#5: Andrew Cristall, LW, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
Projected Pick Range: Mid to Late 1st Round
Insert another potential steal at No.24 for the Nashville Predators. Andrew Cristall from the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL was a goal scoring machine this past season putting up 39 goals and 95 points in 54 games.
Only fellow WHL draft prospects Connor Bedard, Zach Benson and Riley Heidt had more points than Cristall. Teams just get spooked when “undersized” enters the equation.
Cristall’s main attribute he brings to the table that give him potential to go in the top-20 is obviously his flashy ability to generate space with his skating and putting the puck between the pipes.
From the Elite Prospects 2023 Draft Guide:
"“He’s an inventive playmaker, capable of turning the mundane into the brilliant, breaking down opponents with feints and deception before sending perfectly weighted passes to his teammates to do the rest”."
Sounds like a player that would be hard to pass up at the 15th pick, much less the 24th overall pick. If you pass Cristall at 15, then you’re taking a gamble that he slips by another eight picks. That would be a beautiful scenario for Nashville, assuming they don’t take a similar style player before that.
Cristall does bring a high risk, high reward factor which is why picking him at 15 might be an overreach. He sometimes will follow up a dominant performance with a no-show. I still like him on my draft board at the 24th pick for Nashville.