The NHL Draft is almost here. The 2013 abbreviated NHL season is over for everyone, congrats Blackhawks, and it’s time for them to look forward to the 2013 NHL Draft. This year’s draft, Sunday, June 30, from sunny New Jersey, will be a jam packed, one day affair (thank you Gary Bettman and your lockout), having all rounds condensed into one day. Someone other than the Edmonton Oilers (congrats Colorado Avalanche) will finally pick first for the first time in years. The question is who will go where? To find out, continue after the jump, and see who will be the future hero of your team.
The NHL Draft this year seems to have one overlying attribute: size. Many of the NHL Draft eligible players this year are greater than six feet tall, and have big bodies that bode well for an NHL future. While draft position is much less accurate in predicting a prospect’s potential career in the NHL Draft than that of other leagues, size is almost as important as skill in the NHL. This year’s NHL draft seems to have both at all positions. The 2013 NHL Draft is only days away, so without further ado, the Colorado Avalanche are on the clock…..
1. Colorado Avalanche
Nathan MacKinnon, C, Halifax (QMJHL) [32G – 43A – 75 Pts]
While it has been thought that Seth Jones would be the top pick of the NHL Draft for the longest time, bringing Patrick Roy into the mix has changed things for the Avalanche. Roy has been around the Q for a long time since his retirement, and appears to be leading towards a more familiar, and offensive minded, player. MacKinnon gives Colorado another young scorer who will help fill out the top two lines.
2. Florida Panthers
Seth Jones, D, Portland (WHL) [14G – 42A – 56 Pts]
The son of former NBA player Popeye Jones, Seth Jones has been the player everyone has wanted in the 2013 NHL Draft. Not only for his skills on the ice, which absolutely exist, but for the off ice star power he can bring. Just ask Jay-Z, whose Roc Nation agency is going to be involved in the Jones branding. Bringing in a player of name value will do wonders for the Panthers, who have long struggled to get people into the building in South Beach.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning
Jonathan Drouin, LW, Halifax (QMJHL) [41G – 64A – 105 Pts]
The Lightning are in a position to take whoever doesn’t go at the second pick, and having Jonathan Drouin fall to them could be the best thing to happen for them. Drouin gives them a new future first line left winger, whenever Martin St. Louis finally decides to hang it up. It also gives them another scorer who could have the same touch as their current sniper, Steven Stamkos. GM Steve Yzerman has been ridiculed of late, but this pick is a home run for Tampa.
4. Nashville Predators
Aleksander Barkov, C, Tappara (FIN) [21F -27A – 48 Pts]
Barkov will be the first international player of the board in the 2013 NHL Draft, and the Predators will be very happy to get the talented Finnish center. Barkov has proven himself at the highest level in Finnish hockey, and has size that NHL GMs love (6’2″, 205 lbs). The youngest ever player to score in a Finnish Elite League game will bring a much needed scoring touch to a Nashville team who has never really had an elite scorer. Think Finnish Baby Jesus (Mikael Granlund) but with a big body.
5. Carolina Hurricanes
Valeri Nichushkin, RW, Chelyabinsk (RUS) [4G -2A – 6 Pts]
Another big power forward from abroad, Nichushkin has been playing in the KHL in Russia, and has proved that older players don’t intimidate him. The Hurricanes love to have big, skilled forwards, and the pick of Nichushkin makes sense here. Many teams might be worried about his contract situation in Russia, but Nichushkin has already stated that he plans to come to North America to play after the NHL Draft, and that his current team in Russia will let him out of his contract so that he can.
6. Calgary Flames
Sean Monahan, C, Ottawa (OHL) [31G – 47A – 78 Pts]
The Flames finally decided to start their rebuild over this season by trading Jaromie Iginla. They also have three first round picks in this NHL Draft. Unfortunately, Calgary couldn’t find a way to fail enough to get a pick in the top five. While they didn’t get a pick in the theoretical top tier of players, the Flames have their choice from the best of the rest. Sean Monahan will give Calgary a strong scoring touch, size, and something that most high draft picks don’t have: defensive responsibility. Monahan might not have the sex appeal of some of the higher picks, but he gives the Flames something that the Flames need: the offensive ability and grit that they lost in Iginla.
7. Edmonton Oilers
Darnell Nurse, D, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) [12G – 29A – 41 Pts]
After three straight #1 picks at the NHL Draft, the Oilers finally have teams drafting before them. While those picks were all offensive (in a good way), Edmonton is now in need of defensive players. Nurse is the next best North American defenseman after Jones, yet has many similarities. He has size, he has a scoring touch, and he also has athletics in his family (his uncle is quarterback Donovan McNabb). Nurse gives Edmonton something it hasn’t had on the blue line in years: somebody who will protect the crease and isn’t afraid to mix it up with anyone.
8. Buffalo Sabres
Elias Lindholm, C, Brynas (SWE) [11G – 19A – 30 Pts]
The Sabres appear to have given up on trying to buy a contender with owner Teddy Pegula’s deep pockets. With two picks in the 2013 NHL Draft, including one acquired from Minnesota in the Jason Pominville trade, Buffalo can restock the cupboards quicker. By taking Lindholm, the Sabres will get a skilled two way center who has proven that he can play with the adults in the Swedish Elite League. Lindholm may not be the biggest or fastest player in the draft, but he might have the best hockey IQ of any of this year’s prospects.
9. New Jersey Devils
Rasmus Ristolainen, D, TPS (FIN) [3G -12A – 15 Pts]
The Devils saw great success a couple years ago with their selection of a European defenseman in the top 10 of the NHL Draft with Adam Larsson, and New Jersey could get another winner with Rasmus Ristolainen. Ristolainen is big, positionally sound, and has a scoring touch. He led all defenseman on his Finnish Elite League team in scoring, and he possesses a cannon of a shot. The talent and skills of Ristolainen should fit right in with the Devils’ style of hockey.
10. Dallas Stars
Hunter Shinkaruk, LW/C, Medicine Hat (WHL) [37G – 49A – 86 Pts]
The Stars are getting a makeover this offseason, with a new logo and uniforms on the way. Something they still desire is scoring. Drafting Shinkaruk will give Dallas a strong offensive presence. Shinkaruk has great skating ability, and one of the best set of hands in this NHL Draft. This past season, Shinkaruk lost a lot of talent on his team, but still continued to put up big numbers, something that should please the Stars.
11. Philadelphia Flyers
Robert Hagg, D, Modo (SWE) [11G -13G – 24 Pts]
The Flyers usually don’t take defenseman in the first round of the NHL Draft, but then again, they usually don’t miss the playoffs either. A big problem for Philly this year was poor play in their own zone. Hagg could help solve that problem. Hagg can make the occasional rush up ice, as well as make great passes out of the zone. More importantly, he is big, physical, and willing to mix it up. Something the Flyers have been lacking the last few years.
12. Phoenix Coyotes
Frederik Gauthier, LW/RW, Rimouski (QMJHL) [22G – 38A -70 Pts]
The biggest asset of Gauthier is his size. He is already 6’4″, 219, and still growing. More importantly, he has a good scoring touch, and could be a prototypical power forward in the NHL. He has also shown a flair for being clutch, being the best player in Canada’s semifinal game at the U18 World Championship, as well as scoring the game winner in the gold medal game. The Coyotes have had Shane Doan for his entire NHL career, and they may end up with Doan 2.0 in this year’s NHL Draft.
13. Winnipeg Jets
Anthony Mantha, RW, Val D’ Or (QMJHL) [50G – 39A – 89 Pts]
If Mantha had been born one day earlier, he would’ve been eligible for the 2012 NHL Draft. Instead, that extra day gave him an extra year to work on his skills. And that he did. Mantha led Val D’ Or in scoring this year, and was the only 50 goal scorer this year in the Q. His scoring prowess, and big frame (6’4″, 200 lbs) gives the Jets a power forward in the making. This size, speed, and scoring will make Mantha a fan favorite in Winnipeg in no time.
14. Columbus Blue Jackets
Mirco Mueller, D, Everett (WHL) [6G -25A – 31 Pts]
Another 6’4″ defenseman in this NHL Draft, Mueller came over from his home in Switzerland to test himself in the rough and rumble WHL. And he did not disappoint. He has the size, shot, and physicality to be a very good NHL defenseman. More importantly, he played on a pairing with Columbus’ first draft choice last season, Ryan Murray, who the Blue Jackets selected second overall in the 2012 NHL Draft.
15. New York Islanders
Ryan Hartman, RW, Plymouth (OHL) [23G – 37A – 60 Pts]
Hartman averaged a point a game at the U-18 Worlds for the United States as he helped the team to a gold medal. After spending two years with the US National Team Development Program, the Illinois product took his skills to the OHL, where he continued to average a point a game, as well as rack up the penalty minutes. Would make a good, aggressive addition to a team that could use a little grit.
16. Buffalo Sabres (From Minnesota)
Ryan Pulock, D, Brandon (WHL) [14G – 31A – 45 Pts]
After getting some offense with their own pick earlier in the draft, the Sabres can use the pick acquired from Minnesota to add a little more offense, from the blue line though. Pulock has what most consider the best shot from the point of any prospect in this year’s NHL draft. More importantly, he has the vision and skill to quarterback a power play from the point, something that Buffalo struggled with at times this year.
17. Ottawa Senators
Max Domi, C, London (OHL) [39G – 48A – 87 Pts]
Every year, a player’s post season skills act as a catalyst for a player’s stock to rise. Domi has the offensive talent of many of the other prospects in this draft, as well as a touch of the mean streak and toughness that his father, Tie, had. The Senators have been rebuilding on the fly, and the selection of Domi is another strong choice that will make Ottawa a team to watch in coming years.
18. Detroit Red Wings
Valentin Zykov, LW, Baie-Comeau (QMJHL) [40G – 35A – 75 Pts]
Zykov was mostly an unknown before coming over from Russia before this past season, yet the sniper went and earned himself the Offensive Rookie of the Year in the QMJHL this season. The big body winger has, sorry to borrow a term from the NBA pundits, tremendous upside. Zykov could end up being the steal of this NHL Draft, and gives the Red Wings another young, skilled Russian in the pipeline.
19. Columbus Blue Jackets (From NYR)
Shea Theodore, D, Seattle (WHL) [19G – 31A – 51 Pts]
While a second defenseman this year’s NHL draft may seem redundant, the Blue Jackets have a chance to lock down their own end of the ice, especially if they resign Sergei Bobrovsky. Not only will Theodore help improve the Blue Jackets’ blue line, he will also give them a quarterback on the power play from the point.
20. San Jose Sharks
Chris Bigras, D, Owen Sound (OHL) [8G – 30A – 38 Pts]
The selection of Bigras in the NHL Draft gives the Sharks a solid, stay at home defenseman who can eat up a lot of minutes every night. While not exceptional offensively, his ability to protect his own zone, and get plays moving up the ice in the opposite direction could lead to a lot of second assists thanks to San Jose’s talented forwards.
21. Toronto Maple Leafs
Alexander Wennberg, C, Djurgarden (SWE) [14G -18A – 32 Pts]
Wennberg is a player who isn’t known to many, but may become a name in the NHL in the future. Wennberg has played against men in Sweden, and has been impressive at that level. He has great skating ability, and even better hands. Wennberg may be the steal of this NHL Draft, and will give Toronto another offensive player to take the weight off of Phil Kessel.
22. Calgary Flames (From St Louis)
Zachary Fucale, G, Halifax (QMJHL)
There are a lot of questions for the Calgary Flames, and the biggest one might likely be who will be playing goalie in Calgary. With Miikka Kiprusoff leaning towards retirement, selecting Fucale in this NHL Draft could answer one question for a very long time. Fucale has been the top goalie prospect for this class for a long time now, and he might get a chance to play in the NHL sooner than later with the Flames.
23. Washington Capitals
Zach Nastasiuk, RW, Owen Sound (OHL) [20G – 20A – 40 Pts]
A strong two way forward, Nastasiuk has size and grit that will intrigue a lot of teams. Nastasiuk gives the Capitals somebody who isn’t a liability at either end of the rink, and has the work ethic that much of this roster does not. This could be a player that, with luck, could turn out like current Caps coach Adam Oates.
24. Vancouver Canucks
Nikita Zadorov, D, London (OHL) [6G – 19A – 25 Pts]
Zadorov gives the Canucks something that they always seem to lack: size and grit. His hulking frame (6’4″, 230 lbs) will help protect Vancouver’s elite skaters, and his ability to protect the front of the net will enamor him with whichever goaltender ends up staying in Vancouver. While Zadorov won’t be a player who goes straight from the NHL Draft to an NHL roster, this pick represents a potential huge return in the future.
25. Montreal Canadiens
Adam Erne, LW, Quebec (QMJHL) [28G – 44A – 72 Pts]
An American playing in Quebec, Erne may have proved himself to French Canadians during his time in the QMJHL. Erne avereaged more than a point per game this past year, and also wasn’t afraid to mix it up. More importantly, he has some size that the Canadiens, despite their amazing regular season, sorely lack.
26. Anaheim Ducks
Kerby Rychel, LW, Windsor (OHL) [40G – 47A – 87 Pts]
Rychel is a California born kid, many of whom have begun appearing in the NHL Draft in the past few years, who was trained in the art of hockey both by his father, a former professional, and the province of Ontario. While he doesn’t have top end speed, he has top end goal production, something that isn’t as easily taught as proper skating technique.
27. Columbus Blue Jackets (From Los Angeles)
Bo Horvat, C, London (OHL) [33G – 28A – 61 Pts]
Horvat, who is more Selke than scorer, is one of the better two way players available in this NHL Draft. Horvat is a fierce competitor, and will make a great forechecker and penalty killer. Another Blue Jackets selection in the 2013 NHL Draft helps improve Columbus’ future considerably.
28. Calgary Flames (From Pittsburgh)
Andre Burakowsky, LW, Malmo (SWE) [4G – 7A – 11 Pts]
In actuality, this is the pick that officially erases Jarmoe Iginla from Calgary. That makes this selection even more scrutinized. Burakowsky is a great skater who loves to put the puck into the net. As he has gotten bigger, he has also excelled against stiffer competition going against the men in Sweden. While there’s no way Burakowsky could ever match the career achievements of Iginla, the Flames will be getting a good European playmaker.
29. Dallas Stars (From Boston)
Curtis Lazar, RW/C, Edmonton (WHL) [38G – 23A – 61 Pts]
Lazar is a player who can skate and lead a team. He is great with the puck on his stick, or finding and finishing out in front of the net. Lazar should be able to make the jump to the bigs, and find a way to consistently contribute. The Stars continue their overhaul with a strong final first round pick at the NHL Draft.
30. Chicago Blackhawks
John Hayden, C, USA-18 (USHL) [15G – 24A – 29 Pts]
Hayden, a Chicago product, has had two strong seasons playing for the US Development program in the USHL. Hayden is a big body, who will only grow into it the older he gets. Hayden is commited to play for the defending NCAA hockey champions, Yale, this coming fall.
That’s all for the 2013 NHL Draft. Soon, the free agency frenzy will be upon us, and everyone can start looking forward to next season.
Bryan Vickroy has an addiction to hockey, and is willing to partake in all its forms. He is skating extra shifts for The Sports Bank, covering the Minnesota Wild, the NHL, and NCAA hockey, including the NHL Entry Draft, all year long. Look for new articles throughout the week. He can be followed on Twitter at @bryanvickroy. If you’d prefer to speak in more than 140 characters at a time to him, he can be reached at email@example.com.
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