The Anaheim Ducks made a surprise choice with their second overall pick. Selecting Swedish forward Leo Carlsson, the Ducks effectively flipped the expected draft order and allowed Adam Fantilli to drop to third. Fantilli ultimately went to the Columbus Blue Jackets, who were likely shocked that he was still on the board.
Both Carlsson and Fantilli excelled in their draft season. Carlsson topped NHL Central Scouting’s final ranking of international skaters and was named the Swedish junior player of the year, while Fantilli earned the Hobey Baker Award after a dominant season with the University of Michigan.
— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) June 28, 2023
Even Carlsson himself admitted he didn’t expect to go second overall.
“[I was] a bit surprised but super blessed,” he told ESPN’s Emily Kaplan after the selection.
Carlsson scored 25 points (10g, 15a) with the SHL’s Örebro HK last season. He also wowed on the international stage, playing for Sweden at both World Juniors and the IIHF World Championship. Carlsson played at nearly a point-a-game pace during World Juniors, tallying three goals and three assists in only seven games. That placed him third among Swedes at the tournament in scoring, behind the already-drafted Filip Bystedt and Ludvig Jansson.
Meanwhile Fantilli, had a dazzling season of his own across the Atlantic. He entered the draft as only the third-ever freshman to win the Hobey Baker Award, doing so on the back of a 65-point season (30g, 35a). He was the Big Ten Tournament’s MVP in the postseason, setting a single-tournament record for both goals (7) and points (11). In addition to the Hobey Baker, Fantilli won the Tim Taylor Award for best freshman of the year, was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, and earned honors on both the All-Big Ten Freshman Team and the All-Big Ten First Team. He, too, played for his country at World Juniors in 2023, winning a gold medal with Team Canada.
Fantilli took the shake-up in stride, having named Columbus as a preferred destination even before the draft.
— NHL (@NHL) June 28, 2023
If not for super phenom Connor Bedard, either forward could have gone first overall. Carlsson is known for his playmaking and hockey sense, while Fantilli is more of a pure scoring talent. Though the Ducks and the Blue Jackets missed out on the first overall pick, both Carlsson and Fantilli will likely prove crucial to their teams for years to come.
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