Corey Pronman of The Athletic released his Top 36 Prospects for the 2023 NHL Draft, and there is a major surprise at the top of his board.
Michkov Ranked First?
The surprise is at number one, as he has generation talent Connor Bedard
as the second best player (based on upside) in the class, and its the man at number one who raises eyebrows.
Most Draft Rankings have Regina Pats star Bedard at number one overall, but the exceptional player is ranked at number two for Pronman.
It is controversial Russian Matvei Michkov
at the number one slot for Pronman. Michkov is a player who inspires major debate among hockey fans, with a lack of high level appearances in the last year due to Russia being banned from international hockey competitions due to their invasion of Ukraine.
Also complicating matters is the Michkov is under contract in the KHL through the 2026 season, making him unavailable to the team that drafts him for three
years at least
Michkov missed out on both the 2022 summer World Juniors and the 2023 competition, while Bedard and University of Michigan standout Adam Fantilli
starred at a global stage.
Pronman's top five go's as follows:
1: Matvei Michkov
2: Connor Bedard
3: Adam Fantilli
4: Leo Carlsson
5: Will Smith
Before the war in Ukraine, Michkov was seen as a player on equal trajectory as Bedard, with him outproducing Bedard at the 2021 U-18 competition.
Because of the uncertainty in Russia, most NHL teams have been unable to send scouts to Sochi, where Bedard plays in the KHL. Without in-person viewing, scouts have to rely on video-a major downgrade in quality.
The vast majority of mock drafts have Michkov going in the 4-6 range. Pronman himself has him falling all the way to the number eight slot in his most recent ranking.
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