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2023 NHL Draft Rankings – Mid-Season Edition Part 2

Zach Benson 2023 NHL Draft Rankings

Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. As we have now reached the end of January, we bring you our mid-season NHL Draft Rankings. Later in the year, we will bring you a daily column featuring a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2023 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! Today we bring you our 2023 NHL Draft Rankings, Mid-Season Edition.

With the CHL season nearly four months old, over three months of NCAA hockey, plenty of games for the US National Team Development Program, the Gretzky-Hlinka Tournament, an international break in Europe, and of course the World Juniors all being played since we last updated our draft rankings, we have gotten a decent overview of what some of the biggest prospects for the 2023 NHL Draft are doing this year.

That said, as a staff, we haven’t seen every player yet—it’s quite simply not possible at this point in the season. If there is an obvious name left out, we’ll do our best to get a look at him before the final rankings that go from April through June.

For Part 1 and the Top Five Ranked players, click here.

Mid-Season Report: 2023 NHL Draft Rankings Part 2


6.) Zach Benson, Left Wing/Centre, Winnipeg Ice, WHL, 5’10”, 159 lbs

Benson is a bit undersized and will need to add muscle to his frame before he is ready for the pro game. However, this is not that unusual for a 17-year-old. Despite the smallish stature, Benson is ultra-competitive, battling bigger opponents along the boards and heading to the front of the net both with and without the puck. His skating is more quick than fast. He moves around the ice well but is not a speedster. Benson is dangerous in the offensive zone though as he has quick feet and can dart in and out of tight spaces and has excellent agility to get by his man. He also handles the puck extremely well, allowing him to make creative plays. His quick stick combines with his good feet to open up passing and shooting lanes.

7.) Will Smith, Centre, US NTDP, USHL, 6’0″, 172 lbs

The fresh prince of the US National Team Development Program, Smith is the team’s top centre. Smith controls the puck in the offensive zone, creating space and scoring chances for both himself and his linemates. He can make plays in a phone booth, with impressive hands and good lateral agility and excellent acceleration. This allows Smith to manipulate defenders and open up passing and shooting lanes. He has very good vision and hockey sense. This makes Smith a dangerous playmaker. He also has a very good wrist shot and a quick release, though he could stand to use it a bit more often. Smith is not afraid to play in the dirty areas of the ice. He plays a 200-foot game and works hard in the defensive end.

8.) Colby Barlow, Left Wing, Owen Sound Attack, OHL, 6’1″, 187 lbs

Barlow is a pure goal scorer with good size, very good skating ability, and outstanding instincts. He has an excellent array of shots and gets them off with a quick release. Barlow also has the soft hands to score in tight to the net, deking goalies, banging in rebounds, and getting deflections. While goal scoring is his key trait, it’s certainly not the only one. Barlow is strong on the boards and in front of the net, winning battles with bigger and stronger opponents. He gets in quick on the forecheck, creating issues for opposing defenders. Barlow is also a very good defensive player, mature for his age and almost always in the right spot. He kills penalties, using his size and active stick to cut down passing lanes and create turnovers. Barlow is a natural leader, as he was named the Attack team captain at just 17 years of age.

9.) Dalibor Dvorsky, Centre, AIK, Allsvenskan, 6’1″, 201 lbs

After seeing three players taken in the first round in 2022, including the top two picks, the golden generation of Slovakian hockey is here. The 2023 class is led by Dvorsky who is playing against men in the Swedish Allsvenskan. He has shone brightly on the international stage with impressive performances at the 2021-22 Hlinka/Gretzky tournament and the 2023 World Junior Championships. Dvorsky has good size and uses it to play a power game in the middle of the ice. He uses his body and his reach to protect the puck and extend offensive zone possession. When a teammate is open, he can make a tape-to-tape pass through a tight opening. He also has a good wrist shot and the power to get to the front of the net both with and without the puck.

10.) Oliver Moore, Centre, US NTDP, USHL, 5’11”, 176 lbs

Moore combines with Smith to provide the NTDP with a strong one-two push down the middle. Smith is an elite-level skater, with speed and agility that few in this draft class can match. He combines this with soft hands and can make plays at top speed. This allows Smith to create a ton of chances in transition. He is able to create breakaways and odd-man rushes. He can also beat a defender wide and cut hard to the net. Defenders have to respect his speed and this creates time and space. Moore is also able to carry the puck through the neutral zone and generate effective offensive zone entries. Smith can create plays as well as score goals. He needs to add muscle to his frame and be stronger on the puck to take his game to an even higher level.


Part 3 continues here.


2023 NHL Draft Rankings Part Two Main Photo:

Embed from Getty Images

LANGLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA – JANUARY 25: Forward Zach Benson #9 of the Winnipeg Ice moves the puck for Team Red during the 2023 Kubota CHL Top Prospects Game at the Langley Events Centre on January 25, 2023 in Langley, British Columbia. (Photo by Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)


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