With the NHL Entry Draft quickly approaching, besides wondering who their favorite team will take, fans are wondering where this year's top guys will be drafted to. For those wondering, look no further. Here are the most likely destinations for this draft class' top stars.
Nathan MacKinnon: Colorado Avalanche
Nathan MacKinnon going No. 1 overall is getting close to foregone conclusion territory. The Avalanche brass has been very vocal about the team's desire to take a forward with the first pick. New head coach Patrick Roy essentially tipped his hand recently as well.
Roy told Craig Custance of ESPN The Magazine, "It would be tough for us not to take MacKinnon."
The coach also said to Custance that he would start the Halifax product on the Avalanche's third line next season, saying: "It would be great for MacKinnon to start there, less pressure. It's the perfect fit for him."
There's no reason the center couldn't move up to the second line at some point next year either. MacKinnon is a special talent that will make an immediate difference in Colorado.
Seth Jones: Florida Panthers
Considering the Florida Panthers finished 30th in goals against last season, they'll happily take the best defenseman in this year's draft. Jones is just 18 years old and already has four medals as a member of the United States' juniors and Under-18 teams.
The son of former NBA player Popeye Jones, Seth was ranked as the NHL's top North American player in its pre-draft rankings.
Bleacher Report NHL lead writer Nicholas Goss describes Jones as "a smooth-skating defenseman who has impressive speed, quickness and the ability to skate his way out of trouble."
A team that is in need of defense like Florida would certainly regret passing up on a talent like Jones. As long as Colorado doesn't snatch him up first, Jones will be headed to the sunny skies of Florida for the start of his pro career.
Valeri Nichushkin: Tampa Bay Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning is currently starting 38-year-old Marty St. Louis at right wing. It's hard to argue that the Bolts couldn't use a younger name on the first line. Valeri Nichushkin would be a perfect wing for St. Louis to pass the torch to.
There's heavy reason to believe that Tampa will take a forward with its No. 3 overall pick in this year's draft. Nichushkin rose through three levels of hockey in Russia last season, tallying six points in 18 games once he got to the KHL.
The 18-year-old right wing is immensely talented and would be a forward the Lightning could rely on for some time. Many other teams with top 10 picks would be jealous to see Nichushkin go to Tampa Bay.