Five Giants ranked as 2023 NHL Draft prospects

Rob Wilton/Vancouver Giants

Five Vancouver Giants were named to the NHL Central Scouting preliminary list yesterday. Inclusion on the list indicates that a player is regarded as a potential NHL entry draft pick.

Forwards Samuel Honzek, Ty Halaburda, Jaden Lipinski and Ethan Semeniuk, and defenseman Mazden Leslie were the Vancouver skaters named to the list. Honzek leads the rankings as the Giants’ top NHL prospect, earning an “A” rating shared with only six other WHL players. Halaburda earned a “B” rating, while Lipinski, Semeniuk and Leslie were given a “C” rating. “A” ratings represent possible first-round picks, “B” ratings reflect possible second or third round selections, and “C” ratings denote a player expected to be drafted in the fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh round.

Honzek leads the 3-5-3 Giants with six goals and seven assists for 13 points. He is a Slovakian import who was drafted 10th overall in this year’s CHL import draft. In addition to his inclusion on the NHL Central Scouting list, he was also listed among notable prospects on Bob McKenzie’s preseason TSN list. 

Halaburda has bounced back from a season-ending injury to cap his rookie 2021-22 and is scoring at a point-per-game clip with three goals and eight assists. He is one of only 12 WHL skaters to be given a “B” rating on the list.

Leslie leads the Vancouver blueline in scoring with 11 points so far and was named the most recent WHL player of the week. He ranks second among WHL defensemen in scoring and was invited to attend Canada’s U18 Summer Selection Camp this past summer. 

Lipinski has three goals and seven assists for the Giants this season. The forward went undrafted in the WHL entry draft and was later added to Vancouver’s protected list. After a solid rookie campaign, Lipinski now finds himself as a possible NHL draft pick.

Semeniuk has five goals and three assists so far, nearly matching his goal total from his first season in Vancouver.

While these five Giants players are expected to be in the mix as 2023 NHL draft picks, the Giants are bolstered by several previous entry draft selections. Team captain and center Zack Ostapchuk was drafted in the second round, 39th overall by the Ottawa Senators during the 2021 NHL draft. Starting netminder Jesper Vikman was drafted by the Vegas Golden Knights in the fifth round, 125th overall in the 2020 NHL draft, and joined the Giants this year.

The NHL Central Scouting midterm list will be released in January. The Giants face off next on the road against the Edmonton Oil Kings on Thursday, Oct. 27 with puck drop set for 5:00 p.m.