NHL Draft 2013: Highlighting Best Pro Prospects in This Year's Class

Richard Langford@@noontide34Correspondent IMay 21, 2013

BUFFALO, NY - SEPTEMBER 29:  Seth Jones #3 of Team McClanahan skates against Team Housley at the USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game at the First Niagara Center on September 29, 2012 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

There is a scintillating mix of talent at the top of the 2013 NHL draft, which bodes well for the Colorado Avalanche.

Coming off of a 16-25-6 year, the Avalanche have the first selection, and they need it. While the Florida Panthers had an even less successful season and lost out in the lottery, they will still be able to add a truly potential difference maker at No. 2.

Take a look at the order of the June 30 draft. Then I'll offer up a look at the top three prospects in this class. 

Note: Draft order will not be set until after season. The following projection is based on better-seeded teams winning out.

Pick Team 2012 Record
1 Colorado Avalanche 16-25-6
2 Florida Panthers 15-27-6
3 Tampa Bay Lightning 18-26-4 
4 Nashville Predators 16-23-9 
5 Carolina Hurricanes 19-25-4 
6 Calgary Flames 19-25-4 
7 Edmonton Oilers 19-22-7 
8 Buffalo Sabres 21-21-6 
9 New Jersey Devils 19-19-10 
10 Dallas Stars 22-22-4 
11 Philadelphia Flyers 23-22-3 
12 Phoenix Coyotes 21-18-9 
13 Winnipeg Jets 24-21-3 
14 Columbus Blue Jackets 24-17-7 
15 New York Islanders 24-17-7 
16 Buffalo Sabres (from Minnesota Wild) 21-21-6 
17 Toronto Maple Leafs
18 Calgary Flames (from St. Louis Blues)
19 Columbus Blue Jackets (from NY Rangers) 24-17-7 
20 Ottawa Senators
21 Detroit Red Wings
22 San Jose Sharks 25-16-7
23 Washington Capitals 27-18-3
24 Vancouver Canucks 26-15-7 
25 Montreal Canadiens
26 Anaheim Ducks
27 Columbus Blue Jackets (from L.A. Kings) 24-17-7
28 Boston Bruins 28-14-6
29 Calgary Flames (from Pittsburgh Penguins) 19-25-4 
30 Chicago Blackhawks 36-7-5 

Seth Jones, Defenceman, Portland Winterhawks 

Seth Jones, the son of former NBA player Popeye Jones, is an athletic prototype for a defenceman. He is 6'4" and 206 pounds, and at 18, he will undoubtedly add bulk and muscle to his frame.

He is such an exciting prospect that Jay-Z's Roc Nation Sports is already interested in signing him.

Jones moves great for his size, and he has tremendous body control. He will drop pinpoint passes to start the offense and he has a great slap shot to go with his excellent defensive instincts. 

Jones had 56 points in 61 games for the Winterhawks this year, and he displays good leadership skills. 

He will be one of the game's elite right-shooting defenceman, and if he stays healthy, he will be a franchise cornerstone for the next 15 years. 

Nathan MacKinnon, Center, Halifax Mooseheads

While it's been widely assumed that Seth Jones would be going No. 1 overall, Nathan MacKinnon is closing that gap. 

This certainly helped: 

Now, you obviously don't change a whole scouting report by one play, but that certainly showed that MacKinnon can score on anyone, and he was dominant that whole game. 

Halifax beat Jones' Portland Winterhawks in round-robin play of the Memorial Cup, 7-4. In his first Memorial Cup game, MacKinnon had three goals. 

MacKinnon's puck skills are well beyond his 17 years, and he is a great skater. He is a natural goal scorer, and he can drop some nice passes.

Also, he has a nice edge to him. MacKinnon isn't afraid to get physical and has the body to hold his own.

Jonathan Drouin, Left Wing, Halifax Mooseheads

As good as MacKinnon is, it isn't even a universal assumption that he is the best player on his own team.

To the left of MacKinnon is wing prospect Jonathan Drouin. He is a dynamic and speedy playmaker. In 66 games for the Mooseheads this past year, Drouin recorded 140 points.

He has tremendous hands, great feel for the flow of the game, will make quick reads and can put the puck anywhere he wants. 

Drouin is great on his skates, and his passing skills are already at an elite level. However, at just under 6'0" and only 175 pounds he will have to add some strength, but he he's definitely got the skills. 


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