The NHL draft is almost here, so it's time to do a NHL mock draft 2013 that projects the best fits for NHL teams. Each mock selection was made with teams' needs in mind.
Who are the best fits for the NHL?
Read on to find out.
1. Colorado Avalanche: Nathan MacKinnon, C, Halifax (QMJHL)
The most well-rounded offensive player in this draft, MacKinnon gives the Avalanche impressive depth down the middle. While Seth Jones would fill a more immediate need on defense, MacKinnon is NHL-ready and has explosive offensive traits. MacKinnon had 32 goals and 75 points this season.
MacKinnon will start the season as the third-line center but will start to get more playing time in important minutes as the season goes on. He's a future star.
2. Florida Panthers: Seth Jones, D, Portland (WHL)
A potential shutdown defender, Jones would team with promising young defender Erik Gudbranson, giving the Panthers a legitimate first-pair defense tandem. Jones will transform the power play with a rocket shot from the point. Similar in many ways to Chris Pronger, Jones is a franchise-changing player and will instantly make the Panthers a more formidable team.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning: Jonathan Drouin, LW, Halifax (QMJHL)
Jonathan Drouin is an offensive wizard, with electric speed and dazzling vision and hands. Similar in many ways to Martin St. Louis, Drouin will create an absolutely dynamic duo with Steven Stamkos, giving the Lightning one of the best young first lines in hockey.
Drouin is a bit of a non-factor on defense, but he is magical with the puck and is the best pure scorer in this draft class. A perfect fit on Steven Stamkos' left wing.
4. Nashville Predators: Aleksander Barkov Jr., C, Tappara (Finland)
A terrific two-way player, Barkov is NHL-ready. Strong and responsible in his own end, Barkov is also the best passer in this draft. He will be a force on the point on the power play.
Barkov has the talent to be an All-Star, and he projects as a silky playmaker with defensive awareness. Barkov would give the Predators an infusion of offense that they desperately need.
5. Carolina Hurricanes: Sean Monahan, C, Ottawa (OHL)
Monahan scored 31 goals despite being targeted by every opposing defense. The Hurricanes need more depth, and Monahan projects as a second-line center who can put up big numbers. He will take pressure off of the Staal brothers and Jeff Skinner. Monahan can also play on the penalty kill and is not afraid to throw his body around.
6. Calgary Flames: Valeri Nichushkin, RW, Chelyabinsk (Russia)
An infusion of offensive skill is needed to jump-start the Flames' rebuilding efforts, and there is no better place to start than with Nichushkin. Similar to Alexander Ovechkin, Nichushkin is a power forward with incredible skating ability who can will his way to the net. He projects as a potential 30-goal scorer and could instantly become a top-line player for the Flames.
7. Edmonton Oilers: Darnell Nurse, D, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
Stacked with offensive talent, the Oilers need to pay attention to the blue line. Nurse is a physical and athletic defender with a wicked slap shot and a mean disposition. Ready to play in the NHL next season, Nurse offers shutdown ability along with offensive upside. The addition of Nurse could help propel the Oilers into the playoffs.
8. Buffalo Sabres: Bo Horvat, C, London (OHL)
A future captain, Horvat is the best defensive forward in this draft class. He does have offensive skill, but he is the type of heart-and-soul player to help take the Sabres into the next era. Outside of MacKinnon, Horvat is the most well-rounded player in this class. Besides being a terrific forechecker and excellent penalty killer, Horvat projects as a 20-goal scorer. He'll provide the Sabres with a similar game to Ryan Callahan.
9. New Jersey Devils: Elias Lindholm, C, Brynas (Sweden)
Lindholm has been successful playing against men in Sweden, scoring 11 goals and adding 19 assists in 48 games. He's capable of centering New Jersey's second line next season. Lindholm is a two-way center who can play in all situations and has a graceful element similar to Pavel Datsyuk.
10. Dallas Stars: Hunter Shinkaruk, C/LW, Medicine Hat (WHL)
A pure scorer, Shinkaruk scored 37 goals with Medicine Hat. While he won't offer much in his own zone, Shinkaruk has game-breaking speed and is a bit of a poor-man's Patrick Kane. At only 5'11", Shinkaruk will get knocked around a bit but has top offensive talent and can fit nicely on a line with Loui Eriksson.
11. Philadelphia Flyers: Zachary Fucale, G, Halifax (QMJHL)
The Flyers desperately need a goaltender of the future, and Fucale is the best in this class. He put up an impressive 2.35 goals-against average. He's a few years away and will need seasoning in the minors but offers good movement from post to post. He's not flashy, but the Flyers need stability in net, and that's what Fucale provides.
12. Phoenix Coyotes: Valentin Zykov, LW, Baie-Comeau (QMJHL)
Zykov is young, but he did lead all first-year QMJHL players in goals and assists. He's a few years away but has top-line upside. He's physical and projects as a power forward who can give the Coyotes a shot of offense.
13. Winnipeg Jets: Rasmus Ristolainen, D, TPS (Finland)
A big, nasty, physical defenseman, Ristolainen would pair up with Dustin Byfuglien to create an imposing duo on the blue line. Ristolainen has a rocket from the point and lays out some pretty jarring hits. A more athletic version of Byfuglien, Ristolainen could step into the Jets' lineup right away.
14. Columbus Blue Jackets: Frederik Gauthier, C, Rimouski (QMJHL)
The first of three first-round picks, Gauthier is a solid, two-way player with good size. A future second-line center, the 6'4" Gauthier will play in every situation, while offering solid offense and slick passing. A safe, no-nonsense pick.
15. New York Islanders: Anthony Mantha, RW, Val-d'Or (QMJHL)
Mantha is the only player in this draft class who scored more than 50 goals in the North American junior leagues. Would give John Tavares a high-end wing to work with. Mantha is NHL-ready, and while he won't be a factor on defense, he will score a lot of goals.
16. Buffalo Sabres: Ryan Pulock, D, Brandon (WHL)
A smooth, poised defenseman, Pulock is not flashy. But he has a good shot and is tough in his own end. He will patrol the Buffalo blue line for the next 10 years. A safe but effective pick.
17. Ottawa Senators: Robert Hagg, D, Modo Jr. (Sweden)
A slick skating defenseman, Hagg shined for Sweden in the World Junior Championships. Erik Karlsson's injury last season revealed the lack of depth on Ottawa's blue line, so Hagg is a timely choice.
18. Detroit Red Wings: Ryan Hartman, RW, Plymouth (OHL)
A tough, grinding winger who can play in all situations, Hartman played with a shoulder injury last season. He has offensive upside and strong defensive awareness and plays a physical game.
19. Columbus Blue Jackets: Nikita Zadorov, D, London (OHL)
A big, physical defenseman, Zadorov is solid in his own end. He's notch below Ristolainen but plays a similar game. Zadorov will add a toughness to a promising Blue Jacket team.
20. San Jose Sharks: Mirco Mueller, D, Everett (WHL)
An NHL-ready defenseman, Mueller will eventually take over for Dan Boyle as the team's top defenseman. He needs to improve his offensive game but will play a shutdown role.
21. Toronto Maple Leafs: Max Domi, C/LW, London (OHL)
He's a bit small, but Max Domi has dynamic offensive talent. He's a terrific passer and will score a lot of goals. He will never be a factor on defense but has top-line talent and could be a nice fit with Phil Kessel.
22. Calgary Flames: Curtis Lazar, C/RW, Edmonton (WHL)
A future captain, Lazar has scored 30 points in 42 career postseason games. He can play in all situations and adds toughness to the rebuilding Flames.
23. Washington Capitals: Shea Theodore, D, Seattle (WHL)
A project, Theodore has all the skills needed but desperately needs to put on weight. The 6'2" defenseman is only 155 pounds, but he is still just 17 and growing into his frame. He has high-end offensive skill and can lead the rush and make great outlet passes. He's a few years away, but his potential is intriguing.
24. Vancouver Canucks: Zach Nastasiuk, RW, Owen Sound (OHL)
New coach John Tortorella will love Nastasiuk, who is a two-way, physical, gritty player. He can play in all situations and can put the puck in the back of the net. A well-rounded player who could fit well on a line with the Sedin twins.
25. Montreal Canadiens: Kerby Rychel, LW, Windsor (OHL)
A strong power forward, Rychel scored 40 goals on a bad Windsor team. He would add grit to a Montreal team that was bounced unexpectedly in the first round of the playoffs.
26. Anaheim Ducks: Ian McCoshen, D, Waterloo (USHL)
A big defenseman with a well-rounded game, McCoshen will head to Boston College in the fall. A few years away, McCoshen will eventually team with Cam Fowler as a top-pair defenseman with the Ducks.
27. Columbus Blue Jackets: William Carrier, LW, Cape Breton (QMJHL)
Injured this season, Carrier is a well-rounded player who excels in his own zone. He's similar to Patrice Bergeron and did have 42 points in just 34 games before getting hurt.
28. Calgary Flames: Joshua Morrissey, D, Prince Albert (WHL)
A good skater, Morrissey can help fill the hole left by Jay Bouwmeester. A bit small, Morrissey won't be too physical, but he's a two-way player who gets the job done.
29. Dallas Stars: Steve Santini, D, U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
Steve Santini is a big, two-way defenseman. He's a good passer, but excels in his own end, where he uses his size and physical play to win battles on the boards.
30. Chicago Blackhawks: Adam Erne, LW, Quebec (QMJHL)
A developing power forward who could eventually replace Bryan Bickell on the top line.
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