2023 NHL Mock Draft: 25. St. Louis Blues: Tanner Molendyk, D (Saskatoon, WHL)
On February 17, the St. Louis Blues received this pick from the Toronto Maple Leafs in a trade involving center Ryan O’Reilly.
Should the Blues take a winger with their first pick, one would think they’ll like to choose a defenseman with their second.
Tanner Molendyk is a skilled offensive defenseman for the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades. Despite not receiving as much playing time as his teammates, he scored 9 goals and 37 points in 67 games, ranking third among the team’s defensemen in points. Molendyk’s smooth skating ability makes him look like he’s effortlessly gliding across the ice, and he can maintain his speed and agility while handling the puck. He’s also a confident and patient player who successfully transitions the puck from defense to offense. In addition, Molendyk has a powerful and accurate shot that makes him a threat in the offensive zone. He’s also proven to be one of Saskatoon’s top players in shutting down their toughest opponents, including Connor Bedard, whom he kept goalless in two games this season.
2023 NHL Mock Draft: 26. San Jose Sharks: Michael Hrabal, G (Omaha, USHL)
The Sharks desperately need a goaltender. That’s the sole reason for the pick here. Hrabal is a highly skilled goalie standing at 6-6. He’s NCAA bound for the University of Massachusetts in 2023-24. He has a remarkable record of 18 wins and 3 losses in 24 games with the U20 team, with a .936 SV% and a 2.14 GAA. His talent has earned him the attention of the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the United States Hockey League (USHL), who drafted him in the ninth round of the 2021 USHL Futures Draft.
Hrabal’s agility is impressive, especially for a goalie of his height. However, he tends to rely too much on his butterfly position and plays deep in his crease, which could be better for a goalie of his size. Nevertheless, with a good team in front of him, his potential will surely be maximized, and his strengths will shine.
2023 NHL Mock Draft: 27. Colorado Avalanche: Eduard Sale, LW, Brno-Czechia
An 18-year-old left winger who can also skate on the right? Sign me up! The 6-2 175-pounder has strong skills in creating plays and is a good shooter. He was recognized as Extraliga Rookie of the Year for earning 14 points in 43 games. He also showcased himself in international competition, scoring six points in seven games for his team in the IIHF World Junior U20 championship.
2023 NHL Mock Draft: 28. Toronto Maple Leafs: Etienne Morin, LHD, Moncton (QMJHL
Etienne Morin is a highly skilled defenseman, excelling in both offense and defense. He plays heavy minutes in all situations, with 20 goals and 65 points in 64 games. He has strong gap control and retrieves pucks quickly in the defensive zone. Morin’s focus on becoming a 200-foot player has made him a valuable asset for his team. Toronto will love him especially because they need a good blue liner in their system.