The 2013 NHL draft features some very talented players at every position. Most teams believe they need to build down the middle and on the blue line, so the top selections in the first round in Newark, N.J., will be predominantly centers and defencemen.
Centers are always highly coveted, and there is an outside chance that six or seven of the first 10 picks are going to be pivots. There are some big, mobile defencemen who will be selected early, whereas wingers may not be selected in any real volume until the last half of the first round.
There could be a goalie—possibly even two—selected in the first round. However, they are most likely to be second-round selections based on the depth at forward and defence.
What follows are B/R's top 10 choices at each position, with any reference to their present "rankings" coming from Central Scouting at NHL.com.
1. Nathan MacKinnon
Nathan MacKinnon is a great center who will be very popular among his new NHL teammates. He is unselfish with the puck and an underrated playmaker. He should be a No. 1 center for a lot of years.
2. Alexander Barkov
Were Alexander Barkov not one of the youngest eligible players in this year's draft, he would be the first overall pick. He is a powerful skater with soft hands and a great shot. He will make his NHL team better immediately.
3. Elias Lindholm
Sweden’s Elias Lindholm could go as early as No. 4 or 5 in the draft. He is a brilliant playmaker who can create chances for teammates and himself when needed. He’s not huge, but he uses his body effectively.
4. Sean Monahan
Sean Monahan played on one of the weakest teams in the OHL last season. Nevertheless, the Ottawa 67's center put up good numbers and always gave his full effort. He is a gifted two-way center who understands the game very well.
5. Hunter Shinkaruk
Calgary native Hunter Shinkaruk offers a deft scoring touch and a willingness to do the dirty work. He is a great shooter and has "top-line center" written all over him, even if he begins his career on the wing. When he puts on some weight in the next season or two, he will be next to impossible to knock off the puck.
6. Bo Horvat
Bo Horvat does nothing amazing on most shifts, but he can always be counted on to make the right play. He plays equally well in all three zones. He can take the body or beat you with his finesse—a lethal combination.
7. Curtis Lazar
Edmonton Oil King Curtis Lazar is a natural leader. He can play any style of game and could develop into a perennial Selke Trophy candidate. He could be one of the better second-line centers in the NHL in short order.
8. Frederik Gauthier
Frederik Gauthier is a power forward extraordinaire. He is over 6’5” and will add both size and skill to the NHL club that he joins. He has played both at wing and centre, but with his imposing size and ability to pass, it would make sense for him to get a long look as an NHL pivot. He could be a top-six forward in the next season or two.
9. Nicolas Petan
The diminutive Nicolas Petan has scored in bunches at every level of hockey he has played so far. Listed generously at 5’9” and about 165 pounds, there will be questions about how his skills will translate to the pro game, but don’t bet against this offensive dynamo.
10. Laurent Dauphin
Laurent Dauphin made a splash at the CHL Prospects game this past winter. Although he was a late addition, he earned MVP honors with a goal and an assist. The Chicoutimi center has excellent hands and is a scoring machine. He won't be ready for the NHL for a few years as he needs to grow, but he could be a great early pick in the second round.
1. Jonathan Drouin
The Halifax Mooseheads’ Jonathan Drouin is the best winger in the NHL entry draft. He is a tremendous skater who has uncanny vision to find open teammates. His creativity and unselfish play will quickly endear him to his NHL teammates next season.
2. Valeri Nichushkin
Valeri Nichushkin is the prototypical power forward. He is 6’4” and will play his pro hockey well above 200 pounds. Blazing speed and an ability to score big goals in the most important games complements his size. He will get stronger and even more intimidating as he begins to train like a pro player.
3. Max Domi
Max Domi of the London Knights is one of the most talented forwards in the draft. He can play at center as well, but he’ll be most effective in the NHL as a creative force on the wing. Domi's vision is exceptional, as his passing ability is right near the top of this entire draft class. Any doubts about his size are overstated—he’s the real deal.
4. Valentin Zykov
Valentin Zykov has played one year of junior hockey in North America. He posted 40 goals for Baie-Comeau in the QMJHL and displayed a willingness to engage physically with his opponents. He should become a very good second-line winger in the NHL.
5. Anthony Mantha
Anthony Mantha scored 50 goals in the QMJHL, a rare feat in the contemporary game. At 6’4”, Mantha has the reach and the skill to be a great NHL winger. He reminds one of a young Eric Daze with his quick release and nose for the net.
6. Kerby Rychel
Kerby Rychel of the Windsor Spitfires is capable of playing a power or a finesse game. At times, he has dominated at the junior level. Don’t be surprised if he cracks an NHL lineup either next season or the one following.
7. Andre Burakovsky
Andre Burakovsky is a speed demon. He is among the fastest skaters in this draft class and uses that speed well. Burakovsky can cause real problems for a slower defence pairing. He could be a top-15 pick on June 30.
8. Adam Erne
American Adam Erne plays a gritty game and likes to take the body at every opportunity. Erne can contribute offensively either through skill or sheer power. He should be a good top-nine forward at the pro level.
9. Ryan Hartman
Ryan Hartman of the Plymouth Whalers is another well-rounded winger. He brings a lot of intensity to every shift and can chip in offensively when needed. He doesn’t back down from anyone and is versatile enough to play on the wing or at centre if needed.
10. Zach Nastasiuk
Right wing Zach Nastasiuk excelled after his move from centre midway through the 2012-13 season. He is a quality sniper and plays a power game. His crash-and-bang style is ideal for the wing.
1. Seth Jones
Seth Jones is as good as advertised. He is destined to be a top-pairing defenceman, and there is no telling how good he will be if he continues to improve in the next two or three seasons. He is a dominant defenceman in all zones.
2. Darnell Nurse
Darnell Nurse would have the focus squarely on him if Seth Jones weren’t in the picture. Nurse is another 6’4” tower of strength on the blue line with even more of a mean streak than Jones. Nurse enjoys punishing anyone who gets close enough to hit.
3. Nikita Zadorov
Nikita Zadorov of the London Knights is an intimidating force on the point. He is a tremendous skater who has a few rough edges, but they should smooth out with some development. Zadorov might have the most room to grow, both physically and in terms of his overall game, of all the top defensive prospects.
4. Rasmus Ristolainen
Rasmus Ristolainen oozes talent and ability. He is an excellent skater who can accelerate effortlessly. He is a great passer and should be a top-pairing NHL defenceman if he continues on his current trajectory.
5. Ryan Pulock
Ryan Pulock is an offensive defenceman with the kind of skill that eludes most junior players. Pulock was originally a forward and has made the transition to the point very well. He has a great shot and should be a power-play quarterback at the next level.
6. Samuel Morin
Samuel Morin has made some great improvements over the year. He’s more than a giant presence; his skating continues to get better. He projects to be a great shutdown NHL defenceman.
7. Josh Morrissey
Josh Morrissey is an offensive threat every time he steps on the ice. He is creative on the point and demonstrates his skill best when he’s on the power play. Morrissey needs to improve his defensive game, but he could be a top-four defenceman at the pro level.
8. Madison Bowey
Madison Bowey has represented Canada internationally and has done it with the same flair he brings to the WHL. The Kelowna Rockets rearguard is an exceptional skater. He is smart with the puck and moves it decisively when required.
9. Robert Hagg
Sweden’s Robert Hagg is another mobile defenceman who handles the puck with ease. Hagg moves from his own zone into the neutral zone deftly and quickly. He is poised and calm both with and without the puck.
10. Chris Bigras
The Owen Sound Attack’s Chris Bigras is a heady defenceman who understands the game as well as any player in the draft. He has a mature game in that he can be used in any on-ice situation. After seeing Bigras for even one period, you cannot help but be impressed by his great instincts.
1. Zachary Fucale
Zachary Fucale just wins—and that should not be underestimated. He may let in the odd soft goal, but he always recovers quickly with his mental toughness. Fucale has good fundamentals and is a calming influence on his teammates.
2. Eric Comrie
Eric Comrie comes from good athletic stock, which is reflected in his game. He is a great athlete who is never completely out of the play. An area of concern is the hip surgery he had this past season. As long as he is healthy, Comrie has a bright future in the pro game.
3. Tristan Jarry
Tristan Jarry is nearly as athletic as Eric Comrie. The Edmonton Oil King is a hybrid goalie who does spend more of his time in the butterfly than anything else. He relies on his reflexes, though. There are times he gets caught out of position trying to do a little too much.
4. Philippe Desrosiers
Philippe Desrosiers, like all of these top goalie prospects, is years away from being an impact NHL goalie. But he projects to be a No. 1 goalie with his promise. He earned the starter’s role in his rookie season in the QMJHL.
5. Juuse Saros
Juuse Saros is undersized at 5’10”, but he makes up for this lack of size with his excellent athletic ability. Plus, he never gives up on the play. Finland has been a hotbed for goaltenders in recent years, and Saros follows in this tradition.
6. Spencer Martin
Spencer Martin was able to showcase his skills in the OHL this season with all the action he saw in Mississauga. He did not have a strong team, and this was reflected in his numbers, although he did post a respectable .906 save percentage. Martin was one of the few 17-year-olds to start regularly in the OHL this season.
7. Ebbe Sionas
Ebbe Sionas is a relatively undersized European goalie with solid fundamentals. He moves well in the crease and rarely gets beaten on his glove side. Sionas could be a late third-round pick in the draft, as his size may contribute to teams being uncertain about his NHL suitability.
8. Calvin Petersen
Calvin Petersen has committed to the University of Notre Dame for 2014. He is 6’1” and relies heavily on the butterfly technique. Petersen plays the game with a lot of poise and appears unflappable nearly all the time.
9. Eamon McAdam
Eamon McAdam will be heading to Penn State next year to further develop his game. He’s 6’2” and primarily uses a hybrid style. He looks very quick in the net and has no serious weaknesses.
10. Michael Giugovaz
The Peterborough Petes’ Michael Giugovaz had an up-and-down season. At times he looked spectacular, but at other times, he was overwhelmed with little support. Giugovaz is a hybrid goalie who will use a variety of methods to stop pucks.