A lot has been said about the depth of the 2013 NHL Draft. Here’s an illustration: Seth Jones, Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin could all conceivably go first overall.Jones is an incredibly poised young defender with great offensive instincts. MacKinnon is as deadly a player as you can find in the offensive zone and a strong finisher. Drouin is endlessly creative in the neutral zone and a great puck distributor.
Beyond the upper end of the draft, things get a bit chaotic. It’s extremely likely – judging from the lack of variation from draft prognosticators – that most NHL teams have the same top three (Drouin, Jones and MacKinnon, in some order). After that, the general consensus is that Elias Lindholm, Sean Monahan, Aleksander Barkov and Valeri Nichushkin are clustered together in spots 4 to 7, in some order.
Beyond the top seven, the next 23 players on each team’s list probably varies tremendously depending on how the teams are assessing talent. Therein is the wrinkle that makes the 2013 Draft so fun to cover and analyze but so frustrating to predict.
Want a goaltender? Zachary Fucale is considered the best, although Tristan Jarry and Eric Comrie should be very close on his heels.
Want a blueliner? There are excellent players from all three Canadian junior leagues and Europe: Darnell Nurse (OHL), Josh Morrisey (WHL), Samuel Morin (QMJHL) and Rasmus Ristolainen (Finland) could all go high.
Want a physical forward? Max Domi is tough and skilled, though a bit small. Kerby Rychel is possibly a bit more rounded than Domi, though lacks his scoring touch. Ryan Hartman has big-game experience in the World Juniors (and a gold medal), but may lack the upside of Domi or Rychel.
Want skill up-front? There are skilled forwards from virtually every corner of the globe – some excellent scorers, some excellent puck distributors and some strong all-around players.
For the purposes of this ranking, I operate under a very simple principle: if I were drafting, who would I pick to build my team around. I presume that my team has precisely zero players under contract and that the player I choose is my sole asset. Your mileage may vary.
THE FIRST 30
#1: F Nathan MacKinnon – Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Despite missing some time this season, MacKinnon had an excellent year and is nearly unstoppable in big games.
#2: D Seth Jones – Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
Popeye’s kid adapted amazingly well to the WHL. Excellent offensively, only “hole” in his game is defensive zone judgement.
#3: F Jonathan Drouin – Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
This guy is magic with the puck and an amazing passer. Sees the game tremendously well.
#4: F Aleksander Barkov – Tappara (SM-Liiga)
Very, very good as a 17-year-old in a high-end pro league.
#5: F Elias Lindholm – Brynäs IF (Elitserien)
A shade below Barkov, he was a big piece of his team’s success as a teenager.
#6: F Sean Monahan – Ottawa 67s (OHL)
A great player on a so-so team, Monahan got little help and still excelled. Good in all three zones.
#7: F Valeri Nichushkin – Traktor Chelyabinsk (KHL)
Very good at World Juniors and played a regular shift in #2 league in the world.
#8: D Darnell Nurse – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
Big, strong and has impressive genetics – his uncle is NFLer Donovan McNabb.
#9: F Max Domi – London Knights (OHL)
Tie’s kid is every bit as smart with the puck as his dad was tough, but he also inherited his dad’s pugnacity.
#10: F Hunter Shinkaruk – Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
A tad under-sized, WHL product is fast, creative and tenacious. Drove the bus for the Tigers offensively.
#11: F Anthony Mantha – Val-d’Or Foreurs (QMJHL)
Lead QMJHL in goal-scoring as a draft-eligible player and has a nose for the net.
#12: F Kerby Rychel – Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
Warren’s kid is equal parts tough and talented on a weak Windsor club. Creates time and space for his teammates.
#13: F William Carrier – Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL)
Power forward missed some time due to injury, but has size, strength and a nose for the net.
#14: D Josh Morrissey – Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
Good at even-strength, but amazing on the power-play with good passing and a tremendously accurate shot.
#15: F Valentin Zykov – Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)
Versatile winger combines power and finesse in a neat package.
#16: D Nikita Zadorov – London Knights (OHL)
Offensively-minded defender is a great passer and made London incredibly dangerous.
#17: D Rasmus Ristolainen – TPS Turku (SM-Liiga)
Physically mature, strong defensive player. Reads the game well and has played as a pro already.
#18: F Adam Erne – Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
He’s not massive, but he plays a game that combines physical tenacity with offensive consistency. As reliable as a Swiss watch.
#19: F Nic Petan – Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
Tiny, but offensively gifted, Petan benefits from the Winterhawks being amazing, but has also been key to their success.
#20: F Ryan Hartman – Plymouth Whalers (OHL)
Physical two-way forward impressed at the Top Prospects Game and World Juniors.
#21: F Morgan Klimchuk – Regina Pats (WHL)
Very complete three-zone player. Great at a few things, bad at nothing.
#22: F Frederik Gauthier – Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
Massive pivot uses his size well to create offense and fear in the opposition.
#23: F Bo Horvat – London Knights (OHL)
Great play-maker elevated his game when it counted at the Memorial Cup.
#24: F Laurent Dauphin – Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)
A tad small, he’s incredibly agile, fast and creative with the puck.
#25: F Curtis Lazar – Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
Excellent two-way player has played in every situation for the Oil Kings and performed well. Has a great shot.
#26: D Ryan Pulock – Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
Defensively sound blueliner has a great shot from the point.
#27: F JC Lipon – Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
On one hand, he’s an excellent offensive player. On the other hand, he’s (a) a third-year draft-eligible player, (b) a tad small and (c) on a really stacked team, so his numbers may be a mirage.
#28: D Samuel Morin – Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
Gigantic defenseman moves surprisingly well for his size and has good offensive upside.
#29: D Madison Bowey – Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
Offensive upside is debatable, but he’s big, strong and great in his own zone.
#30: G Zachary Fucale – Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
I’m utterly terrified of drafting goalies in the first round. But Fucale has been tremendous for the Mooseheads, particularly in the playoffs.
THE NEXT 30
#31: F Alexander Wennberg – Djurgårdens IF (HockeyAllsvenskan)
#32: F Anthony Duclair – Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
#33: F J.T. Compher – U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
#34: D Brett Pesce – University of New Hampshire Wildcats (NCAA)
#35: D Steven Santini – U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
#36: F Bogdan Yakimov – Reaktor Nizhnekamsk (MHL)
#37: F Artturi Lehkonen – KalPa (SM-Liiga)
#38: D Shea Theodore – Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
#39: F Nick Sörensen – Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
#40: F Oliver Bjorkstrand – Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
#41: F Lucas Wallmark – Karlskrona HK (HockeyAllsvenskan)
#42: F Michael McCarron – U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
#43: D Chris Bigras – Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
#44: G Eric Comrie – Tri-City Americans (WHL)
#45: F Sergei Tolchinsky – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
#46: F Ryan Kujawinski – Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
#47: F Jason Dickenson – Guelph Storm (OHL)
#48: D Ian McCoshen – Waterloo Blackhawks (USHL)
#49: G Tristan Jarry – Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
#50: F Juuso Ikonen – Espoo Blues (SM-Liiga)
#51: D Robert Hägg – MODO (Elitserien)
#52: F Andre Burakovsky – Malmö Redhawks (HockeyAllsvenskan)
#53: D Dillon Heatherington – Swift Current Broncos (WHL)
#54: D Tommy Vannelli – Minnetonka High School (USHS)
#55: F Jacob de la Rose – Leksands IF (HockeyAllsvenskan)
#56: F Justin Bailey – Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
#57: D Michael Downing – Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
#58: F Connor Hurley – Edina High School (USHS)
#59: F Greg Chase – Calgary Hitmen (WHL)
#60: D Eric Roy – Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)