The 2023 NHL Draft is slowly coming into focus as the regular season races to its conclusion. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman recently revealed the NHL Draft Lottery will take place on May 8.

As of now, we aren’t sure of the exact order of the 2023 NHL Draft. However, as the Connor Bedard sweepstakes begin heating up, let’s take our first stab at predicting how the draft will play out.

This mock draft will order teams based on the NHL Draft order from Tankathon. The order is current as of 2 AM ET on March 19.

This is the first planned 2023 NHL Mock Draft of three here on ClutchPoints. The second will come around May 8 when the NHL Draft Lottery concludes. And the final mock will come closer to the NHL Draft in late June. With all that said, let's get this started with the first overall pick.

1. Columbus Blue Jackets: Connor Bedard, C, Regina Pats (WHL)

Perhaps the most obvious pick of the entire mock draft. It’s so obvious I may as well consider this a free space when looking back to see how many of these picks I got correct.

Bedard is one of the most hyped prospects in recent memory. He has 125 points in just 51 games for Regina in the Western Hockey League. This isn’t even mentioning his record-breaking performance for Team Canada at the IIHF World Junior Championships.

The Columbus Blue Jackets get a franchise-altering talent with the first pick. Putting Bedard next to Patrik Laine and Johnny Gaudreau will cause nightmares for NHL defenses.

2. San Jose Sharks: Adam Fantilli, C, University of Michigan (NCAA)

In most other years, Fantilli is the fawned-over prospect and mocked first overall. It’s hard to see him somehow overtaking Bedard, but he is still a fantastic prospect.

He is in the first year of his draft eligibility and has drawn rather impressive comparisons. Some have likened his season to that of Jack Eichel from 2014-15 when he went second overall to the Buffalo Sabres.

Fantilli dominated the USHL in 2021-22 and established himself as a star in a loaded Michigan hockey program. He had a limited role with the Canadian junior team at the World Juniors and played okay.

The Michigan product is a big player who skates hard and is not shy about getting physical on the ice. He has the potential to be a star in the league, which the San Jose Sharks desperately need.

3. Chicago Blackhawks: Leo Carlsson, C, Orebro HK (SHL)

Carlsson slots in here as one of the high risers in the NHL Draft. The 18-year-old plays in his native Sweden in the country’s highest professional league, and he is more than holding his own.

In 44 games this season with Orebro, Carlsson has 10 goals and 25 points. It’s incredibly rare for a player his age to produce offensively like this in the SHL. And he has earned the trust of the Orebro coaching staff, receiving time on the team’s top powerplay unit this season.

Carlsson is a masterful playmaker in the offensive zone. He flashes a creative flair beyond his years and has the ability to run a powerplay unit at the next level.

The Chicago Blackhawks are rebuilding their roster after years of middling along. Finding true number-one centers is incredibly difficult. Carlsson could certainly fill that role for a number of years.

4. Anaheim Ducks: Matvei Michkov, RW, HC Sochi (KHL)

There was some debate about having Michkov slip another few picks given the challenges of getting him to North America. However, the Russian winger is way too good for the Anaheim Ducks to pass up here.

Michkov is on loan to HC Sochi from SKA St. Petersburg. SKA sent the 18-year-old down after he went pointless in three games to begin this season. The move to Sochi certainly reinvigorated the promising winger.

In 27 games with Sochi, Michkov has nine goals and 20 points. His production in Russia rivals (and even surpasses) that of Nikita Kucherov entering his draft year.

On pure talent alone, Michkov is not far off from Bedard. However, the 18-year-old is signed to a KHL contract through the 2025-26 season. He likely doesn’t come over from Russia until that contract is up.

When he does make it to North America, the hype around him will be unreal. The Ducks already have a star in Trevor Zegras, and they could add another one next to him in Michkov.

5. Philadelphia Flyers: Nate Danielson, C, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)

Depending on who you talk to, Danielson is either a great pick here or slightly off the board. However, the Philadelphia Flyers went off the board last year when they selected Cutter Gauthier with the fifth overall pick.

Danielson would be the first WHL player the Flyers take in the first round since Nolan Patrick in 2017. Danielson has broken out this season, scoring 32 goals and 76 points in 64 games.

The 18-year-old is one of the more complete centers in the draft. He projects as a center who can play high in the lineup and fill any role the team needs. He is the type of player head coach John Tortorella loves.

6. Montreal Canadiens: Zachary Benson, C/W, Winnipeg Ice (WHL)

The Montreal Canadiens have added to their center depth in recent years, but Benson provides a bit of versatility while also having an incredibly high upside. He can play down the middle, but he can also kick out to the wing if need be.

Benson is another WHL product that could have went even higher if this wasn't the Connor Bedard draft. He is an incredibly creative and intelligent player offensively. And he flashes impressive instincts in his own end of the ice.

The Winnipeg Ice are a dangerous team in the WHL and are loaded with star power. Benson is the leading force behind their attack, and has all the tools to be that type of star player in the NHL.

7. Arizona Coyotes: Will Smith, C, US National Team Development Program (USNTDP)

The 18-year-old center is committed to play for Boston College next college hockey season. The Arizona Coyotes could sign him before that point, but in any event, Smith has all the potential in the world.

Smith is the US National Development Team's first-line center and their leader. In 17 games with the program, he has 12 goals and 38 points this season. He has a knack for making high-difficulty plays on a regular basis, and can be a huge asset on the team's power play.

The Coyotes need star power on their team, especially if they miss out on Bedard. Smith has the potential to be a part of the future for years to come in Arizona.

8. Vancouver Canucks: Dalibor Dvorsky, C, AIK (Hockey Allsvenskan)

Slovakian hockey won the day at the 2022 NHL Draft, and they have another top prospect this year. The Vancouver Canucks have gone through a lot this season, but grabbing a player of Dvorsky's caliber may help smooth things over a little bit.

Dvorsky has played at the professional level in Sweden this season but has been hit or miss. In Sweden's junior league, however, he has shined. He has 10 goals and 21 points in 10 games in junior this year.

Dvorsky brings a refined 200-foot game that translates well to the next level. The Canucks aren't stocked with many exciting prospects, and the Slovakian center changes that just a bit.

9. St. Louis Blues: Colby Barlow, LW, Owen Sound Attack (OHL)

The St. Louis Blues traded star winger Vladimir Tarasenko this season to commence a rebuilding of their current roster. Barlow is the best prospect out of the OHL in this draft, and it's easy to see why.

Barlow scored 30 goals and 47 points with the Owen Sound Attack as a 16-year-old. This season, he has taken another step, scoring 46 goals and 79 points in 59 games. He has helped the Attack clinch a spot in the OHL Playoffs.

Barlow has all the tools to slot in as a top-six offensive-minded winger. The Blues could center their future around Barlow for the foreseeable future.

10. Detroit Red Wings: David Reinbacher, D, Kloten (NLA)

This is a bit off the board, like most NHL Draft picks, but that has not stopped Steve Yzerman before. The Red Wings have one of the NHL's top prospect pools. However, they have no right-shot defensemen in their top 15 prospects.

That changes with this pick. Reinbacher had the most productive season by a NLA draft-eligible player since Auston Matthews. The 18-year-old is an excellent defensive defenseman who has an offensive touch in need of a bit of development. Sound familiar, Red Wings fans?

Reinbacher would be the second consecutive Austrian player taken by the Red Wings first round after Marco Kasper last year. The Kasper pick looks great thus far, so maybe the Wings go back to the Austrian well this summer.

11. Arizona Coyotes (via Ottawa Senators): Eduard Sale, LW, Brno (Czech Extraliga)

The Coyotes aren't drafting Sale because of an insane stat sheet. The 18-year-old has 14 points in 43 games in the top flight of Czechian hockey. Sale's appeal comes from the tools he possesses.

Sale has size to him and skates incredibly well. He has the capabilities to beat NHL defensemen regularly and possesses impressive passing ability for his age. The 18-year-old possesses incredibly natural offensive instincts already.

The Coyotes grabbed a potential top-line center with their first pick in this NHL Mock Draft. Here, they get a potential top-six playmaking winger that could turn the game on its head.

12. Washington Capitals: Brayden Yager, C, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)

It's been about 10 years since the Washington Capitals have had a pick around this point of the first round. With this pick, they grab a potential top-six center who could be the long-term replacement for Niklas Backstrom.

Moose Jaw has shown trust in Yager in every situation this season. He plays with speed and energy while playing with a physicality most players his size would usually avoid.

Yager hasn't scored as many goals as some expected this season, but he still scored nearly 30 goals this season. He projects as a high-energy playmaker with a solid defensive game.

13. Buffalo Sabres: Axel Sandin Pellikka, D, Skelleftea (SHL)

Much like their Atlantic Division rival Red Wings, the Buffalo Sabres lack right-shot defensemen in their system. Here, they take a high-riser who certainly has a case to be the first blueliner off the board.

Sandin Pellikka has spent time between the Swedish junior league and the Swedish Hockey League this year. He's shined at the junior level, scoring 16 goals and 36 points in 31 games.

Sandin Pellikka is creative with the puck on his stick and moves intelligently. He does not shy away from the gritty battles despite not having ideal size for NHL defenseman. A fearless player with the potential to play in the top four of any defensive pairing.

14. Calgary Flames: Daniil But, LW, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (KHL)

But is a huge winger, standing 6'5″ at just 18 years old. He has all of the tools to be a star winger, it's all about putting it all together at the next level.

But is one of the best forwards in Russia's junior league this season. He uses his size to his advantage offensively, using his wingspan to slip pucks past defenders in transition.

The knock on But is that, beyond his size, he doesn't have a trait that truly stands out. His offensive skills are clear to see, but there isn't that elite trait quite yet. The Calgary Flames could be the team that brings out those elite traits.

15. Montreal Canadiens (via Florida Panthers): Oliver Moore, C, USNTDP

Benson has the ability to play center, but can also kick out to the wing. If the Canadiens believe he is better suited on the wing, grabbing a center in Oliver Moore would be worthwhile.

Moore is the second-line center on the USNTDP and has provided solid offensive production. He is great defensively, playing hard and not afraid of getting into those tough battles around the net.

Moore projects as a solid two-way center who can contribute on the first or second line. Montreal already has a first-line center in Nick Suzuki, but Moore could work his way into the team's middle six in the future.

16. Nashville Predators: Andrew Cristall, LW, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

The NHL Draft is the most unpredictable draft in all of sports. NHL GMs go off the board with consistency after the first 10 or so picks. I say that to say that Cristall is the most unpredictable player in the most unpredictable draft in sports.

Some have Cristall in their top 10, others don't even have the Kelowna Rocket in the first round. I believe the truth lies somewhere in the middle, quite literally.

Cristall was a point-per-game player in the WHL as a 16-year-old and is one of the top scorers in the league this year. He is a highly dangerous player offensively with his creativity and vision with the puck.

The Nashville Predators are entering the next era of their franchise. Here, they grab a potential top-six offensive winger to build that future around.

17. Detroit Red Wings (via Vancouver Canucks/New York Islanders): Oliver Bonk, D, London Knights (OHL)

The Red Wings grabbed a right-shot defenseman with their first pick in this NHL Mock Draft. And they decide to double up with another right-shot defenseman here.

Oliver is the son of longtime NHL forward Radek Bonk. He is much more of an offensive defenseman, scoring 10 goals and 40 points in 64 games with the London Knights this season.

Bonk is solid defensively, and that should translate to the NHL. However, he is mainly an offensive defenseman, something Detroit could use after trading Filip Hronek to the Canucks, who they actually got this pick from.

18. Pittsburgh Penguins: Gabe Perreault, RW, USNTDP

The Pittsburgh Penguins have one of the thinnest prospect pools in the NHL. They need promising talent in the worst way, and Perreault certainly fits the bill for Pittsburgh.

Perreault is producing at a two-point per-game pace this season for the development program. He is currently committed to play college hockey at Boston College.

Perreault is a skilled winger who makes crafty plays in the offensive zone regularly. He has soft hands that allow him to pull off an impressive deke from time to time, as well.

The Boston College commit likely doesn't produce at a two-point per-game pace in the NHL. However, he projects as a highly-skilled offensive forward who could see time on Pittsburgh's top six in the future.

19. Winnipeg Jets: Caden Price, D, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

The Winnipeg Jets have used their first-round pick on a forward in each of the last four drafts. Here, they select one of the youngest players in the draft and add to their blueline depth.

Price has shown the ability to play with an edge that translates well at the next level. The 17-year-old has also flashed a nice playmaking touch from the point and has a knack for creating scoring chances for his teammates.

Price will take time to develop for sure. However, the Jets take a shot here on a player with major upside who can make a difference at the next level in the right situation.

20. Seattle Kraken: Quentin Musty, LW, Sudbury Wolves (OHL)

The Seattle Kraken have taken centers with their first two first-round picks in the NHL Draft. In our NHL Mock Draft, they take a winger with an impressive offensive touch.

Musty has helped lead the Sudbury Wolves to an OHL Playoff spot this season. He can score goals, netting 24 this season. However, he is much more of a playmaking winger, recording 49 assists.

The Kraken don't have a left winger in their top 15 prospects. They change that with the selection of Musty here late in the first round.

21. Nashville Predators (via Edmonton Oilers): Calum Ritchie, C, Oshawa Generals (OHL)

The Nashville Predators are back with the pick they acquired from the Edmonton Oilers in the Mathias Ekholm trade. With this selection, they add to their center depth.

Ritchie is a point-per-game player for the Oshawa Generals in the OHL this season. Oshawa currently hold the final playoff spot in the league's Eastern Conference as the season draws to a close this coming week.

Ritchie has had a bit of a disappointing season despite the point-per-game production. There is still a lot to like about the 18-year-old, though, and the Predators would be wise to add him here.

22. Minnesota Wild: William Whitelaw, RW/C, Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)

This pick is definitely off the board, but that's the nature of the NHL Draft around this point. The Minnesota Wild are without a right wing in their top prospects list and find an interesting prospect here.

Whitelaw starred during the Hlinka Gretzky Cup during the summer. And he continued to raise his draft stock by producing at around a point-per-game clip for the Youngstown Phantoms in the United States Hockey League.

Whitelaw is an incredibly skilled forward, though he is undersized. However, beyond Connor Bedard, there aren't a lot of players more fun to watch than the 18-year-old. The Wild bring a Minnesota native home with this pick.

23. Colorado Avalanche: Matthew Wood, LW, University of Connecticut (NCAA)

The Colorado Avalanche kept their first-round pick this year after not having a pick until the sixth round last year. With this pick, they take a bit of a project with high offensive upside.

Wood has produced at nearly a point-per-game pace for the University of Connecticut this season. His offensive IQ is very impressive, and he shines in one-on-one situations against defenders.

The knock on Wood is his effort level. There are times when the 18-year-old looks sluggish and can take shifts off. However, the Avalanche aren't in need of help immediately, so they can afford to take their time with the Connecticut product.

24. Columbus Blue Jackets (via Los Angeles Kings): Ethan Gauthier, RW, Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)

The Blue Jackets are back after kicking off this NHL Mock Draft with the selection of Connor Bedard. Here, they add to their depth along the right side of the ice.

Gauthier is an important piece of the Sherbrooke Phoenix while not producing otherworldly numbers. He flashes impressive offensive IQ while creating numerous scoring chances for his teammates.

Gauthier has some of the highest work ethic of any player in this draft. He projects as a middle-six playmaking winger, though he could play a bit higher in the lineup if needed.

25. Chicago Blackhawks (via Tampa Bay Lightning): Samuel Honzek, C, Vancouver Giants (WHL)

Where Honzek plays in the NHL is up for debate. He could play down the middle or along the wing. For the Chicago Blackhawks, they'd have time to figure that out.

Honzek is a big forward who skates really well. He shows flashes of a solid offensive game and is a very good defender. The 18-year-old easily projects as a premier penalty killer at the next level.

The Blackhawks took a future franchise cornerstone with their first pick in this NHL Mock Draft. This pick is nothing flashy, but Honzek is a solid two-way player who could play a very important role for any team in the future.

26. New York Rangers (via Dallas Stars): Mikhail Gulyayev, D, Avangard Omsk (KHL)

This pick is technically up for grabs, as the Rangers will send the worst of this pick and the first-rounder they acquired from the Dallas Stars earlier this season to the St. Louis Blues.

In this mock, they send the Stars' pick to St. Louis. With this pick, they add depth to their defenseman with Gulyayev. The 17-year-old has shown a lot of promise in the Russian junior league this season.

There are some kinks to work out here. Gulyayev is a defenseman, but his defense is not necessarily a strength. He is a dynamic offensive defenseman, but the actual defense needs to come around. The Rangers bet on themselves to develop the Russian blueliner into more of a complete player.

27. St. Louis Blues (via Toronto Maple Leafs): Charlie Stramel, C, University of Wisconsin (NCAA)

Stramel's stock has dropped a bit since the beginning of the year. He's had an up-and-down season at Wisconsin. And while he didn't play terribly during the World Juniors, he wasn't lights out either.

Despite that, there is a lot to like about Stramel. He is 6'3″ and plays a very physical brand of hockey. He won't be a dynamo offensively, but he can still create a few chances for his linemates.

Stramel is more of a defensive-minded middle-six forward. If the Blues, or any other team, can develop his offensive skills, this pick could be a home run.

28. San Jose Sharks (via New Jersey Devils): Otto Stenberg, C/W, Frolunda HC (SHL)

Stenberg is another player whose NHL Draft projection is all over the place right now. Some have the Swede as high as a top-15 player, while others have him just missing out on the first round.

The San Jose Sharks acquired this pick in the Timo Meier blockbuster from the New Jersey Devils. They take Stenberg, who can be a thorn in the side of opposing players on the forecheck.

He also flashes the ability to be a dangerous scorer at the next level, though he is a bit inconsistent in that area. San Jose can work with that, and potentially land themselves a middle-six goal scorer in the process.

29. St. Louis Blues (via New York Rangers/Dallas Stars): Beau Akey, D, Barrie Colts (OHL)

Long time, no see, Blues. St. Louis is back with the pick they acquired for Vladimir Tarasenko. And with the pick, they take a potentially dynamic offensive defenseman.

Akey is an incredibly raw prospect. He is great offensively and has helped the Barrie Colts clinch the third seed in the OHL's Eastern Conference.

The knock here is that Akey needs to develop more defensively. He leans more as an offensive first player, and that bodes well for a team's power play. If the 18-year-old becomes more of a two-way player, the sky is the limit for him.

30. Carolina Hurricanes: Jayden Perron, RW, Chicago Steel (USHL)

Some have Perron going way higher than this, but I think this is a more realistic range for him at this point. The Carolina Hurricanes could use depth along their wing, and Perron brings that.

Perron is producing at over a point-per-game pace with the Chicago Steel of the USHL. His shot is good, though not great, and is a very good skater. The 18-year-old is also a good passer, and could profile better as a playmaker.

Perron is a good player with upside who plats without any fear. The Hurricanes add another interesting project to their farm system here.

31. Vegas Golden Knights: Bradley Nadeau, C, Penticton Vees (BCHL)

This pick is certainly off the board, but there is a lot to like with Nadeau. The Vegas Golden Knights could have the steal of the NHL Draft on their hands here.

Nadeau plays in the British Columbia Hockey League, and he is a star. The 17-year-old has 44 goals and 110 points in 51 games this season. The Vees are far and away the BCHL's best team, and Nadeau leads the way.

The 17-year-old is a very good offensive prospect. He also brings versatility with his ability to play left wing. Keep an eye on Nadeau, he could vastly outplay his draft position.

32. Toronto Maple Leafs (via Washington Capitals/Boston Bruins): Luca Cagnoni, D, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)

To round out this 2023 NHL Mock Draft, the Toronto Maple Leafs add to their blueline depth. They acquired this pick from the Washington Capitals in the Rasmus Sandin trade.

Cagnoni flashes the ability to play a strong two-way game. His puck skills aren't the greatest, but that can be worked out in the development process.

Cagnoni does need to add a bit of muscle and get stronger to stick in the NHL. If he does, he could play his way into a top-four role on an NHL blueline.