It seems the first pick of the 2023 NHL draft is set in stone.
On Friday morning, NHL Central Scouting released its mid-season rankings for the upcoming draft set to take place in Nashville, unveiling where each of the top draft-eligible prospects stands before they are set to hear their names called this July.
To the surprise of absolutely no one, Regina Pats forward Connor Bedard held down the top spot among North American skaters. He upheld his status as a borderline generational talent with an excellent performance in the WHL this season that sees Bedard sit with 70 points in just 29 games thus far. It was then accented this month by a record-setting world juniors in which Bedard led Canada to a gold medal while racking up an absurd 23 points in just seven tournament games.
Behind Bedard on the North American skater rankings in the No. 2 spot is Adam Fantilli, the big center who also helped Canada to gold after tearing up the NCAA at Michigan by compiling 26 points in 16 games as a freshman.
While Bedard is certainly one of the best hockey prospects to emerge since arguably Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews, Fantilli isn't too far behind.
USA Hockey National Team Development Program products Will Smith and Ryan Leonard slot in next as spots three and four, while Moose Jaw's Brayden Yager rounds out the top five.
For the European skaters, Swedish phenom Leo Carlsson holds down the top ranking following a productive world juniors, followed by Russian sniper Matvei Michkov, fellow Swedes Axel Sandin-Pellikka and Dalibor Dvorsky, and Czech forward Eduard Sale.
With the 2023 NHL draft dubbed as one of the deepest collections of talent in recent memory, teams will assuredly be following these rankings closely as the season wears on.
Needless to say, draft day this year will be one you won't want to miss.