The 2013 NHL Entry Draft is beginning to take shape, with the first 14 picks being decided at the Scotiabank NHL Draft Lottery. The Colorado Avalanche secured the first overall draft choice and thus control the way the rest of the draft will play out.
So how will it all transpire when the world's prospects become rookies?
The 2013 NHL Entry Draft will be held on June 30, 2013 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. While there, prospects from all over the world will look to join a star-hungry crop of organizations looking to land a franchise player.
So who will go where in Round 1? Let's find out.
1. Colorado Avalanche: Seth Jones, Defenseman, USA
There was little question entering the 2013 NHL Draft Lottery as to which player was the prized possession. The fact that Seth Jones grew up in Denver, Colorado only makes this selection all the more enticing.
The Colorado Avalanche will take Jones first overall and land the NHL's next great prodigy.
The Avalanche are coming off a season in which they ranked 26th in goals scored and 27th in goals allowed per game. They were also 24th in power-play percentage and 20th in penalty-kill percentage.
Seeing as Jones is an athletic dynamo with intriguing offensive skills and an intimidating defensive presence.
2. Florida Panthers: Jonathan Drouin, Left Wing, Canada
The Florida Panthers fell short of the first overall draft, but that hardly eliminates the possibility for them to land an elite player. In fact, the Panthers are more than certain to capitalize on the fact that offense is at a premium.
After ranking 29th in goals scored per game, Florida certainly needs the help.
The Panthers have an elite prospect at center already in 19-year-old Jonathan Huberdeau, who was taken third overall in 2011. By selecting Jonathan Drouin, the Panthers would create a potentially elite first line.
Drouin was the MVP of the QMJHL after tallying 105 points in 49 games—this young man is an elite playmaker.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning: Nathan MacKinnon, Center, Canada
The Tampa Bay Lightning have nothing short of an elite first line led by center Steven Stamkos and NHL points leader Martin St. Louis. They can create exceptional depth by landing Nathan MacKinnon, who could be considered the top offensive player in this draft class.
With Stamkos' ability to fire off shots from any angle, this could potentially create a shift in position once MacKinnon's reached his potential and St. Louis retires.
There are other options here, including left wing Valeri Nichushkin of Russia. With that being said, MacKinnon is too intriguing of an option for the Lightning to pass on.
The top three is all but locked in this year's draft.
4. Nashville Predators: Aleksander Barkov, Center, Russia
The Nashville Predators need help all over the ice, but nowhere more than on the offensive end of the ice. They ranked 29th in goals scored during the 2012-13 NHL regular season and 17th in terms of power-play percentage.
There aren't many better players to help in that regard than Aleksander Barkov out of Finland.
Barkov has tremendous size, standing at 6'3" and 205 pounds. The Finnish playmaker is also experienced internationally, and thrives both as a scorer and facilitator.
Nashville needs all of the offensive help they can find, and Barkov is the perfect player to build around.
5. Carolina Hurricanes: Rasmus Ristolainen, Defenseman, Finland
Rasmus Ristolainen is not the fifth-best player on this list, but he's a top 10 lock and he fits the Carolina Hurricanes' biggest need. That, of course, is defense, as the Finnish prospect projects to be a quality player on that end.
For Carolina, he could be their defensive anchor.
The Hurricanes ranked 29th in goals allowed and 28th in penalty-kill percentage during the 2012-13 NHL regular season. While Cam Ward's injury played a role in that, the Hurricanes must surround him with better defenders.
Ristolainen is the perfect fit in that sense.
6. Calgary Flames: Valeri Nichushkin, Left Wing, Russia
The Calgary Flames made a franchise-altering decision when they traded Jarome Iginla to the Pittsburgh Penguins. In the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, they must take the only rational step into the future and land a replacement.
Valeri Nichushkin of Russia is their best bet.
Nichushkin has the ability to go fifth overall and may very well do so if Carolina believes they can find a quality defenseman later in the draft. With his falling to No. 6, it's unlikely the Flames would allow him to fall any further.
The 6'4" wing would fit in perfectly in Calgary.
7. Edmonton Oilers: Nikita Zadorov, Defenseman, Russia
Taylor Hall and Nail Yakupov are two of the countless young, rising stars on the Edmonton Oilers' roster. The key for Edmonton is to now create an elite defensive line behind them to protect the goaltender.
Nikita Zadorov could help in that regard.
Zadorov could be viewed as the second-best defenseman in this year's draft class, as he possesses tremendous size at 6'5" and 230 pounds. As a player who can shut down the opposition with his size, length and physicality, he could be the defensive star Edmonton needs.
With so many promising young offensive pieces in place, it only makes sense to bring in a promising defenseman.
8. Buffalo Sabres: Sean Monahan, Center, Center, Canada
Sean Monahan is a productive playmaker that can take it to the net himself or feed his teammates in position to score. At 6'2" and 186 pounds, Monahan also has excellent size for the center position.
The Buffalo Sabres have Cody Hodgson, but if they're looking for a two-way star to lead their offense and front their defense, Monahan is the player.
Monahan can work his way into the open ice and control the puck with poise and precision. Not only would he be able to step in to work alongside Thomas Vanek, but he could be the long-term prospect to lead Buffalo in future seasons.
Monahan isn't the sure-fire star that Nathan MacKinnon appears to be, but the upside is similar.
9. New Jersey Devils: Elias Lindholm, Center, Sweden
The New Jersey Devils ranked 28th in the NHL in goals scored during the 2012-13 regular season. Their points leader was 37-year-old Patrik Elias.
It's time to bring in some young offensive blood.
The Devils will eventually be required to relinquish their first-round draft choice due to the botched Ilya Kovalchuk deal. With the potential to land a player of Lindholm's caliber, however, it's unlikely that New Jersey will chose 2013 to be that year.
Lindholm is an elite prospect that can be New Jersey's ice general.
10. Dallas Stars: Max Domi, Center/Left Wing, Canada
The Dallas Stars have a tough decision to make here, as they could further boost an already promising offense. With that being said, the Stars thrived on balance and veteran presence, and not so much on rising youth.
By acquiring Max Domi, the Stars would land the son of a former NHL player with a bright future.
Domi is a dynamic player that has overcome questions about his size to enter the realm of elite prospects. Not only can Domi play the center position, but he projects well as a wing.
Dallas can do no wrong in adding offensive depth, so there should be no qualms about this pick.
11. Philadelphia Flyers: Darnell Nurse, Defenseman, Canada
The Philadelphia Flyers could stand to land a star in the net, but that just isn't a realistic option at this stage of the draft. The only logical step is to go defense, where Darnell Nurse is the most intriguing option.
Nurse could end up in the same city that made Donovan McNabb, his uncle, famous.
12. Phoenix Coyotes: Hunter Shinkaruk, Center/Right Wing, Canada
The Phoenix Coyotes were 21st in goals scored and 25th in power-play percentage during the 2012-13 NHL regular season. The only logical option in this position is to add offensive depth, as the team needs to add speed and explosiveness.
Hunter Shinkaruk is that quality player.
13. Winnipeg Jets: Mirco Mueller, Defenseman, Switzerland
The Winnipeg Jets managed to piece together quality offense in 2012-13, led by Evander Kane, Blake Wheeler and Andrew Ladd. In order to truly make the leap into the postseason, however, the Jets must address their defensive woes.
Mirco Mueller is the elite defensive prospect that Winnipeg needs at 6'3" with smooth athleticism.
14. Columbus Blue Jackets: Curtis Lazar, Center, Canada
Curtis Lazar is one of the smoothest skaters in this year's draft class. After the Columbus Blue Jackets ranked ninth in scoring defense and 25th in scoring offense, it's clear why they need to go for his services.
Offense is needed in Columbus.
15. New York Islanders: Ryan Pulock, Defenseman, Canada
The New York Islanders are developing into one of the more explosive offensive teams in the NHL. They ranked seventh in goals scored per game and are led by young star John Tavares and a productive Matt Moulson.
The next step for the Islanders is to develop their defense, as they ranked 21st in goals against per game. Although he lacks elite size, Ryan Pulock can be the high-quality defenseman that New York needs.
It's a low-risk pick at this stage.
16. Buffalo Sabres (via Wild): Valentin Zykov, Right Wing, Russia
Valentin Zykov is a productive playmaker that has provided a quality spark at the right wing position while playing internationally. For a Sabres team that landed a star center earlier in this scenario, it only makes sense to provide Monahan with another dynamic player.
Zykov could end up being nothing more than a complementary player, but the potential is too intriguing here.
17. Detroit Red Wings: Alexander Wennberg, Center, Sweden
Alexander Wennberg is one of the top prospects in all of Europe. Not only can he be an instant game changer at the next level, but Wennberg is a player with elite upside.
The Detroit Red Wings love international imports and there are few better than Wennberg—they need help in other areas, but there's no way to pass up on this talent at this stage.
18. Ottawa Senators: Anthony Mantha, Left Wing, Canada
The Ottawa Senators are an elite defensive team that ranked second in goals allowed per game and first in penalty-kill percentage. Unfortunately, the Senators also placed 27th in goals scored per contest.
In order to improve their offense, the Senators target Anthony Mantha out of Canada.
19. Columbus Blue Jackets (via Rangers): Adam Erne, Right Wing, USA
The Columbus Blue Jackets improved their offense by drafting a center, but they can't stop there. The Blue Jackets need as many offensive products as they can come by, and right wing Adam Erne is the best fit here.
Erne has quality size and the upside to be a high-quality role player.
20. San Jose Sharks: Frederik Gauthier, Center, Canada
The San Jose Sharks are a consistent postseason contender that has quality depth with veteran prowess. As a team drafting this late in the first round, however, it's all about value and there are no better players than Frederik Gauthier.
At 6'5" and 215 pounds, how could you not be intrigued?
21. Toronto Maple Leafs: Josh Morrisey, Defenseman, Canada
The Toronto Maple Leafs have a high-octane offense that ranked sixth in goals scored per game. The Maple Leafs also have a strong enough defense to rank second in penalty-kill percentage.
This pick thus becomes a matter of selecting the best player available, and that is defenseman Josh Morrisey—an intriguing prospect who could crack the lottery.
22. Washington Capitals: Robert Hagg, Defenseman, Sweden
Led by Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, the Washington Capitals are an elite offensive team. They ranked fourth in goals scored and first in power play percentage.
Robert Hagg out of Sweden can be the defensive prospect to help improve Washington's 18th-ranked scoring defense.
23. Columbus Blue Jackets (via Kings): Andre Burakovsky, Left Wing, Sweden
After landing a center and a right wing with their first two picks, the Columbus Blue Jackets must now look for the best player available. In this instance, that player just so happens to be left wing Andre Burakovsky.
How's that for an offensive overhaul?
24. Vancouver Canucks: Bo Harvat, Center, Canada
The Vancouver Canucks haven't produced offensively as we've become accustomed to seeing, but they have played high-quality defense. Led by Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider in net, the Canucks were top 10 in both goals against and penalty-kill percentage.
By landing Bo Horvat, the best center available, the Canucks can go a long way towards building their offense for the future.
25. Calgary Flames (via Blues): Zach Fucale, Goaltender, Canada
The Calgary Flames landed an elite left wing earlier in this draft scenario, which turns our attention to defense. After Calgary ranked 28th in goals allowed per game, it's clear that they need an improvement in the net.
Zach Fucale, the goaltender for Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin, is the perfect player to entrust with your future.
26. Boston Bruins: Kerby Rychel, Left Wing, USA
Kerby Rychel is a versatile player that makes plays on offense, specifically as a goal scorer. While his facilitating skills are intriguing, Rychel will make a living by way of his ability to drop in goals on a consistent basis.
Boston needs any and everything on offense and Rychel can be the quality goal scorer to open up their team.
27. Montreal Canadiens: Samuel Morin, Defenseman, Canada
Led by players such as max Pacioretty and P.K. Subban, the Montreal Canadiens have become a powerful offensive force. They ranked fourth in scoring offense and fifth in power-play percentage.
With Carey Price in net, the Canadiens make the move to land a quality defenseman in Samuel Morin.
28. Anaheim Ducks: Jason Dickinson, LW, Canada
The Anaheim Ducks are one of the most balanced teams in the NHL, ranking in the top 10 in both goals scored and goals allowed. For that reason, the Ducks have the luxury of selecting the best player available.
That is Jason Dickinson.
29. Calgary Flames (via Penguins): Jordan Subban, Defenseman, Canada
The Calgary Flames landed an elite left wing, the top goaltender available and still have a pick available. With this selection, the Flames must further address their putrid defense by landing a high-quality defenseman.
Jordan Subban, brother of Montreal Canadiens breakout star P.K. Subban, can be the high-quality player Calgary needs.
30. Chicago Blackhawks: Artturi Lehkonen, Winger, Finland
Is there a true weakness on the Chicago Blackhawks' roster? You would be hard-pressed to find a definitive one.
Artturi Lehkonen is a versatile winger that can play on either side of the ice and fill in nicely in Chicago's promising future.
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