didn't make the cut for full profiles. I just didn't think he'd be in Toronto's range.

For candidates to target in trades down into the 2nd and 3rd rounds, I've already mentioned Molgaard, Molendyk, Sawchyn, Suniev, Misiak, Price, Nilsson, and maybe Mania. To that list I would add Charlie Stramel, David Edstrom, Jakub Dvorak and Nick Lardis.

Stramel is a fascinating case. He's a 6'3" center with a late 2004 birthday, making him an older prospect for this draft. But he was excellent for the USA last year in their National Development team, albeit in not many games due to injury, and has always looked good for Team USA at their international tournaments. This year, he was even used on their World Junior team as a draft year player... which they don't often do. His NCAA play looks much poorer, especially compared to guys like Fantilli, Brindley and Wood who were still offensive producers as draft year guys. but Wisconsin was a dysfunctional disaster, and they cleaned house for their coaches. He's an interesting breakout candidate next year.

David Edstrom and Jakub Dvorak are guys I also have in the upcoming honourable mentions listicle. Lardis I almost included in it, but he missed the final cut to the secondary final cut. He's interesting to me as a 5'11" goal scoring forward who reminds me a bit of Nick Robertson. He's a bit bigger and faster, but he has a great shot and he really took off in the second half of the OHL this season after being traded from Peterborough (ironically NRob's old team) to Hamilton. With Hamilton he scored 25 goals and 46 points in just 25 games, then almost led Hamilton to a playoff upset as a lower seed with 5 goals and 10 points in only 6 games. He also added 4 goals for Canada on their World U18 team, despite not being one of their top offensive options – he was behind Calum Ritchie, Matthew Wood, and uber prospect Macklin Celebrini.

Aside from having a great shot, Lardis has a similar set of skills and playstyle as Robertson. That may be a worry, considering the troubles NRob has had breaking into the NHL, but there are a few things about him I think could help. He's a couple of inches taller and can certainly add more weight. I think he's a faster skater overall. I think he does have the same kind of "I only know how to skate straight forward through brick walls" sense of direction that NRob does, but I think has shown hints he can change and adjust that already. And hey, he's already avoided NRob's proclivity for getting hurt!

Thanks for reading!

I put a lot of work into my prospect articles here, both for the draft and Toronto's prospects. I do it as a fun hobby for me, and I'd probably do it in some capacity even if PPP completely ceased to exist. But if you like reading my work, some support would go a long way! I pay for a few streaming services (CHL, some NCAA, some USHL, the occasional TSN options for international tournaments that are broadcast) to be able to reliably watch these prospects in good quality streams. I also pay for some prospect-specific resources, such as tracking data and scouting reports from outlets like Elite Prospects, Future Considerations, McKeen's Hockey, and The Athletic.

Being able to get paid for this helps me dedicate more time and resources to it, rather than to second/third jobs. And whatever money I make here, a lot of I reinvest back into my prospect work through in those streaming and scouting services. Like I said, I'd be doing whatever I can afford for this anyway, so any financial help I get through this is greatly appreciated!

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