2013 NHL Entry Draft: Where Are They Now?

With the 2013 NHL Entry Draft more than 10 years old, let’s look back at the top picks to see how their careers have progressed. So, have the top-10 picks managed to live up to expectations, or have they struggled to establish themselves in the NHL?

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Note: The 2013 Draft took place at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey and occurred entirely on June 30 due to the lockout-shortened season.

#1. Nathan MacKinnon – Colorado Avalanche

Heading into the draft, there was great debate over which player the Colorado Avalanche should take with their first-overall pick. With three high-talent forwards and a potential franchise defenseman available, there seemed to be no wrong choice on the board. Ultimately, the Avalanche selected Nathan MacKinnon, and have been reaping the rewards of his success ever since.

Nathan MacKinnon Colorado Avalanche
Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

During his rookie season in 2013-14, MacKinnon helped lead the Avalanche to a division championship en route to winning the Calder Memorial Trophy. After suffering through an injury-filled 2014-15 season, he returned to form with a bad Avalanche team, scoring more than 50 points in two straight seasons. Then, he had a second breakout year in 2017-18, posting 97 points while carrying his team back to the playoffs and receiving a nomination for the Hart Memorial Trophy.

The future is bright for both MacKinnon and the Avalanche. The franchise built a solid core of talent around their superstar, and they claimed the 2022 Stanley Cup. However, given their potential, one could expect them to win even more in the future.

#2. Aleksander Barkov – Florida Panthers

As the second-overall pick in 2013, there were high expectations for what Aleksander Barkov would become for the Florida Panthers. Before the draft, Barkov was producing at a solid rate as a teenager in the Finnish professional league, SM-liiga. With his impressive experience playing against professionals, it was clear that Barkov could become a first-line center for the Panthers and there was potential for him to develop into a true NHL star.

Aleksander Barkov Florida Panthers
Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Over the course of his first seven years in the NHL, Barkov became one of the top players at his position. Despite injury struggles, he put together six straight 50-point seasons, including a career year in 2020-21 when he posted 26 goals and 58 points in 50 games played en route to winning the 2021 Selke Award.

With a young core of talented players around him in Florida, everything is in place for Barkov to continue dominating the league. If he can stay healthy, the Panthers’ captain will be a force on the ice for years to come and will look to lead his team to more postseason runs in the coming seasons.

#3. Jonathan Drouin – Tampa Bay Lightning

After starting the lockout-shortened season 7-1-0, the Tampa Bay Lightning collapsed down the stretch, costing head coach Guy Boucher his job and landing the team with the third-overall pick. Despite a clear need for a high-end, right-shot defenseman to pair with Victor Hedman, the Lightning couldn’t resist the goal-scoring ability of Jonathan Drouin and selected the Halifax Mooseheads’ star third overall.

Related: THW’s NHL Draft: Where Are They Now? Collection

With a core of high-talent players already in place, Drouin had the potential to make an instant impact with the Lightning. However, he was sent back to Halifax at the start of the 2013-14 season to work on his game and was never able to find consistent footing with the franchise. This led to scratches, poor utilization and a trade request from the young forward.

After three contentious seasons with the Lightning, Drouin was traded to the Montreal Canadiens for defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev. Though Sergachev made an immediate impact with the Lightning as a rookie, Drouin largely struggled in Montreal, only scoring 13 goals.

Jonathan Drouin Montreal Canadiens
Jonathan Drouin, Montreal Canadiens (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Unfortunately, Drouin’s time in Montreal was mired in issues, both off the ice and on it. When healthy he was a productive player, but he simply was unable to take on enough consistent ice time to find his place in the league. When his contract ended after the 2022-23 season, the Avalanche took a shot on him with a 1-year, $825,000 contract.

#4. Seth Jones – Nashville Predators

Heading into the draft, many considered Seth Jones to be the top player available due to his size, strength and rare talent for a defensive prospect. As CBS Sports noted in their final prospect rankings:

He thinks the game at an elite level, has added more offense to his top-end defensive game, he skates well and at times has the ability to take a game over… He’s the best story in the draft, but more importantly, he is the best player.

Even though he was seen by many to be the best player in the draft, Jones would fall to the Nashville Predators with the fourth-overall pick. Despite their need for offensive firepower, Nashville couldn’t pass on a sure-fire top-four defenseman, choosing to add him to their already impressive blue line.

After several years of development, Nashville traded Jones to the Columbus Blue Jackets for center Ryan Johansen in order to address their need for a true number-one center.

Seth Jones Chicago Blackhawks
Seth Jones, Chicago Blackhawks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

After the trade, Jones developed into a top-pairing defender for the Blue Jackets, reaching the full potential that many saw in him on draft day. Johansen has been no slouch for the Predators either, so this became a perfect example of a true hockey trade.

This story continued in the 2021 offseason when Columbus decided they would rather trade Jones to the Chicago Blackhawks for a kings’ ransom than try to re-sign him to a new contract. After he was traded, he signed a massive eight-year, $9.5 million per year extension.

This contract has come under heavy scrutiny, as it is paying top value for a defenseman that many consider to be very good but are unsure if he will be worth that sort of cap hit for eight years. For now, though, all Jones can do is prove that he can live up to that massive extension.

#5. Elias Lindholm – Carolina Hurricanes

As the fifth-overall pick in a highly talented draft, there were lofty expectations for Elias Lindholm’s career. Things started out quickly for the young forward, as he made the Carolina Hurricanes’ 2013-14 opening night roster as an 18-year-old and became the youngest Swedish-born player to score an NHL goal that same season.

Elias Lindholm Calgary Flames
Elias Lindholm, Calgary Flames (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

After this excellent start, Lindholm was just… there for Carolina. His production was steady, but his statistics lacked that wow factor you would expect from a high pick. He averaged around 40 to 45 points in each season with the Hurricanes, but he never managed to eclipse the 20-goal mark.

With this lack of high-end production, Lindholm was eventually traded to the Calgary Flames along with Noah Hanifin in a monster deal that brought Dougie Hamilton to the Hurricanes. After acquiring him, the Flames gave him an unexpected six-year, $29.1 million extension.

The change of scenery was good for Lindholm, as he produced a career season in Calgary. After scoring 27 goals and 78 points in 2018-19, and posting 42 goals in 2021-22, he proved that he is a top-line forward for the Flames.

#6. Sean Monahan – Calgary Flames

There’s little doubt that Sean Monahan was a star in the making for the Flames. After scoring 20 goals in his breakout rookie season, he did not look back, posting at least 20 goals in seven-straight seasons while breaking the 30-goal mark in his second NHL season.

His strong play was quickly rewarded by the Flames, who signed Monahan to a massive seven-year contract in 2016, tying the future of the franchise to the young forward.

Sean Monahan Montreal Canadiens
Sean Monahan, Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Since signing this contract, things started to slow down for Monahan. Injuries started costing him games each season, and by the 2021-22 season, he seemed to be an afterthought in Darryl Sutter’s lineup. He was eventually jettisoned from the franchise to the Canadiens during the 2022 offseason along with a first-round pick just to get his cap hit off the books. Depending on how healthy he can stay, he could be a popular depth trade piece and offseason signing, but as of now, the best years of his play might be behind him.

#7. Darnell Nurse – Edmonton Oilers

After having the first-overall pick in three straight drafts, the Edmonton Oilers found themselves in unusual territory with the seventh pick in 2013. It was clear that the team needed to address their weak defensive core with this selection, after taking three highly skilled forwards in the years prior, so they selected one of the best defensemen available in Darnell Nurse.

Darnell Nurse Edmonton Oilers
Darnell Nurse, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

It took until the 2015-16 season for Nurse to get a full-time taste of the NHL, and while his play was far from refined at first, he has seen consistent development in his overall play. 2017-18 stands out in particular, where he posted 26 points in 82 games while averaging around 22 minutes of ice time each night.

As Rob Soria of THW said about Nurse:

Believe it or not, he has anchored the Oilers backend this season and for anyone to have even suggested that was a possibility following last season would have been laughable…and yet, here we are.

While his play may not be eye-catching, Nurse has become that solid defenseman who will eat 20-plus minutes of ice time each night without looking out of place. For a team with superstar talents on offense, this is exactly what Edmonton needs to help balance out their roster and build around for the future.

Edmonton apparently agreed with this as well, as they signed Nurse to an eight-year, $9.25 million extension during the 2021 offseason. With this contract, he is now on the pedestal of top-paid defensemen and will need to prove that he is worth this cost in the coming years by helping to contribute to deep playoff runs for the star-studded Oilers.

#8. Rasmus Ristolainen – Buffalo Sabres

As a high-talent, big-bodied defenseman, there was a clear interest in Rasmus Ristolainen heading into the 2013 Draft. Many saw him as the second-best defender in the draft behind Jones since he had the size and skill to make an immediate impact in the NHL. Sure, there was some speculation that he could slip out of the top 10, but the Buffalo Sabres decided to take him eighth overall with the hope that he would develop into a top-end defender.

It took a few seasons for Ristolainen to grow into his NHL game, but he got there by 2015-16. That season, he scored nine goals and 41 points while averaging 25 minutes of ice time. This workload was rewarded by Buffalo, who signed him to a six-year, $32.4 million extension that offseason. Since then, he became a true workhorse for the Sabres, posting at least 40 points each year while averaging more than 26 minutes a game.

Rasmus Ristolainen Philadelphia Flyers
Rasmus Ristolainen, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

After years of trade rumors and speculation, the Sabres finally moved Ristolainen before the start of the 2021 NHL Draft to the Philadelphia Flyers. In this trade, they received the 14th overall pick in 2021, a second-round pick in 2023, and defenseman Robert Hagg.

Since joining the Flyers, Ristolainen has worked to establish himself in a new market. While his play hasn’t always been perfect, it has been a solid start for the defenseman as he looks to build upon the aspects of his game that work best.

#9. Bo Horvat – Vancouver Canucks (via Devils)

Sometimes the story of how a player is acquired can dictate the perception of that player’s career no matter what they are able to produce on the ice. Many expected this to be the case for Bo Horvat, who the Vancouver Canucks selected with the ninth overall pick, acquired by sending their goaltender of the future, Cory Schneider, to the New Jersey Devils.

Bo Horvat New York Islanders
Bo Horvat, New York Islanders (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

However, years after this blockbuster trade, Horvat was able to carve out his own story with the Canucks despite the massive cost to acquire him. When healthy, Horvat has seen fantastic success, scoring 20 goals in four straight seasons and posting at least 50 points three times.

While the loss of Schneider hurt Canuck fans in the short term, Horvat’s production made that loss feel like a distant memory. Before he was traded to the New York Islanders at the 2023 Trade Deadline, he had the potential to not only be a top scorer for the franchise but a true leader both on and off the ice.

#10. Valeri Nichushkin – Dallas Stars

Despite being seen as one of the top five offensive prospects, Valeri Nichushkin fell down the draft charts due to uncertainty surrounding the ‘Russian-Factor,’ which has caused great players to slip in the past. Despite this, the Dallas Stars decided that his talents were worth the risk, and selected him with the tenth overall pick.

Even with a high-end offensive ceiling, Nichushkin was never able to fully find his game in Dallas. In his rookie year, he scored 14 goals and 34 points in 79 games. He was largely held off the ice due to injury the following season, then followed that up with a somewhat disappointing 29-point campaign in 2015-16.

After that contentious season, Nichushkin decided to leave the Stars and return to Russia in order to play for CSKA Moscow of the KHL for two years. While it was unclear if he would ever play in the NHL again, he signed a two-year contract in the 2018 offseason that brought him back to the team that drafted him.

Valeri Nichushkin Colorado Avalanche
Valeri Nichushkin, Colorado Avalanche (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Nichushkin’s return was not a pleasant one, however. In 2018-19, he scored zero goals and 10 points and was subsequently bought out by the Stars. He then signed a contract with the Avalanche, where he has carved out a consistent, niche role with the franchise.

In fact, his play was a major contributor to the franchise hoisting the 2022 Stanley Cup, and following that he earned an eight-year, $49 million contract, placing him as a core piece in Colorado. Given the slow start to his NHL career, that’s not a bad outcome at all for Nichushkin.

The 2013 Draft Was a Mixed Bag

Overall, the top-10 picks of the 2013 Draft have been a bit of a mixed bag. For some, their selections were a complete whiff, with the player leaving the franchise in short order. For others, the draft proved to be a transformative one, with franchise-defining players selected throughout the top 10.