Welcome to Scott Wheeler’s 2023 rankings of each NHL group’s prospects. You can discover the whole rating and extra data on the factors here, as we rely down each day from No. 32 to No. 1. The collection, which incorporates in-depth evaluations and commentary from sources on almost 500 prospects, runs from Jan. 9 to Feb. 8.

Even after graduating Kent Johnson and Cole Sillinger from their pool, the Blue Jackets’ assortment of prospects ranks even increased right this moment than it did a 12 months in the past because of a sterling 2022 draft class.

They’ve acquired two of the game’s absolute best right-shot D prospects, two of the game’s higher left-shot D prospects, and a reliable prospect in any respect three ahead positions. That core group of seven prospects might be the strongest high seven within the league in the mean time. A thinner 8-15 group (and fewer honorable mentions) than different groups on this vary lands them third on the entire.

2022 prospect pool rank: No. 6 (change: +3)

1. David Jiricek, RHD, 18 (Cleveland Monsters/Columbus Blue Jackets)

Jiricek has some extraordinarily fascinating attributes, marked by a booming level shot (it’s a bomb, and he does a extremely good job maintaining it heading in the right direction and a few ft off the ice), a powerful, athletic 6-foot-3 body, and a commanding on-ice presence. He’s a staunch man-to-man in-zone defender, he strikes his ft properly for his dimension (although I do fear about his stilted backwards skating/pivots and the way usually he will get caught flatfooted), and thrives in transition together with his skill to each shut out on gaps (much less so than preserve them) together with his size and aggression and lead a ton of rushes as an keen puck transporter (he’s a a lot better skater going ahead).

Offensively, he’s additionally a succesful handler and distributor whose level shot is complemented by an aggressive method. There are additionally some subtleties to his sport (first passes which might be nearly by no means off-target, a sneaky-silky first contact, and so forth.). But his modus operandi is that he’s a assured, lively, engaged three-zone participant who has nearly the entire instruments you search for in a high defender.

When his timing is on and he’s stepping up early to take the ice within the impartial zone, he can actually dominate a sport on either side of the puck. He generally is a little overzealous at occasions (offensively and defensively), however that eagerness to make one thing occur additionally defines his sport and he’s quite a bit to deal with when he builds a head of steam via his tall crossovers and begins circling the offensive sport. He desires to dictate and affect the sport on his phrases, reasonably than look forward to it to return to him (which may additionally include ready just a little too lengthy to make his choices on the time, however is extra usually obvious in fast, aggressive decisions).

As he continues to easy out and polish his sport, it’s onerous to think about he doesn’t grow to be, on the very least, an impactful top-four man. And if he hits the proper notes alongside his growth path, his ceiling could possibly be considerably increased than that.

2. Denton Mateychuk, LHD, 18 (Moose Jaw Warriors)

Mateychuk has constructed fairly a repute for himself in hockey circles for his skill to direct play and drive outcomes when he’s on the ice. That type helped him work his approach onto Team Canada’s U18 worlds crew as an underager and has made him one of many high defensemen in junior hockey within the final two seasons. Those are among the many many causes he was named Moose Jaw’s captain this 12 months and can make him a giant a part of the 2024 Canadian world junior crew in Gothenburg.

He’s already a plus-level skater, which helps him escape strain together with his ft, push up ice in management, path in transition, stroll the road, and steer opposing gamers into robust spots regardless of not being the most important man. He’s the definition — or shut — of the fashionable defenseman.

Mateychuk pushes when he can and all the things he does is finished with poise and command. He performs a dependable and calculating sport constructed round his mobility and sound decision-making. He defends at a excessive degree and is powerful over his 5-foot-11 body. Plus he’s a July birthday so he’s acquired loads of time to construct on his sturdy basis and develop his distinguishing qualities (specifically his motion and management of the sport).

He simply all the time appears to be concerned in all three zones. I see a transparent top-four upside and there’s nothing in his sport that offers me pause in saying that.

3. Jordan Dumais, RW, 18 (Halifax Mooseheads)

One of my favorite prospects within the sport and the best participant in main junior hockey not named Connor Bedard over the course of the final two seasons, I will likely be extra stunned if Dumais doesn’t make it as a playmaking top-nine winger at this level than I’ll if he does. That, in and of itself, isn’t any small factor to be saying a few 5-foot-9, 18-year-old third-round decide. But that’s what he’s owed due to one easy reality: Players who’ve produced like he has traditionally nearly by no means miss. He ought to win QMJHL MVP. He needs to be one of many top-six proper wings for Canada at subsequent 12 months’s world juniors. I’m assured he’s going to provide within the AHL like he did in his first Traverse City Prospects Tournament (and in every single place else). And then he’s going to determine it out at NHL tempo, regardless of questions on his dimension and skating, as a result of he’s too good and too clever on the ice to not.

Dumais’ extensions via his stride want some cleansing up (they will look stunted and drag on the toe caps), however he has grow to be a tremendously hardworking participant with a wide-ranging offensive sport that permits him to create offence in quite a lot of methods. He’ll beat you with a fast give-and-go on one shift, a standstill cross or shot on the following, a dance to the excessive slot on the following, and fast arms and dedication across the web on the following. He brings it each night time. He tracks again and makes hustle performs. His shot is pinpoint correct and will get off of his blade effortlessly in catch-and-release sequences. He’s actually good alongside the wall and the again examine on retrievals and steals. Though he’s not bodily, he hunts pucks with out worry and willingly engages in puck battles. He’s acquired A-level imaginative and prescient, arms, and anticipation. He’s artful as something. He routinely elevates his linemates and does issues himself (as evidenced by the uptick of their manufacturing and the hole that he nonetheless maintains properly above and past his friends). I’m prepared to stay my neck out for him to grow to be a top-six NHL winger if the Blue Jackets deal with his growth appropriately (which I’m assured they’ll).

4. Kirill Marchenko, LW, 22 (Cleveland Monsters/Columbus Blue Jackets)

This season has type of gone the way you’d hope it might for Marchenko. After three years as a high younger participant within the KHL, he started within the AHL, registered factors in his first 5 video games and instantly grew to become one of many Monsters’ finest gamers, earned the call-up to the massive membership (even ignoring the Blue Jackets’ accidents) and has continued to play his sport whereas constructing the league’s most unusual stat sheet together with his 13 targets to zero assists ratio via 28 video games.

Marchenko’s a powerful and durable winger who performs the sport with ability attribute of a smaller participant, with A-grade arms and contact with the puck which helps him idiot goalies and defenders one-on-one or feather a shot into a selected location within the web from a troublesome angle when there isn’t a possibility to blow the puck previous a goalie (which he can even do). I’d wish to see him leverage his dimension just a little extra however he’s by no means going to be a imply, imposing participant and he has discovered to make use of his size successfully in different methods, together with via his shot when he actually must activate a puck and use his ahead momentum to lean right into a shot from an off-balance stance. He’s good within the dwelling plate space and off the flanks, and he has proven he can play at NHL tempo. I don’t assume he’s going to be a star, however that is the beginning of a profession as an excellent NHL participant (he initiatives to be that $5-million man each crew desires as a scoring complement with professional dimension to the actually costly tickets).

5. Corson Ceulemans, RHD, 19 (University of Wisconsin)

After a freshman 12 months that began roughly earlier than actually discovering itself, Ceulemans has made essentially the most out of a troublesome scenario as a sophomore, main Wisconsin’s protection in scoring whereas taking part in to an excellent aim differential on a crew whose minus-23 aim differential and 10-18 document are each final within the Big Ten.

He could make his fair proportion of errors, flip pucks over, and get caught flatfooted and burned when he’s not ramped up and dialled in. But extra usually than that he performs a commanding type that his uncooked instruments enable him to when he’s at his finest — a sport of take, take, take. There’s a ton to love about Ceulemans’ bundle. He’s right-handed. He’s massive (6-foot-2 and a compact 200 or so kilos), sturdy, and athletic, and he makes use of his heaviness to play a rugged and bodily type in opposition to the push and in his personal zone alongside the wall (although he can typically settle right into a lackadaisical defensive posture and get caught puck-watching). He’s additionally able to actually imposing himself offensively, with an attacking type which is complemented by a tough level shot (off of his snapshot and his low slap shot, each of which he does an excellent job maintaining low), fast offensive-zone instincts via holes as they open, keen pinches, and a willingness to step off the road to make a play on or to the puck. When he performs inside himself whereas remaining aggressive, he appears to be like like knowledgeable defenseman already and the type of gamers groups crave of their high 4. I like him finest when he’s actually lively, trying to interact and play decisively on either side of the puck. He’s not going to make the lengthy play previous or via a number of layers of strain however when he performs to beat the primary layer after which make his play, he’s a dominant three-zone participant. There’s only a boldness to his sport. Expect him to show professional after this season and grow to be an assertive No. 4-5 defenceman with the proper teaching and growth.

6. Stanislav Svozil, LHD, 20 (Regina Pats) 

Svozil, who was one of many high prospects in his age group rising up earlier than settling in as extra of a B-grade man for a few years, has reclaimed B-plus standing at minimal and perhaps even A-minus standing together with his play this season between Regina and the world juniors.

Playing on a Pats crew the place he and Connor Bedard are clearly the 2 finest gamers and go-to horses, his sport has been allowed to turn into an more and more bold, take-charge type offensively (which there was all the time a few of even prior). When he assaults and performs with confidence, he can appear like an entry machine who dictates play when he’s on the ice. I actually take pleasure in watching him play when he’s activating to hitch the push into the excessive slot and trying to contain himself within the offensive zone. He’s acquired good arms and mobility, significantly transferring ahead (I feel he can wrestle together with his gaps at occasions). He’s snug carrying the puck side-to-side to step previous strain in impartial ice, he’s a cushty skater on his heels, pivoting and curling into area, and he’s able to defending at a excessive degree in opposition to his friends. His shoulders sway just a little an excessive amount of when he’s pushing ahead via a protracted stride (he builds velocity properly when he’s crossing over and weaving) and his quick strides can look shuffled, however there are many instruments to love — the power to hit seams, the contact with the puck, the shimmies one-on-one, the anticipation with the puck. His decision-making may let him down at occasions prior to now, and a few puzzled whether or not he had both the defensive sport or the offensive sport to grow to be greater than a call-up sort, however he appears to be like like a future NHL defenseman to me nowadays.

7. Luca Del Bel Belluz, C, 19 (Sarnia Sting)

Del Bel Belluz is a participant I’ve struggled to wrap my head round over the past couple of years. When I’ve watched him, I haven’t been capable of counterbalance what I’ve seen in opposition to his pretty sturdy manufacturing. He’s acquired some good instruments in isolation, which reveal themselves a couple of occasions a sport, whether or not that’s a slight pre-pre-shot deception in his release that may idiot goalies, his fast arms, or his mushy expertise in execution when there’s a play to be made. And whereas I feel his skating is just a little higher than he will get credit score for, slowish ft mix with a sport that too usually doesn’t match collectively in the entire, and his Nov. 2003 birthday, to go away me unconvinced about what precisely he’ll be on the subsequent degree. So I haven’t been tremendous stunned by his slower development than most of his friends this season. He’s acquired ability, performs a desired place, and has a 6-foot-1 body so as to add muscle to, although. He makes his fair proportion of performs on the junior degree and clearly appears to be like proficient there. But he’s not dominant. The Blue Jackets are probably hoping that they will mould him right into a middle-six, PP2 man who offers them 20 targets and 40 factors a 12 months. I feel that’s a possible final result, too, and that’s an excellent prospect to rank behind that sturdy group of seven I talked about.

8. Dmitri Voronkov, C/LW, 22 (Ak Bars Kazan)

There aren’t many gamers who’ve a world junior medal, an Olympic medal, and 4 full seasons at a high professional degree by age 22, however that’s the place Voronkov is at because the Blue Jackets work to get him signed and produce him over to North America following this season.

Voronkov doesn’t have an A-level, defining ability to his sport, however he’s simply an efficient, well-rounded professional hockey participant. He’s massive (6-foot-4), he’s sturdy, and he makes use of his body to complete his checks, acquire inside physique place, win the vast majority of his 50/50 battles, and assault off the wall to the slot. And whereas there’s a heaviness to his stride that limits his skill to push the tempo, I wouldn’t say he’s a poor skater by any means. Add in above-average contact for his dimension, a continuing willingness to forecheck and combat for his area on the ice, and a few spectacular instincts with the puck on his stick and also you’ve acquired an attention-grabbing participant. He’s acquired contributing bottom-sixer (and perhaps extra third-liner than fourth) written throughout him.

Here’s his second aim from a two-goal efficiency on the Channel One Cup with Team Russia in December, and spot the hassle degree going from battle to battle earlier than it:

9. Liam Foudy, C/LW, 22 (Columbus Blue Jackets)

Between the mixed video games that Foudy has performed throughout components of 4 common seasons and one playoff, he’s nearly acquired one full season’s value of NHL video games below his belt. And but, regardless of having not performed within the AHL in any respect this 12 months (which is often trigger for graduating a participant), I made a decision to incorporate Foudy right here one final time simply because he doesn’t really feel like he has totally solidified himself as an NHLer 12 months.

He’s a superb, explosive skater with world-class acceleration and high velocity. Those issues make him an efficient forechecker, a menace to show defenders, an possibility on flips out of the zone for breakaways, and so forth. I don’t love the remainder of his expertise, although. He can put himself into robust spots when he’s attempting to hold as a result of he’s not a high-end playmaker (although that a part of his sport has improved). He has proven indicators that he might be greater than a high-value defensive participant who creates probability together with his velocity and thrives in transition and on the forecheck. I like his work ethic, his athleticism, and the consistency of his habits. Those issues make him a advantageous fourth liner. But his ground and his ceiling really feel awfully nearer collectively nowadays, and the clock is ticking on him to point out he might be an up-and-down lineup man who’s the third-best participant on a middle-six line or a driver on on a fourth line.

10. Daniil Tarasov, G, 22 (Cleveland Monsters)

Tarasov has adopted a winding path of highs and lows which have demanded he overcomes some adversity and be malleable) to the place he’s right this moment as one of many Blue Jackets’ three goalies, within the first 12 months of a brand new three-year deal. His dimension (6-foot-5 however lanky) has all the time fascinated goalie evaluators. When he controls that gangly body, he can block a whole lot of pucks and fill the online. He’s additionally fairly agile within the web for his dimension, with respectable footwork and motion. When he holds his strains and is ready for photographs, he’s robust to beat. But the inconsistency of his actions when play breaks down has been a difficulty at occasions. I anticipate he’ll high out as a No. 2 however I do know the Blue Jackets like him, I feel he’s higher than his AHL numbers so far, and he has proven properly in his small NHL pattern to date.

11. James Malatesta, C/LW, 19 (Quebec Remparts)

After garnering consideration as a possible high two rounds man in his rookie season within the QMJHL, his development has been gradual however regular since, confirming questions concerning the affect his superior velocity and competitiveness had on him at an earlier age.

Across his 4 years in junior, even when the manufacturing wasn’t all the time there although, you’d discover Malatesta shift-to-shift and night-to-night, and no one who is aware of his sport was stunned when he impressed the Blue Jackets sufficient in rookie camps and tournaments to get an NHL deal.

He fascinates me as a child who has clear professional instruments and worth however simply wasn’t capable of fill the online in junior like these instruments would counsel he ought to for a few years. This season has been a constructive one for him and may end with 40 targets taking part in on one of many deepest groups in junior hockey — which is usually counterproductive to racking up factors (folks assume that proficient teammates equal targets and assists, however it will probably additionally usually imply fewer minutes and energy play alternatives).

He’s a perfectly athletic, quick north-south skater who will get after it on the forecheck, finishes his checks, performs in bursts between battles, and has good onerous ability (he’s acquired fast arms, he’s acquired a tough wrister, and so forth.). He’s constructed like an ox for a 5-foot-9 participant. But he doesn’t have dynamic ability for his dimension and he can put himself in robust spots taking part in extra on intuition than processing. The instruments and physique will maintain him related. The mushy expertise might be more durable to coach and develop although. I’ll have an interest to see what he appears to be like like within the AHL as a result of he performs a professional type and there are some who nonetheless imagine he’s acquired a monitor to an power position on the subsequent degree sometime.

12. Sergei Ivanov, G, 18 (SKA St. Petersburg)

I preferred the Blue Jackets’ determination to take Ivanov within the fifth spherical finally 12 months’s draft. He was one of some web minders I might have thought of taking within the draft’s later rounds, and I like his odds of turning into a No. 2/3 NHL goalie regardless of being very small by right this moment’s goalie requirements at 5-foot-11 and 165 kilos. For years one of many high 2004-born goalies in Russia, Ivanov has a powerful monitor document in opposition to his friends each internationally and domestically within the MHL and has begun to point out properly within the professional ranks now too. He’s acquired wonderful ft and monitoring shuffling to stick with shooters one-on-one or on scrambles. He holds his strains rather well to make himself look larger than he’s after which has the mobility to get well if the play strikes side-to-side off of his challenges. He’s acquired good arms and infrequently will get frozen glove or blocker aspect. It’s going to be years earlier than the Blue Jackets know what they’ve for positive, however he’s an excellent goalie prospect so far as I’m involved. I thought of rating him forward of Malatesta right here.

13. Samuel Knazko, LHD, 20 (Cleveland Monsters)

After establishing himself as one of many absolute best gamers in Finland’s high junior league (usually taking part in 25-Half-hour whereas driving outcomes at each ends), Knazko moved to the WHL final 12 months when he couldn’t get Liiga ice time, briefly captained Slovakia on the world juniors for the second 12 months in a row, and is now within the midst of a rookie season within the AHL that has been simply advantageous for a 20-year-old third-round decide. He closes gaps successfully, disrupts performs with an lively stick, defends properly in transition, and makes little performs with the puck after they’re out there. He’s sturdy on his ft, he sees the ice properly as an outlet passer (he’s more practical advancing the puck with a cross than his ft), and he’s a good skater (although there are occasions when he can look just a little uneven). He hasn’t performed shy or timid within the AHL like a whole lot of younger defensemen are likely to. He most likely tops out as a third-pairing man and is extra probably a depth call-up, however each group wants these.

14. Tim Berni, LHD, 22 (Cleveland Monsters/Columbus Blue Jackets)

It comes as no shock to anybody that Berni, regardless of a modest statistical monitor document, has climbed via the NL, AHL and lately to the NHL for a 28-game stint that was necessitated attributable to accidents and got here with some lumps however included taking part in 20-plus minutes half a dozen occasions nonetheless. He’s acquired extra professional expertise than most his age nevertheless it does really feel once I watch him like a barely improved degree to his present one might be his restrict, and that most likely lands him at a No. 7/8 ceiling on an excellent crew (the type of man you may comfortably name up and activity with quarter-hour at five-on-five and PK2). I like the power to stroll and modify throughout the road. He’s fairly strong in his personal zone, taking part in a poised and mature two-way sport that tends to drive leads to his crew’s favor. He’s acquired good athleticism. I’ve seen him make performs on the assault and spin-off strain. But there are additionally occasions when he sees a play, he desires to make it, and he’s simply not fairly proficient sufficient to drag it off. He’ll even be 23 subsequent week, so there most likely isn’t a ton of progress in his sport left in entrance of him.

15. Guillaume Richard, LHD, 19 (Providence College)

Richard was a high minor hockey participant all the way in which up in Quebec and will have been a high QMJHL draft decide had he not elected to go the faculty hockey route. Last season, he stepped in with the Friars and had an instantaneous affect at each ends, driving spectacular aim differential outcomes. His sophomore season this 12 months has been extra of a blended bag although.

He’s an excellent transition defender who makes use of a protracted, fluid stride to funnel opposing carriers to the skin after which shut on them as quickly as the chance presents itself. He can use his size to place himself relative to the circulate of play and makes use of an lively stick to interrupt up passes or pressure opposing gamers into actions they don’t wish to take. I’ve seen indicators that he has extra offense and luxury degree with the puck than his modest USHL and NCAA manufacturing point out. He will get the puck entering into the proper course, however he’s acquired some untapped potential offensively (it’s by no means going to be the hallmark of his sport however he can maintain himself concerned) and room to proceed to fill out his 6-foot-2 body. With the proper growth, he may grow to be a rangy, depth two-way man.

The Tiers

Each of my prospect pool rankings will likely be damaged down into team-specific tiers with the intention to offer you a greater sense of the expertise proximity from one participant to the following (a spot which is typically minute and in different instances fairly pronounced).

The Blue Jackets’ prospect pool breaks down into three tiers divided as such: 1-2, 3-7, 8-15.

Also thought of have been CSKA defenceman Nikolai Makarov, Cleveland Monsters ahead Tyler Angle, and towering CSKA ahead Kirill Dolzhenkov.












David Jiricek





Denton Mateychuk



Moose Jaw


Jordan Dumais





Kirill Marchenko





Corson Ceulemans



U. of Wisconsin


Stanislav Svozil





Luca Del Bel Belluz





Dmitri Voronkov





Liam Foudy





Daniil Tarasov





James Malatesta





Sergei Ivanov



St. Petersburg


Samuel Knazko





Tim Berni





Guillaume Richard




(Photo of David Jiricek: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)

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