Bedard, Fantilli Headline NHL Central Scouting Preliminary Watch List Ratings

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Bedard, Fantilli Headline NHL Central Scouting Preliminary Watch List Ratings

Chicago Blackhawks

Yeah, maybe we’re a little off our game when thinking about the tank job in Chicago, because right now the Blackhawks are riding a three-game win streak and looking pretty good. But we cannot lose sight of the fact that the Blackhawks are (a) still rebuilding, and (b) have two picks in each of the first three rounds of the 2023 NHL Draft.

So where there is news regarding the 2023 draft class, my attention is turned.

On Tuesday morning, NHL Central Scouting released their preliminary watch list for the 2023 NHL Draft. In a (not-so) shocking turn of events, Connor Bedard received an A grade.

The list rates players in the early stages of their draft-year seasons based on what NHL Central Scouting has seen prior to and early this year. Players are listed alphabetically; the mid-term and final rankings come out later in the year.

Players who receive an A rating are considered strong first-round candidates, while players who receive a B rating are considered second- or third-round round possibilities — at this time.

That’s an important distinction, because the preliminary list doesn’t always line up with the mid-term or final rankings, much less how players are actually selected. Players stock rise and fall throughout the season based on performance, health and lots of other factors.

For example, last year Kevin Korchinski received a B grade on the 2021-22 preliminary watch list. By the mid-term rankings, Korchincki was up the No. 20 overall North American skater. By the final rankings, Korchinski was ranked seventh among North American skaters. The Blackhawks selected him seventh overall.

I’ve brought up how the 2023 NHL Draft class is being touted as significantly deeper than previous drafts — arguably the best/deepest class in 20 years. The preliminary watch list bears that out. This year, 28 players received an A rating, compared to 23 last year. That indicates NHL Central Scouting feels there are more guys who project as first-round players now (which, again, can/will change) than one year ago.

I have already profiled a number of players for Blackhawks fans to watch in advance of the 2023 NHL Draft under the assumption the Blackhawks do not land the top pick and select Connor Bedard.

All six of these prospects joined Bedard in receiving an A rating on the preliminary watch list.



Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab