2023 NHL Draft Betting Picks: Predictions for Draft Order, Over/Under, Stanley Cup Futures
Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: (L-R) Draft prospects Adam Fantilli, Will Smith, Matthew Wood, Connor Bedard and Carey Terrance
Check out our favorite 2023 NHL Draft best bets and predictions from Action Network's crew of hockey experts.
Sure, the first pick at the NHL Draft tonight will be no surprise tonight (7 p.m. ET, ESPN). But after the Chicago Blackhawks select super prospect Connor Bedard as the No. 1 pick, what's next?
Odds for the No. 2 pick include top prospects Adam Fantilli (-420), Matvei Michkov (+400), Leo Carlsson (+440) and William Smith (+4300).
However, we're searching elsewhere for NHL Draft betting value.
Below, we have our favorite NHL draft picks and predictions, including a bet on the exact selection order after first pick Bedard, an over/under on a prospect's draft position, two NHL Draft-centric Stanley Cup futures and more.
Check out all of the draft predictions below.
2023 NHL Draft Predictions and Bets
Exact Order – Pick 2: Fantilli, 3: Smith, 4: Carlsson (+350)
Greg Liodice: We all know Connor Bedard is going No. 1 at the 2023 NHL Draft. The once-in-a-generation prospect has set the junior hockey world on fire, and now it’s time for him to try it in the NHL. Something to keep an eye on, though, is who goes after him.
For the most part, I’ve seen Adam Fantilli go No. 2 in mock drafts, and I’m certain the Anaheim Ducks would love to have the 6-foot-2 center leading them to the promised land. Imagine him and Trevor Zegras as the one-two punch down the middle for years to come. I can’t imagine the Ducks wanting to pass that up.
What gets interesting is what happens after No. 2. Logic goes to say Leo Carlsson is next up. However, I’ve been reading reports that the Columbus Blue Jackets are enamored with Will Smith. Scott Wheeler of The Athletic thinks of Smith as the best one-on-one with the puck in the draft. The Jackets are really bolstering up their prospect pipeline already with Cole Sillinger and Kent Johnson. The addition of Smith could make them unstoppable in a few years.
While I have Smith going third to Columbus, I truly think Carlsson is the third-best prospect in the draft. He has such a natural feel for the game that I think he’s a shoo-in to be a legitimate NHL player. In most classes, he’d probably be the No. 1 draft pick, but because Bedard and Fantilli are atop of the food chain, he’s probably ranked No. 3 in this class.
Why do I think Carlsson goes fourth? Well, in short, he’s safe. Knowing how the Blue Jackets operate, they do like to swing for the fences. Smith is more of a higher-reward type of player whereas with Carlsson, you know what you’re going to get. The San Jose Sharks would be salivating should Carlsson drop to them.
At +350, a trio of Fantilli at second, Smith at third, and Carlsson at fourth is great value. FanDuel seems to be confident that Carlsson goes third and Smith at fourth, but Columbus always leaves us amazed.
The Pick: Exact Order – "Pick 2: Adam Fantilli, 3: Will Smith, 4: Leo Carlsson" (+350 at FanDuel)
Matvei Michkov: No. 5 Overall Draft Pick (+275)
Nicholas Martin: Matvei Michkov remains the ultimate wild card in this NHL Draft. He is arguably the second-best prospect in the field but possesses a number of potential concerns that do not apply to anybody else.
Michkov is signed to play in the KHL for three more seasons and likely will not come over to the NHL prior to that unless a deal is reached with SKA St. Petersburg. At worst, he could stay longer than three years and choose to make drastically more money than the NHL's silly entry-level contracts can offer.
On pure talent alone, there are not many valid arguments that discredit why Michkov deserves to be a top-five pick.
His hockey sense is incredible, and while defensively there are concerns, his offensive game should translate well at the NHL level. Few draft-eligible players are polished in their own zone either, and that is a whole lot easier to teach than Michkov's elite offensive awareness.
Michkov does not need to dominate with physical traits or by beating defenders one-on-one. He dominates with his ability to understand where the play needs to go, and he has an awareness of what looks are open on the ice. Those plays will still be there at the NHL level.
Matvei Michkov is highly regarded as a talent who's capable of single-handedly altering the trajectory of an NHL team.
— Bally Sports (@BallySports) June 27, 2023
There is a consensus top four (five including Michkov) in this NHL draft, as my colleague Greg detailed in the section above. That is the first step to why I think +275 is playable despite Montreal not giving many indications of interest in Michkov.
Leo Carlsson is a two-way center with high-end offensive upside, and he produced well in the third-best league in the world this season. He also showed well at the Worlds. Even as a Michkov endorser, it would be pretty crazy to see Michkov go in front of Carlsson.
Seeing Adam Fantilli stay on the board longer than Michkov would be even more shocking than Carlsson based on how the average scout seems to view him. Will Smith showed tremendous offensive upside this year with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, which has produced a lengthy list of dominant young NHLers recently.
I can see where teams could view those four prospects as too good to pass up for a player with the question marks Michkov has. That's why I feel he will be there at No. 5 on draft night. That's where the line should be drawn, though.
Passing on a potential 100-point player in Michkov because he will be absent for three seasons when your team is never going to be in the Cup mix anyways does not make any sense. Half of these teams tanked to get into these draft positions this year to begin with, Montreal included.
The Canadiens do seem to be more interested in Ryan Leonard or David Reinbacher. Those rumors are being baked into the betting numbers, though, and there is too much logic that states Michkov is the best pick at No. 5 if available.
At +275 we are getting a good number to see if Montreal will respect that logic and swing for the fences.
The Pick: Matvei Michkov – Number Five Overall Pick (+275 at bet365)
Axel Sandin Pellikka Draft Position: Under 14.5
Tony Sartori: As a Hawks fan, I am ecstatic for Wednesday night. While Connor Bedard will be donning the red sweater and throwing up the No. 1 when his name is called, the draft opens up from there.
While this is the most loaded draft in quite some time, it is thin in terms of defensemen. There are multiple franchise-changing forwards who will fill up most of the top 10, but the defensemen pool is not nearly as stacked.
In simple supply-and-demand fashion, that means there will be teams that reach on a defenseman earlier than they probably should. There are really only three defensemen who stand out in this first round: David Reinbacher, Axel Sandin Pellikka and Tom Willander (I suppose Dmitri Simashev should be included, but I highly doubt he is picked in the lottery portion of the first round).
Reinbacher is the clear favorite to go first of those three names while Willander and Pellikka are interchangeable and both will likely go somewhere between No. 12 to No. 20. With that said, I do not think Pellikka falls past Buffalo at 13.
There are too many teams that need a defenseman after Reinbacher is off the board, which is pretty much every pick between No. 9-13. With two picks in the first round, Detroit will likely go with one defenseman, and I doubt they risk losing both Willander and Pellikka by the time their 17th pick rolls around.
Meanwhile, the Blues pick at No. 10 and are extremely thin organizationally at the blue line. That leaves Arizona at No. 12 and Buffalo at No. 13, two teams in similar organizational situations as St. Louis in terms of defensively thin prospect pools.
At plus-money, it is worth taking a shot that Pellikka is not the one who drops.
The Pick: Axel Sandin Pellikka draft position – under 14.5 (+140 at DraftKings)
Stanley Cup Futures: Kraken (+5000) and Predators (+7500)
The Kraken took a massive step forward last season and showed their playoff mettle when they took down the defending champion Colorado Avalanche in a Game 7 overtime thriller.
At Monday’s NHL Awards, Matty Beniers was named Rookie of the Year and Dave Hakstol was a finalist for Coach of the Year.
The Kraken also have nearly their entire lineup under contract for next season and have reinforcements waiting in the wings after their first-year farm team, the Coachella Valley Firebirds, reached Game 7 of the AHL’s Calder Cup Finals last week.
Meanwhile, the Nashville Predators are entering a new era with one-time coach Barry Trotz now serving as GM and 2022 Coach of the Year finalist Andrew Brunette behind the bench. As draft hosts, the Preds head into Wednesday with a whopping 13 picks – more than any other team – and nearly $20 million in cap space.
Expect Nashville to be active as a team in transition that’s backed by a standout stopper in Juuse Saros.