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NHL Mock Draft 2013: Updated Projections for Entire 1st Round

Franklin SteeleAnalyst IIDecember 8, 2016

NHL Mock Draft 2013: Updated Projections for Entire 1st Round

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    The 2013 NHL draft is only a few weeks away, and players such as Seth Jones, Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin are busy preparing to become the next wave of pro hockey superstars.

    Those three are widely regarded as the top prospects available to the Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning—the teams with the first three selections in the draft, barring trades. That won't stop general managers from taking good, long looks at the likes of Aleksander Barkov and Valeri Nichushkin, though.

    The draft is set to take place in its entirety on June 30, with all seven rounds of action going down on that single (long and grueling) day. All but the final two selections of the first round are set in stone, with only the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins left to do battle for the Stanley Cup.

1. Colorado Avalanche: Seth Jones, D

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    Biggest Strengths

    There isn't a thing that Seth Jones doesn't do well. He has incredible wheels for a guy his size (6'4'', 206 lbs) and a wicked shot. He possesses an outstanding reach and a lot of hockey smarts on both sides of the puck. This is the kind of defender who teams can build around for years to come.

     

    Projected Role

    Jones projects as an all-around anchor. He should be right at home skating on a top pairing, a power-play unit or with a group of penalty killers. The expectations around this kid are high—anything less than a franchise defenseman level of play will be considered a letdown. 

     

    Why He's the Pick

    The Colorado Avalanche are set at forward, with the likes of Matt Duchene, Ryan O'Reilly and Paul Stastny locking down the center position. Gabriel Landeskog, meanwhile, is a top-flight winger.

    The only franchise-type player that the Avs are missing is a defender. Jones will be that guy, barring a trade down by Colorado.

2. Florida Panthers: Nathan MacKinnon, C

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    Biggest Strengths

    Scouts have a propensity to ramble when asked about Nathan MacKinnon. Like Jones, he plays his position at the highest level available for a teenager. MacKinnon is remarkably strong with the puck, sure.

    But where he's really started to separate himself from the pack is on the defensive end of things. He backchecks after scoring chances, possesses plenty of finish and is creative with his playmaking.

     

    Projected Role

    No. 1 center. Anything less would be considered a major disappointment for the ultra-skilled MacKinnon. He has all the tools necessary to center a top line in the NHL—both from a defensive and offensive standpoint.

     

    Why He's the Pick

    With the best defenseman off the board, the Florida Panthers will have their pick of the top offensive prospects available with the No. 2 selection. While there are some other tempting players, Florida will go with MacKinnon.

    He has been considered a top-five lock for more than a year. There's too much talent to pass on here, and he's as close to a "can't-miss prospect" as there is.

3. Tampa Bay Lightning: Jonathan Drouin, LW

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    Biggest Strengths

    Jonathan Drouin has the best hands in the draft, bar none. If defenders play him too tight, he has the one-on-one skills to make them look silly.

    While Drouin is considered by some to be a pure goal scorer, his vision and ability to find his center with slick passes is very underrated. His quickness isn't incendiary, but he's fast enough to make things happen at high rates of speed in the offensive zone.

     

    Projected Role

    Some folks like to compare Drouin to Martin St. Louis due to his smallish stature, vision and hands. While he may never pan out as a 100-point player in the NHL, the skills are there for him to be a very successful top-six winger. His tool belt lends itself nicely to power-play situations as well.

     

    Why He's the Pick

    Icing the dynamic duo of Steven Stamkos and Drouin over the next 10-plus years may be too good to pass up. The comparisons to St. Louis make this an interesting pick as well, as the 5'9'' forward may be able to mentor Drouin to some degree once he arrives in Tampa. 

4. Nashville Predators: Aleksander Barkov, C

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    Biggest Strengths

    There might not be a more impressive power forward available in the draft than Aleksander Barkov. He has a nose for the net, drives to the posts on the rush and is responsible on the defensive side of the puck as well.

     

    Projected Role

    Barkov has the wherewithal needed to be a top-six center in the NHL. He isn't one-dimensional out on the ice, so he isn't the kind of guy who disappears while not scoring goals. The hockey IQ is outstanding, and Barkov knows what to do in all three zones.

     

    Why He's the Pick

    The Nashville Predators couldn't score enough goals in 2012, as the defensive system held up well enough but received no support on the scoreboard. Barkov is a young pick, so he won't be able to help immediately, but once in the NHL, he'd form a strong pairing with Filip Forsberg.

    The Preds are stacked with defensive prospects, and Barkov is the safest forward available at No. 4.

5. Carolina Hurricanes: Valeri Nichushkin, LW/RW

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    Biggest Strengths

    There isn't much to dislike about Valeri Nichushkin. He's already 6'4'', 200 pounds, and while he's a Russian-trained forward, Nichushkin plays with a ton of grit and determination. The shot is above average, the hockey IQ is outstanding and his foot speed is top-notch as well.

     

    Projected Role

    Nichushkin is already an elite talent and has played in the KHL as a teenager. He's NHL-ready right now and could slot in nicely on Carolina's third line to start off his career. Moving forward, the skill is there for him to become a dominating presence on the top line.

     

    Why He's the Pick

    Scouts are sometimes timid when it comes to comparing teenagers to established NHL superstars. There hasn't been much reservation when it comes to Nichushkin, though.

    You'll hear scouts compare him to Evgeni Malkin. You'll see general managers whispering about how he looks like Alex Ovechkin. It isn't often you can grab a player like that at No. 5.

6. Calgary Flames: Elias Lindholm, C

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    Biggest Strengths

    The best that the Swedish school of hockey has to offer, Elias Lindholm is a remarkably well-rounded forward.

    His hockey IQ is as good as anyone in the draft, and he knows when to take chances and when to play it a bit safer. Lindholm is also a dog on the puck in all three zones, hustling on the backcheck during every shift.

     

    Projected Role

    Lindholm is a traditional brains-over-brawn center, using his wits to peel the puck out of corners and getting it to high-percentage areas of the ice quickly. He doesn't have the same ceiling as the top five guys, but the skill is there for Lindholm to develop into a sound top-six player for the Calgary Flames.

     

    Why He's the Pick

    The Flames don't have many outstanding prospects and will be looking to flood the system with as much talent as possible with their three 2013 first-rounders. Drafting a guy like Lindholm early would bode well for Calgary as it begins its rebuild process.

7. Edmonton Oilers: Sean Monahan, C

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    Biggest Strengths

    The playmaking and vision on this kid are incredible. Sean Monahan sees the ice as well as anyone else in the draft, and an argument could be made that he possesses the most outstanding pure offensive skill set as well.

     

    Projected Role

    Monahan is nearly a can't-miss second-line center, but if he can add some speed at the NHL level, the rest of the package is there for him to develop into a top-line pivot. Given time and space, Monahan is a player who can deliver knockout punches in various ways, and he is deadly on the power play.

     

    Why He's the Pick

    The Edmonton Oilers have talent on the wings coming out of their ears. Now they just need another center to get them all the puck.

    While forwards such as Nail Yakupov and Taylor Hall are more on the creative side, Monahan has more of a north-south mentality that would mesh well with what the Oilers already have in place.

8. Buffalo Sabres: Darnell Nurse, D

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    Biggest Strengths

    While Seth Jones receives all the love as the best defenseman in the draft, folks who have seen Darnell Nurse play might have a small bone to pick with that statement.

    While Nurse doesn't have the offensive upside that Jones does, he's arguably better in his own zone. He loves to hit, knows how to use his 6'4'' frame well and doesn't back down from anyone.

     

    Projected Role

    Nurse isn't ever going to score 40 points in a season, but he could be the defensive anchor on a top pairing, enabling his partner to do so. He'll be an outstanding penalty killer in the NHL, and he has the defensive IQ to be a top-end blueliner in the NHL.

     

    Why He's the Pick

    Aside from Jones, Nurse is the best defenseman available in the draft. The Buffalo Sabres have been in need of some toughness for years now, and Nurse shores them up in that category while giving them a strong defensive-defenseman moving forward.

9. New Jersey Devils: Bo Horvat, C

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    Biggest Strengths

    Bo Horvat might be the most well-rounded player available at the draft this year. He's a beast in all three zones, chases down pucks at any given opportunity and is all hustle, all the time.

    While Horvat was considered a defensive specialist throughout much of the year, his offensive surge toward the end of the season has scouts dreaming of bigger things for the 6'0'', 195-pound center.

     

    Projected Role

    Horvat is a guy who can play in any situation and get results. He isn't a placeholder on any line—he has the offensive touch to play on a second line, while his attention to detail in the defensive zone is invaluable within any group of players.

    The "intangibles" are through the roof with this kid as well, and Horvat has been a leader at every level of competition so far.

     

    Why He's the Pick

    The New Jersey Devils have a solid system of prospects in place, with no real weaknesses at any position. As such, they can make a best-player-available selection with Horvat. Even if they desperately needed a winger of defender, he still might be too solid to pass up.

10. Dallas Stars: Hunter Shinkaruk, C/RW

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    Biggest Strengths

    Hunter Shinkaruk is a magnificent offensive specimen. He's electric in the offensive zone, and the flow of play always seems to center around what Shinkaruk is trying to do with the puck.

    He's a constant threat to score. As such, he is always drawing defenders toward him, leaving teammates open around the net for slick passes.

     

    Projected Role

    If Shinkaruk can bulk up a bit, he has the tools needed to be a top-six forward at the NHL level. The lack of physicality might not be too much of an issue on a Dallas Stars team that is packing some serious size throughout the lineup, with more on the way via the prospect pipeline.

     

    Why He's the Pick

    While Dallas is chock-full of solid prospects who are coming along nicely, none of them possesses true game-breaking talent. Shinkaruk has that level of skill in spades and covers a large need for the Stars moving forward.

11. Philadelphia Flyers: Rasmus Ristolainen, D

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    Biggest Strengths

    Rasmus Ristolainen loves to hit, and he is always looking to land monstrous body checks on poor, unsuspecting forwards. He's not a dirty player, and he doesn't use his elbows or leave his feat to damage his opponents—perhaps because he doesn't have to make the desired impact.

    While the physicality jumps right out at you, he skates well for a 6'4'', 200-pound kid and is capable of turning the puck up ice in a hurry as well.

     

    Projected Role

    Ristolainen is an interesting prospect because he's shown some noteworthy offensive flair to go along with his safe and solid stay-at-home game.

    He's a late 1994 birthday, which means he has less experience than a lot of the other players in this draft, but you wouldn't know it when watching him play. He could end up as the defensive half of a top-four pairing, while making a home on both the penalty kill and power play.

     

    Why He's the Pick

    See the "biggest strengths" section of this slide. The Philadelphia Flyers have been leaning toward players like Ristolainen for decades now, and he has the meanness quotient that the City of Brotherly Love requires from its athletes.

    Philly would love the kid, and he'd be a mild celebrity for the Flyers if all goes according to plan.

12. Phoenix Coyotes: Curtis Lazar, C

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    Biggest Strengths

    Think a Ryan Getzlaf-type center with less offensive upside. Curtis Lazar brings heat to the ice on every shift, never backing down from a challenge and driving the puck to the net with as much authority as he can manage on a nightly basis.

     

    Projected Role

    Lazar projects cleanly as a solid second-line center or an above-average third-line pivot. He's the kind of guy a coach could move around with ease because his skill set lends itself well to various situations.

    It's the hustle and leadership that makes Lazar stand out, which are traits that never go out of style in the NHL, regardless of line or role.

     

    Why He's the Pick

    This is the kind of player the Phoenix Coyotes love to draft and build around. Lazar isn't ever going to blow anyone away with his offensive output, but you aren't going to beat him in a battle for a 50/50 puck without paying a price either.

    There's a lot of heart here, and a high compete level that is contagious among teammates.

13. Winnipeg Jets: Nikita Zadorov, D

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    Biggest Strengths

    Nikita Zadorov towers above his competition, at least in a literal sense. He's 6'5'' and weighs in at over 200 pounds of forward-crunching, crease-clearing muscle.

    He loves to exert his physicality through various avenues of the game, whether it's looking for a crushing hit or sticking up for his teammates when things break down into fisticuffs.

     

    Projected Role

    The offensive spark isn't there for Zadorov to project as a sure-fire top-pairing defender. He could find himself in a situation with the Winnipeg Jets where they look to him to anchor the top four in the defensive end while providing invaluable size and strength on the penalty kill on a nightly basis.

     

    Why He's the Pick

    It may seem like a long time ago, but the Winnipeg Jets were once the Atlanta Thrashers—one of the most poorly managed NHL teams in recent memory. As such, they are still in the process of restocking the prospect cupboards that the Thrashers left so embarrassingly bare.

    The chance to draft effective monsters like Zadorov doesn't come along very often, and the Jets would be doing themselves a favor by selecting this non-project hulk of a defender.

14. Columbus Blue Jackets: Max Domi, C

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    Biggest Strengths

    Top-five skill attached to a second-round frame. That's been the story of Max Domi's life so far, so don't be surprised if he doesn't bat an eye when going up against the 6'2'', 220-pound men that populate the NHL.

    Domi has tremendous amounts of speed and skill, and he is arguably one of the best offensive prospects available in this draft.

     

    Projected Role

    Domi is a bit of a boom-or-bust selection for the Columbus Blue Jackets. He doesn't have the skill set needed to perform well as a checking role forward, so if he doesn't pan out as a top-six player, he might not be able to stick in the NHL.

    That said, the "size thing" has been an issue for Domi from the first day of his pro career, and it hasn't slowed him down yet.

     

    Why He's the Pick

    The Blue Jackets are in the process of rebuilding on the fly after dealing Rick Nash, only to come within one game of making the Stanley Cup playoffs.

    They have a chance to stock up on talent while remaining competitive with three selections in the first round of the 2013 draft. Plain and simple, there isn't a more talented forward available to them at No. 14.

15. New York Islanders: Ryan Pulock, D

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    Biggest Strengths

    Ryan Pulock has an absolute cannon from the point. He shoots the puck with almost comedic velocity for a teenager and knows how to pick his corners as well.

    Pulock isn't going to bowl anyone over in the defensive or neutral zones, but few defenseman in this draft can move the puck and shoot as well as the 6'0'', 210-pound defender.

     

    Projected Role

    Power-play specialist is a given here because of the shot. If Pulock can continue to evolve as a dynamic puck-mover while playing clean hockey in his own zone, then he could end up as the offensive half of one of the top-two pairings.

     

    Why He's the Pick

    With Mark Streit hitting free agency this summer, the New York Islanders are thanking their lucky stars that an offensive-defenseman like Pulock is sitting here at No. 15. He fills this organizational need to a T and is the kind of puck-mover that all NHL teams covet.

16. Buffalo Sabres (via Minnesota Wild): Valentin Zykov, LW

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    Biggest Strengths

    While he wasn't a goal scorer in Europe, something clicked for Valentin Zykov once he arrived in North America.

    A 29-goal showing as a rookie in the QMJHL garnered him some serious attention, and his outstanding foot speed and muscle around the net make him noticeable in various sorts of offensive situations.

     

    Projected Role

    Zykov could cement his role as a goal-scoring threat from either a second or third line in the NHL eventually. He doesn't have the finish needed to be a top-line guy, but his quick skating and strength lend themselves nicely to a middle-of-the-pack role for Zykov.

     

    Why He's the Pick

    The sudden goalscoring outbreak for Zykov might concern some, especially since he'd never been an above-average threat in the offensive zone until he reached North America.

    Still, for a team like the Sabres who could use some scoring touch and power on the wings, there might not be a better pick for them than Zykov.

17. Ottawa Senators: Adam Erne, RW

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    Biggest Strengths

    While he's a noteworthy scorer and is always a threat with the puck in the offensive zone, Adam Erne is at his best when he's playing with a physical edge.

    He's willing to battle in the corners for loose pucks and complements more skilled, smallish forwards very well because of his strength and ability to post up around the net.

     

    Projected Role

    Erne has the kind of skills that make him a relatively safe selection. He's a dangerous offensive player, but if his game doesn't translate to the NHL, then he's still a smart and hardworking guy who would be capable of playing a checking role.

    That said, the weapons and talent are there for Erne to be a top-six forward in the league someday.

     

    Why He's the Pick

    The Ottawa Senators are flush with young and strong two-way players down the middle of the ice. Adding a player like Erne would give them another dimension to work with on the wing.

    He's strong and plays in all three zones well and would fit right in on this Sens team while bringing a little nastiness to the squad.

18. Detroit Red Wings: Frederik Gauthier, C

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    Biggest Strengths

    Standing at 6'5'' and weighing in at 210 pounds, Frederik Gauthier is a standout two-way forward who plays the game at a high level. He's outstanding with the puck in all three zones and plays a 200-foot game every night. Gauthier is also a strong skater, which can be a concern for teens his size.

     

    Projected Role

    In the right system, Gauthier could be a strong No. 2 center. His hockey IQ lends itself to playing any role, but the size and scoring touch are there for him to evolve into a dangerous top-six forward.

    Worst-case scenario for him: He grows up to be a dangerous checking-line forward who can provide timely goals from a depth position.

     

    Why He's the Pick

    The Detroit Red Wings will take skill over size every time, but in this case, they have a chance to land both. If Gauthier is still on the board at No. 18, he'll be a Red Wing.

19. Columbus Blue Jackets (via New York Rangers): Josh Morrissey, D

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    Biggest Strengths

    There isn't a lot of hesitation when it comes to the way Josh Morrissey plays the game. If he were a poker player, he'd be the guy quietly sitting there just waiting to go all-in on a big hand.

    Morrissey plays that way in both zones, which can lead to some bad turnovers. As he matures, he should be able to clean that up a bit.

     

    Projected Role

    Morrissey has the speed and shot necessary to become a central cog on the power play. Where his game ends up defensively will be what determines his role during five-on-five play. If he can learn to pick his spots better when it comes to pinching, he could certainly be a top-four guy.

     

    Why He's the Pick

    The Blue Jackets don't have a desperate need for defenseman, but Morrissey offers up an interesting combination of offensive acumen and defensive play that could fit in with the current group of defenders that Columbus is sporting.

    Jack Johnson and James Wisniewski aren't known as defensive stalwarts, but their ability to move the puck up ice quickly is invaluable. The same could be said for Morrissey.

20. San Jose: Anthony Mantha, LW

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    Biggest Strengths

    One of the better power forwards available in the draft this year, Anthony Mantha was a goal-scoring machine in the QMJHL in 2013.

    He posted 50 goals in 67 games, utilizing his sizable frame and strength with the puck to produce at more than a point-per-game basis. Mantha sees the ice well and has an electric release.

     

    Projected Role

    Power forwards are one of the toughest brands of hockey player to project accurately.

    After being drafted into the NHL, guys like Mantha are suddenly boys among men. In a lot of cases, it takes a while for the valuable "power" aspect of their game to return. Still, the downright finish is there for Mantha to eventually become a top-six forward for San Jose.

     

    Why He's the Pick

    The Sharks like a bit of meat on their talent players. Forwards like Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture don't take over games physically, but they won't be taken over themselves by hard-hitting teams either. In that respect, Mantha is the perfect player for San Jose at No. 20.

21. Toronto Maple Leafs: Alexander Wennberg, C

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    Biggest Strengths

    Another outstanding Swedish-born player, Alexander Wennberg is a fine specimen of what the school is capable of producing.

    He's a versatile forward whose talent doesn't necessarily reach out and grab you until he's playing alongside similarly skilled players. Then he comes out of his shell creatively, showing off what he's truly capable of.

     

    Projected Role

    Wennberg could be a second-line center if he can add some offensive flair to his game. If not, he has the defensive IQ to play a checking role while finding the back of the net from time to time. He's also a capable penalty killer and could be a valuable addition to a PK unit at the NHL level.

     

    Why He's the Pick

    The Toronto Maple Leafs are thin down the middle of the ice and could add a strong center to the prospect pool by selecting Wennberg. He isn't a game-breaker, but those can be tough to come by with certainty at this stage of the draft. Wennberg is a safe pick for the Leafs here.

22. Calgary Flames (via St. Louis Blues): Robert Hagg, D

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    Biggest Strengths

    Robert Hagg is the kind of defenseman a coach can put out on the ice in any situation without worrying about him.

    He's capable of quarterbacking the power play, can kill off penalties exceptionally well and is solid on both sides of the puck. Hagg also has an above-average shot and can place it quite well when shooting through traffic.

     

    Projected Role

    Hagg played in Sweden's top league this year and didn't seem out of place. The skill and IQ—both offensively and defensively—are there for him to evolve into a strong defenseman who can contribute on the scoreboard without giving up goals against.

     

    Why He's the Pick

    The farm system in Calgary receives another big boost in Hagg. His talent level is exceptional for a late-first-round selection, and the Flamers will be looking to acquire as much skill as possible in this draft.

23. Washington Capitals: Pavel Buchnevich, LW

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    Biggest Strengths

    Eleven points in seven WJC games put Pavel Buchnevich on the maps of even the most casual onlookers. He dominated the junior levels of Russian hockey before receiving a call-up to the KHL this year. 

    Buchnevich is a pure offensive threat, and he possesses all the skills that implies: exceptional speed, a great shot and a nose for the net.

     

    Projected Role

    Top-six forward in the NHL or nadda. Buchnevich's job is to score goals.

    At this stage of his career, he doesn't have the skills needed to be an effective checking-line forward. He's not an overtly physical player and isn't noted for his play on the defensive side of the puck either.

     

    Why He's the Pick

    The Washington Capitals have been an offense-first team (more or less) since drafting Alex Ovechkin. No reason to believe they'll get away from that suddenly in 2013. Buchnevich is the kind of player the Caps aim for in the draft, and the marriage of player and team here is perfect.

24. Vancouver Canucks: Kerby Rychel, C

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    Biggest Strengths

    While back-to-back 40-goal seasons in the OHL prove that Kerby Rychel is a capable goal scorer, what makes him all the more noteworthy is the level of nastiness that he brings to the rink along with his skills.

    This isn't a guy defenders can back down with a body check and a glare. Rychel's compete level is off the charts.

     

    Projected Role

    The Vancouver Canucks wouldn't need Rychel to step in and post 55 goals in his rookie season.

    He projects as a dream third-line center for a 'Nucks team that occasionally needs the guy in that spot to step into a top-six role. The talent is there for Rychel to do just that, making him a versatile and tough member of the Canucks.

     

    Why He's the Pick

    If Rychel is on the board at No. 24, it's hard to find a player who better meets the needs of this Vancouver hockey team. He is an ultra-skilled player with plenty of finish who can win big faceoffs and is hard to play against.

25. Montreal Canadiens: Andre Burakovsky, LW

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    Biggest Strengths

    When watching Andre Burakovsky play, the first thing that stands out about him is his creativity with the puck. He is slick and hard to contain when at top speed and has the offensive tools necessary to evolve into a game-breaking forward at the NHL level.

     

    Projected Role

    Burakovsky is another late-round home run selection that might have a hard time fitting in on a lower line if a top-six role doesn't pan out. The Montreal Canadiens are building toward being a skilled and fast hockey team, and this is a guy who could fit right in.

     

    Why He's the Pick

    The Habs are beginning to stockpile highly skilled forwards. The likes of Brendan Gallagher, Alex Galchenyuk and P.K. Subban keep the talent quotient on this squad high—Burakovsky could be another piece of that puzzle.

26. Anaheim Ducks: Samuel Morin, D

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    Biggest Strengths

    How does a 6'7'', 200-pound addition to the blue line sound? If that's your cup of coffee, then Samuel Morin is your barista.

    He hasn't always played to his size, but he began showing signs of a serious mean streak toward the end of his draft year. Morin has a strong shot from the point but is currently a high-minute defensive defenseman.

     

    Projected Role

    Even if his offensive skill hits a wall, the hockey IQ and physical presence at play here could make Morin a strong top-four blueliner. 

     

    Why He's the Pick

    The Anaheim Ducks love their players big and mean. Check and check. Morin is the kind of defensive anchor they've been missing since they traded Chris Pronger.

27. Columbus Blue Jackets (via L.A. Kings): Jason Dickinson, C/LW

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    Biggest Strengths

    The 6'1'', 180-pound forward has spent time at both center and wing this season, showing a knack for both while concentrating on neither. His offensive flareups haven't been MacKinnon-esque, but 47 points in 66 games while playing a two-way role is nothing to shake a hockey stick at.

     

    Projected Role

    Dickinson has offensive upside, of that scouts are sure. Just how high that ceiling is is another matter entirely.

    The good news for the Jackets is that there is no question about Dickinson's ability to play a strong game on both sides of the puck. So if he doesn't work out as a top-six guy, the skills are there for him to be an above-average checking forward.

     

    Why He's the Pick

    Columbus has a chance to greatly improve the skill and depth of their prospect pool in the first round of this draft. Dickinson would be another strong addition to a good group of young and determined players already playing for the Blue Jackets, or who are working their way up to the NHL.

28. Calgary Flames (via Pittsburgh Penguins): Madison Bowey, D

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    Biggest Strengths

    Madison Bowey's numbers might not immediately impress you, but his skating and mobility are both at an elite level already. He plays a strong two-way game, and while he didn't break out offensively until this season, there's never been any question about his commitment to detail in his own end.

     

    Projected Role

    The skill is there for Bowey to be a No. 2 defender in the NHL at some juncture, but he's still a raw prospect. His skating is top-notch, and his ability to move the puck up the ice is improving. He's still a few years of development away from making an impact in the NHL, though.

     

    Why He's the Pick

    It's a bit of a boom-or-bust selection for Calgary, but it can afford to roll the dice with the 28th overall selection while digging for a diamond.

29. Dallas Stars (via Boston Bruins): Jacob De La Rose, LW

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    Biggest Strengths

    Jacob De La Rose is a strong, two-way forward who isn't afraid to battle for loose pucks in the corner or drive the game toward the net. He's a strong skater to boot and can finish when he has chances around the goalmouth.

     

    Projected Role

    De La Rose is the kind of powerful and physical player who can make an impact on any line. He is in no way a sniper or pure offensive talent, but he knows how to play in all three zones, making him a safe checking-line forward to snap up this late in the first round.

     

    Why He's the Pick

    Another forward with some muscle and umph to his game for the Dallas Stars.

30. Chicago Blackhawks: JT Compher, C

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    Biggest Strengths

    Puck possession is the name of the game for JT Compher. He's most comfortable when he has the puck on his stick and has the patience to wait out defenders who have yet to "make the first move." Once they bite, he has a knack for finding open teammates or getting the puck to the net through traffic.

     

    Projected Role

    The Blackhawks don't need a top-six player here, which is OK because Compher likely won't evolve into one. Still, he's the kind of guy who can be great in a checking role, hanging on to the puck and forcing it into the offensive zone, causing faceoffs for the top guns like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.

     

    Why He's the Pick

    Chicago plays a skill game and requires its players to make good choices with the puck. Compher is capable of doing these things and could eventually be an outstanding addition to the bottom six for the 'Hawks.

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