The Vegas Golden Knights selected center David Edstrom with the No. 32 overall pick in the first round of the 2023 NHL Entry Draft Wednesday night at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.
Edstrom was ranked 25th overall on Central Scouting’s list of top European skaters; he was considered a bubble player that could go late in the first round or in the second, but the Golden Knights elected to add a reliable center with promising potential to the organization’s depth chart.
The 6-foot-3, 187-pound Swede is a physical two-way center who is strong around the net and in the faceoff dots; he wins battles, kills penalties and is hard-working, all of which make him a strong fit with the Golden Knights.
Edstrom is considered to be an above-average skater, though some scouts would argue he needs to learn to use his speed more effectively. However, he has good hands and protects the puck well, especially given his size, and he’s strong on the back-check and along the boards.
He played at a point-per-game pace on the Frölunda J20 team, scoring 28 points in 28 games this past season. He also recorded two goals and four points in 11 games in the SHL, the top professional league in Sweden.
Edstrom centered the first line for Sweden at the U18 Worlds, where he scored five goals and eight points in seven games.
The native of Götenborg, Sweden has a high compete level, solid hockey IQ and can contribute offensively despite lacking obvious flash, though he’ll have time to develop his skill set in Sweden. He took a step in the right direction with his production this past year, demonstrating an ability to score at different levels. Edstrom uses his size to his advantage and still has room to grow.
Edstrom is sneakily good in almost every facet of the game. He’s made in the mould of a big two-way centre but also provides a lot of value offensively and – at times – even in transition. He’s also a solid distributor of the puck, both in the offensive zone and on the breakout. He supports his defencemen down low, reads passing lanes, and covers space while handling his puck battles with care.
Edstrom is often compared to Minnesota’s Joel Eriksson Ek and is projected to be a middle-six center in the NHL.
The Golden Knights’ selection came at the end of a very busy day, as Vegas traded Reilly Smith to the Penguins for a third-round pick, signed Ivan Barbashev to a five-year, $25 million extension and also inked Brayden Pachal to a two-year deal.
The Golden Knights do not have a second-round pick in this year’s draft but do have two third-round picks (Nos. 77 and 96) as well as sixth- and seventh-round selections (Nos. 192 and 244, respectively).