NHL Top Prospects Media Conference
The 2013 NHL draft will offer excitement, drama and several surprises for all interested parties. Because the overwhelming majority of these players are 17 or 18 years old, the draft order is based not just on where they are now, but where scouting staffs see them ending up.
The best player available is the default choice for most teams; however, organizational needs can come into play, particularly after the first round.
There are some very talented and mature players at the high end of the draft. Depending on where these top picks end up, there is a good chance that many of them could be on NHL rosters as early as next year.
Dreams will be realized, put on hold and dashed for a few hundred prospects on Sunday afternoon in Newark, N.J. All teams will state publicly that the draft was successful and that they selected the players they had wanted all along. It will all make for one of the most anticipated days on the NHL calendar.
This mock draft begins with the Colorado Avalanche and includes all projected 61 selections in the first two rounds of the 2013 NHL draft.
Any references to player rankings are from Central Scouting lists on nhl.com
If the Colorado Avalanche are following the rule of selecting the best player available, then centre Nathan MacKinnon will be the No. 1 pick in the draft.
The Avalanche are loaded at centre, so barring some trades, MacKinnon may even begin his career on the wing. He is ready to make the move to the NHL next season and could be playing top-six minutes. He is a great skater with speed, agility and acceleration and can beat defenders off the rush or create chances off of turnovers.
The Avalanche will likely have given Alexander Barkov and Jonathan Drouin a long look over the past few weeks as they have prepared for this important selection.
Colorado will have one of the top forward cores in the NHL with the addition of MacKinnon.
With the Avalanche selecting MacKinnon, and following the mantra of selecting the best player available, the Florida Panthers should take Portland Winterhawk Seth Jones.
Jones has the kind of size, skill and skating ability that indicates he can be a No. 1 defenceman much sooner than most blue line prospects.
Jones is very decisive with the puck and was dominant against his WHL opponents this past season. He had a brilliant World Junior tournament and seemed to get better when he faced the best competition in his age group.
The Panthers will likely consider Barkov or Drouin, but it would be surprising to see them pass on Jones.
The Tampa Bay Lightning did not have a good season by any measure despite having a dynamic and high-octane group of forwards.
With the buyout of Vincent Lecavalier, the Lightning will be looking to replace his size and scoring either through trade or with this pick.
While Drouin will be under heavy consideration, the Lightning are likely to select the top-ranked Russian player in the draft, Valeri Nichushkin. Nichushkin has played in all three forward positions, but seems most comfortable at wing. His numbers weren’t strong in the KHL last season, so it is difficult to assess just how great his offensive impact will be in the NHL.
Tampa Bay will not have issues putting the puck in the net on most nights.
In other words, Nichushkin can learn to harness his tremendous speed and ability to play at high speed without focusing on goals and assists exclusively.
The Nashville Predators are likely to be choosing between two excellent prospects in Drouin and Barkov.
With Filip Forsberg in the mix to be a top-six centre in Nashville soon, the pick should be the best pure point-getter in the draft, Jonathan Drouin.
Drouin is both incredibly quick and agile with the puck. He has an excellent top gear as well. Only Max Domi approaches Drouin’s on-ice vision.
Jonathan sees the ice differently than most players and his new teammates will appreciate his unselfish play. He should have an immediate impact at the NHL level, as he is capable of top-six minutes next year as well as playing on the Predators’ first power-play unit.
Predators head coach Barry Trotz will be very pleased to add a player of this quality.
The Carolina Hurricanes, much like the Avalanche, have good depth at centre.
However, if Finnish sensation Alexander Barkov is available at No. 5, the Hurricanes will have to take him. Barkov will not celebrate his 18th birthday until early September. This reinforces how special he might be, as he frequently dominated against much older men in Finland’s SM Liga. It’s not the NHL, but Barkov was brilliant in all game situations.
He does have to get stronger, but that should not be an issue as his body grows and responds to advanced training.
Carolina scouts will also be taking a long look at both Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm with this pick.
Three first-round selections offer hope to Calgary Flames fans who haven’t had much to cheer about in recent years. However, things are not as bad as some would think, as the Flames do have some skilled youngsters on the blue line and up front.
Ottawa 67 Sean Monahan would fit very well in Calgary. He can create offensive-zone chances for himself or teammates. He plays a three-zone game and can be counted on to score big goals. He can also take that important defensive zone faceoff with the game on the line and his team up by a goal.
The Flames have had issues at centre ice for the better part of a decade now. Selecting Monahan at No. 6 would go a long way to remedying that issue.
The Edmonton Oilers need to address several holes in their lineup and will not be able to do this completely at the draft. The Oilers have some serious need at the centre ice position, and there should be a few very good centres available at No. 7.
Elias Lindholm of Sweden would be a very good choice. He was very good in the Swedish Elite League. There are indicators that he could become an above average second-line centre. It might be a lot to expect this from him next year, but given how thin Edmonton is down the middle, Lindholm would be given every opportunity to be an NHL player in 2013-14.
Lindholm is a slightly larger version of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and has some comparable offensive abilities. He’s very quick and passes the puck well, and he is a bright player who makes the right decision with the puck time and time again.
RNH and Lindholm would be a solid one-two punch at centre for a lot of years.
The Buffalo Sabres have some quality prospects and good young players on their NHL roster.
Despite opening with a lot of promise, it was not a good season for the Sabres. They are one of the teams with multiple first-round picks, so they can address some long-term needs.
The Sabres have a good core of young players to build around with no glaring weaknesses at forward or defence. There will be some highly skilled forwards available at No. 8, including London Knight star Max Domi, but there should be at least one if not two excellent defence prospects available.
Defenceman Darnell Nurse, would be a great addition to Buffalo and has top-pairing potential. The Sault Ste. Marie rearguard can score, hit and drop the gloves when required. His father is a former CFL star, and Darnell certainly inherited some of his athletic aggression.
The New Jersey Devils have not often picked this high in the last 25 years. They have an opportunity to add an upper-tier prospect and will have some intriguing choices to make with the players that should be available.
The Devils may consider selecting a defenceman, but if Max Domi is available, they should choose him with the No. 9 pick. Adding to their forward group should be the top priority, especially given the fact that Max could make the team as early as next season.
Domi’s playmaking ability is second only to Jonathan Drouin in this draft cohort. He will elevate the play of everyone else on the ice, and the Devils' scoring totals should go up with Max contributing in the attacking zone.
The Dallas Stars were close to making the playoffs this past season, but were simply too inconsistent at the end of the season.
The Stars will have a new bench boss in the meticulous Lindy Ruff. Ruff will demand a lot from the young players, and this should pay off immediately in wins.
The Stars are relatively deep at forward and are likely to select a quality defence prospect to round out the top 10. Nikita Zadorov from the London Knights has the potential to be a great overall defenceman. He may not score a lot at the NHL level, but he will be intimidating to face at over 6’4” and 200 pounds.
The Stars have had some great defencemen in their history, and Zadorov could further this fine tradition. Another player the team might consider here is the slightly smaller Rasmus Ristolainen.
Either defenceman would make sense, but Zadorov may have more upside over the long haul.
The Philadelphia Flyers will be active in the offseason, as they once again have goaltending issues to address.
They have a few organizational needs, but adding scoring is not an immediate one. There are most likely to add some organizational depth on the point. There will be some dynamic defencemen available at No. 11, and Rasmus Ristolainen would be a likely candidate to address a long-term need on the point. Ristolainen is 6’2” and has a good all-around game.
He has one of the better shots in the entire draft class and is a threat to score from anywhere in the offensive zone. He is an agile skater with great lateral movement and impressive acceleration.
He should develop into a top-pairing defenceman, or at least a top-four blueliner, in two or three years.
The Phoenix Coyotes have been difficult to play against under coach Dave Tippett’s smothering defensive style. Keeping the puck out of their own net is rarely a problem with the defensive system that the team promotes.
What it could use is some more scoring, and in particular, from the centre ice position.
Calgary native Hunter Shinkaruk should provide offence at the next level and he does all the little things that coaches like to see. Shinkaruk projects as a top-six forward, but could be used on the third line as he transitions to the NHL.
He is a quick study and would add some scoring to the offensively challenged Desert Dogs.
The Winnipeg Jets hold the No. 13 pick, and there will be a number of options for them to consider. They don’t have a real deficit at any one position, but adding a quality centre would make the most sense.
Bo Horvat, if still available, would be a quality pick for the Jets. He is a natural centre, and all NHL clubs are looking to build on their depth down the middle. Horvat can play hard-nosed hockey in all three zones. He is also an underrated scorer who makes the unselfish play when given a choice.
The Jets have some depth at centre, so Horvat wouldn't be needed for a few seasons. Horvat projects to be a top-six forward if he gets the right opportunity.
Winnipeg would be just the place it could happen.
The Columbus Blue Jackets ended the season well, and despite a lot of changes, they seemed to gel really well. The Blue Jackets are stronger up front, but they could have Ryan Murray in their lineup as early as next season.
If Murray’s Everett Silvertip teammate, Mirco Mueller, is available, he should be selected. The Swiss product was the second-leading scorer among Silvertips defencemen.
He has all the tools to develop into a top-four blueliner. Like so many other prospects in this draft, Mueller can contribute in all three zones. He’s an offensive force, can step up in the neutral zone to make a hit and he’s a good defender in his own zone with strong positional play.
The New York Islanders are building a winner not just for next year, but for years to come. They have excellent young players on their roster, and promising prospects like Griffin Reinhart and Nino Niederreiter are two of the highest-ranked talents in their organization.
Islander fans have had to endure a lot of losing and some teams that were tough to cheer for over the last several years. The team loaded up on defenders at last year’s draft and could add a really good centre in Edmonton Oil King Curtis Lazar.
Curtis has tons of character and should be a leader at the pro level, just as he has been as a junior. He should be a top-nine forward at least, and he has the talent to be a top-six player eventually. The Islanders can continue to have him grow for the next few seasons, as they do not need help immediately. Lazar would be a good choice here.
The Buffalo Sabres have two picks in the first 16. Their second pick may be influenced by their earlier selection in the No. 8 spot, but another defenceman might be the best available player at No. 16.
They could look at Anthony Mantha or Alexander Wennberg, but another talented and huge defenceman, Samuel Morin, would be a great pick. His stock has risen steadily all year, as he has learned to use his 6’6” frame to greater advantage.
Morin’s skating has improved, and will continue to improve, as he develops his overall game. If it shook out on draft day that Darnell Nurse and Morin could be potential teammates, the Buffalo scouts would be lauded widely for this coup.
Morin is at least two or three years away, but if keeps improving, the Sabres would have an intimidating shutdown defender in their fold.
The Ottawa Senators had a really good season under coach Paul MacLean. They battled through injuries to two of their best players, Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson. The expectations moving forward are going to remain high, and they should. There is a lot to like about the Senators’ future.
Swedish centre Alexander Wennberg has been competing in the Swedish Elite League and has more than held his own. His calling card is skill and speed. He also enjoys the physical aspects of the game and will not shy away from traffic.
The Senators want to be a puck-possession team, and skills like Wennberg has will fit well in Canada’s capital city.
The Detroit Red Wings have been one of the better teams on draft day for years. They have an excellent scouting department that often finds players in the later rounds that other teams have passed on.
With the No. 18 pick, there will be a number of goal scorers available. The only 50-goal scorer in the draft, Anthony Mantha, could be one of them.
Mantha is 6’4” and has great reach. His shot is heavy and accurate, a lethal combination. Mantha is not overly physical and prefers to play on the perimeter.
He’s skilled with the puck and would fit in well with Detroit’s system that emphasizes puck possession and building to scoring chances versus the dump and chase game. His release is outstanding and he shoots the puck with exceptional accuracy.
There would be no need to rush Mantha, and he would benefit from another year in junior to get stronger.
The Columbus Blue Jackets are another club with more than one pick in the first round of the draft.
Should the Jackets take Mueller with their first pick, it would follow that a forward would be taken at No. 19. Young, skilled and fast, Andre Burakowsky would be a good choice for the Blue Jackets. They have had a good mix of North American and European players recently, and Burakowsky’s father played in the NHL with the Ottawa Senators. The Austrian-born Burakowsky could bridge the gap.
At 6’1”, Burakowsky still has some filling out to do, but he has played well against bigger and older competition this past season. He’s a good selection at No. 19.
The San Jose Sharks have been able to change a number of players on their roster and are noticeably younger than they were even two years ago. They have not had to do this at expense of winning and are well-positioned to continue their winning ways that are established under general manager Doug Wilson.
The Sharks have been pushed by their Southern California rivals over the past three or four seasons in particular. Size matters against those teams, and selecting 6’5” Frederik Gauthier out of the QMJHL would be a smart choice.
The Sharks may look at Baie-Comeau’s Valentin Zykov, but Gauthier is a larger body, and San Jose will need his kind of size to battle in its competitive division next year.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have morphed into a good team, and there is reason for Leaf Nation to be excited about Randy Carlyle’s charges. Carlyle is demanding and gets good results wherever he goes.
He expects effort from all of his players, and if they don’t give it, they don’t play under Carlyle.
It’s a simple formula. Talented right wing Valentin Zykov should he be available at No. 21 and would be a good choice for the Leafs. Zykov plays with a lot of energy and scored 40 goals in the QMJHL last year.
Carlyle could use some size in his top nine in the coming seasons, and Zykov would provide that at 6’0” and over 200 pounds. He would make sense for the Leafs
With three first-round picks, the Calgary Flames could have one of their best draft days ever. The Flames have some talented young forwards, starting with Sven Baertschi, but they could use more in their system. Warren Rychel’s son Kerby would be a smart choice for the Flames.
Kerby has a lot of game and would be a good pick here if he’s available. Rychel can score, hit and is responsible defensively.
He needs more time in the OHL, but he should develop into a top-nine, if not a top-six player, in the years ahead.
Kerby plays well in all three zones and he’s a good team player. He could wear a letter in the NHL.
The Washington Capitals had a roller-coaster season in many ways, but the ride went smoother by the end.
Coach Adam Oates demanded some new things from players, and they responded how he wanted after a miserable start to the season. Oates was an exceptional player, and he understands what it takes to be a true pro.
The Capitals are deep at forward and adding a defenceman would make good sense.
Defenceman Josh Morrissey would be a good addition to the Capitals organization. Morrissey is very smart and understands the game well. He focuses on the offensive zone and put up 47 points this past WHL season. He’s a playmaker that will battle hard against opposing forwards in the corners when necessary.
The Vancouver Canucks will have a new coach in John Tortorella for the 2013-14 season. Tortorella inherits a team that is aging and needs to win now.
The Canucks could use some more depth up front, and Morgan Klimchuk, a left winger from Calgary, would be a good choice. Klimchuk is a sniper and loves to handle the puck.
He had 76 points in 72 games this year and displayed some good consistency. He is likely to spend at least one more year in Regina, which would be fine with the Canucks. They don’t need someone immediately.
Klimchuk could become a solid top-six contributor in a few more years.
The Montreal Canadiens were up against the wall some nights given their relatively small forward group.
Montreal will be looking to add some size over the offseason, and with its No. 25 pick, there should be a few good players with size available.
Adam Erne plays the game like he has something to prove on every shift. He loves to hit opponents and he can back up what he does when called upon to do so. He is a great energy player and would have some great battles as a third-line player against the likes of the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers.
The Canadiens may give another American, Ryan Hartman, a long look with this selection as well.
The Anaheim Ducks were great this past season. They were at or near the top of the standings all year in the Western Conference.
They have managed to keep their core of talented, big and young forwards together now for several years. They are in the middle of their primes, for the most part, and are led by Bobby Ryan, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. The Ducks are set at the forward position organizationally, and it would make sense for them to select a puck-moving defender like Ryan Pulock if he’s available.
Pulock is an attacking defender who both joins and leads the rush. He takes a lot of chances, but is a good enough skater that he can often recover to address mistakes when they happen. Pulock could continue to grow in Brandon with the Wheat Kings, as the Ducks are not in need of defensive help for at least another season or two.
Ryan would fit in well with the Ducks' up-tempo style under Bruce Boudreau.
The Blue Jackets have the same opportunity as the Flames. Both teams can add three young players to their organizational depth chart in the first round.
If one goaltender is worthy of being selected in the first round, it is Zachary Fucale of the Halifax Mooseheads. He backstopped the Mooseheads to the CHL championship and was critical in their success along with Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin.
Fucale is a great athlete and has a perfect attitude for a goalie in that he seems to focus only on the next shot, rather than the last one. The Jackets may also give goalie Eric Comrie a look with this pick.
Fucale would be a good choice here, and the Jackets could have a potential starter in their midst in three or four more years.
The Calgary Flames would look at shoring up their defence with a pick at No. 28.
Because of the depth in this draft, the Flames could add a player with top-four potential. Sweden’s Robert Hagg, if available offers a lot. He can control the game and is a great skater who can move seamlessly from offense to defense.
He can find the open man or rush the puck when necessary. Robert is a good decision-maker, and coaches can rely on him to make the right play more often than not.
He is improving his defensive-zone play, and in a few years, his all-around game could be quite impressive.
The Dallas Stars are another club that has two picks in opening round of the draft. If they choose a blueliner with their No. 10 pick, look for No. 29 to be a forward.
The Stars are highly skilled, but could add some more sandpaper into their organization. There are a few players that could develop into solid top-nine forwards.
One skater that has this quality, as well as some scoring ability, is Plymouth Whaler Ryan Hartman. Hartman loves to hit opponents and is a very good agitator.
He engages with any player that is willing and is the kind of player that teammates love to have. Dallas has had similar players in the past, and Hartman could fill the role of superpest at the NHL level.
The Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup with a mix of size, speed and, in particular, skill. The Blackhawks employ players of all sizes and appreciate players for skill and foot speed.
In this spirit, Nicolas Petan would be an interesting fit in Chicago. Along with Max Domi and Jonathan Drouin, Petan is one of the most highly skilled players in the draft.
Petan produced 120 points with the powerful Portland Winterhawks this past season. He is absolutely spellbinding with the puck, and if he’s afforded the opportunity, he could become a top-six NHL forward in time. The Blackhawks are deep enough to let him develop to a point that he’s ready for the NHL game.
He’d be a great final pick of the first round.
31. Florida Panthers: Chris Bigras, D
Chris Bigras has a good all-around game and may not last until the second round.
32. Colorado Avalanche: Madison Bowey, D
With the Avalanche selecting MacKinnon with the first pick, adding a defenceman would make sense at No. 32.
33. Tampa Bay Lightning: Shea Theodore, D
The Lightning need help in a number of areas, so adding Theodore would be a good move at No. 33 after selecting a forward earlier.
34. Montreal Canadiens (from Nashville Predators): Laurent Dauphin, C
Laurent Dauphin has a lot of skill and would be an instant fan favorite in hockey-mad Montreal.
35. Carolina Hurricanes: J.T. Compher, LW
Compher is a teammate’s dream and an opponent’s nightmare come true.
36. Montreal Canadiens (from Calgary Flames): Steve Santini, D
The Canadiens could add a very good prospect if Santini is available.
37. Edmonton Oilers: Jacob De La Rose, C
The Oilers have to add more centremen, and Jacob De La Rose has some skill and tenacity.
38. Buffalo Sabres: Michael McCarron, RW
McCarron is a big presence on the wing, and the Sabres would need to add a forward after selecting two defencemen earlier.
39. New Jersey Devils: Ian McCoshen, D
McCoshen offers a good all-around game in a large package.
40. Dallas Stars: Jason Dickinson, C
All organizations need more depth down the middle, and Dickinson would provide that.
41. Philadelphia Flyers: Eric Comrie, G
The Flyers could use another prospect at the one position that always seem to cause them headaches.
42. Phoenix Coyotes: James Lodge, C
American James Lodge is skilled and can put up points. It’s a good combination.
43. Winnipeg Jets: Artturi Lehkonen, F
Lekhonen could be selected much higher, but he has had injury issues this year.
44. Columbus Blue Jackets: Connor Hurley, C
Connor Hurley is one of the fastest skaters in the entire draft.
45. Anaheim Ducks (from New York Islanders): Anthony Duclair, LW
Duclair is another very fast skater and can create from the wing.
46. Minnesota Wild: Taylor Cammarata, F
At 5’7”, Cammarata will have to prove he can play at the pro level.
47. St. Louis Blues (from Ottawa Senators): Justin Bailey, RW
Bailey continues to get better, and with his size, he would fit in well with the Blues.
48. Detroit Red Wings: Dillon Heatherington, D
If Dillon Heatherington slips down to No. 48, the Red Wings will be pleased.
49. San Jose Sharks (from New York Rangers): Emile Poirier, LW
Poirier can put the puck in net and could be a good producer at the next level.
50. San Jose Sharks: Bogdan Yakimov, C
Hard to say what Yakimov will do in the future, but he’d be worth the risk for the Sharks.
51. Toronto Maple Leafs: Jordan Subban, D
Another Subban defenceman would look good in Toronto blue.
52. Buffalo Sabres (from St. Louis Blues): Adam Tambellini, C
Tambellini is off to school for four years, but the Blues can wait.
53. Washington Capitals: Pavel Buchnevich, LW
The Capitals could use some depth on the wing, and Buchnevich is a good player.
54. Dallas Stars (from Vancouver Canucks): Ryan Fitzgerald, C
Fitzgerald is small, but he could be a fine pro following his college career.
55. Montreal Canadiens: Jonathan-Ismael Diaby, D
Diaby is a large body on the point. The Canadiens need size at all positions.
56. Edmonton Oilers (from Anaheim Ducks): Tristan Jarry, G
Jarry is an Edmonton Oil King, so the Oilers will have the book on him.
57. Los Angeles Kings: Oliver Bjorkstrand, LW
Denmark isn’t known for its hockey players, but Bjorkstrand warrants a second-round selection.
58. San Jose Sharks (from Pittsburgh): Eric Roy, D
If the draft were not this deep, Roy could even be a first-round pick.
59. Winnipeg Jets (compensatory): Tyler Lewington, D
Lewington had a great NHL Combine performance and would give the Jets some more depth on the point.
60. Boston Bruins: William Carrier, LW
The talented winger could be taken earlier, but missed a lot of the season due to injury.
61. Winnipeg Jets (from Chicago Blackhawks): Ryan Kujawinski, C
Like all teams, selecting a centre with size always makes sense.