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Biggest Risers and Fallers in the Lead Up to the 2013 NHL Draft

James OnuskoContributor IIIJune 11, 2013

Biggest Risers and Fallers in the Lead Up to the 2013 NHL Draft

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    Every spring, there are risers and fallers in the lead up to the NHL Draft.

    2013 is no exception as there are a number of players that have seen their rankings move up significantly while other players' rankings have moved downward.

    These moves are based on their play in the final weeks of the regular season, their playoff performances and their NHL Scouting Combine results.

    The following 5 players, in ascending order of overall movement, are some of the biggest risers and fallers since the mid-term Central Scouting rankings for the 2013 NHL Draft.

    The list features skaters that are likely to be first-round selections.

    Honorable mentions go to risers, Vyacheslav Leschenko and Andreas Borgman. 

5. Valeri Nichushkin (Riser)

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    It would not be shocking to see Valeri Nichushkin picked in the top 3 of the upcoming 2013 NHL Draft.

    The biggest factor in his rise has been his commitment to come to North America and compete for an NHL roster spot in 2013-14.

    The hulking right-winger was fourth in the mid-season rankings of international skaters, that likely placed him outside of the top-10 selections.

    However, his play at the World Junior Hockey Championships, his continuing physical growth and his raw athleticism will be difficult to overlook at the draft.

4. Josh Morrissey (Faller)

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    The Prince Albert Raiders have a very good defenseman in Josh Morrissey. However, he qualifies as a faller in the lead up to the NHL Draft.

    In the mid-term Central Scouting rankings, Morrissey was in the 11th spot.

    In the final rankings, he had fallen to No. 27.

    Noted TSN draft expert Craig Button still has him at 15 on Craig’s List

    Therefore, the fall at the NHL Draft may not be as dramatic as the official scouting rankings indicate.

    Morrissey is an exceptional skater and while he does have a tendency to take risks in the offensive zone, he has offensive skills that few draft-eligible defencemen can match.

    At 6’0” and under 180 pounds, some may consider him undersized on the point, but Morrissey has a lot to offer an NHL organization.

3. Sam Morin (Riser)

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    There are several excellent defencemen in the upcoming draft, and Samuel Morin of the Rimouski Oceanic has joined the discussion as a potential first-round pick.

    Morin was projected to be a third–round pick in the mid-term rankings, but his stock has risen considerably in the past few months.

    He scored well in several categories at the recent NHL Scouting Combine and the Quebec native has something that cannot be taught—size.

    At 6’6” and over 200 pounds, Samuel is learning how to adjust and refine his offensive game.

    He is a project in many ways, but all NHL teams are looking for a defenceman that can combine good defensive instincts and a formidable presence.

2. Ryan Pulock (Faller)

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    Ryan Pulock of the Brandon Wheat Kings may have suffered from too much scrutiny in the lead up to the NHL Draft.

    He is one of the older draft-eligible players and his point total fell from 60 to 45 this past season.

    However, the Wheat Kings were not the team they were last year.

    But, Pulock’s excellent shot from the point did not go anywhere, nor did his offensive game.

    Ryan was ranked sixth in the Central Scouting mid-term rankings for North American skaters and has now fallen out of the top 10. Craig Button currently has him ranked 30th overall.

    Pulock lacks some of the polish and size of other defenceman, but NHL teams should not discount his all-around game.

1. Zach Nastasiuk (Riser)

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    Zach Nastasiuk’s season was split in terms of production, as he produced at nearly a point-per-game pace in the second half of the regular season and the playoffs. This followed a mediocre start to his year.

    Nastaskiuk was moved to right wing from center mid-season and flourished there.

    He is a gifted scorer and while he may not blossom into a top-six forward, he clearly has the hands to score consistently at the NHL level.

    In the mid-season rankings, Nastasiuk was projected to be a late third-round pick.

    However, given his second-half performance and contributions in the playoffs, don’t be surprised if Zach is taken late in the first round.

    He would be a solid pick for a team looking to add size, grit and scoring prowess. 

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