The 2013 NHL draft is just a few days away (Sunday, June 30 at 3 p.m. ET), and the expectations about which direction each first-round team will go has the hockey community ready for action.
As the big day approaches, these are the latest predictions about where every first-round prospect will land during the draft.
1. Colorado Avalanche (16-25-7): Nathan MacKinnon, C, Halifax (QMJHL)
The Colorado Avalanche have made their intentions with the No. 1 pick very clear. According to Adam Kimelman of NHL.com, the franchise will pass on defenseman Seth Jones and select Halifax center Nathan MacKinnon. As a team with a strong need for forward depth, this is a smart choice.
2. Florida Panthers (15-27-6): Seth Jones, D, Portland (WHL)
The Florida Panthers are a franchise that continues to rebuild year after year. If Colorado follows through and passes on Portland defender Seth Jones at No. 1, the Panthers would be able to select the long-term No. 1 defenseman they have lacked over the last several seasons.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning (18-26-4): Jonathan Drouin, LW, Halifax (QMJHL)
While the Tampa Bay Lightning could go after a center at No. 3 after buying out captain Vincent Lecavalier, per Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com the franchise will be looking to take the best player available. With MacKinnon and Jones off the board, the next-best prospect is Halifax left wing Jonathan Drouin.
4. Nashville Predators (16-23-9): Alexander Barkov, C, Tappara Tampere (SM-liiga)
The Nashville Predators made an enormous investment in its defensive group when the franchise re-signed Shea Weber to a blockbuster contract last year, and the need for low-priced depth and talent at the forward positions is obvious. That’s where center Alexander Barkov fits perfectly.
5. Carolina Hurricanes (19-25-4): Valeri Nichushkin, RW, Dynamo Moscow (KHL)
If the Carolina Hurricanes don’t trade this pick—something TSN’s Darren Dreger is reporting could happen—they will look to bolster their offense with a NHL-ready talent like Russian star Valeri Nichushkin.
6. Calgary Flames (19-25-4): Rasmus Ristolainen, D, TPS Turku (SM-liiga)
The Calgary Flames hold three first-round selections on Sunday. With the team’s greatest need being on defense, adding depth and long-term talent to the group with Finnish prospect Rasmus Ristolainen is a great strategy.
7. Edmonton Oilers (19-22-7): Nikita Zadorov, D, London (OHL)
After addressing offensive needs draft after draft, the Edmonton Oilers must look to the back end of the roster and draft a potential star defenseman. When London’s Nikita Zadorov falls to No. 7, the fit will be too perfect to ignore.
8. Buffalo Sabres (21-21-6): Sean Monahan, C, Ottawa 67's (OHL)
The Buffalo Sabres need to add both grit and offensive prowess in this draft, and if Ottawa 67’s center Sean Monahan falls into the franchise’s lap at No. 8, this will be a great selection in the top 10.
9. New Jersey Devils (19-19-10): Elias Lindholm, C, Brynas IF (SEL)
The New Jersey Devils must bolster the offense down the middle. If talented Swedish prospect Elias Lindholm drops to No. 9, the franchise would have the depth at center it has desperately lacked.
10. Dallas Stars (22-22-4): Adam Erne, RW, Quebec (QMJHL)
The Dallas Stars are in full rebuild mode this offseason, so when a talented winger like Quebec’s Adam Erne is still on the board at No. 10, the franchise would have its perfect selection.
11. Philadelphia Flyers (23-22-3): Darnell Nurse, D, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
After buying out Daniel Briere and Ilya Bryzgalov this offseason, per Dave Isaac of the USA Today, the franchise can address both the forward and goaltender positions via free agency and address the need for defense by drafting Sault Ste. Marie’s Darnell Nurse.
12. Phoenix Coyotes (21-18-9): Ryan Hartman, RW, Plymouth (OHL)
There is no franchise that has dealt with more drama over the last three seasons than the Phoenix Coyotes. The tide of the franchise could be changing, though, as the Coyotes will have the chance to select Plymouth winger Ryan Hartman at No. 12 and build for the future.
13. Winnipeg Jets (24-21-3): Max Domi, C, London (OHL)
With a lineage that speaks to his gritty nature, London center Max Domi may be undersized like his father, but he has far more offensive skill. The Winnipeg Jets would get a tough player that can make things happen in the offensive zone.
14. Columbus Blue Jackets (24-17-7): Ryan Pulock, D, Brandon (WHL)
The Columbus Blue Jackets will add an offensive player later in the draft, but when Brandon defender Ryan Pulock falls into the franchise’s lap at No. 14, the team will continue to bolster the already impressive defensive unit.
15. New York Islanders (24-17-7): Josh Morrissey, D, Prince Albert (WHL)
The New York Islanders must continue to rebuild the defensive group on the roster, and while veteran Mark Streit signed with Philadelphia, per ESPNNewYork.com, bolstering the back end with Prince Albert’s Josh Morrissey is a great plan.
16. Buffalo Sabres from Minnesota (21-21-6): Hunter Shinkaruk, LW, Medicine Hat (WHL)
The Buffalo Sabres will continue the rebuilding process in the offensive zone when they snag talented Medicine Hat left wing Hunter Shinkaruk with the team's second first-round pick.
17. Ottawa Senators (25-17-6): Bo Horvat, C, London (OHL)
The Ottawa Senators lacked elite scoring in 2013, and selecting a talented center like London’s BoHorvat at No. 17 overall would be a great remedy for the void.
18. Detroit Red Wings (24-16-8): Tom Vanelli, D, US-Under-18 (USAH-NTDP)
There is no team in the NHL that gets more out of their prospects than the Detroit Red Wings, and with a long-term mindset, the franchise will select American prospect Tom Vanelli and give him the proper time to develop.
19. Columbus Blue Jackets from NY Rangers (24-17-7): Alexander Wennberg, C, Djurgardens IF (SEL)
After taking a defender at No. 14, the Columbus Blue Jackets will begin the process of using the other two first-round picks they possess on forwards; starting with Swedish center Alexander Wennberg.
20. San Jose Sharks (25-16-7): Kerby Rychel, LW, Windsor (OHL)
The San Jose Sharks must bolster the forward ranks this offseason, and if Windsor left wing Kerby Rychel is there at No. 20, the team will have a great piece for the future.
21. Toronto Maple Leafs (26-17-5): Mirco Müller, D, Everett (WHL)
There is no question that the Toronto Maple Leafs are in search of serious help in the defensive zone, and when Everett defender Mirco Müller falls all the way to No. 21, the team will find the much-needed support it has been searching for.
22. Calgary Flames from St. Louis (19-25-4): Zach Fucale, G, Halifax (QMJHL)
The Calgary Flames could be losing veteran goalie Miikka Kiprusoff to retirement this offseason, per Brian Stubits of CBSSports.com, and drafting Halifax netminder Zach Fucale is a smart long-term investment.
23. Washington Capitals (27-18-3): Steve Santini, D, New York (EJHL)
The Washington Capitals have solid depth in the offensive zone, but they lack an elite defense to take the franchise to the next level. While New York defender Steve Santini will take some time to develop, this is a wise investment.
24. Vancouver Canucks (26-15-7): Curtis Lazar, C, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
The Vancouver Canucks have several holes to fill this offseason, but when Edmonton Oil Kings center Curtis Lazar falls all the way to No. 24, the franchise will be faced with an easy selection.
25. Montreal Canadiens (29-14-5): Morgan Klimchuk, C, Regina (WHL)
The Montreal Canadiens are looking to get younger across the depth chart, and when talented Regina center Morgan Klimchuk falls all the way to No. 25, the franchise will have their future asset.
26. Anaheim Ducks (30-12-6): Shea Theodore, D, Seattle (WHL)
While the Anaheim Ducks are busy figuring out how to pay all the top offensive stars on the roster, the team will quietly bolster its defensive group by adding Seattle defender Shea Theodore in the waning stages of the first round.
27. Columbus Blue Jackets from Los Angeles (24-17-7): J.T. Compher, C, US-Under-18 (USAH-NTDP)
After bolstering the defensive group over the last two seasons, the Columbus Blue Jackets must address their offensive inefficiencies. Taking a long-term prospect like American center J.T. Compher is the smart move for the future.
28. Calgary Flames from Pittsburgh (19-25-4): William Carrier, LW, Cape Breton (QMJHL)
The Calgary Flames have their final selection of the first round at No. 28, and with several positions of need left to fill, the franchise will take promising Cape Breton left wing William Carrier.
29. Dallas Stars from Boston (28-14-6): Anthony Mantha, LW, Val-d'Or (QMJHL)
The Stars lacked elite offensive depth this season, and as they look to rebuild the team must draft winger Anthony Mantha at No. 29.
30. Chicago Blackhawks (36-7-5): Emile Poirier, LW, Gatineau (QMJHL)
The Chicago Blackhawks players are still on Cloud Nine after the Stanley Cup win, but the officials behind the scenes have already turned their focus to the NHL draft. With the ability to develop raw prospects, Chicago will draft Gatineau left wing Emile Poirier.