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Bovada welcomes back Tony X, @soIoucity, who gives his thoughts on the NHL’s Draft picks and the players who will have a direct impact.

NHL Draft & Off-Season

The 2022-2023 season is over, with the Vegas Golden Knights being crowned the champions after defeating the Florida Panthers in the Stanley Cup Final 4-1. Now it’s time for the offseason, where all teams’ records are even and the fans hope once again, even though it might not be their year for 99% of them.

Winning in the NHL takes many different factors to be a successful team, just to make it into the playoffs. And once you’re in, it’s an entirely different game. You could be the hottest team in the league entering the playoffs and run into a team that matches up perfectly with you in a 7-game series, and now you’re at home watching. So with the knowledge of “get in and anything can happen,” the NHL offseason is where the fans regain hope, and a couple of good moves could possibly bring them closer to the Stanley Cup they desire.

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The 2023 NHL Draft is now complete, and this is where most of the excitement comes from in the offseason. But looking back, for most teams, none of the players will be helping their favorite team anytime soon. The NHL and MLB have a similar, to an extent, development situation, where you could draft the best prospect the world has ever seen, but he won’t be pro-ready for about 1-3 years. In some cases, due to age, physicality, and transitioning from lower competition to facing grown men. The NBA and NFL are different; they have age/college restrictions, so by the time players are drafted, they will be going straight to the league and can change an entire franchise’s trajectory overnight. This might happen for one NHL team.

Day One Impact Players

Let’s look at some of the impact day one players for sure:

Chicago Blackhawks: With the most obvious pick in the draft, the Chicago Blackhawks selected Connor Bedard with the first overall selection, who will be on the ice from day one, ready to make an impact alongside other first-round pick Oliver Moore, who has all the skating ability and speed to keep up with Bedard.

Columbus Blue Jackets: In almost any other year, Adam Fantilli would be the #1 pick in the draft. So the Blue Jackets, who were in the running to possibly get Bedard before slipping all the way to 3rd in the lottery, can’t be too mad at the end game of their situation, especially after the Ducks went with Leo Carlsson, who was ranked third after Fantilli and Bedard. Reports are already saying the Blue Jackets expect him to be ready from day one on a top line.

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Waiting Game Impact Players

Now, onto teams where there will be a waiting game:

Philadelphia Flyers: The Flyers selected Matvei Michkov with their 1st-round pick (7th overall), who is actually signed to a KHL contract that goes through the 25-26 season. With all things considered, it could turn out to be perfect timing for the Flyers, as they are going through their rebuilding phase right now. Michkov is arguably the second most talented player in the draft, but the KHL contract made some teams shy away.

St. Louis Blues: The Blues entered the draft with three first-round picks (10th, 25th, 29th) after some trades, including moving Tarasenko and O’Reilly during the season. With the need for help up the middle of the ice (center/defenseman), they took advantage of all three picks and selected two centers and one defenseman in the draft. I’m not an expert and won’t pretend to be, but I believe it will be multiple years before any of these players become key contributors for this “retooling” Blues squad.

So, yes, as fun and exciting as the newly drafted players are to have added to your team, in most cases, you won’t even see these players for possibly one to two-plus years after being drafted. Looking back at previous drafts, going back to the 2019 draft, there have only been two All-Star players out of the 883 players drafted. Patience is a virtue.