The 2013 NHL Draft is just a few days away, and the anticipation over one of the biggest dates on the hockey calendar has fans of the sport ready to find out where each of the top prospects lands on Sunday.
There are several potential stars that will be instant success stories in the NHL, but there are others that will need a few years to develop and even more players that will never make it at the next level.
Each team will be looking to find the perfect player for its long-term success, and these are all the must-have details for any hockey fan planning to enjoy the festivities.
Where: Prudential Center, Newark, N.J.
When: Sunday, June 30, 2013
Time: 3 p.m. ET
Watch: NBC Sports Network (3-8 p.m. ET) and NHL Network (starting at 8 p.m.)
Live Stream: NBC Sports LiveExtra
Top Prospects to Watch
Seth Jones, D, Portland, WHL
The top prospect in the 2013 class is Portland defender Seth Jones. As the son of an NBA player, Popeye Jones, and one of the biggest prospects in the draft (6’4” and 205 pounds with room to grow), teams will look at his elite skating ability and shutdown potential and see a rare player worth the No. 1 overall pick.
If the Colorado Avalanche don't select Jones at No. 1, as Adam Kimelman of NHL.com is reporting is a possibility, the franchise will be passing up an incredibly mentally and physically gifted player that would make the team better for years to come.
While there is always a chance that the public comments saying the team will look elsewhere with the No. 1 pick could be a ploy to give Colorado the leverage in a possible deal for the selection, the need for viable offensive players on the Avalanche roster could give the Florida Panthers a bona fide star at No. 2.
Nathan MacKinnon, C, Halifax, QMJHL
The Avalanche aren’t sold on Jones right now, and the player that looks to be the lead option as the top pick in the draft would be Halifax center Nathan MacKinnon. As one of the most NHL-ready talents in the 2013 class, MacKinnon is no stretch as a No. 1 overall selection.
MacKinnon has great vision on the ice and is as good distributing the puck as he is at putting it in the net, a quality that makes his teams better and justifies taking the talented forward over a defensive stud like Jones.
While MacKinnon is smaller than expected from a top-line center—6’0” and 182 pounds—room to add weight to his frame and a tenacity matched by almost no other player in this draft makes him a viable pick for the Avalanche at No. 1 or for the Panthers at No. 2.
Jonathan Drouin, LW, Halifax, QMJHL
As much as the battle for the No. 1 overall pick rages on, the No. 3 selection for the Tampa Bay Lightning will likely be the best player available on the board when the team makes its selection, and that will be Halifax winger Jonathan Drouin.
The Lightning already have one of the most talented centers in the game in Steven Stamkos, and with a playmaker like Drouin on the wing—Stamkos is a bona fide sniper and the QMJHL prospect will be able to get the puck to him for open shots—Tampa Bay could be a viable contender starting in 2014.
The knock on Drouin is his lack of elite size—5”10” and 186 pounds—but with Martin St. Louis proving in Tampa Bay that smaller players can still be a dominant force in the NHL, there would be no better place for the undersized star to land.
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