NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 29, 2023
Results and reaction from the first round of the 2023 Draft, Jim Nill is named NHL GM of the Year, Mike Babcock receives a two-year contract from the Blue Jackets, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
RESULTS AND REACTION OF THE FIRST ROUND OF THE 2023 NHL DRAFT
NHL.COM: To no one’s surprise, the Chicago Blackhawks chose top prospect Connor Bedard with the first-overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft on Wednesday evening in Nashville.
With the second-overall pick, the Anaheim Ducks chose Swedish center Leo Carlsson. The Columbus Blue Jackets chose Hobey Baker Award-winning center Adam Fantilli with the third-overall pick.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bedard is the most highly-touted prospect since Connor McDavid in 2015 and Auston Matthews in 2016. He’s considered a potential generational talent who could form the foundation of a Blackhawks resurgence over the next several years.
The Ducks choosing Carlsson over Fantilli was a bit of a surprise as the latter was expected to go second overall. Nevertheless, both players have the potential to become future stars with their new NHL clubs.
The Montreal Canadiens had the highest pick among the Canadian teams at No. 5 overall. They chose Austrian defenseman David Reinbacher.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The reaction on social media among Canadiens fans ranged from disappointment to outrage. Most were hoping the Habs would select Russian winger Matvei Michkov, who was subsequently chosen by the Philadelphia Flyers with the No. 7 selection.
Reinbacher is considered the top defenseman in this year’s draft class. Canadiens GM Kent Hughes explained that their selection was based in part on roster need (depth among right-handed defensemen) and the inability to scout Michkov in person because of NHL and IIHF travel restrictions to Russia due to that country’s ongoing war with Ukraine.
With the sixth overall pick, the Arizona Coyotes chose KHL defenseman Dmitriy Simashev.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This choice was a bigger surprise than the Canadiens taking Reinbacher. Simashev is a promising blueliner who was considered a top-10 prospect by some experts while others had him going outside the first round.
Others who went higher in the draft than I expected included the Coyotes selecting forward Daniil But at No. 12, the Nashville Predators choosing defenseman Tanner Molendyk at No. 24 and the Toronto Maple Leafs taking forward Easton Cowan 28th overall.
The St. Louis Blues held three picks in this round. They chose center Dalibor Dvorsky at No. 10, center Otto Stenberg at No. 25 and defenseman Theo Lindstein at No. 29.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was expected the Blues might trade one or two of their lower first-rounders for more immediate roster help. However, they couldn’t find any suitable deals and opted to retain those picks.
Here is the complete list of first-round selections:
1. Chicago Blackhawks: Connor Bedard, C
2. Anaheim Ducks: Leo Carlsson, C
3. Columbus Blue Jackets: Adam Fantilli, C
4. San Jose Sharks: Will Smith, C
5. Montreal Canadiens: David Reinbacher, D
6. Arizona Coyotes: Dmitriy Simashev, D
7. Philadelphia Flyers: Matvei Michkov, RW
8. Washington Capitals: Ryan Leonard, RW
9. Detroit Red Wings: Nate Danielson, C
10. St. Louis Blues: Dalibor Dvorsky, C
11. Vancouver Canucks: Tom Willander, D
12. Arizona Coyotes (from Ottawa Senators): Danill But, LW
13. Buffalo Sabres: Zach Benson, LW
14. Pittsburgh Penguins: Brayden Yager, C
15. Nashville Predators: Matthew Wood, RW
16. Calgary Flames: Samuel Honzek, LW
17. Detroit Red Wings (from New York Islanders via Vancouver Canucks): Axel Sandin Pellikka, D
18. Winnipeg Jets: Colby Barlow, LW
19. Chicago Blackhawks (from Tampa Bay Lightning): Oliver Moore, C
20. Seattle Kraken: Eduard Sale, LW
21. Minnesota Wild: Charlie Stramel, C
22. Philadelphia Flyers (from Los Angeles Kings via Columbus Blue Jackets): Oliver Bonk, D
23. New York Rangers: Gabriel Perreault, RW
24. Nashville Predators (from Edmonton Oilers): Tanner Molendyk, D
25. St. Louis Blues (from Toronto Maple Leafs): Otto Stenberg, C
26. San Jose Sharks (from New Jersey Devils): Quentin Musty, LW
27. Colorado Avalanche: Calum Ritchie, C
28. Toronto Maple Leafs (from Boston Bruins via Washington Capitals): Easton Cowan, RW
29. St. Louis Blues (from Dallas Stars via New York Rangers): Theo Lindstein, D
30. Carolina Hurricanes: Bradly Nadeau, LW
31. Colorado Avalanche (from Montreal Canadiens via Florida Panthers): Mikhail Gulyayev, D
32. Vegas Golden Knights: David Edstrom, C
DAILY FACEOFF’s Frank Seravalli tweeted that this was the first draft since 2007 in which no trades were completed in the opening round.
Steven Ellis listed the best prospects available during Day 2 of the NHL Draft. They include WHL winger Andrew Cristall, University of Michigan winger Gavin Brindley, and QMJHL winger Ethan Gauthier.
Rounds 2 through 7 go today at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville beginning at 11 am ET.
NHL.COM: Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill was named the winner of the James Gregory General Manager of the Year Award.
TSN: The Columbus Blue Jackets will officially name former Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock as their new bench boss on Saturday. He will receive a two-year contract worth $4 million per season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The announcement comes Saturday because Babcock’s contract with the Leafs officially expires at midnight on Friday, June 30.
CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: The Flames signed forward Yegor Sharangoivich to a two-year, $6.2 million contract. He was acquired from the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday as part of the return for Tyler Toffoli.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes president and CEO Xavier Gutierrez said his team is focused on multiple sites for a new arena in the East Valley (Phoenix) area. They will be seeking locations that will not be subject to a public vote for approval.
The Coyotes recently lost a public vote on a proposed arena project in Tempe. They do not have a hard deadline from the NHL for locking down a new location.