NHL Central Scouting needed little time determining Connor Bedard was No. 1 in its final ranking of North American skaters presented by BioSteel for the 2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft.
"There was zero debate," Central Scouting vice president Dan Marr said on the latest edition of the "NHL Draft Class" podcast. "Going into the season he was slotted at No. 1 and there hasn't been any conversation, comments, discussion otherwise. He's delivered at every level he's played at, he's risen to the occasion, he's performed with his elite skill set. There just never was a conversation."
Central Scouting released its final rankings of the top North American skaters and goalies and the top International skaters and goalies for the 2023 draft, which will be held at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on June 28-29.
Bedard had 143 points (71 goals, 72 assists) in 57 regular-season games with Regina of the Western Hockey League, and 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists) in seven WHL playoff games. The 17-year-old center also led Canada to the gold medal at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship with a tournament-high 23 points (nine goals, 14 assists) in seven games.
[RELATED: NHL Central Scouting final rankings]
"He seems to be like a sponge," Marr said. "He takes it all in and he takes his game to the next platform. He's just a very fun player to watch and he's one of those guys that takes you off the edge of your seat. Every game he does something."
Marr also discussed a number of other top players on the North American list, among them University of Michigan forward Adam Fantilli, forward William Smith of the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team, and forward Nate Danielson of Brandon of the WHL.
He also went into detail on why forward Leo Carlsson of Orebro of the Swedish Hockey League is No. 1 among International skaters, ahead of forward Matvei Michkov of Sochi in the Kontinental Hockey League.
"It's a difficult situation with players from Russia," Marr said. "There's not a lot of live eyes on him. He was sent down to the second division and he produced, he played his game, he did what was expected of him.
"But so did Leo Carlsson. I think there's a greater comfort level knowing what you're going to get and when you're going to get it from Leo Carlsson. He performed at the top level, he's performed at the World Juniors. Everywhere he's been he's one of those players that has risen to the occasion, to be considered one of the top three players in this draft class. There's nothing against Michkov other than there is some uncertainty that teams are going to have to resolve and get themselves around."
Hosts Adam Kimelman and Mike G. Morreale also discussed the odds for the NHL Draft Lottery, which will be held May 8 (7 p.m. ET; ESPN, SN, TVAS). The drawing will set the order for the first 16 selections at the draft.
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Listen: New episode of NHL Draft Class