Many prospects will enter the 2013 NHL draft as projects for the future, or even just a year or two away from being pro-ready. However, there are also a number of players who could make a strong impact in the National Hockey League and are likely to do just that in their rookie season.
Some of them are the can't-miss talent that is touted around for weeks and months prior to the draft; other times they're players who we didn't expect to thrive instantly.
Which top-rated prospects will find instant success in the NHL?
Read on and find out.
Jonathan Drouin, LW, Halifax Mooseheads
Whoever ends up taking Drouin in the draft this year will be looking at drafting a franchise winger and an offensive wizard who is capable of creating goals seemingly at will and out of nothing.
He has exceptional vision and speed, and his quick hands can cause huge problems for defensemen right around the league. At 5'11", 176 pounds, we're not talking about the biggest guy in the world, but what we are talking about is a creative goalscorer who is more than capable of netting lots of goals.
Drouin had 41 goals and 64 assists in just 49 games this year, and he's the type of player who is going to sell tickets to fans and create excitement whenever he crosses the blue line. That's the type of thing you cannot evaluate all that well in rookies, but it's one of the many things that Drouin provides.
He has the potential to be an instant star for whichever team picks him up.
Valeri Nichushkin, LW/RW, Chelyabinsk
There might be some big question marks about Nichushkin and his Russian background, but the reality is that this is a very powerful forward. So much so that it would be incredibly surprising not to see Nichushkin in the All-Star game at some point in his long NHL career.
That's how good he is.
At 6'4", 200 pounds, Nichushkin has good size about him, but it's how he uses that size that's most impressive. He is able to protect the puck with ease and drive hard to the net—finishing with devastating power and skill when needed.
He's still scheduled to play in the KHL for another two years, so his rookie year is going to be a little while away—giving him even more time to develop into one of the most potent wingers in the game.
Which, with some good coaching, there's no doubt he could be.
Seth Jones, D, Portland Winterhawks
However, there can be no talking about top-rated prospects and "thriving in the pros" and not include Seth Jones, who will be the No. 1 overall pick in 2013.
The defenseman scored 14 goals and had 42 assists in just 61 games, which also included 13 points in 15 playoff games. His prowess from inside the blue line is second-to-none when we're talking defensemen in the draft class this year—and we haven't even begun to talk about his defensive skills!
At 6'4", 206 pounds, Jones has the size and strength to win battles and understands how to use his body to always stay in a good position—something that will definitely help him make the transition from junior hockey to the big time.
He gives big minutes on defense and lots of points on offense. Few teams are going to say no to that, and he'll thrive from the moment he takes the ice in 2013.
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