Regardless of results from the previous year, all teams enter the weekend with thoughts of improving their club. Some will add franchise cornerstones, some will add a needed missing piece, and others depth in their system.
By all accounts the 2013 draft is a deep one, with potential future stars up and down. There is also no shortage of intrigue and anticipation. From who will go number one between Seth Jones and Nathan MacKinnon to how high will the Russian talents of Valeri Nichushkin go to who will trade up to get the player they covet. Not to mention which team will go off the board first and cause a stir on the draft floor.
Jones has been the consensus No.1 pick most of the way, however with the recent MasterCard Memorial Cup MVP performance that MacKinnon put on, many are wondering if he has closed the gap on the Winterhawks defenceman in the minds of scouts.
Here’s a look at a projected first round mock draft as well as some players outside the top 30, that have a chance of getting in.Picks are made based on a combination of team need, best player available and opinion. Draft order based on lottery selections and final NHL standings, subject to change based on playoff results.
1. Colorado Avalanche
Seth Jones, D, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
The No. 1 blueliner teams covet, he’s the total package. He’s big, he can skate, handle the puck and log big minutes in all situations.
While they will seriously consider MacKinnon, Jones fills the bigger need.
Also grew up in Denver area when his father played for the Denver Nuggets, so should be an ideal fit.
Expert Analysis: “You are not going to find a better combination of physical gifts and athleticism in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft other than Seth Jones. He has strength, size and skating. He compliments this with extreme poise and confidence and this makes him a very strong two-way defenseman.” – Daniel Chan, Future Considerations
The Avs will get to pick hometown kid, Seth Jones, who learned to skate and play growing up in the Denver area. He's a franchise D-man.
— EJ Hradek (@EJHradek_NHL) April 30, 2013
2. Florida Panthers
Nathan MacKinnon, C, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Franchise centre and cornerstone will join Jonathan Huberdeau as the future in Florida. He’s as gifted offensively as anyone in the draft and has been dominant at times. Also possesses all the intangibles a team could hope for.
Will be the No.1 centre for years to come and even if the Panthers had the first pick overall would likely have taken MacKinnon anyway.
Expert Analysis: “His skill level with the quickness with which he can execute, read and react — there aren’t many players who can do that,” - NHL Central Scouting Director Dan Marr (NHL.com)
3. Tampa Bay Lightning
Jonathan Drouin, LW, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
The most purely skilled talent in the draft, Drouin is a human highlight reel and was recently named the CHL Player of the Year. With St. Louis and Lecavalier on the down side of their careers, Drouin will be the heir apparent.
Will be a potential nightmare to defend for opponents paired with Steven Stamkos.
Expert Analysis: “Mr. Smooth and Easy – Vision, passing, stick-handling are sublime; makes everyone around him better, even the dynamo named Nathan MacKinnon.” - Eldon MacDonald, THW (War Room Series)
4. Nashville Predators
Aleksander Barkov, C, Tappara (Finland)
Type of power forward every team looks for and should make immediate impact in Nashville.
The Preds lack blue chip talent up front and the big centre will be an immediate centre piece for their future.
Hard to imagine them passing on him at No.4.
Expert Analysis: “Aleksander Barkov possesses the rare combination of size and outstanding technical skills along with an ability to quickly analyze situations. He is very mature in terms of hockey sense at an early age and has had success playing against much older players in Finland’s SM-Liiga. His skating ability is still developing but is not a weakness. Does not play an abrasive game but has the size and strength to withstand the rigors of the more physical North American game.” – Hockeys Future
5. Carolina Hurricanes
Valeri Nichushkin, RW, Chelyabinsk (Russia)
Total package of skill and size, he’s an elite and powerful skater. Carolina has had success with Alex Semin, so the “Russian factor” may not be an issue. Reiterated at the Combine that he wants to play in the NHL next season.
He’s drawn Malkin comparisons, which tells you all you need to know.
Expert Analysis: “Nichushkin is an impressive power forward who has a ton of natural gifts. He could be a potential star, if not an elite power winger in the NHL. His best skill is his skating ability, as he is a true plus-plus skater that defensemen need to respect when he’s barreling down the wing.” Corey Pronman, Hockey Prospectus
6. Calgary Flames
Sean Monahan, C, Ottawa 67’s (OHL)
Best two way centre in the draft, plays all three zones well. He possesses size, skill and impressive leadership qualities
He will fill a huge need in Calgary and will be one of the key pieces of the rebuild.
Expert Analysis: “Smart, skilled center plays a 200-foot game and can be the foundation of the Flames’ rebuilding effort.” – Adam Kimelman, NHL.com
7. Edmonton Oilers
Darnell Nurse, D, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
Not picking first for the first time in four years, the Oilers still get a gem. Nurse is big and athletic and his game just keeps getting better.
Could be a future top pairing D man in Edmonton beside Justin Schultz.
Expert Analysis: “Huge and highly mobile defenceman is just starting to tap into his massive potential. He’s already a shutdown defender who can physically dominate games down low. Keeps the crease clear and shows excellent defensive awareness and positioning. Has a long wingspan and plays with an active stick, clogging passing lanes. Closes gaps quickly, angles men to corners, and has quick feet to contain smaller, shifty forwards.” – Red Line Report
8. Buffalo Sabres
Elias Lindholm, C, Brynas (Sweden)
An offensive centre by trade, he’s a talented playmaker who can skate. He has great vision and incredible hands and puckhandling skills.
The Sabres lacked offence last season and Lindholm will be a welcome addition when he eventually joins the Sabres.
Expert Analysis: “Lindholm is an extremely talented player who is already an important offensive contributor for his top men’s league team. Possesses incredible hands, stickhandling skills and passing capabilities for a player his age. Displays well above-average ability to read and understand the game. Elias is strong at side-stepping checks and interpreting where opponents intend to pass or where they plan on skating, taking advantage of this to often pick off passes or hold up opposing skaters. Makes wonderful use of the ice and is strong in transition.” – Hockeys Future
9. New Jersey Devils
Hunter Shinkaruk, LW, Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
A pure sniper who has a great release will bring instant offensive to the defensive minded Devils. Also brings intangibles and leadership qualities.
Shinkaruk is smaller in stature but has excellent speed and just knows how to score.
Expert Analysis:“He possesses quick hands and can beat you in tight. Very good speed, quickness, agility and balance which helps his attacking style in which he can beat defenders one-on-one. Very good awareness and he gets himself unchecked and open at the appropriate times.” – Craig Button, TSN
10. Dallas Stars
Frederick Gauthier, C, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
Centres with size and skill like his are hard to find. Still somewhat raw, he could be one of the best players to come out of the draft if he realizes his potential.
He’s big at 6’4″ 220lbs and is an excellent skater and can handle the puck as well. He was also nominated for the Guy Carbonneau award, which is given to the best defensive player in the QMJHL, so he knows how to play both sides of the puck.
Should eventually slot in right behind Jamie Benn in the Stars top six.
Expert Analysis: “Gauthier has shown to be very strong along the boards and in front of the net. Especially good on the cycle, Gauthier is yet another powerforward in the making, in a draft that seems filled with them. He wins a ton of battles, and protects the puck extremely well, which extends plays and buys him time to set up teammates. He has good vision and can thread the needle on his passes out of the cycle game, setting up teammates with great scoring opportunities. Gauthier can also score goals on his own by taking the puck hard to net, or by utilizing his hard, accurate wrister and good release.” – Ben Kerr, Last Word on Sports
11. Philadelphia Flyers
Rasmus Ristolainen, D, TPS Turku (Finland)
Big, tough, plays with an edge and can skate, something the Flyers desperately need on their backend. He makes a good first pass and moves the puck well.
He’s also as NHL ready as any defenceman in the draft. Has been called the Finnish Pronger…seems fitting.
Expert Analysis: “He’s a mobile, strong, offensive-minded defenseman with very good puck-handling and passing skills.” – Goran Stubb, NHL Director of European Scouting
12. Phoenix Coyotes
Alexander Wennberg, C, Djurgarden (Sweden)
Good skater plays a well rounded game with good offensive instincts. The Coyotes have lacked a top centre since they moved from Winnipeg and they’re hoping Wennberg can be that guy.
Probably still a couple of years away.
Expert Analysis: “Wennberg is a player with a well-rounded two-way game that stems from an intelligent hockey mind. The asset that stands out the most is Wennberg’s playmaking abilities as he executes accurate and creative passes using impressive on-ice vision. Wennberg is also extremely versatile as he lines up on the wing and centre equally well.” – Brendan Ross, Dobber Prospects
13. Winnipeg Jets
Max Domi, LW, London Knights (OHL)
He’s supremely talented and one of the best offensive players in the draft. he’s got top end speed and hands to go with it. Only 5’10″ but competes hard and plays with an edge.
The type of dynamic player Jets fans will love.
Expert Analysis: “Domi is a very dangerous playmaker with elite level vision. He’s always in the right place in the offensive zone, and uses his elite vision to find open teammates. His mobility, agility and acceleration are all very high-end. His balance and puck control is truly incredible and bigger, stronger players have a hard time getting the puck off him due to his strong lower body.” – Aaron Vickers, Future Considerations
14. Columbus Blue Jackets
Nikita Zadorov, D, London Knights (OHL)
Mammoth defender can skate, move the puck and plays physical. Hard to pass up the package of size and skill.
Future shutdown defender who, along with Ryan Murray, will be the future of the Jackets blue line
Expert Analysis: “A huge defenceman, he dishes out big hits, and opposing forwards really need to keep their heads up if coming down his end of the ice. He is mean along the boards and in front of the net. His skating and mobility is top notch, making him really hard to get by one on one. His pivots are crisp, and his edgework outstanding which allows him to maintain his gap control, cover a lot of ice, and close quickly on a forward and take the body. His backwards skating is outstanding, which makes him very difficult to beat one-on-one off the rush.” – Ben Kerr, Last Word on Sports
15. New York Islanders
Valentin Zykov, LW, Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)
40 goals in his rookie QMJHL season, he has great package of size and skill.
The Islanders are deep at centre and defence in their system, but aside from Nino Niederreiter, lack blue chip skill on the wing. Zykov will instantly change that.
Expert Analysis: “He goes to the net very hard and knows what to do when he gets there. He has great hands in tight and can make slick moves, tip in shots, or bury rebounds. A natural goal scorer Zykov also has a strong wrist shot and quick release. Zykov also works extremely hard in the corners, winning board battles, and playing a gritty, physical game. Zykov is very strong on the puck and protects it extremely well in the cycle game.” - Ben Kerr, Last Word on Sports
16. Buffalo Sabres(MIN)*
Ryan Pulock, D, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
Pulock has future shutdown defenceman written all over him. He also has a cannon of a shot from the point and shows impressive leadership skills.
He’s very good in his own zone and positionally very sound, rarely getting caught wandering.
The Sabres have a number of NHL ready prospects in their system, and Pulock will not be far behind.
Expert Analysis: “Very steady, effective and efficient player. His strength is founded on an overall game that is consistent and dependable. Very good puck skills that is augmented by an outstanding shot. Very good vision and awareness and he creates offensive chances. He plays with poise and logs all of the important minutes for his team and he plays with a calming influence.” – Craig Button, TSN
17. Ottawa Senators
Curtis Lazar, C, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
A polished two way product, Lazar is effective in all three zones. He’s also an excellent skater with a high hockey IQ. Thought at one point to be a top ten pick, he brings character and intangibles as well and could eventually be a steal at #17.
Projects as a solid, second line centre for the Sens down the road.
Expert Analysis: “Lazar plays a well rounded game in all 3 zones and has the versatility to play any of the 3 forward positions, making him a nice piece for a coach to have in his lineup. Release and natural hockey sense are two of Lazar’s biggest attributes and we’ll be looking to see how he translates that over the course of a full season this year.” – The Scouting Report
18. Detroit Red Wings
Josh Morrissey, D, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
An offensive defenceman by trade, Morrissey can skate, move the puck and quarterback a power play.
With the exodus of elite defencemen in recent years like Nik Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski, the Wings are rebuilding their defence core. Morrissey will be another key piece to it going forward.
Expert Analysis: “Josh is a very good skater with excellent agility and quickness and he uses this very well to jump into the attack offensively or to close on the play defensively. He will hit and can punish opponents with open ice hits. Very good puck skills with a good shot and has very good vision and contributes offensively.” – Craig Button, TSN
19. Columbus Blue Jackets (NYR)*
Anthony Mantha, RW, Val d’Or Foreurs (QMJHL)
Mantha is a future power forward that has good size, can skate and has a quick release.
He gives the Jackets an element they don’t have much in their system and that’s a combination of size and skill on the wing.
Expert Analysis: “Mantha brings a great deal of size that he’s able to use effectively due to his impressive athleticism. Make no mistake about it, though, Mantha’s strength comes in his ability to find the back of the net. Few have the combination of accuracy and strength in the way Mantha does, whose only major flaw comes with the consistency of his level of compete.” – Aaron Vickers, Future Considerations
20. San Jose Sharks
Shea Theodore, D, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
Plays a strong two way game and has continued to improve as the year has gone on. Calling card is his offence where he’s an excellent skater and loves to jump into the rush.
Expert Analysis: “Theodore is a high-end offensive force on the backend. Often compared to Mike Green of the Washington Capitals he possesses many of the same attributes. He can skate, score, play the point on the powerplay and can find the open areas on the ice with ease. He needs to work on his defensive game and put some more weight on as he is surprisingly undersized. Can skate like the wind and has a great range of motion and holds all the intangibles that most NHL clubs value in a young player.” – Bill Kellett, Dobber Prospects
21. Toronto Maple Leafs
Bo Horvat, C, London Knights (OHL)
Should be a player ideally suited to play for Randy Carlyle. Horvat is big, strong and plays both ways very well. He’s also aggressive and extremely competitive.
Depending on Tyler Bozak’s situation and barring any major moves, there could be a spot for Horvat in the Leafs lineup in a year or two.
Expert Analysis: “He is a player who can play in any situation, on any line, any position and will be productive in whatever role he is asked to play. Very smart and adaptable at whatever situation he’s playing in, he understands what is required and can carry out those requirements. Very good skater with good quickness, agility and balance. He competes and will do whatever is necessary to help his team win.” – Craig Button, TSN
22. Washington Capitals
Robert Hagg, D, MODO (Sweden)
Plays a well rounded game and has impressed at each stage. He has the size and skill set looked for in a future top defenceman.
The Caps are thin on defence in their system and Hagg will immediately become their top prospect at the position.
Expert Analysis: “A methodical, two-way defenseman; skilled and highly cerebral .. approaches the game not unlike New Jersey pick Adam Larsson in that he is able to control the tempo and speed of the game through the quality of his decision making .. his skating doesn’t immediately impress – doesn’t overwhelm with speed or explosiveness, yet he rarely loses the foot races thanks to a smooth, comfortable stride.” – McKeen’s Hockey
23. Vancouver Canucks
Zach Fucale, G, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
The top ranked goaltender in the draft, Fucale has a combination of skill, athleticsm and poise that few in the draft do.
When Luongo gets moved, there isn’t much behind Cory Scheider in the Canucks system. Fucale will change that.
Expert Analysis: “Fucale is an athletic, butterfly style goaltender with decent size at 6’01. He is very quick in the net, especially with his legs as he does an excellent job taking away the bottom of the net. Fucale has an excellent glove hand, and flashes the leather regularly to take away the top half of the net. His rebound control is remarkable for a 17 year old draft eligible prospect.” – Ben Kerr, Last Word on Sports
24. Columbus Blue Jackets (LA)*
Andre Burakovsky, LW, Malmo (Sweden)
Outstanding skater, he can flat out fly. Has slick hands, a quick release and good vision.
More of a high risk, high reward prospect, but being the third of the three first round picks the Jackets have, they can afford to look for a home run, having already drafted Zadorov and Mantha.
Expert Analysis: “He has great speed and a nose for the net, but may need to learn to pass the puck a bit more. For a team looking for a boom-or-bust type player later in the first round, they would be hard pressed to do better than the upside shown by Burakowsky.” – Franklin Steele, Bleacher Report
25. Calgary Flames (STL)*
Kerby Rychel, C/LW, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
He’s a versatile forward who brings skill, size and grit as well as proficiency in the faceoff circle. The Flames need blue chip prospects to rebuild with and Rychel will give them one with both skill and intangibles.
Should be a good fit and a fan favourite for years to come.
Expert Analysis: “Rychel is a prototypical power forward who’s power game makes up for any lack of offensive flair. A very polished prospect, Rychel is strong on his skates and is one of the most competitive and gritty players you’ll find around the Canadian Hockey League.” – The Scouting Report
26. Dallas Stars (BOS)*
Ian McCoshen, D, Waterloo Blackhawks (USHL)
One of the younger players in the draft, he’s still 17, you’d never know it to look at him. He’s got good size and plays a menacing physical game and loves to dish out the hits. He also has an excellent offensive upside and shows good poise with the puck with a good point shot.
The Stars have been collecting defence prospects to rebuild their blue line, and while McCoshen may take a couple years to get there, he has by far the most potential.
Expert Analysis: “His top end speed and acceleration are both well above average, and he shows this in both his forwards and backwards skating…..McCoshen plays and excellent defensive game. He has great gap control, and is very physical with players who try to beat him one on one. He loves to hit and will battle hard in the corners and in front of the net. Not afraid to sacrifice his body, McCoshen is a tough and willing shot blocker” – Ben Kerr, Last Word on Sports
27. Montreal Canadiens
Adam Erne, LW, Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
The Canadiens have quietly put together a solid system of prospects, evidenced by rookies like Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk having a significant impact in 2013.
Erne will give them something they don’t have a lot of and that’s a combination of size and skill. He’s a budding power forward that has touch around the net, he plays physical and works hard.
Expert Analysis: “He’s got a good offensive game, can contribute and put up numbers, but he’ll battle and play physical when needed and that’s what excites the scouts.” Dan Marr, NHL Central Scouting director (NHL.com)
28. Anaheim Ducks
J.T. Compher, C, USA-18 (USNTDP)
A gritty two way centre who gets under opponents skin, Compher has a great work ethic and high hockey IQ.
With Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne moving on soon, and who knows about Bobby Ryan’s status, the Ducks need their young talent to make an impact over the next couple years. Compher will join the likes of Emerson Etem and Richard Rakell as the supporting cast for Getzlaf and Perry.
Expert Analysis: “J.T. has a great combination of skills; he has great hockey sense and can do things with the puck, but he also has skating ability and work ethic to go with it.” – David Gregory, NHL Central Scouting (NHL.com)
29. Calgary Flames (PIT)*
Samuel Morin, D, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
A big defenceman with an even bigger wingspan, at 6’7″ is an imposing presence on the blue line. He plays a sound positional game and is very physical, using his size effectively.
Stock has risen following a good showing at the U18 Championships. Has drawn comparisons to Zdeno Chara based on his size and skill set.
Expert Analysis: “Morin is an imposing physical specimen at the back end. He plays a strong defensive game, using his size and physicality in his own zone. Morin throws big hits and battles hard in front of the net and along the boards. He plays a strong positional game and uses his size and his long stick to cut down passing and shooting lanes. Morin has even got a bit of a mean streak, he plays very physical, and is often right on the border (and sometimes even over it) on what is legal.” - Ben Kerr, Last Word on Sports
30. Chicago Blackhawks
Ryan Hartman, RW, Plymouth Whalers (OHL)
A two way player that can play up and down a lineup he’s the type of player every team needs. He’s an excellent skater, gritty and tough to play against.
He’s also adept offensively, averaging over a point a game in Plymouth and was a key cog in the USA WJC squad that won gold in 2013.
Expert Analysis: “Nasty, chippy and aggressive – a constant agitator who is a real prick to play against. Always involved in the after-the-whistle stuff, usually because he started it. Ultra competitive guy who hits anything that moves, and causes lots of panic and turnovers among defencemen. Also has pretty fair puck skills and a heavy shot off the wing. Sees the ice well and is a creative passer. Low centre of gravity and very hard on the puck. Plays hard at both ends and will do anything to win.” - Red Line Report
The Next Ten
Players who are on the fringe with a chance of going in the 1st round
Laurent Dauphin, C, Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)
Madison Bowey, D, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
William Carrier, LW, Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL)
Morgan Klimchuk, LW, Regina Pats (WHL)
Mirco Mueller, D, Everett Silvertips (WHL)
Chris Bigras, D, Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
Zach Nastasiuk, RW, Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
Nicolas Petan, C, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
Steve Santini, D, USA-18 (USNTDP)
Jason Dickinson, C, Guelph Storm (OHL)
#16 - Buffalo acquired Minnesota’s 2013 1st round pick, 2014 2nd round pick, G Matt Hackett and F Johan Larsson for F Jason Pominville and their 2014 4th round pick
#25 - Calgary acquired St. Louis’ 2013 1st round pick, G Reto Berra and D Mark Cundari for D Jay Bouwmeester
#26 - Dallas acquired Boston’s 2013 1st round pick (since they made the Eastern Conference finals), F Lane MacDermid and F Cody Payne for F Jaromir Jagr
#29 - Calgary acquired Pittsburgh’s 2013 1st round pick, F Kenny Agostino and F Ben Hanowski for F Jarome Iginla
For an alternative view of the first round check out THW Chris Ralph’s latest mock draft, 2013 NHL Mock Draft: The Next Ones Memorial Cup Edition
***Check out THW 2013 NHL Draft Guide: The Next Ones, your quintessential draft resource***