NHL Draft 2013: Future Playmakers Who Can Turn Around Struggling Teams

Alex BallentineFeatured ColumnistJune 4, 2013

HALIFAX, CANADA - JANUARY 16:  Bo Horvat #53 of Team Orr moves the puck past Nathan MacKinnon #22 of Team Cherry during the CHL Top Prospects game at the Halifax Metro Centre on January 16, 2013 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.  Team Orr defeated Team Cherry 3-0.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

For teams coming off of dreadful 2013 campaigns, the 2013 NHL draft represents the most exciting thing that will happen all season. A losing season is never ideal, but it does offer teams the opportunity to pick up future stars during the draft. 

While bruising defensemen may make a team better, everyone loves adding an offensive playmaker. Whether it be a slick passer who can make everyone around him better or a pure scorer that will add some extra punch on the attack, the draft is filled with prospects that can develop into difference-makers. 

Here's a list of some of the players whose offensive skill sets can be molded and improved to ultimately produce prolific players for the franchise that picks them up in the June 30 draft. 


Nathan MacKinnon, C, Halifax (QMJHL)

Any conversation about offensive playmakers has to start with Nathan MacKinnon in this draft class. The Halifax center is a dynamo as both a passer and a goal scorer, and he's a lock to go in the first three picks come draft time. 

The 17-year-old MacKinnon has a skill set that makes him one of the most NHL-ready prospects in the draft. He's a quick skater with the ability to score in a variety of ways. He scored 32 goals in 44 games with Halifax last season.

Not only can MacKinnon score, but he's shown that he's capable as a distributor, too. He ran his points total on the season up to 75, with 43 of them being assists. 

Perhaps the best indication of MacKinnon's success is the fact that he really stepped up his game in the playoffs, scoring 11 goals with 22 assists in Halifax's 17 playoff games. 

MacKinnon is the kind of elite talent that could really become a building block for a contender offensively. 


Jonathan Drouin, LW, Halifax (QMJHL)

Scouts attending Halifax games this season were treated to two of the best offensive prospects in the draft class. MacKinnon's teammate Jonathan Drouin was an offensive force for the team, too. 

Drouin played on the wing for Halifax and was even more dynamic than MacKinnon, scoring 41 goals and 64 assists in 49 games. His speed, ice vision and quick hands will make him an ideal threat to score from anywhere on the ice, which makes him versatile offensively. 

Unfortunately, there are concerns about Drouin's size. At just 5'10" and 186 pounds, he will need to put on some muscle if he's going to be endure a full season of NHL defenses targeting him. 

As long as he can put on the weight, his ability to finish around the net and facilitate will make him an early pick and a franchise cornerstone. 


Valeri Nichushkin, RW, Dynamo Moscow (KHL)

Drouin and MacKinnon are both well-known commodities, but Nichushkin may be the best scorer in the draft. 

At 6'4", 200 pounds, Nichushkin has the body to go right to work for the team that drafts him. He doesn't have the mind-boggling numbers of Drouin and MacKinnon, but that can be attributed to him playing professional hockey against grown men instead of fellow teenagers. 

Nichushkin played against his age group in the IIHF U18 World Championship and scored seven points in six games. However, Nichushkin isn't the most sure thing in the draft. His four goals in 18 KHL games certainly didn't set the league on fire or anything, but he could be a contributor sooner rather than later that blossoms into a legitimate goal scorer. 

A big forward that score in bunches is certain to be pivotal cog for any team looking to rebuild in the top 10.