After 211 picks, the 2012 NHL entry draft has passed, calling an end to one of the most anticipated events of the hockey year.
Fortunately, the next draft is just one year away.
The Calgary Flames, Columbus Blue Jackets, Montreal Canadiens, and New York Islanders are among the teams who might receive some high picks at the end of the 2012-13 season, and their scouts and management will already be hard at work scouring the pool of talented youngsters who will be available.
The 2013 NHL entry draft will be held from June 28 to June 29th, 2013, at the Prudential Center in New Jersey.
Here is an exclusive first look at the prospects who might round out the top-10 picks in a year's time.
People often talk about the value of NHL bloodlines in young hockey players, but not a lot is said about those of basketball players.
Alex Ovechkin has proven that being the son of a former professional basketball player can help reach the NHL, and Seth Jones, son of longtime NBAer Popeye, could be the next.
Virtually a lock to become the new highest African-American ever drafted into the NHL (Evander Kane, drafted 4th overall by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2009, currently holds the title), Jones has spent the past two seasons with the US National Team Development Program of the United States Hockey League, scoring four goals and eight assists in 20 games last season.
Having been drafted in the first-round of the WHL Bantam Draft in 2009, Seth Jones will join the Portland Winterhawks' next year.
Jones is a prototypical shutdown defenseman, with great skating ability and a solid physical side. What makes him stand out is that he can punch in offensively, effectively and consistently.
Essentially, Jones plays both the role of an offensive and defensive defenseman better than the vast majority of prospects.
A player in the Chris Pronger-mould, Jones' smarts, long reach, and willingness to be a physical force make him a can't-miss defensive prospect.
National Hockey League superstar and Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia-native Sidney Crosby kicked off his junior career at the incredibly prestigious Shattuck-St. Mary's School in Faribault, Minnesota.
From there, he was picked first-overall in the 2003 QMJHL draft by the Rimouski Oceanic, went on to score 168 points in 62 regular season games in his draft-year season, and was selected first-overall in the NHL draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2005.
With that said, many doubt there is any way high-end 2012 prospect and fellow Cole Harbour-native Nathan Mackinnon, who has followed a similar path, first excelling as a 15-year-old at Shattuck before being drafted first-overall in the 'Q', won't end up being picked first overall in the 2013 NHL draft.
In his rookie season with the QMJHL's Halifax Mooseheads, MacKinnon scored 31 goals and 78 points, all in only 58 games.
MacKinnon is an offensive weapon, through-and-through. While Crosby has made his name as being arguably the greatest playmaker in the history of the game, MacKinnon will make his through his tremendous goalscoring prowess.
His great speed and shot are the tools that are going to leave MacKinnon rivaling the likes of Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos for the Maurice 'Rocket' Richard Trophy one day.
At this point, there is no doubt among NHL scouts that Nathan MacKinnon will end up as a top-three pick in next year's draft.
Imagine a high school sophomore playing in the NHL. That's what it was like when then-15-year-old Finnish phenom Aleksander 'Sasha' Barkov Jr made his debut with Tappere in the SM-Liiga last season.
As if that wasn't enough, on January 2, Barkov became the youngest player to ever score at the prestigious IIHF World Junior Championsips when he beat Slovak goaltender Juraj Simboch in an 8-5 Finland victory at 16 years and four months old.
He totaled seven goals and nine assists for 16 points in 32 games in his rookie SM-Liiga season with Tappere, numbers that top the likes of legendary fellow-Finns Saku Koivu and Jarri Kurri in their equivalent seasons.
A big, strong center with elite power forward potential, Sasha Barkov brings impressive skills for a player his size. A sound skater with good puck skills, Barkov combines technical ability, size, and smarts in a power-packed tools package that makes him a lethal offensive force.
A player who plays a very similar game to 2012 Washington Capitals draft pick Filip Forsberg, a consensus top-five pick heading into the draft, Sasha Barkov is sure to be a hot commodity in New Jersey.
As a late-1994 birthday, Hunter Shinkaruk narrowly missed out on being eligible for the 2012 draft, though it's hard to tell how much of an advantage this has given the Calgary-native.
He probably would have been a first-round pick this year as well.
While the 2012 draft boasts a large number of high-end defensemen, the 2013 event will provide teams the opportunity to strengthen their forward ranks. Shinkaruk is just another of the talented forwards.
Shinkaruk spent his season with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL, where he appeared in 66 games, scoring 49 goals and 42 assists for 91 assists.
Hunter Shinkaruk is a premier offensive talent, who, because of the aforementioned age advantage, could be showing off his classic hockey name in the NHL as soon as his post-draft season.
Anytime a draft-eligible player has already seen three major junior seasons by it's time for his to step up to the podium, you know he's good.
A late-94 birthday, Sean Monahan will have done just that, and considering he's already been a point-per-game player in the Ontario Hockey League, arguably the best junior hockey league in the world, the Ontario native quite clearly has very strong NHL potential.
Monahan spent the 2011-12 season with the OHL's Ottawa 67's, where he appeared in 62 games, scoring 33 goals, 45 assists, 78 points, and a plus-25.
A dominant center with a very well-rounded game, Monahan is an emerging offensive star, with high-end skill, size, speed, and smarts.
At 6'2", 170-pounds, Monahan has a lot of filling out to do over the next year, but considering his talent and will to do the dirty work in the corners, there is no reason to believe he can't blossom to be an effective power forward at the NHL level.
There are always concerns about a player's potential when he has had the luxury of featuring on a line with somebody like 2012 Buffalo Sabres first-rounder Mikhail Grigorenko, but in the case of Anthony Duclair, scouts have little doubt the 16-year-old gives as good as he gets.
Duclair spent the season with the QMJHL's Quebec Remparts, racking up 31 goals and 66 points in 63 games. His 50 penalty minutes displayed his nasty side, while his plus-38 assured scouts of his solid defensive work.
The Pointe-Claire, Quebec-native brings a package of skills that reminds onlookers of a certain prospect of the Edmonton Oilers called Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
A pure offensive talent, Duclair skates very well, has a dynamic shot, slick hands, laser-like vision, and thinks an offensive game, carrying the same qualities that have made Nugent-Hopkins one of the most promising youngsters in the NHL.
Standing at a slender 5'10", 150-pounds, Duclair is undersized, but his dynamic package of skills leaves scouts thinking he could be the next RNH.
In the last four NHL entry drafts, there have been five Swedish defensemen drafted in the top 10. Considering the strides he has taken in the last season, there is a good chance Robert Hägg makes it six in the last five a year from now.
Hägg started the 2011-12 season as a young hopeful with the Modo U16 team, but ended it as one of the U20's most important players.
In 44 games with the SuperElit (Sweden's top junior league) team, the Uppsala-born blueliner scored four goals and 13 assists for 17 points, to go along with 46 penalty minutes and a plus-9 rating.
With the Sweden U18 international team at the 2011 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, Hägg appeared in eight games, scoring one goal, but putting his defensive side on full display with a string of impressive displays.
Hägg is a rock-solid two-way defenseman who excels at both ends of the ice. At 6'2", 201-pounds, he can rush the puck and run a powerplay, yet he can also be a physical force going backwards with a strong stick and smarts.
A defenseman in the Oscar Klefbom-mould, Hägg has all the tools needed to be an elite NHL defenseman. He should be the next high-end Swedish defenseman to break into North America.
When a young defenseman is put in a winning environment, where he can play a part in a team that has pure success on the ice, you can bet he will translate his winning nature to the NHL.
That is exactly the situation center Curtis Lazar has been put into the WHL-winning Edmonton Oil Kings.
The Vernon, British Columbia-native appeared in 63 games with Edmonton last season, scoring 20 goals and 11 assists while racking up 56 penalty minutes and a plus-15.
It's more than just Lazar's legendary name that is helping him grab many of the pre-draft headlines. A mature 6'0", 189-pounder, the second-overall pick in the 2010 WHL bantam draft does everything, from skating to shooting, to getting back to hitting, extremely well.
Curtis Lazar is the kind of player every team wants to have; that is sure to make him a very sought-after 18-year-old at next year's draft
Anytime a 17-year-old is named to the WHL All-Star team alongside bona fide NHL prospects like Emerson Etem, Alex Petrovic, and Mark Stone, you know they have something going for them.
Ryan Pulock is a defenseman who managed just that on the back of a sensational sophomore season with the middling Brandon Wheat Kings, in which he scored 19 goals and and 60 points in 71 games, complemented by a lofty plus-minus of plus-33.
An elite two-way defenseman, Pulock has high-end abilities both offensively and defensively. A very smooth skater who can carry the puck effectively, Pulock can lead the rush and score, but is a smart and steady player who gets the job done effectively in his own zone.
Morgan Rielly was a sought-after prospect at the NHL draft in 2012—so much so that he became a top-five pick. Ryan Pulock could be set for a similar fate.
Tie Domi is famed for being one of the dirtiest players to ever grace the NHL.
While his son Max has no doubt acquired all of his father's hockey pedigree, he plays a game that could barely be any more different.
The diminutive (5'9", 174-pound) forward starred in 62 games with Dale Hunter's London Knights of the OHL, scoring 21 goals and 28 assists in 49 points.
A dynamic talent, Max Domi is a pure offensive threat. The Toronto-native describes himself as a playmaker, and with his good vision and speed that could well translate to the NHL.
That being said, with his strength and grit, Domi can score goals too, making him a double-threat going forward.
Domi played a very important role as a rookie in leading his Knights to an OHL championship and the Memorial Cup final, and while he isn't the biggest player, he plays with a maturity well beyond his age.
His father was drafted 27th overall in 1988—the likelihood is that Max will go far higher.