The 2013 NHL draft is just a few hours away, and the excitement surrounding one of the biggest events on the sports calendar has hockey fans across the world ready for Sunday’s draft.
As the start of the draft approaches (3 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network), the anticipation around where the top prospects will fall and how the entire first round will shake out have all NHL fans ready for the wild draft action.
1. Colorado Avalanche (16-25-7): Nathan MacKinnon, C, Halifax (QMJHL)
While Portland defenseman Seth Jones was ranked as the No. 1 overall prospect by NHL.com, the Colorado Avalanche have made it perfectly clear, via Adam Kimelman of NHL.com, that the franchise will select Halifax center Nathan MacKinnon No. 1 overall.
2. Florida Panthers (15-27-6): Seth Jones, D, Portland (WHL)
The Avalanche may pass on Jones at No. 1, but with a major need on defense and the desire to draft the best player available, the Florida Panthers will select the Portland defender with the No. 2 pick.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning (18-26-4): Jonathan Drouin, LW, Halifax (QMJHL)
The Tampa Bay Lightning are doing some major offseason overhauling, including buying out the contract of captain Vincent Lecavalier, per Kevin Allen and Mike Brehm of the USA Today. With the loss of an offensive weapon like Lecavalier, adding a scoring machine like Halifax left wing Jonathan Drouin is the smart selection for Tampa Bay.
4. Nashville Predators (16-23-9): Alexander Barkov, C, Tappara Tampere (SM-liiga)
The Nashville Predators have a strong defensive core of players but lack the elite offensive touch that would make the franchise perennial contenders. If Alexander Barkov can blossom into the star many believe he can, there is a chance the Predators could find their offensive remedy.
5. Carolina Hurricanes (19-25-4): Valeri Nichushkin, RW, Dynamo Moscow (KHL)
There is a chance that the Carolina Hurricanes trade the No. 5 overall pick, per TSN’s Darren Dreger, but if the franchise decides to stay put and make this selection, the team will take an educated risk by picking Russian right wing Valeri Nichushkin.
6. Calgary Flames (19-25-4): Sean Monahan, C, Ottawa 67's (OHL)
The Calgary Flames have three first-round picks in 2013, and the need for long-term depth at center will begin to be addressed when the franchise snags Ottawa 67’s Sean Monahan No. 6 overall.
7. Edmonton Oilers (19-22-7): Nikita Zadorov, D, London (OHL)
The Edmonton Oilers boast one of the most promising rosters in the entire NHL, but a lack of support in the defensive end has doomed the franchise. If London defender Nikita Zadorov is still on the board when Edmonton makes its selection, this will be the smartest pick for the organization.
8. Buffalo Sabres (21-21-6): Hunter Shinkaruk, LW, Medicine Hat (WHL)
The Buffalo Sabres need to add grit and an offensive presence that can become a factor in all facets of the game. While there are several players who fit that bill in this class, Medicine Hat left wing Hunter Shinkaruk is the right player for Buffalo.
9. New Jersey Devils (19-19-10): Elias Lindholm, C, Brynas IF (SEL)
The New Jersey Devils are a team that has slowly gotten younger over the last five years, and while the franchise is already on the right track, adding another center like Swedish star Elias Lindholm would be a great move.
10. Dallas Stars (22-22-4): Adam Erne, RW, Quebec (QMJHL)
The Dallas Stars continue to rebuild the roster from the ground up, but the lack of depth on the wings should make selecting Quebec right wing Adam Erne the easiest pick of the top 10.
11. Philadelphia Flyers (23-22-3): Darnell Nurse, D, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
The Philadelphia Flyers need all the defensive help the franchise can get. While Sault Ste. Marie defender Darnell Nurse will need time to develop into a top NHL star, the Flyers have the players and coaches to make the transition smooth.
12. Phoenix Coyotes (21-18-9): Ryan Hartman, RW, Plymouth (OHL)
While captain and right wing Shane Doan has been the linchpin of the Phoenix Coyotes for years, the franchise drafting for the future by adding Plymouth winger Ryan Hartman is the smart move.
13. Winnipeg Jets (24-21-3): Rasmus Ristolainen, D, TPS Turku (SM-liiga)
The Winnipeg Jets need to add serious defensive depth on draft day, and when Finnish star Rasmus Ristolainen falls to No. 13, the franchise will have the potential star it is desperate to find.
14. Columbus Blue Jackets (24-17-7): Max Domi, C, London (OHL)
The Columbus Blue Jackets need offensive depth and talent desperately, and while many NHL fans see the last name Domi and think tough guy, London center Max Domi has far more offensive talent than his father Tie ever did.
15. New York Islanders (24-17-7): Josh Morrissey, D, Prince Albert (WHL)
The New York Islanders have a strong core of young offensive stars, but adding a potential top-pairing defender at No. 15 with Prince Albert’s Josh Morrissey is the smart move for the betterment of the organization.
16. Buffalo Sabres from Minnesota (21-21-6): Ryan Pulock, D, Brandon (WHL)
The Buffalo Sabres look to be heading toward a complete rebuild, and adding a potential star defender like Brandon’s Ryan Pulock is the smart move to bolster a unit that needs all the help it can get.
17. Ottawa Senators (25-17-6): Bo Horvat, C, London (OHL)
The Ottawa Senators have lacked elite depth at center for years, but with London star Bo Horvat available at No. 17, the franchise will have its long-term answer.
18. Detroit Red Wings (24-16-8): Tom Vanelli, D, US-Under-18 (USAH-NTDP)
The Detroit Red Wings know better than any franchise how to draft prospects that can evolve into stars with the proper time to develop. With the future in mind, Detroit will snag American star Tom Vanelli and stash him away until he is ready to make an impact on the NHL.
19. Columbus Blue Jackets from NY Rangers (24-17-7): Anthony Mantha, LW, Val-d'Or (QMJHL)
The Columbus Blue Jackets will make the second selection of the first round at No. 19 when they draft talented Val-d'Or left wing Anthony Mantha. This is the smart long-term move for the franchise.
20. San Jose Sharks (25-16-7): Kerby Rychel, LW, Windsor (OHL)
The San Jose Sharks have a strong core of stars but need to add the kind of depth and role players that could help the franchise become a serious Stanley Cup contender. If Windsor left wing Kerby Rychel is there at No. 20, the Sharks will have their selection.
21. Toronto Maple Leafs (26-17-5): Mirco Müller, D, Everett (WHL)
The Toronto Maple Leafs need to add depth and talent to the defensive group—the cheaper the price tag, the better—and selecting Everett defender Mirco Müller would be an answer to the franchise’s issues.
22. Calgary Flames from St. Louis (19-25-4): Zach Fucale, G, Halifax (QMJHL)
The Calgary Flames will make the team’s second first-round selection at No. 22. With veteran goalie Miikka Kiprusoff possibly retiring this offseason, per Brian Stubits of CBSSports.com, taking Halifax netminder Zach Fucale is a smart long-term selection.
23. Washington Capitals (27-18-3): Steve Santini, D, New York (EJHL)
The Washington Capitals have a roster full of talented stars, but the franchise must look to add defensive depth on draft day. When New York’s Steve Santini falls to No. 23, the team will have the answer to its problem.
24. Vancouver Canucks (26-15-7): Curtis Lazar, C, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
The Vancouver Canucks will need to find gritty players that will fit new head coach John Tortorella’s style, and Edmonton Oil Kings center Curtis Lazar would be the perfect addition.
25. Montreal Canadiens (29-14-5): Morgan Klimchuk, C, Regina (WHL)
The Montreal Canadiens have lacked elite talent through the center of the offensive lines over the last several seasons, but that issue will be solved when Regina’s Morgan Klimchuk falls to No. 25.
26. Anaheim Ducks (30-12-6): Shea Theodore, D, Seattle (WHL)
The Anaheim Ducks will be busying figuring out how to pay all the offensive stars on the roster, and with the need for defensive help, adding a talented prospect that could step into the NHL within two seasons like Seattle’s Shea Theodore would be a great pick.
27. Columbus Blue Jackets from Los Angeles (24-17-7): J.T. Compher, C, US-Under-18 (USAH-NTDP)
The Columbus Blue Jackets will make the team’s final first-round pick at No. 27, and with a need for more talent across the forward depth chart, taking a long-term prospect like American center J.T. Compher is a smart, fundamental move.
28. Calgary Flames from Pittsburgh (19-25-4): William Carrier, LW, Cape Breton (QMJHL)
The Calgary Flames will make the final of three first-round picks at No. 28 when the franchise adds depth on the wings with an underrated prospect in Cape Breton star William Carrier.
29. Dallas Stars from Boston (28-14-6): Alexander Wennberg, C, Djurgardens IF (SEL)
The Dallas Stars own the Boston Bruins' pick at the tail end of the first round, and with the lack of depth at forward for the franchise, adding a talented center like Swedish sensation Alexander Wennberg is a smart selection.
30. Chicago Blackhawks (36-7-5): Emile Poirier, LW, Gatineau (QMJHL)
The Chicago Blackhawks proved to be the best team in the NHL this season, and the addition of a talented prospect like Gatineau left wing Emile Poirier would be a perfect example of the rich getting richer.