The 2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft will be held June 28-29 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. The first round will take place on June 28 (7:00 p.m. ET; ESPN, SN, TVAS) and Rounds 2-7 will take place on June 29 (11:00 a.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVAS). NHL.com is counting down to the draft with in-depth profiles of top prospects, podcasts and other features. Today, the top international prospects are previewed in a Q&A with Janne Vuorinen, NHL Central Scouting’s Chief Scout for Europe. For NHL.com’s full draft coverage, click here Here.
Dalibor Dvorsky, No. 3 on The definitive ranking of international skaters from NHL Central Scouting presented by BioSteel, is expected to be the fourth Slovakia-born player to be selected in the first round of the NHL Draft in the past two years.
Three players from Slovakia were selected in the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft: Jurai Slafkovsky to the Montreal Canadiens at No. 1; Simon Nemec to the New Jersey Devils at No. 2; Philip Mesar to the Canadiens at No. 26.
“I’m very happy that these guys got drafted that high, and the other Slovak players who got drafted as well,” said Dvorsky. “I’m happy that this is my draftable season, but I’m focused on my day-to-day life.”
Dvorsky recorded four points (two goals, two assists) in 20 games for Banska Bystrica in the 2020/21 season, his last season in Slovakia’s Extraliga. The 18-year-old center (1.90 meters tall, 90 kilograms) has played in Sweden for the last two seasons.
With 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 38 games with AIK in the Allsvenskan, Sweden’s second-highest professional men’s league, he was third among under-19 players and had 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists) in ten games. AIK’s team in the Swedish junior league.
“He’s a very typical example of the guys who come from smaller countries where the competition isn’t that tough, but he has really good skills,” said Janne Vuorinen, chief scout for Europe at Central Scouting. “He’s a slightly bigger guy with good offensive tools. I think what he’s learned is speed and he’s continued to develop his all-around game. He’s learned to manage his defensive duties, so I think he’s a more complete player now.” He’s a great talent for this year’s draft.”
Dvorsky had 13 points (eight goals, five assists) in seven games for Slovakia at the 2023 IIHF World U18 Championship and three points (one goal, two assists) in five games for his country at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship.
He is one of two Slovakian-born players expected to be an early exit in the 2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft. Left winger Samuel Honzek (6-3, 195) with Western Hockey League’s Vancouver is the other. Dvorsky and Honzek have played together for their country at international events.
To further break down the international outlook, here are five questions for Vuorinen:
Leo Carlsson (6-2, 194) is ranked #1 in NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings of international skaters. What was special about Carlsson’s game? And what separated him from Matvei Michkov, No. 2 in Central Scouting’s final ranking of international skaters?
“I think Leo secured first place all season. He started the season strong with the U20 national team in a few tournaments and then had a strong season with his club team (Orebro in the Swedish Ice Hockey League). had a strong playoff and then continued to impress at the 2023 IIHF World Championship (three goals, five points, in eight games). Overall I think he’s a complete, competitive, big body with a lot of skill and talent. Carlsson and Michkov “They are two great players, but Carlsson was more consistent throughout the season and secured first place.”
Can you tell us which Russian-born players have a legitimate chance of being nominated in the first round and why they are not players to be missed?
“Michkov is a special player. He has so much skill and is strong on the gang. He hits the goal and makes the plays; an incredible talent. Of course, Russia has some other really talented players. Left winger Daniil Aber (Yaroslavl Jr.) and defender Mikhail Gulyayev (Omsk Jr.) … maybe also right winger Roman Kantserov (Magnitogorsk Jr.) and defender Dmitriy Simashev (Yaroslavl Jr.). They might all be able to go into the first round, but it’s been a tough year. Scouting has been a tough one. The Russian players and teams have not seen them live. I don’t think all five guys will get picked in the first round but I think at least some of them will because they have so much talent. It always goes down to the NHL teams to decide what to do with the Russian prospects.”
Tom Willander (6-1, 180), a right-handed defender at Rogle in Sweden’s junior league, is leaving for Boston University next season. How much can this move help him maybe get more time on the ice than if he had stayed in the SHL?
“Willander is a great skater and a very mature player, he has a good grasp of hockey and likes to get involved and make plays on point. He’s a competitive guy but I think he can still develop physically and go down the NCAA route I think will help him because he’ll have time to practice and become a stronger player compared to playing in the SHL with Rogle, who are a really good team and would be difficult to break into the lineup. I think the role will be bigger at BU, so I think that’s a good path for him.”
David Reinbacher (6-2, 194), No. 5 on Central Scouting’s final list of international skaters, appears to be the first defender to be drafted. The simple comparison is the Detroit Red Wings defenseman Moritz Seider because I come from a non-traditional European country (Austria). But what struck you when you saw “Reinbacher”?
“He’s not that far from the NHL… maybe a year in Europe and some experience in the American Hockey League. He had an impressive season with Kloten in the Swiss professional league, which is a difficult league for young players to really score points and play a big part. I think he’s a very talented player who shoots pretty hard from the blue line. He’s very active on the ice, always in action, makes good decisions with the puck and has a good feel for hockey. I think he’s a pretty complete player and maybe the most defensible candidate in Europe…maybe even the entire draft class.”
Can you offer three other international players who you think have a shot at being drafted and becoming solid pros in three to five years?
“Three wingers born in Finland come to mind. Right winger Lenni Hameenaho (6-1, 185) had a strong season with Assat, posting some pretty decent numbers in the men’s league. He’s not a flashy player, but he’s very smart and strong.” Boards and has a good feel for the net. He is very reliable and plays a smart two-way game. Right winger Kasper Halttunen (6-3, 215) has struggled a bit in the HIFK men’s team but he really is a big body. He’s a good goalscorer and has a strong chance on the power play. He plays a strong game, fights. He needs to improve his game off the puck a bit and gain some speed too, but he’s playing with passion. Right winger Jesse Kiiskinen (6-0, 190) is also a good scorer. He shoots well, plays a reliable two-way game and is a competitive guy, very mature. I think these three Finnish wingers are future NHL players for me. Maybe need some time but they have good potential.
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