Year after year, intelligent hockey minds search the globe for the next generation of hockey stars ready to fulfill their childhood dreams of playing in the National Hockey League. Clichés are thrown around constantly when analyzing the future stars. Each season, we can predictably expect to hear experts claim that this year’s draft class is the “best group of players we have seen in years”. Do not expect this old cliché to be put to rest when referring to the 2013 draft class as, for once, it actually holds some truth. Experts have tagged the 2013 group of draft-eligible players as one of the most talented to come along in quite some time. Time will tell us how good this crop turns out to be but early indications have many feeling that it could rival the deep draft class of 2003 that featured such first round NHL stars as Eric Staal, Zach Parise, Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Tomas Vanek, Ryan Kesler, Dustin Brown, Dion Phaneuf, and Ryan Suter to name a few. Ten years after producing one of the most impressive first rounds in the history of the entry draft, the 2013 draft class looks to make a similar impact.
In 2012, the draft was led by Russian superstar winger Nail Yakupov but he was one of the lone prominent forward prospects in what was deemed to be one of the deepest groups of defensive prospects that the NHL has seen in quite some time. After Yakupov was selected atop the class by the Edmonton Oilers, eight defensemen in total were selected in the opening ten picks. Conversely, the 2013 NHL draft class appears to be loaded with an abundance of game-breaking forward prospects and the scouting world is excited at the deep potential of these high-end players.
Below is an early forecast of the 2013 NHL draft class based on viewings, scouting reports and discussions with hockey personalities around the globe. As history can attest, these projections are guaranteed to change and no ranking is set in stone as these players will undoubtedly continue to exceed or disappoint in their draft year expectations. Opportunities could present these talented hockey players with the ice time to showcase their skills and equally as fast, injuries can crush the hopes of these exuberant young hockey talents.
At the end of the day, these players will be tested psychologically and physically on and off the ice over the next ten months but when 2013 draft day arrives in New Jersey next summer, players ultimately need to show thirty NHL franchises that they can play hockey well enough to compete for an NHL spot.
1. Nathan MacKinnon, C/RW (Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL)
MacKinnon is an exceptionally gifted hockey player with the rare combination of elite mobility, a pro-caliber shot and creative hands capable of creating scoring chances at will. His vision, hockey sense and overall well-rounded game will leave twenty-nine NHL teams envious of MacKinnon’s future NHL team as he is destined to become the next “franchise player”. With NHL superstar potential, MacKinnon is the early favourite to be selected first overall and his recent showing at the 2012 Ivan Hlinka Tournament where he tallied 11 points in five games leaves no doubters at this point in time.
Interesting Fact: Originating from Cole Harbour and taking his skills to Shattuck St. Mary’s, Nathan MacKinnon has been compared to Sidney Crosby from a young age as the young sensation has shared many similar hockey paths.
2. Seth Jones, D (Portland Winterhawks, WHL)
Choosing to take his skills to Portland of the Western Hockey League, Seth Jones looks to a franchise that has bred several first round defenders over the past few drafts (Joe Morrow and Derrick Pouliot) to provide him with the platform to launch his campaign to rival MacKinnon for the top spot in 2013. Jones casts a big shadow for his fellow 2013 draft class defensemen with his both his size and elite skill. Blessed with great mobility, Jones plays with the confidence and calming-influence that makes him one of the most-rounded defensive prospects in recent memory. Not the flashiest defenseman, Seth Jones rarely makes a mistake and performs at an advanced level in all areas of his game.
Interesting Fact: Seth Jones is the son of former NBA player “Popeye” Jones who played for Dallas, Toronto, Boston, Denver, Washington and Golden State throughout his career.
3. Sean Monahan, C (Ottawa 67’s, OHL)
Coming off a strong performance at the Canada-Russia Challenge, the team’s youngest player, Sean Monahan, was also one of their best raising his draft stock with his four point showing. Monahan continues to impress scouts with his ability to play on both sides of the puck as he projects to be one of the most complete players available for the draft next season. Last season in Ottawa, Monahan consistently displayed his coveted offensive skills highlighted by advanced pucks control, a lethal shot featuring both quickness and accuracy, and the size to dominate in puck possession. Monahan has a rare ability to elevate his play during critical times of games and with his strong hockey sense and skill for reading plays he certainly makes his teammates better players along the way. Monahan is trending upwards as he enters his draft season and it will be interesting to observe how manages the spotlight in Ottawa now that Shane Prince and Tyler Toffoli have moved on.
Interesting Fact: Sean Monahan knows what it takes to win as he’s captured two gold medals representing Canada at the 2011 Under-17 WHC (Ontario) and 2012 Under-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.
4. Hunter Shinkaruk, LW (Medicine Hat Tigers, WHL)
Undersized slightly, Hunter Shinkaruk has silenced critics of smaller players based solely on his strong on-ice play. Beyond his offensive skills, Shinkaruk competes hard showing tenacity in puck retreat. He will certainly need to add strength to better complement his skill game and handle the rigors of playing as a star forward. Shinkaruk projects as a high-end scorer as evident by his 49 goals and 91 points and will look to build upon his impressive sophomore season without Emerson Etem flanking the opposite wing. Producing without Etem as a linemate will go a long way in scout’s minds to solidify Hunter Shinkaruk’s top ranking for next year’s draft.
Interesting Fact: Hunter Shinkaruk can be followed on twitter @H_S_9
5. Aleksander Barkov, C (Tappara, SM-liiga)
The age old theory of building down the middle by drafting sizeable skilled centermen will ensure that Finnish pivot Aleksander Barkov remains a top pick at the 2013 NHL Draft. As one of the younger draft-eligible forwards, Barkov has experienced great success early in his hockey career. Most notably, last season at the Under-20 World Junior Championship Barkov became the youngest scorer in Finnish history as a sixteen-year-old. Barkov is a tremendously intelligent player that shows an uncanny poise and confidence during competition. He is a big skilled forward with exceptional puck skills and can do things with the puck that few of his draft peers can.
Interesting Fact: As one might expect, the “Barkov” name does have Russian ties. The Russian lineage can be traced to “Sasha’s” father, Aleksander Sr, who competed for Russia internationally.
6. Rasmus Ristolainen, D (TPS, SM-liiga)
A big Finnish defender patrolling the blue line at 6-foot-3 with the poise and confidence of a seasoned veteran is certainly going to be desired early in the 2013 NHL Draft. The question is, how early? Rasmus Ristolainen already has professional experience and has succeeded with the increased responsibility ever since the age of sixteen when he got his first taste of action in SM-liiga. He relies on his strong understanding of the defensive game to gain ideal positioning and uses his stick effectively. Offensively, Ristolainen shows good mobility, a reliable first pass and an effective point shot making him a valuable commodity on both sides of the puck.
Interesting Fact: Ristolainen was the second-youngest player (17) on Team Finland at the 2012 World Junior Championship. Aleksander Barkov was the youngest (16 years, 4 months)
7. Curtis Lazar, C (Edmonton Oil Kings, WHL)
The value in selecting Curtis Lazar lies in his ability to play a complete game as he’s a capable offensive and defensive player. Lazar has carried the momentum from a strong WHL finish into the 2012 Ivan Hlinka U18 Memorial Tournament where he’s been utilized in all situations by Coach Todd Gill on Team Canada. Polished in all areas including skating and puck control, Lazar could certainly challenge Hunter Shinkaruk for the top ranked WHL forward especially if his offensive production continues to improve in Edmonton next season. He’s the type of player that will do anything to win including dropping the mitts and teams will be lining up to select a team-first player like Curtis Lazar next June.
Interesting Fact: At the Canada Winter Games playing for British Columbia, Lazar broke tournament records previously set by Steven Stamkos (11 goals) and Sidney Crosby (16 points) when he notched 12 goals and 17 points in six games on his way to a gold medal.
8. Ryan Pulock, D (Brandon Wheat Kings, WHL)
Brandon’s Ryan Pulock enters his draft year as the favourite top offensive player at the defence position. His offensive instincts stem from his above average hockey intelligence and ability to play as a puck-rusher but also as an extremely capable passer. Pulock owns good size and will be coveted for his offensive game that is highlighted by a hard accurate point shot. In his sophomore season, Pulock finished third in WHL defensive scoring with 19 goals and 60 points on a pretty mediocre Wheat Kings team. As is the case with most offensive defensemen, Pulock understands he needs to continue his improvement in his defensive zone and as he does that he should see his name mentioned as a potential top 10 selection for the upcoming draft.
Interesting Fact: Pulock set a franchise record when he became the highest scoring 16-year old Wheat Kings` defenceman after scoring 8 goals and 41 points surpassing Wade Redden`s previous record (39 points in 64 games).
9. Valeri Nichushkin, C (Chelyabinsk, MHL)
A tremendously gifted skater, Nichushkin owns speed to burn and the size (6-3) to dominate if he can add more mass to a large frame. At the 2012 U17 World Hockey Challenge in Windsor, Nichushkin’s six points in five games helped lead Russia to the Championship and impressed with his power game and ability to take pucks hard to the net. Combined with great size and elite offensive skills, NIchushkin is a mysterious player for the 2013 as he possesses game-breaking talents but also the birth certificate to scare teams away. The “Russian” tag could see him fall slightly from where his skill warrants as we have seen in the past but this sniper has star potential that could be too tempting to pass over.
Interesting Fact: Nichushkin posted record breaking numbers as a youngster when he registered a remarkable 87 goals and 127 points in just over 30 games.
10. Kerby Rychel, LW (Windsor Spitfires, OHL)
As the 2012-13 OHL season gets underway, the battle between Max Domi and Kerby Rychel will be interesting to follow as each attempt to unseat the other in the draft rankings. Rychel is a heart-and-soul type of player with a wonderful compete level and last season was his coming out party for the Spitfires improving in all aspects of the game. He battles hard for loose pucks and rarely makes a bad decision. Increased opportunity in Windsor awaits Kerby Rychel and I fully expect him to become one of the OHL’s most productive forwards this season.
Interesting Fact: Kerby’s father, Warren, serves as co-owner of the Windsor Spitfires and played over 400 games in the National Hockey League for the Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings, Toronto Maple Leafs, Colorado Avalanche and Mighty Ducks of Anaheim recording 77 points and 1422 penalty minutes.
11. Robert Hägg, D (MODO, Sweden)
Sweden’s Robert Hägg is on pace to become the country’s top selected player and another promising Swedish defensive prospect drafted into the National Hockey League. Another defensive gem that possesses elite skills in all three zones of the rink, Hägg is a competent puck rusher driving the play up the ice with his terrific skating skill and on-ice vision. Hägg is among the best offensive defensemen of this class with good size, poise and self-confidence to initiate the attack in a number of ways – skating and passing. Hägg has been a vital member of Swedish teams internationally and he was among the best defensemen at the past U17 and U18 showings.
Interesting Fact: Born on February 28th, Hägg shares a birthday with former first round pick Thomas Hickey. Let’s hope that he has a quicker and more successful path to the NHL.
12. Elias Lindholm, C (Brynäs, SWE)
Lindholm displayed some world class talents for Brynäs last season eventually being named the J20 SuperElit Top Forward after tallying 49 points in 36 contests. Lindholm plays the game with an edge and isn’t afraid to “muck-it-up” despite possessing average size and solid all-around offensive skills. Lindholm will use the 2013 World Junior Championship as a means of showcasing his talents for Team Sweden after narrowly missing out on making last year’s winning squad.
Interesting Fact: Elias Lindholm is the cousin of Detroit Red Wings’ promising prospect, Calle Järnkrok.
13. Josh Morrissey, D (Prince Albert Raiders, WHL)
Morrissey is the type of defenseman that NHL covets as he’s extremely well balanced in all areas of play. Coming off a dominant Under-18 Ivan Hlinka showing, Morrissey tallied one goal and seven points leading Canada in defensive scoring. Morrissey logs big minutes in all situations and thrives in a powerplay role distributing crisp accurate passes and consistently sending pucks smartly on net. This two-way defender keeps the opposition honest as his physical play undoubtedly causes them to second guess their plan of attack. Morrissey will challenge for a top 10 selection based on his overall complete package.
Interesting Fact: Morrissey was Prince Albert`s first round selection (6th overall) in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft.
14. Max Domi, C (London Knights, OHL)
The son of former Maple Leafs favourite tough guy Tie Domi, Max is a player of his own unique mold showcasing the speed, puck handling skills and offensive instincts to become one of the most dangerous threats of this draft class. His mobility is second to none as Domi owns the quickness, agility and speed to beat defenders in a plethora of ways. His size remains a small concern but his elite skating and hockey sense earns enough respect from defenders to gain the space needed to thrive. Moving forward, Max Domi will adopt a larger role on the reigning OHL Champions’ squad after several veterans graduated this off-season. Despite being an individual a little too often, Domi remains an player hungry for offence as evident by him finishing third in OHL rookie scoring last year with 21 goals and 49 points in 62 contests.
Interesting Fact: Domi was originally slated to attend the University of Michigan but after Kingston Frontenacs’ GM Doug Gilmour selected him 8th overall in 2011 and then traded his rights to the London Knights, Domi chose to forego the NCAA route for the OHL.
15. André Burakovsky, RW (Malmö, FIN)
Burakovsky has competed for Sweden nationally with good success specifically when he dominated the Under-17 WHC in Windsor finishing with eight points in six games. The big winger has strong offensive instincts and possesses a complete game. His shot is especially lethal as he has the ability to beat goaltenders anywhere from inside the offensive blue line. As he continues to add strength and fill out his frame, Burakovsky has the potential to become a powerful finesse player and those are dominating features.
Interesting Fact: André Burakovsky was actually born in Austria.
16. Adam Erne, RW (Quebec Remparts, QMJHL)
Eyes have been glued to this young power forward since Adam Erne debuted in the USHL as a 15-year old. Possessing good pro-size, Erne is a strong player that uses his size effectively as he understands his strengths on the ice, mainly a goal-scorers shot and impressive strength in winning puck battles. In his first QMJHL season, Erne posted solid numbers in 28 goals and 55 points playing on a team that featured Mikhail Grigorenko, Anthony Duclair (2013) and Nick Sörensen (2013). Erne could improve his skating, most notably his first few steps, but he does possess a rare scoring ability that should see him become a first round pick come June 2013. Erne was the leading scorer for a disappointed American team at the 2012 Ivan Hlinka Tournament scoring four goals and seven points in only four contests.
17. J.T. Compher, C/LW (USNTDP, USHL)
As a product of the US National Training Development Program, J.T. Compher has consistently proven to be a dangerous offensive threat. Playing on the Under-17 team, Compher led the Americans in assists (27) and finished second in points (42). Besides having a promising offensive skill set, Compher plays an aggressive and feisty game that helps him become a valuable player on the defensive side of the puck as well. He projects as a two-way centerman that can play in all situations and those types of players are a commodity at the NHL-level.
18. Anthony Duclair, LW (Quebec Remparts, QMJHL)
Playing alongside Sabres’ first round selection, Mikhail Grigorenko, Anthony Duclair is one-third of a dangerous line in Quebec. Duclair’s best asset is his skating as he possesses the quick feet and elusiveness to create offensive opportunities on the rush opening up space for his line mates. Duclair shows good on-ice vision, puck control and playmaking skills and appears to have the finesse of a future top-six player. His willingness to play gritty and aggressive at times is an attractive attribute to showcase to scouts as well.
19. Madison Bowey, D (Kelowna Rockets, WHL)
Bowey is a defender that will have much more opportunity this upcoming season and that could see this big mobile defenseman rise up the draft charts. Bowey is a cerebral player who understands the game well and packages a solid combination of skills including a good shot, solid passing skills and a lot of upside to grow into.
20. Jacob de la Rose, C/RW (Leksand, Sweden)
In Windsor for the U17 WHC, de la Rose was one of Sweden’s most noticeable players throughout the tournament. He’s a gifted skater that owns the size to fight off the opposition for loose pucks. He can make plays at top speed and shows a real knack for driving hard to the net. Defensively, de la Rose has shown to become a reliable contributor as his hockey sense shines through in the defensive zone as well.
21. Ryan Kujawinski, C (Kingston Frontenacs, OHL)
After a trade to Kingston from Sarnia, the former 4th overall OHL pick, Ryan Kujawinski, exploded onto the scene recording 30 points in 30 games after only posting 6 in 29 games wearing a Sting jersey. The trade provided Kujawinski with the opportunity not available on a veteran-filled Sting team and he immediately took advantage of his increased role. The turning point for Kujawinski was as a productive member of Team Ontario at the U17 WHC. From that point on, his skill set became quite evident as his physicality increased along with his confidence. The big-bodied centre has good on-ice vision and a lethal shot that should see him considered as a mid-to-late first round selection and his projectable upside remains high.
22. Jonathan Drouin, LW (Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL)
One of many QMJHL players considered a potential first round talent, Jonathan Drouin is set up nicely in Halifax as he plays wingman to top prospect Nathan MacKinnon. While playing in Halifax and internationally for Canada, Drouin and MacKinnon have developed some remarkable chemistry along the way. Drouin joined Halifax mid-season after initially choosing to stay home to play ‘AAA’ hockey. Upon arrival Drouin posted 29 points in 33 regular season games and another 26 points in 17 playoff contests. He is a gifted puckhandler who sees the ice extremely well making him a fantastic complementary winger to a scorer. Drouin is among the top playmakers in this year’s draft class but adding a few inches would help diminish the concerns scouts may have for this undersized
23. Bo Horvat, C (London Knights, OHL) 2G, 2A
Buried on a talented deep London Knights’ squad, Bo Horvat was presented with limited opportunities during his rookie campaign but was still able to post an impressive 30 points and plus-27 rating all while drawing tough defensive minutes. The 2012 NHL draft witnessed Scott Laughton (a personal favourite of mine) sneak into the first round and Bo Horvat’s game resembles many aspects of Laughton – responsible defensively yet can produce offensively as well. As captain of the Ontario Under-17 squad last December, Bo Horvat was the team’s most consistent player and finished as the team leader in goals (4) and second in points (7). Horvat was a productive member of the Canadian gold medal winning team at last week’s 2012 Ivan Hlinka Tournament netting two goals and four points. Teams will certainly be attracted to Horvat’s high compete level, responsible two-way play and underrated offensive skills.
24. Zach Fucale, G (Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL)
At this point, Zach Fucale is the top goaltender available for the 2013 NHL Draft. Selecting goaltenders in the opening round can often be intimidating but Fucale possesses all of the qualities of a potential starting goaltender. He was a workhorse for the Halifax Mooseheads posting a remarkable 32-16-6 record through the regular season and was especially strong in the Moosehead’s 17 post-season games. Fucale is recently coming off another strong performance at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament backstopping Canada to the gold medal.
25. Hudson Fasching, RW (USNTDP, USHL)
Another member of the US NTDP, Hudson Fasching is a 6-foot-3 winger that plays a meat-and-potatoes style of game that is expected of a power forward. Fasching’s first few steps and overall agility could use some improvements but he gets up and down the ice well enough. Strong along the boards and successful in puck battles, Fasching uses his reach and strength to his advantage and owns operates well driving to the net. Teams looking to add size and a complementary forward to their lineups will surely consider Hudson Fasching as a mid-to-late first round selection.
26. Eric Roy, D (Brandon Wheat Kings, WHL)
Wheat Kings’ Eric Roy fits the prototype of a typical WHL defenseman as he possess the ruggedness we’ve come to like from these Western boys but Roy’s game runs much deeper than just fighting and hitting. The Sasketchewan native is rounding out his game under Coach Cory Clouston and is continually looking to improve defensively. Roy has already proven to be a reliable offensive contributor from the backend after registering 53 points while playing alongside teammate and fellow potential first rounder, Ryan Pulock. Look for Eric Roy to challenge a first round selection with his combination of pro-size, mobility, toughness and offensive instincts.
27. Nick Sörensen, RW (Quebec Remparts,
After missing most of last season with a ruptured ACL and MCL injury, Sörensen is hoping to enter his draft season to redeem himself as a first round talent. At the Remparts’ recent training camp, it was reported that Sörensen has banged up his shoulder and will be sidelined for up to ten days. The recent injury doesn’t seem to be a huge concern but if injuries continue it could begin to knock this talented two-way forward down draft lists. It’s evident that Sörensen is a threat offensively with his nine points in eight games last season but this import player has also shown to be a reliable defensive option as well.
28. Nicholas Baptiste, F (Sudbury Wolves, OHL)
An August birthday makes Nicholas Baptiste one of the younger talents of the 2013 draft crop and that will likely bode well for this forward as he strives to tap his big upside. Already 6-foot-2 and 200-pounds, Baptiste is a player with an extremely rounded game and the characteristics commonly found in Canadian hockey players. He’s a skilled winger capable of playing a physical game and can be found driving the net or using his large frame to create his offensive chances. As Baptiste continues to develop, his realization of his own unique talents is the only obstacle separating him from becoming a dominant junior player.
29. Darnell Nurse, D (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, OHL)
Trending upwards is big defenseman Darnell Nurse of the Soo Greyhounds. He’s a player that shows great mobility for such an imposing defender. Nurse possesses probably the most intriguing potential of any OHL defenseman and he began to show signs of tapping it this past month playing for Team Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. His size allows him to cover the ice extremely well as he takes away time and space with his lengthy wingspan and aforementioned skating skills. Defensively, Nurse has been a strong player but his offensive upside is the area that most scouts get excited about. As Nurse learns to utilize his size in the physicality department better and gains confidence on the offensive side of the puck, he has all the potential in the world to be a game breaker talent.
Interesting Fact: Darnell`s father, Richard, was a wide receiver for the CFL`s Hamilton Tiger Cats and his uncle is NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb.
30. Alex Forsberg, C (Prince George Cougars, WHL)
Lacking ideal size, Alex Forsberg thrives on the ice as a result of his strong hockey sense and elite vision. Look for Forsberg to adopt a larger role for the Cougars as he enters his second full season after posting 15 goals and 40 points in his rookie season. The former first overall selection in the WHL’s 2010 Bantam Draft, Forsberg has the playmaking abilities that could see him sneak into the opening round in New Jersey come next June. He’s not the swiftest of foot but his attention to detail makes him a valuable player in all three zones and a player that seems to elevate the play of his line mates around him.
Additional 1st Round Considerations (listed alphabetically):
Will Butcher, D (US NTDP, USHL)
Butcher was the offensive catalyst for the US National U17 team last season leading the team from the backend with 31 points in 46 games. He is an exceptional skater who owns good hockey sense, a strong first pass and the ability to operate the powerplay efficiently.
Taylor Cammarata, F (Waterloo Blackhawks, USHL)
One of the more intriguing players, the diminutive Taylor Cammarata has never had trouble producing offensively as he outscored teammate Nathan MacKinnon at Shattuck St. Mary’s by a margin of 54 points (Nathan played 20 less games). In total, Cammarata tallied a total of 309 points in 112 games for Shattuck’s and then finished 6th in USHL scoring last season with 69 points in 60 games as a rookie. No one will doubt Cammarata’s offensive skills that feature strong skating skills, elusiveness and the ability to play as a scorer or playmaker but will a team overlook his 5-foot-6 frame?
William Carrier, F (Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, QMJHL)
Considered a potential first round pick, William Carrier will need to improve his foot speed and continue to post impressive numbers as the Screaming Eagles look to him to be a leader after posting 70 points in 66 games last season, including 27 goals. Carrier owns the hands and scoring touch to become one of the Q’s leading scorers and finishing among the best would go a long ways to solidify a top selection come next June.
Eric Comrie, G (Tri-City Americans, WHL)
The second goaltender listed, Comrie is coming off a backup role for Team Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament. His “backup” tag shouldn’t discredit his exceptional skill level as Comrie proved last season that he’s ready to take the WHL by storm and challenge Zach Fucale as the 2013 top goaltending prospect.
Jason Dickinson, LW (Guelph Storm, OHL)
After an expected adjustment period, Storm forward Jason Dickinson gained the confidence needed to best maximize his skills as the season progressed. Dickinson may be somewhat of an unknown to viewers outside of Ontario but he has the opportunity to post a breakout season in Guelph as opportunity comes knocking. Dickinson has a real talent around the net as he sneaks into scoring areas and finishes plays nicely with his quick hands.
Morgan Klimchuk, C (Regina Pats, WHL)
Klimchuk is a speedy forward with an impressive compete level and he has the potential to post big draft-year numbers as the Pats graduate their leading scorer in Jordan Weal. The former 5th overall Bantam selection, Klimchuk was a member of the gold medal winning Canadian team at the recent 2012 Ivan Hlinka Tournament.
Artturi Lehkonen, RW (KalPa, SM-liiga)
Internationally, Lehkonen has been a dominant force for Finland scoring almost at will. Despite not being the largest winger, Lehkonen has no issues driving the net for a scoring opportunity and he’s been rewarded with his efforts as his sniper’s mentality has earned him success at all levels.
Ian McCoshen, D (Waterloo Blackhawks, USHL)
Another young blue line prospect with massive size (6-3, 225 lbs), McCoshen just recently turned 17 yet is considered one of the more physically-ready prospects of the 2013 draft class. Beyond size, McCoshen owns some attractive skills including good mobility, a strong first pass and an accurate shot.
Tyler Motte, LW (USNTDP, USHL)
Motte has been one of the more successful members of the US NTDP after finishing top three in team goals (25) and points (41). The offensive game is well-rounded for Motte but he is most valuable as a player who can be relied upon to play tough minutes in all situations – a testament to his advanced hockey sense.
Matt Needham, C (Kamloops Blazers, WHL)
Needham’s lack of ideal size is not a huge concern as his work ethic and compete levels make up for his shortcomings in physical dimensions. To be considered as a first round selection, scouts will want to see Needham take his offensive game to the next level but if not, he remains a versatile forward that will be great value in the second round.
Gustav Possler, LW (MODO, SWE)
Possler is a speedy winger with an aggressive approach as he does not shy away from physical play. The Swede has good hands and drives the net well despite owning an average-sized frame. Possler could surprise and crack the MODO lineup as he looks to build on his impressive Under-18 World Championship showing where he outscored (8 points in 6 contests) some notable Swedes including Filip Forsberg (Washington Capitals), Jacob de la Rose (2013), Elias Lindholm (2013) and Andre Burakovsky (2013).
Connor Rankin, C (Tri-City Americans, WHL)
Rankin is another do-it-all type of player and these versatile players have a tendency to go much higher than expected come draft time. He’s a high-compete pivot that possesses the intangibles many teams are looking to add to their development systems.
Steve Santini, D (USNTDP, USHL)
A puck-moving defenseman who owns pro-size will be one of the American’s go-to players on the blue line as he enters his second season in the NT NTDP.
Jordan Subban, D (Belleville Bulls, OHL)
The third and youngest member of the emerging “Subban” hockey family is Jordan. The Belleville defender is a tremendous puck-moving defenseman that flourishes with his elite mobility that includes acceleration, speed and elusiveness to fool the opposition. He projects as an offensive defenseman and will become an extremely valuable commodity on the powerplay.
Shea Theodore, D (Seattle Thunderbirds, WHL)
Coming off a good showing for Canada at Ivan Hlinka, the recently turned 17-year-old Theodore displayed his strongest assets – smooth skating and a strong first pass. The British Columbia native will look to improve on his 35-point sophomore season (39 games) as he takes on a bigger role for Seattle.
Sergei Tolchinsky, F (Moscow Red Army, RUS)
A very small, speedy and dynamic player, Tolchinsky is an electrifying and dangerous forward capable of pulling off highlight-reel plays. At this point Tolchinsky is a one-way player so teams will need to carefully weigh the risks and rewards with this scoring star. He was selected 9th overall by the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds at the 2012 CHL Import Draft but has yet to commit to joining the franchise.
Bogdan Yakimov, F (Nizhnekamsk, RUS)
Nearly eligible for the 2012 NHL Draft, the massive 6-foot-4 Yakimov left a lasting impression during the 2012 Under-18 World Championships leading the Russian squad in scoring with 3 goals and 7 points. At first glance, Yakimov’s name closely resembles Oilers’ top pick Nail Yakupov but the two players do share something in common – both were members of Reaktor Nizhnrkamsk of the Russian junior league.
Nikita Zadorov, D (London Knights, OHL)
The London Knights traded three draft picks to move up in the 2012 CHL Import draft and opted to select big Russian defenseman Nikita Zadorov. He was instrumental in Russia`s gold medal at the 2012 U17 WHC as the burly defender earned three assists in five games. Zadorov is expected to report to London`s camp beginning late August and he could make an immediate impact which would elevate his draft stock substantially.