Excitement is building in for National Hockey League fans because it is time for the 2023 NHL Draft. Supporters of all 32 teams are on tenterhooks waiting to see which up-and-coming player is added to their team’s roster for the 2023 campaign. Every eligible draft player dreams of being selected first overall, but is being the number one pick all that it is made out to be?
The latest NHL Draft betting markets have Adam Fantilli as an overwhelming favorite to be selected first in the 2023 NHL Draft. As the Chicago Blackhawks won one of the draft lotteries on May 8, they have the first choice from the crop of young talent and are all but guaranteed to sign Fantilli.
Fantilli is an 18-year-old Canadian who plays center. He played college hockey for the Michigan Wolverines, winning eight awards during his freshman year, which caught the eye of all 32 NHL franchises. His 30 goals and 35 assists in 36 games for the Wolverines saw Fantilli lead the nation in points and goals. Should the Blackhawks select Fantilli as the first overall pick, he will become the 61st player to be bestowed with such an honor.
The Stand-Out Stars That Were Number One Picks
There is always much hype surrounding any North American sport’s number one draft pick, be it the NHL, NBA, or NFL. The number one pick is seen as that year’s hottest prospect and someone destined for greatness in their chosen sports, but does that always happen?
Since the first-ever NHL Draft in 1963, there have been 60 different players selected first. Forty-three of those number-one picks hailed from Canada, eight from the United States, three from Russia, two from the Czech Republic and Sweden, and one from Slovakia and Sweden. Most do go on to enjoy NHL careers, with every number one pick drafted between 1968 and 2016 playing at least 299 top-flight games before they hung up their skates. Surprisingly, three number-one choices retired, having never stepped on the ice in the NHL.
Eleven number-one draft picks went on to collect the Calder Memorial Trophy, an award given to the NHL’s Rookie of the Year, proving, at least partially, that the player drafted first has abundant talent. Four of those 11, and eight overall, are immortalized in the Hockey Hall of Fame, which is not a bad return on 60 selections.
The First and Last Number One Picks in Hockey’s Hall of Fame
The late Guy Lafleur was the first NHL Draft number-one pick to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Lafleur gained entry in 1988, and there is not a single person that disagrees with the Canadian’s induction. Lafleur played right wing for the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Quebec Nordiques in an illustrious career spanning 17 seasons. He won five Stanley Cups, was voted among the top 100 NHL players of all time, and received the Order of Hockey in Canada. Lafleur played 1,254 professional games, scored 618 goals, and made 869 assists.
Eric Lindros was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2016; the last number-one draft pick to do so. Lindros spent most of his NHL career with the Philadelphia Flyers, prompting the Flyers to retire his No. 88 jersey in January 2018. Lindros played over 800 top-flight games, scoring more than 500 goals and assisting more than 500 others.
Becoming the number-one overall pick does not guarantee a player success in the NHL, but it gives them a solid foundation to build a spectacular career. Good look to Fantilli and the other youngster participating in this year’s draft.