Screen Shot 2022 10 03 at 9.12.07 AM

Screen Shot 2022 10 03 at 9.12.07 AM

Ryan Leonard projects to go early in the 2023 NHL Draft. (Rena Laverty/USA Hockey)

The 2023 NHL Draft promises to be a strong one for prospects from the United States, including a few from New England. As many as eight Americans could be taken in the first round when the draft commences on June 28 at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.

This season the NHL Draft returns to the month of June after three years of being in October or July due to implications from Covid. It will present a further return to normalcy for NHL brass, scouts, agents and prospects. Nashville previously hosted the annual pilgrimage of the hockey prospect world in 2003.

First year eligible players for the 2023 NHL draft are those born between September 16, 2004 and September 15, 2005. Players born between January 1, 2003 and September 15, 2004 are in their second or third years of eligibility. In recent years, there has been an uptick in second and third year eligible players being selected.

The first overall pick is projected to be Connor Bedard, a center with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League (WHL). He’s long been considered to be the top prospect eligible for the 2023 draft. The North Vancouver, British Columbia, native scored 51 goals and 49 assists in 62 games during the 2021-22 major junior season. He scored four goals and four assists in seven games as Canada captured the Gold Medal at the 2022 World Junior Championship this August.

The potential second overall pick is a player with ties to the New England region.

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