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NHL Draft

Carlsson tops Central Scouting International ranking for 2023 NHL Draft

Orebro center had 25 points in 44 games; Sochi forward Michkov No. 2

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

Leo Carlsson, a center with Orebro in the Swedish Hockey League, is No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of International skaters presented by BioSteel for the 2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft.

Central Scouting on Tuesday released its final rankings of the top International skaters and goalies, and its top North American skaters and goalies. Center Connor Bedard of Regina in the Western Hockey League is the No. 1 North American skater.

The 2023 draft will be held at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, with the first round June 28 and Rounds 2-7 on June 29. The NHL Draft Lottery to determine the first 16 picks in the draft will be May 8 (7 p.m. ET; ESPN, SN, TVAS) at NHL Network studios in Secaucus, New Jersey.

Carlsson (6-foot-3, 198 pounds) had 25 points (10 goals, 15 assists) and seven power-play goals in 44 games. The 18-year-old, who was No. 1 on the midterm list in January, had six points (three goals, three assists) in seven games playing mostly on the wing for fourth-place Sweden at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship.


[Rankings: North American skaters | North American goalies | International skaters | International goalies]

[PDFs: North American skaters | North American goalies | International skaters | International goalies]

[RELATED: Bedard tops Central Scouting North American ranking for 2023 NHL Draft]


"He stays on the puck well along the boards and is hard to knock down in battles," NHL director of European Scouting Goran Stubb said. "He also understands his role at all times defensively as plays develop and he's constantly reading and identifying his options, whether that's space opening up for him to put a puck in for a moving teammate, a layer he can use as a screen for his shot or a lane he can take on an entry."



Matvei Michkov (5-10, 172), a right wing with Sochi in the Kontinental Hockey League, is the No. 2-ranked skater. The 18-year-old forward had 20 points (nine goals, 11 assists) in 30 games. He was No. 2 in the midterm ranking.

"We feel Carlsson is a bit more mature and more of an NHL type of player as he is bigger and stronger," Stubb said. "Carlsson is also a better two-way player with a good knowledge of his defensive responsibilities. Both are very special players, excellent prospects and have the tools needed to be stars in the NHL in the future.

"Both played big roles on their club teams this season against seniors. It won't be easy to say who will be better in 3-5 seasons."

Whichever NHL team decides to select Michkov in the draft will do so with the understanding that his KHL contract with SKA St. Petersburg runs through 2025-26, so patience will be needed. Additionally, Michkov was unable to play in the 2023 WJC since Russia has been banned from international tournaments because of its invasion of Ukraine.

"If you're strictly evaluating the on-ice play, then Michkov is one of the elite players in this draft class," NHL Central Scouting vice president Dan Marr said. "He has the potential to be in the conversation as of one of the elite players of this decade, same as Connor Bedard. If you factor in a healthy and stronger player, Michkov will be able to influence games and have a similar impact on the scoreboard as Bedard. They both have their own unique styles of attack when they have the puck, they are offensive threats and they're both exciting players to watch."



Slovakia-born Dalibor Dvorsky of AIK in Sweden is No. 3 after the 17-year-old center (6-1, 201) had 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 38 games in Allsvenskan, Sweden's second division. He's up one spot from No. 4 at the midterm.

"The race for third place in the final International ranking was very close between Dvorsky, [forward] Eduard Sale, [defenseman] David Reinbacher, [forward] Otto Stenberg and [defenseman] Axel Sandin Pellikka," Stubb said. "They are, in our opinion, all future strong NHL players and time will tell if Dvorsky will the best of these prospects."

Sale (6-2, 174), a left wing, had 14 points (seven goals) in 43 games with Brno in the top professional league in the Czech Republic. The 18-year-old, who is No. 4 in the final ranking, had six points (one goal, five assists) in seven games for silver-medal winning Czechia at the 2023 WJC.

Reinbacher (6-2, 185), an Austria-born right-shot defenseman, had 22 points (three goals, 19 assists) in 46 games with Kloten in National League, the top pro league in Switzerland, and two assists in five games for Austria at the 2023 WJC. He is No. 5.

Stenberg (5-11, 180), a center who is No. 6 on the final ranking, had 26 points (11 goals, 15 assists) in 29 games for Frolunda's team in Sweden's junior league, and three points (one goal, two assists) for Frolunda in the SHL.

Sandin Pellikka (5-11, 176), a right-shot defenseman, is No. 7 after he had 36 points (16 goals, 20 assists) in 31 games for Skelleftea's team in Sweden's junior league, and five points (two goals, three assists) in 22 games for Skelleftea in the SHL. He also had one assist and averaged 19:54 of ice time in seven games for Sweden at the 2023 WJC.

Alexander Hellnemo (6-2, 183) is No. 1 on the International goalie ranking after holding that spot at the midterm. In nine games with Skelleftea (SHL), the 19-year-old went 5-3-0 with a 2.39 goals-against average and .895 save percentage, and also was 15-8-0 with a 2.31 GAA, .916 save percentage and two shutouts in 23 games with Skelleftea's junior team. He was passed over in the 2022 NHL Draft.

"He's a late bloomer," Stubb said. "He's taken some good development steps and is a strong, athletic goalie who takes up more of the net than you might think. He anticipates well but his smarts between the pipes are his biggest asset."


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