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Connor Bedard Is Not Alone At The Top Of The 2023 NHL Draft

Andy Devlin. Getty Images.

This is a friendly warning to the next superstar of the NHL, Connor keep your head on a swivel! Everyone that followed last year's NHL draft heard talk of movement at the top of the board around April when $EBR stated on Spittin' Chiclets that Shane Wright was no longer a consensus number-one overall pick. Wright had been in the spotlight since he first went short-side shelf as a PeeWee and was considered to be an overwhelming favorite to be the first name called.  But the rumblings from scouts and coaches in Ontario started to leak into the mainstream that his death grip on number one was loosening and the play from a big European forward really posed the question of who was the best player in the 2022 draft. 

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Juraj Slafkovsky dominated the Olympics for Slovakia and followed that performance up with a really strong World Championships. His play raised questions but even 2 hours before the draft oddsmakers still had Wright going 1st Overall.  This was a misstep by the sports books but for those in the know, there was value in taking the Euro. We all know what happened, Montreal went with the Slovakian left winger and Wright ended up 4th in Seattle.

So here is a loud warning to everyone who bets on the draft but most importantly to Bedard. There are Europeans climbing the ranks to challenge for the top spot. Some of the reasons the scouts and teams at the top are considering Euro players over North Americans are simple. The European players are playing professional hockey against players older and the game is much more like the NHL.  The North Americans who dominate the OHL and WHL etc. are playing mostly against players their age and it's too easy for them.  The concern for scouts is they haven’t seen how their game transitions when they will play against bigger, faster players, and the grind of a long season. 

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When I say someone else may go #1 overall, Most people who follow hockey and watch the clips of the skill level of the younger players know the name Matvei Michkov. He is a stud from Russia that went viral with his “Michigan Goal” during a game in 2021.  

He has hands and is a strong player but I want to highlight another player, a 6' 3" viking from Sweden. Leo Carlsson playing in Örebro Sweden is the real deal and will have scouts and GMs thinking about who they should take when those ping pong balls are selected for the lottery in April.

I had to make sure with my own eyes this kid was the a legit top 5 prospect, so I put boots on the ground in Timrå over the weekend to watch him and he didn't disappoint. Finding the scoresheet with a nice apple, but his all-around play was most impressive. 

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Decisions with the pucks were all made correctly, created chances the entire game, was playing on the 5 on 3, was on ice for important defensive zone face-offs all at the age of 17 playing against men in one of the top leagues in the world. Carlsson's stats so far this season are 8 games 2 goals 5 assists for 7 points.

Bedard is ridiculous and 99% will go 1st overall come June, but we probably all would have said that last October about Wright, but it's worth keeping your eyes open, and let’s hope these other players push Bedard to keep giving us all these highlights! 

Hopefully we'll be in Nashville in June to watch all the drama unfold and lets pray Biz gets one of these guys for the Coyotes!

Everybody Rides!!!

Twitter: mattmurley19

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