NHL Draft 2013: Where This Year's Biggest Stars Will Land

Steven CookFeatured Columnist IVMay 28, 2013

LAKE PLACID, NY - AUGUST 06:  Aleksander Barkov #16 of Team Finland skates against the USA Blue Squad at the USA hockey junior evaluation camp at the Lake Placid Olympic Center on August 6, 2012 in Lake Placid, New York. Team USA defeated Finland 5-4.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The incoming class for the 2013 NHL Draft is flooded with elite talent, and the teams lucky enough to have a top-five pick will receive a franchise-changing talent if they choose the right fit for their team. 

Although the spectacle won't start until June 30, where it'll all take place in the Prudential Center in New Jersey, there's still a pretty good feeling out there of who has stepped out from the pack and proven worthy of a top pick.

Let's take a look at the first five picks in a mini mock draft including the best players from the 2013 class.


No. 1: Seth Jones, D, Colorado Avalanche

This pick has been the obvious choice for the Avs ever since they won the draft lottery. It just makes sense on every level for both sides.

Colorado is in desperate need of a defensive stopper and a franchise player, and fortunately enough, Seth Jones will answer both of those voids. He's a generational talent who has everything needed to become the next great defenseman and return the Avs to the top of the NHL like they were just a number of years ago. 

Jones already has the size and speed to play in the NHL and won't have to wait to get on the ice despite still being a teenager, and the Avs won't want him to wait with how badly they need him.


No. 2: Jonathan Drouin, LW, Florida Panthers

Jonathan Drouin is arguably the most dynamic player in this year's draft and might be the guy from this class that you see the most often on highlight reels. He's also a franchise talent who will be a perfect fit in Florida. 

The Panthers already have a long-term answer at center with Jonathan Huberdeau, so they would be wise to find a playmaker to put alongside him. If this match works as well on the ice as it looks on paper, Florida will get back into the playoffs in no time.

Florida could always pick up another great center in this draft, but the Drouin selection allows them to solidify their front line of the future and add another missing piece to the puzzle.


No. 3: Nathan MacKinnon, C, Tampa Bay Lightning

Although Drouin would be great in Tampa Bay, they'll have to settle for center Nathan MacKinnon at No. 3. And I say settle reluctantly because this is still a pick that could transform their franchise.

MacKinnon simply does so much for his teammates with a unique style of play that makes you feel like there's no possible way he could fail to have an impact on any game.

Whether he scores or not, his passing is sure to set up goals on a regular basis and notch gaudy assist totals when he makes the transition to the NHL. There's nothing leading me to believe he couldn't make a quick jump, either.

The Lightning have rested their franchise's hopes on Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis in the past, but it's time to find the new age of Tampa Bay hockey and MacKinnon would be a strong candidate for that as a future No. 2 center behind Steven Stamkos.


No. 4: Aleksander Barkov, C, Nashville Predators

Aleksander Barkov just has the ideal size and skill set to be a game-changing talent in the NHL, and the Predators will be beyond lucky to receive such production for years from the No. 4 pick in the draft.

Despite being only 17 years old, Barkov has been the talk of the NHL draft system for a while. But his young age has allowed him to slip beneath the cracks in favor of slightly older players who will be able to contribute more quickly.

Barkov may be 17, but he's also 6'3" and 205 pounds, so it's hard to see how he could get pushed around too badly if he was inserted into the NHL quickly after being drafted. As crazy as it would be to see such a young player out there competing, Barkov seems able to fit right in despite his age.

His potential is so huge and boasts an intelligence of the game well beyond his years. This has suited him well so far and it will continue to as he'll make the tough transition to the NHL with ease. 


No. 5: Darnell Nurse, D, Carolina Hurricanes

This is where the talent gap in the 2013 draft drops immensely, but that's nothing against Darnell Nurse. He won't be a franchise player, but should anchor a first-unit defensive line for years on a team that could desperately use that. 

Nurse has an imposing physical game with crushing hits as well as the intelligence, both important characteristics for any team's top defenseman. If he can mold the rest of his game around those strengths, he'll be an elite defender in just a few years.

This pick is also a safe one for the Hurricanes, who have gone out on a limb with defensemen from the draft in recent years. Nurse is a cookie-cutter defender who will anchor your unit and pay for himself easily.

Nurse is the type of player that any team would be lucky to land from the draft, and the 'Canes will be ecstatic in a few years with this pick.


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