2013 Top Prospects Press Conference
Some of the important indicators that the 2013 NHL draft is a particularly deep one are the wide variances in several mock drafts, hockey experts’ rankings and scouting services’ final rankings.
There is really no consensus, even in the potential top-five selections. Also, unlike most other drafts, teams could add one or possibly even two NHL-ready players for the 2013-14 season.
In every draft, there are players who are overlooked or undervalued. There are several reasons for this. Some of the key factors are a lack of size, serious injuries in the draft year, playing for a weak team, one glaring hockey-related weakness and limited play against top competition.
The following list includes the 10 most underrated players in the 2013 draft in reverse order of their projected selection.
Minnesota native Taylor Cammarata stands 5’7” and is under 160 pounds. That is the main factor in why he is unlikely to be selected in the first three rounds of the draft.
While size is coveted in the NHL, with Patrick Kane winning the 2013 Conn Smythe trophy, it is a good reminder that smaller players with exceptional skill can be key contributors in the league.
Cammarata is an offensive dynamo who can create offence both at even strength and on the power play. He can score goals, but his exceptional vision allows him to create chances for linemates.
Cammarata has committed to play for the University of Minnesota and should benefit from playing with other talented players. Strength will be an issue for him, and he is going to have to put on some weight to be an NHL player.
Don’t bet against him being an important player for the Golden Gophers and then seizing the opportunity to play in the NHL if he’s given the opportunity in a few years.
Like other younger siblings of great players, Subban both benefits from, and is saddled with being, the younger brother of the 2013 Norris trophy winner, P.K. Subban. Jordan’s other older brother is the highly touted Malcolm Subban, who is expected to be an NHL standout in goal.
Jordan is a heady player with very good speed from the point. He has great acceleration and is a creative force in the offensive zone. Subban is likely to be a third- or fourth-round pick, lower than either of his brothers, but his play warrants a higher selection than this.
Subban is well under 6’0”, and that does not sit well with some. He also needs to develop his play in the defensive zone. This is even more important for someone perceived to be too small to play at the pro level.
With Jordan’s high hockey IQ, don’t be shocked if he proves many of his critics wrong and develops into a top-four NHL rearguard.
Zach Nastasiuk of the Owen Sound Attack has finally moved into a projected ranking that reflects his potential. He moved from a mid-term ranking of 33 to a final spot at 13. This indicates that Nastasiuk projects to be a first-round pick.
Nastasiuk moved to the wing midway through the season, and his numbers likely would have been even better if he had played the entire season as a winger. He has good size at 6’1” and enjoys mixing it up in the corners when needed.
He has enough skill to develop into a second-line player, but is more likely to be a third-line winger. Depending on the organization, Nastasiuk could be asked to play an offensive role or be a solid defensive player on the third line.
His skating fundamentals need more work, but don’t bet against him putting in the necessary effort to become a better-than-average NHL winger.
Anthony Duclair of the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts did not have a stellar second season of junior hockey. He came out of bantam hockey with a lot of promise, and in some ways, he has not fulfilled that.
Duclair is currently ranked at No. 57 in the 2013 draft among North American skaters. This could put him as low as a third- or fourth-round pick. Granted, he was inconsistent in many games, but he also suffered an injury that caused him to miss some time.
Duclair is one of the better skaters in the entire draft, and he can create the kind of offense that should have him as a late second-round pick at worst.
He does not need anyone else to create his scoring opportunities. This is a quality that not a lot of players have, and he is able to do this at top speed.
He will need to get stronger to be an impact top-six NHL winger, but with the right motivators, there is reason to believe this can happen.
Niklas Hansson moved into the top 30 in the last Central Scouting rankings of European skaters. Hansson projects as a late second-round pick, or possibly won't even be selected until the third round.
However, he has the kind of overall game that should see him taken much higher than that. He is a slick puckhandler, and his ability to move the puck quickly out of his own end is a great asset.
A lot of NHL teams are in need of creative defencemen who are capable of something much more than shooting the puck off the glass out of the defensive zone. Hansson has the skills to be the former rather than the latter.
Hansson, like most young defencemen, needs to work on his game in the defensive zone, particularly without the puck. His shot is also underwhelming at this stage in his development. With his above-average skating ability, the defensive shortcomings are something he should be able to address as he develops his game.
He is an underrated defenceman for the 2013 draft.
Dillon Heatherington was a workhorse for the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos in 2012-13. He was counted on for big minutes five on five and played important minutes on the power play as well.
His current ranking puts him being selected in the late second round. This is too low based on Heatherington’s play as the season wore on. He is a strong skater who makes the smart play in the defensive zone more often than not.
Heatherington is already 6’4” and 200 pounds and is likely to play at an even heavier weight than that in the next few seasons. He may not be NHL-ready, but he offers a lot of promise.
It would not be surprising to see him taken late in the first round or quite early in the second round on June 30.
Nicolas Petan is considered undersized at 5’9” and 165 pounds, but he put up some huge numbers in the WHL. The Portland Winterhawk tallied 120 points in the 2012-13 regular season on one of the best lines in the WHL in recent memory.
The B.C. native is a great skater and has some of the best hands in the entire draft class. He is a sniper, but his vision is excellent. His on-ice vision is a key attribute and allows him to find linemates where others would be unable to do so.
Petan may not be selected until the late first round. There is a possibility that he may even be available until the second round.
With his ability to find open ice, lightning-quick release and productivity on offense, Petan has top-15 talent in his draft class.
Samuel Morin had a breakthrough year in many ways.
He was projected to be a third- or fourth-round pick in the midseason rankings. As it stands, it would not be surprising to see him go as one of the first 20 picks in the draft. He is a project in the same way that most defencemen are at this age. It is exceedingly rare for a blueliner to be NHL-ready at 18, and Morin is unlikely to be an exception to this general rule.
But at 6’6” and 202 pounds, he has the kind of tantalizing size and skill that all NHL teams should be willing to be patient for and allow him to develop it fully. His frame indicates that he could play the game quite easily, at 230 or even 240 pounds.
Morin is continuing to learn just how successful he can be if he plays a physical brand of hockey. There is no question that his skating could use some work and his offensive upside is limited. But he could very well develop into a top-four defenceman with above-average shutdown qualities.
Morin is unquestionably one of the more underrated defencemen in the 2013 draft.
As the son of a former NHL player, Warren Rychel, Kerby Rychel has had expectations placed on him since he first put on a pair of skates. He has handled these lofty expectations very well.
Rychel has scored more than 40 goals in the past two seasons, and there are not a lot of junior players who can make that same claim. But Rychel is much more than a sniper, as he is a very good playmaker with good on-ice vision.
He is not a tremendous skater, and that is one area that has likely contributed to him being projected at the No. 17 North American skater by Central Scouting.
Rychel is a true team player who often puts his teammates ahead of his individual interests. He projects as a very good second-line player who should be able to contribute offensively in the NHL while playing a responsible defensive game.
Finnish star Alexander Barkov is one of the youngest available players in the draft. However, his game belies his youthfulness. He blends power, speed and skill on the ice. Barring something unforeseen, he could be at least a No. 2 centre in the NHL next season.
While he is a likely top-10 pick in this year’s draft, if he were a North American player, he would be in the mix to be the first overall pick. It can be argued that a bias remains against those players who don’t play at least part of their junior career in North America.
Barkov can handle the puck at high speed, and his agility is exceptional for a player of his size, 6’3” and over 200 pounds.
He played very well against much older competition in Finland this past season and scored at a rate of nearly a point-per-game. Barkov has a very good shot, but his playmaking skills may be even better at this stage of his career. He plays a 200-foot game that coaches will love.
Do not be surprised if there is a flurry of activity centered on drafting Barkov if he is available after the first three or four picks.