2013 NHL Draft: Projecting Future Roles for Each of the Top 20 Prospects
Many prospects have a bright future, and there are plenty of players who could become first-line centers and top-four defenders.
Here are the top 20 prospects in no particular order, and the roles they could fill down the road.
Future: Second-Line All-Around Center
Horvat had a solid season with the London Knights in which he scored 33 goals and assisted on 28 others in 67 games. He plays an exceptional two-way game and possesses great offensive awareness.
He’s a skilled skater who is solid on faceoffs, and that makes him a very desirable commodity. Horvat has the talent to play on the top line, but his skills suit him for a second-line role in which he does a little bit of everything.
Future Role: Two-Way Second-Line Center
Alexander Wennberg is one of the more talented forwards from Europe that will enter the NHL draft. He’s a smart hockey player that drives to the net with solid speed.
Wennberg is a decent playmaker with proficient defensive skills that can disrupt plays, and he has the potential to become even better if he can add some size. He projects to be a decent second-line center, and he will fill an important role for his future team.
Future Role: Second-Pairing Defenseman
Nikita Zadorov is a large defenseman at 6’5” and 230 pounds. He is a physical monster. Zadorov likes to make highlight-reel hits, and he skates well for his size. He isn’t the strongest offensive player, but he has the potential to develop his skills in that area.
Zadorov will likely be a second-pairing defenseman at his peak, because he is a defensive defenseman with limited offensive skills.
Future Role: Second-Line Power Forward
Anthony Mantha is an impressive offensive winger with a ton of upside. He scored 50 goals this year, and he has the potential to be a scoring-power winger. Mantha is an effective skater who likes to play physical, and he can play a defensive two-way game as well.
Mantha is still very young, and he is an interesting prospect who could blossom into something great.
Future Role: Top-Six Two-Way Forward
Curits Lazar is a physical player who is an effective forechecker with some offensive upside. He had 61 points in 72 games, and was a solid all-around player for the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL.
Lazar is known for his ability to cause havoc while on the ice, and his energy can be contagious. His ability to play a three-zone game is a plus, and he could be an effective two-way NHL forward.
Future Role: Second-Line Two-Way Winger
Hunter Shinkaruk is a versatile, two-way winger. He scored 37 goals and added 49 assists for 86 points in 64 games with the Medicine Hat Tigers this year.
Shinkaruk may not be the biggest forward entering the draft, but he plays with tenacity and heart. He projects to be a solid second-line winger.
Future Role: Mobile Offensive Defenseman
Mirco Mueller took an increased role with the Everett Silvertips this year and had a solid season. He is a great skater and an asset on the power play. He uses his 6’3” frame to play a physically-charged game.
He is a solid three-zone player, and he projects to be a mobile offensive defenseman with a top-notch hockey IQ. Mueller has a bright future ahead of him.
Future Role: Shutdown Defender
Samuel Morin is a 6’7” defender with a huge mean streak. He is a prototypical shutdown defender who can play important minutes, and he will only get better over time. He doesn’t skater very well, but he plays a simple, stay-at-home game to limit mistakes.
Morin is a Chara-sized defender with upside, and he could develop into a real monster.
Future Role: Top-Four Offensive Defenseman
Josh Morrissey is a skilled defenseman that has been compared to Kris Letang, and he projects to be a solid top-four defender. Morrissey is a mobile puck mover and a great asset on the power play.
He is very comparable to Letang offensively, but he is a much better defender than the Penguins’ Norris winner is. With the combination of those skills, Morrissey projects to be a solid top four defender.
Future Role: Top-Six Scorer
Frederik Gauthier is a versatile forward who can play wing or center. He has desirable size at 6’5”, and he is a solid two-way forward. Gauthier skates well for a larger forward, and he is a skilled passer and playmaker.
Gauthier has a lot of things going for him, and ultimately, he projects to be a top-six scorer. His skill set will definitely entice a team to draft him early in the draft.
Future Role: Elite Center
Elias Lindholm has been picked in numerous mock drafts as a candidate to be selected early in the first round, and he has been highly touted by many scouts.
According to Goran Stubb, the European Director of NHL Central Scouting, Lindholm is a multi-tool player who resembles all-time great Peter Forsberg.
"He's a complete package," Stubb told NHL.com. "He could very well be the next Peter Forsberg. He's an excellent skater and great competitor who gives it 110 percent on every shift. He can skate, score and pass and is physically strong even though he is a finesse-type of player."
This season Lindholm had a strong season in which he scored 30 points in 48 games, and he projects to be an elite center at the NHL level.
Future Role: First-Line Winger
Valeri Nichushkin is one of the top Europeans in the draft. He is a scoring winger with a great shot. Nichushkin sees the ice well and uses his 6’4” frame to dominate opponents physically.
He projects to be a first-line winger, and he could be an All-Star for his future franchise. If he can develop his defensive game a bit more he would become a complete player, but chances are his offensive traits will be enough to help him be successful.
Future Role: All-Star Two-Way Defenseman
Rasmus Ristolainen stands a shade less than 6’4” and weighs 207 pounds, but he is a sleek and nimble defender who passes the puck well. Ristolainen is an offensive defenseman who projects to be a top-10 pick because of his balanced skill set.
He also has the potential to become an All-Star, because of his excellent combination of size and skill. Ristolainen is an asset on the power play, and he has a good chance of improving his skills over the next few years. While Ristolainen has two-way skill, his offensive game should get better at the NHL level.
Future Role: Good First-Line Center
Sean Monahan is a prospect who has been touted for the past few years, and he is finally entering the NHL draft. Monahan has been a dominant player at the OHL level, and his blend of size and speed has helped him become an effective offensive player.
This past season Monahan was the leading scorer of the Ottawa 67’s, and he took his game to another level. He finished the season with 78 points projects to be a solid offensive player who can be effective on the first or second line.
Future Role: First-Pairing Shutdown Defenseman
Darnell Nurse is a physical defender with shutdown ability who has upside that should enable him to become a top-pairing defenseman. Nurse plays with aggression, and his active stick allows him to disrupt offensive chances.
He doesn’t have many offensive skills, but he would be the perfect fit for a team that already has a mobile offensive defender.
Future Role: Above-Average First-Line Center
Max Domi is coming off an 87-point season with the London Knights, and he is one of the top playmakers in the draft. He is a skilled center who skates very well. He has great vision and is a dynamic pivot who creates offense.
He is small in stature, but he has an attitude and mindset that enables him to push through adversity. He projects to be a solid first-line center who can be a decent scorer at the NHL level.
Future Role: First-Line Winger
Jonathan Drouin is a dynamic-winger who projects to be an All-Star winger. He has numerous tools at his disposal, including top-notch speed and an effective shot.
Drouin's stock rose in a big way this year, and he has shown that he has what it takes to make the jump to the next level.
Future Role: Elite All-Around Defenseman
Seth Jones is the top defenseman in the 2013 draft, and he is the complete package. He has size at 6’3”, he is an amazing skater, possesses a great shot and has an incredible hockey sense.
Jones has performed admirably for an 18 year old, and the sky is the limit for this budding defenseman. He could be the next great defender, and there is still a chance he could be selected No. 1 overall.
Future Role: Elite Center
MacKinnon is the top forward in the NHL draft. The Mooseheads’ top center has great vision tremendous playmaking abilities.
MacKinnon could be selected No. 1 overall by the Colorado Avalanche, and he would have a chance to become the team’s best center since Joe Sakic.
Future Role: Elite Center
Alexander Barkov used the 2012-13 season to improve his draft stock. Barkov had a monster year in Finland, and he illustrated his ability to play a complete game.
Barkov’s size, strength, vision and overall offensive awareness make him similar to forwards like Joe Thornton and Evgeni Malkin, and he has the ability to reach that potential.