The 2023 World Junior Championships concluded with Canada winning gold for the second year in a row. Many young players made a name for themselves on the international stage.
The 2023 NHL Entry Draft will take place June 28th and 29th, 2023 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN. Currently, the Philadelphia Flyers are slated to pick seventh overall with a 6.5% chance of winning the Connor Bedard sweepstakes, per Tankathon. The upcoming draft class, aside from Bedard, is presumed to be one of the most talented in recent memory.
The Flyers are in an interesting position. It doesn’t appear they’re likely to land the first overall pick, but they’re still an outside candidate for Bedard. With a top-ten selection, Philadelphia will end up with a prospect who will contribute to the franchise rebuild.
Below are five players from these World Juniors who will be on the Flyers’ radar as the 2023 NHL Entry Draft approaches:
Connor Bedard (C)
Bedard dominated the tournament from start to finish. Finishing with 23 points (9G, 14A) in seven games, Bedard surpassed Flyers legend Eric Lindros as Canada’s all-time world juniors point scorer.
Bedard is projected as a franchise-changing player, and his play in the tournament only solidified those claims. His shot gains comparisons to Auston Matthews and his generational hype aligns with Sidney Crosby.
On pace for 133 points in 58 games with the Regina Pats, Bedard already has 64 points (27G, 37A) in 28 games. There is always caution when placing the “generational” label on a 17-year-old, but he possesses skills that’ll put him on par with players like Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, Crosby, and Matthews.
Bedard may be better suited on the wing rather than at center in the NHL. With the Flyers, the presence of Bedard at either position will put him in a spot to be a game-changer immediately.
Adam Fantilli (C)
Scoring five points (2G, 3A) in seven games, Adam Fantilli didn’t take the tournament by storm but he was a pivotal player for Canada, showing up in crucial moments.
Fantilli is seventh in the NCAA in scoring with 26 points (11G, 15A) in sixteen games and second in points-per-game (1.62) in 2022-2023. He’s also a freshman at the University of Michigan, and certainly will be a one-and-done player.
At 6’2″ and 187lbs, Fantilli is projected as a top-three selection in June. He dominated the USHL in 2021-2022 with the Chicago Steel. He is the complete package down the middle; driving play with his size and skating while competing in puck battles on the forecheck.
Philadelphia has a couple of talented NCAA prospects in their system, most recently featuring Cutter Gauthier. Gauthier is likely to develop as a full-time NHL center but is versatile to the wing. A duo featuring Fantilli and Gauthier would be a force to be reckoned with.
Leo Carlsson (C/LW/RW)
Forward Leo Carlsson was one of the eight players not already drafted by an NHL team for Sweden. The 18-year-old is the top Swedish prospect entering the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, and he showcased his talents alongside experienced teammates at the World Juniors.
He had a balanced six points (3G, 3A) in seven games. The Flyers could be in perfect positioning to gain Carlsson, who makes sense for a top-five selection, but could fall into the lap of Chuck Fletcher. He’s a 6’3″ and 194lbs versatile forward who can play any role.
With Orebro HK in the SHL this year, Carlsson has 14 points (3G, 11A) in 25 games. Carlsson isn’t lighting the world on fire in the SHL, and much of his stock stands on his performance at the World Juniors.
Carlsson is more realistic than Bedard or Fantilli unless Philadelphia gets a lot of help from their 6.5% chance to overtake the 2023 NHL Draft Lottery. He would be a safe, high-end selection with the ability to play any forward position along with many versatile, young players.
Eduard Sale (RW)
Critical to Czechia advancing to the World Juniors Championship, Eduard Sale tallied six points (1G, 5A) in seven games. Sale is a playmaker on the right wing. With HC Kometa Brno, Sale has six points (3G, 3A) in 26 games. He displayed his talents on the international stage where he received more ice time.
At 6’1″ and 168lbs, Sale doesn’t have the frame to be a physical force on the ice. He is deceptive and has great puck skills that get defenders to chase. Sale moves the puck and creates chances for the offense by moving defenses out of position, particularly on the powerplay.
A unique player, Sale showed glimpses of the offensive skill he possesses. He’ll receive many more on-ice situations in Czechia before 2022-2023 finishes. He’ll be available in the top ten if the Flyers hold their current projected draft position.
Dalibor Dvorsky (C)
Dalibor Dvorsky is one of the many young talents from Slovakia who are set to break through at the NHL level. Juraj Slafkovsky and Simon Nemec were both selected first and second overall respectively during the 2022 draft, and Dvorsky is a safe bet to be a top-ten selection in 2023.
Dvorsky scored three points (1G, 2A) during his five games in the 2023 tournament. Nicknamed “The Slovakian Sniper,” Dvorsky owns a powerful shot along with his size, strength, and playmaking abilities. He’s not had the greatest season at center with AIK this year, and it’s resulted in his draft stock falling.
Dvorsky has been inconsistent with his play. He’s been criticized for waiting for the game to come to him instead of using his abilities to dictate the game. Nonetheless, he’s a 17-year-old still finding his groove at the professional level. Dvorsky bounced around the lineup with AIK, hindering some development. With Slovakia in the World Juniors, he found a more consistent time-on-ice basis.
Dvorsky projects to be a solid 2C in the NHL. The 2023 draft class is loaded with forwards, especially centers, and Dvorsky is another gem.
(Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)