So I am going to number these players, but the number beside their name does not mean anything. The numbers are not a rank as I honestly feel these kids have a solid amount of development left before I go in-depth analyzing their game. The purpose of this list is not to rank the future best players in these drafts. It is to list the prospects with potential to develop into high draft picks that I also find most interesting to follow. Obviously in 2022 Shane Wright and Brad Lambert are going to run train on picks 1/2. Connor Bedard is a potential 2023 1st overall stud not listed as well. Again, that is mainly because I am not ranking or analyzing the best players in these drafts. I am simply listing the prospects I find most interesting with significant potential to push their name higher in pre-draft draft rankings as they develop further.
- Julian Lutz (2004)(RB Hockey Juniors, AlpsHL/ EC Salzburg, ICEHL/EHC München, DEL)(2022 Draft)
Is this German born forward the next Tim Stützle? No, I truthfully doubt there will be for quite awhile. However, could he be the next Lukas Reichel/John-Jason Peterka? Maybe. It would not be an identical carbon copy, but Lutz is very good and currently the top scoring player under 17 in the AlpsHL. He will turn 17 in just over a week though so it is best to clarify that. He currently has played 23 games with 20 points as a 16 year old in the AlpsHL. He also has 3 points in 7 games in the superior ICEHL. Is this kid 1st overall potential? Considering Shane Wright and Brad Lambert are in the same draft class, that is highly unlikely. Does he have potential to be a high first round pick? For sure. I look forward to following his progression. It would be huge for a developing hockey country like Germany to produce players like Moritz Seider, Tim Stützle, Lukas Reichel, John-Jason Peterka, Dominik Bokk, and now Julian Lutz.
2. Kenta Isogai(2004)(Youngstown Phantoms, USHL)(2022 Draft)
This kid may not be shredding the USHL at age 16, but that is okay. He is an August born 2004 and playing regularly in the USHL on a less than stellar team. 3 points in 20 games played again does not jump off the page. However, being 5’11” and a Japanese born player I will absolutely continue to monitor his development. As of right now is he a top round pick? Probably not. Other 2022 draft eligible players in the same league and at a similar age like Frank Nazar, Isaac Howard, and really a bunch of the USNDP U17 have certainly outperformed him. That does not mean he will not continue to improve though. It should be fun to see how his game progresses. It would also be super neat to watch a Japanese native player be an early draft selection.
3. Adam Fantilli(2004)(Chicago Steel, USHL)(2023 Draft)
Now this is Canadian born player that may actually make a strong push for 1st Overall in the 2023 NHL draft. I am not declaring he will be, but I want to emphasize he is likely a different Caliber of player than the players listed Prior to him. Being an October born 2004, he is young enough to slide into the 2023 draft without Shane Wright or Brad Lambert hogging the top. That opens the door significantly, but obviously it is far from guaranteed. He currently has 20 point in 27 games played, and is standing at 6’2″. I will not declare him a future top 3 pick, but I do think people should watch him if they can because he definitely could be.
4. Matvei Michkov(2004)(SKA – 1946 St. Petersburg, MHL)(2023 draft)
Similar to the player listed prior to him this kid has a real shot at number 1 in 2023. He is shredding the MHL just over a point per game with SKA- 1946 this season. He has 45 points in 44 games played. In total he has 49 points in 50 games played as he changed teams this season. Given that he is virtually as young as a 2004 birthyear can be as a December born skater, this kid could be pretty special. He also shredded international play on the Russia U16 team in the prior season. Being 14 for at least part of that tenure and scoring 2 points per game is impressive. Specifically he had 22 points in 11 international games played. Will he be first Overall? Maybe. It is still too early to definitely say it will be him with Connor Bedard(2005), Fantilli who I listed prior, or the Player I am going to list 5th. He certainly looks fantastic in the MHL this season for a player who turned 16 years in December.
5. Dalibor Dvorsky(2005)(HC Banska Bystrica, Tipos Extraliga)(2023 Draft)
I have seen this kid a play a few times. If there is one thing that he needs to improve to be in contention for 1st overall it is his straight line speed/acceleration. That is not to say I have not been impressed. He has an exceptional IQ solid creative hands and a knack for making plays and driving the puck home. His 2 way awareness is also exceptional considering how young he is. He certainly looked like one of U18 Slovakia’s best players in a friendly against the Czech U18 team recently. It is obvious he needs more high end speed to dominate, but given that he is 15 years old it was still a very impressive outing with 2 points in games. He is currently playing in Slovakia’s top pro league which is pretty impressive just to do. His stats aren’t crazy impressive with 14 games played and 3 points, but again playing in the top pro league is pretty big for a 15 year old. Prior to joining the top Slovak League this season, he was shredding the J18 Swedish league. He was over 2 points per game with 14 points in 6 games played with 4 goals 10 assists. Right now he is not 1st overall, but if he develops properly and increases his north/south speed he will probably be the highest drafted Slovakian born skater in some time. Definitely worth monitoring how he progresses going forward.
- CFTP – B. Driscoll
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