The draft order was determined through a lottery drawing involving the 16 teams that did not qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
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On May 8, the Chicago Blackhawks emerged as the recipients of the highly coveted No. 1 pick, while the Anaheim Ducks secured the No. 2 selection. The remaining teams were then ordered based on their regular-season NHL standings.
Picks 17-28 were determined by the outcomes of the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Non-division winners were ranked based on their regular-season point totals, followed by division winners.
While there is typically a market for betting on the top pick in a draft, there isn’t an opportunity to do so this year. The consensus among oddsmakers is that the Chicago Blackhawks will select Connor Bedard as their first pick.
Bedard possesses immense potential and is touted as one of the most exceptional prospects in the NHL since Connor McDavid was chosen as the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft by the Edmonton Oilers.
Despite being only 17 years old, Bedard has consistently displayed exceptional skills at every level he has competed in, often standing out as the youngest player on his team. His remarkable abilities classify him as a generational talent capable of revitalizing the Chicago Blackhawks’ pursuit of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The 3rd Pick
The third pick in the draft is where the odds get interesting. There are no odds available for Bedard for the first pick. The best odds you’ll find for second pick are -700 at Bovada for Fantilli.
The Blue Jackets have high hopes that Carlsson’s impressive showing at the World Championships will create a significant dilemma for Anaheim. They’re hoping it could potentially result in Adam Fantilli falling to Columbus at the No. 3 spot.
Carlsson’s outstanding performance in Europe, particularly his ability to shine against seasoned professional players, could give him an edge over another highly skilled center, Will Smith, in the race for the No. 3 position.
This draft marks a critical decision point for Jarmo Kekalainen and the Blue Jackets’ management team. They are faced with a choice between Carlsson and Smith. Winger Matvei Michkov will not be the chosen option for this pick.
The decision to overlook Michkov is not solely based on his contractual situation in Russia but primarily because he does not play as a center.
The challenges encountered by the Blue Jackets during the 2022-23 season have placed them in a position where they must address their longstanding underperformance issue in the center ice position.
I would not recommend betting on Carlsson to be the third pick at -160 on Bovada.
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The 4th Pick
As we move to the fourth pick, the odds become more favorable for our position. William Smith is currently the frontrunner to be selected as the fourth pick, with odds of -140.
Smith has an extraordinary ability to significantly impact games, consistently delivering exceptional performances during critical moments.
His remarkable contributions were pivotal in the United States’ triumphant quest for the gold medal at the April 2023 IIHF Under-18 World Championship.
Having led the tournament with an impressive 20 points (nine goals, 11 assists) in seven games, he equaled the U.S. record set by Jack Hughes at the 2019 event. Standing tall at 6 feet and weighing 181 pounds, Smith has committed to playing at Boston College for at least one season.
Despite the anticipation surrounding his future, there is no doubt that he will prove to be well worth the wait.
I would recommend betting on William Smith to be the fourth pick at -140 odds at Bovada.
The 5th Pick
Regarding pure skill, Michkov (5-10, 172) could be the second-best prospect in this year’s draft class, trailing only Bedard. However, it’s important to note that his current contract with the KHL extends until the 2025-26 season. Which means that the team that selects him will require patience and have to wait three years.
Despite the need for waiting, the Montreal Canadiens have been making strides in assembling a talented group of young players. With forwards like Cole Caufield, Nick Suzuki, Kirby Dach, and Juraj Slafkovsky, as well as defensemen such as Kaiden Guhle, Justin Barron, and Jordan Harris, the Canadiens have been successful in establishing a solid foundation.
Additionally, their recent drafting endeavors have been fruitful, ensuring they are well-prepared to wait for Michkov’s potential arrival in 2026 when he reaches the age of 22.
The best bet is Matvei Michkov to go fifth to the Canadiens at +140. He is a very talented player but that three year wait before his contract is up with Russian hockey league could cause hesitation among some.
Oddsmakers placing odds of +140 indicates a little better than 42% chance which seems awfully low. Looking at the odds for the rest of the picks ahead of the fifth pick, really seems to indicate that Michkov will be picked there.
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