Elite goal scorers are capable of putting a team on their back, and that’s what franchises will attempt to identify in the 2013 NHL draft.
They certainly aren’t a dime a dozen, and just because a player is a scoring machine pre-NHL doesn’t mean his success will translate to the next level. However, because go-to scorers are so valuable, rolling the dice on them is worth the risk.
Here are the four most gifted goal scorers in this year’s draft class.
4. LW Valentin Zykov (Baie-Comeau, QMJHL)
Valentin Zykov is a one-year wonder, but his play was so wonderful that, one year, he’s deserving of first-round looks. In fact, NHL.com ranked him the seventh-best North American skater in the draft.
He scored 40 goals in the 67 games that he competed in this past season, the most out of any first-year player in the QMJHL. For his accomplishment, Zykov was named the Canadian Hockey League Rookie of the Year.
3. C Nathan MacKinnon (Halifax, QMJHL)
NHL.com’s No. 2-ranked North American skater, Nathan MacKinnon played in 44 games this past season, and he scored 32 goals in the process. He not only consistently scored throughout the season, but he stepped up his play when it mattered most. MacKinnon finished with a hat trick in the 2013 Memorial Cup Championship game.
2. RW Anthony Mantha (Val-d’Or, QMJHL)
Anthony Mantha, No. 10, isn’t ranked as high as MacKinnon or Zykov by NHL.com, but in terms of goal scoring, he outperformed them in the 2012-13 campaign. The right wing hammered home a whopping 50 goals in 67 games this past season, tying him for second-most in the Canadian Hockey League. Of those 50 goals, 15 of them came over the course of five hat-trick performances.
1. C Jonathan Drouin (Halifax, QMJHL)
The Canadian Hockey League Player of the Year and No. 2 North American skater, according to NHL.com, Jonathan Drouin embarrassed opposing defenders this year. He scored 41 goals in 49 games, helping carry Halifax to a 2013 Memorial Cup title.
What sets him apart as a prospect from a player like Mantha is the fact that Drouin is also an elite setup man, finishing the season with 64 assists.
David Daniels is a Breaking News writer at Bleacher Report and news editor at Wade-O Radio.