Colorado Avalanche hold the first pick.
The first round of the 2013 NHL entry draft is in the books. It was no surprise that Nathan MacKinnon went first overall to the Colorado Avalanche, but it was a surprise that Portland's Seth Jones slipped to No. 4.
The Nashville Predators have a great defenceman in young Seth Jones, while the Colorado Avalanche are going to be an offensive juggernaut for years with Nathan MacKinnon. Russian sensation Valeri Nichushkin fell out of the top five. He was selected at No. 10 by the Dallas Stars.
There were not a lot of trades in the first round, and it was a whirlwind session that took less than three hours in total.
The two teams with three selections retained all of them. The Calgary Flames picked up Sean Monahan with their first while, the Columbus Blue Jackets added the speedy and talented Alex Wennberg.
Short-term winners and losers are already being tallied following the exciting first round of the 2013 NHL draft.
After all the speculation, the Avalanche have chosen Nathan MacKinnon with the first overall pick in the 2013 NHL entry draft. It will be interesting to see if the Avs reveal when they settled on MacKinnon.
New head coach Patrick Roy is going to love working with this young player. He is the most dynamic player in the draft, and this forward core in Colorado is going to very difficult to contain.
MacKinnon will elevate the play of all of his teammates.
Look for MacKinnon to make an immediate impact in the Mile High City. Colorado fans should be very excited to have Nathan on the roster. He should be wearing Avalanche silks in a few short months and will be in the mix for the Calder Trophy next season.
Pro Comparison: Pavel Datsyuk
The Florida Panthers were in an interesting spot here. General manager Dale Tallon will likely reveal just how many teams he spoke with about this pick. In selecting Aleksander Barkov, the Panthers have added a player who should be able to help them in another year or two.
Some will question this pick, but Barkov is an excellent talent. He's one of the youngest players in the draft and will only get better. He's a big body at 6'2" and over 200 pounds. He has competed against men and done very well in those situations.
Expect him to be an excellent two-way centre for many years.
The Panthers have a lot of prospects that need to make the jump to becoming established NHL regulars. Barkov will join that list.
Pro Comparison: Joe Thornton
The Tampa Bay Lightning have the best pure scorer in the draft with Halifax Moosehead Jonathan Drouin. The Lightning will be making more changes in the offseason but have added a player who will help them next year.
Drouin is an excellent skater who will find open teammates in the offensive zone. He is unselfish and one of the best skaters in the draft. Tampa Bay's power play just got a lot better with this pick.
Look for Drouin to be among the top point producers in the first-year class.
Pro Comparison: Patrick Kane
The Nashville Predators are likely shocked to have had defenceman Seth Jones available at No. 4. The Predators have a player ready for next year. At 6'4" and over 200 pounds, Jones offers speed and mobility on the blue line.
He can help them immediately. The Predators already had some great young defencemen, and adding Jones will make them one of the most intimidating teams to play in the NHL with this defence corps.
The Predators have an excellent prospect in Seth Jones, and he could be top-pairing in another few seasons.
Pro Comparison: Kris Letang
The Carolina Hurricanes are deep at centre, so the selection of Elias Lindholm is a little surprising. I’m sure it was challenging for Carolina scouts and management to decide on Lindholm, although he has a very mature game. He may have to begin his career on the wing, but he is adaptable enough to do that, without question.
He's an excellent skater and plays well in all three zones.
The Carolina Hurricanes had a disappointing 2013 season, so if Lindholm can join them next season, he could be a decisive factor in getting them back to the playoffs.
Pro Comparison: Nicklas Backstrom
Three first-round selections offer hope to Calgary Flames fans who haven’t had much to cheer about in recent years. Selecting Sean Monahan will fill a huge hole at centre ice.
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 will be great in both the offensive and defensive zones. He will be a leader in Calgary and will help them in all game situations.
Look for Monahan to join them next year, as they need size and scoring down the middle.
Pro Comparison: Zach Parise
The Edmonton Oilers have finally been successful in establishing some depth at forward and have selected Darnell Nurse with their first pick.
Nurse has the potential to be a top-pairing defenceman. He hits, skates and will drop the gloves if necessary. He is a tremendous athlete who has character and skill. He is raw and may not challenge for a spot next year.
The Oilers will add other parts in alternate ways for next year.
Nurse oozes potential, and he will be a great addition.
Pro Comparison: Dion Phaneuf
The Buffalo Sabres have some quality prospects and good young players on their NHL roster. The selection of Rasmus Ristolainen makes a lot of sense.
Ristolainen has one of the best shots in the draft, and at 6'4" and over 200 pounds, he can make life miserable for opponents. He's been a standout in the SM-liiga and should be a top-four defenceman in a few years.
He moves the puck well and his skill level is excellent. The Sabres have a good one in Ristolainen.
Pro Comparison: Victor Hedman
The Vancouver Canucks were obviously motivated by several factors to move up to this spot. Bo Horvat is an excellent pick for the Canucks.
Horvat was the MVP of the OHL playoffs, and he is a character guy. The Canucks need to get younger, and selecting Horvat will help in this regard.
Horvat isn't spectacular in any one way, but he has no weaknesses. He will be a superb second-line centre in a year or so, but is likely to begin on the third line with the Canucks.
Horvat offers great hockey sense and a lot of poise with the puck.
Pro Comparison: Jeff Skinner
The Dallas Stars were close to making the playoffs this past season but were simply too inconsistent when it mattered most, as the season wound down. Selecting Valeri Nichushkin will give them another power forward who could end up being the steal of the draft at No. 10.
Nichushkin is the best combination of size, power and speed among forwards. He is certainly raw, but he has all the tools to be dominant on the wing.
Nichushkin is a top-line player if he continues to develop as he has over the last year. With a talented, unselfish centre, he could score in bunches for years. Dallas has a good one in Nichushkin.
Pro Comparison: Jordan Staal
The Philadelphia Flyers have selected Samuel Morin, who might be the most intimidating player in the draft. He will continue the tradition of the Broad Street Bullies.
Morin is 6'6" and well over 200 pounds. Morin loves to fight and is nearly impossible to beat down low in the junior game. His skating needs work, but he is an excellent choice for the Flyers. His mobility is underrated.
Expect Morin to play at least one more year in the QMJHL. Philly fans will be very happy with him in a few more years. He could become a premiere shutdown defender in the NHL.
Pro Comparison: Tyler Myers
The Phoenix Coyotes have been difficult to play against under coach Dave Tippett’s smothering defensive style. The Coyotes will not get more defence from Max Domi.
He might be the best passer in the draft. He sees the ice very well and will make his linemates better.
Look for him to challenge for a top-six role next season. He has tremendous upside in a relatively small package.
Pro Comparison: Sam Gagner
The Winnipeg Jets had no glaring needs and now have another excellent defensive prospect in Josh Morrissey.
Morrissey was a standout offensive defenceman for the Prince Albert Raiders. He moves the puck as well as anyone in the draft. He needs work in the defensive zone, but that's not unique among young defenders.
Look for Morrissey to be a top-four defenceman in years to come. His mobility is exemplary.
Pro Comparison: Dan Hamhuis
The Columbus Blue Jackets ended the season well, and despite a lot of changes, they seemed to jell really well. Swedish centre Alex Wennberg makes a lot of sense in Columbus.
He offers excellent two-way play in the middle and can play a three-zone game. He is a great skater, and while he projects as a third-line centre, he may become a top-six forward.
He will be a very solid player in the years ahead.
Pro Comparison: Ryan Kesler
The New York Islanders are building a winner not just for next year, but for a number of seasons. Ryan Pulock makes it eight defenceman selected in a row at the NHL draft over the last two seasons.
They have a number of excellent young prospects at all positions, so there is no rush to get Pulock in the lineup.
He is a hard-shooting defender who has converted from being a forward. He will be a great contributor on the power play in a few seasons.
Islanders fans will question adding another defenceman, but it gives the Islanders all kinds of flexibility in terms of potential deals down the road. A good pick by GM Garth Snow at No. 15.
Pro Comparison: Jake Gardiner
Nikita Zadorov is a 6'5" giant who loves to hit hard. Zadorov is one of the most bruising defencemen in the draft.
He is bright enough not to make unnecessary hits, but when he decides to do so, opponents do not forget it soon. With Ristolainen already selected, the Sabres have added two of the top defensive prospects in the draft.
They are two different players but could team up as a second-pairing duo in the years ahead. A great pick by the Sabres at No. 16.
Pro Comparison: Zdeno Chara
The Ottawa Senators had a really good season under coach Paul MacLean. The Senators battled through injuries to two of their best players, Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson.
Selecting Curtis Lazar makes a lot of sense. He plays a hard-nosed, simple game. He's a competitive player who can play in any number of roles. He scores when needed, but can shift to even a third-line role if required.
Don't be surprised if he develops into a great second-line centre in the NHL.
Pro Comparison: Andrew Ladd
Defenceman Mirco Mueller is a great pick for the San Jose Sharks. The Swiss product was the second-leading scorer among WHL defencemen in 2012-13. He could become a top-pairing defenceman.
He has the necessary tools to develop into a top-four defenceman in a few years. Mueller can contribute in all three zones.
At his best, he’s an offensive force, can be a stopper in his own end and can make that first pass out of his zone quickly.
Pro Comparison: Mark Streit
Warren Rychel’s son, Kerby Rychel, is a smart choice for the Blue Jackets. Kerby has a lot of game and is adaptable in that he can play on any of the first three lines. Rychel can score, hit and is very responsible in his own end.
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 all over the ice, and he’s a natural leader.
Pro Comparison: James Neal
With the No. 20 pick, the Red Wings selected the best pure goal scorer in the draft, Anthony Mantha.
Mantha is 6’4” and has wonderful reach. His shot is both hard and accurate, which bodes well for the Wings down the road. Mantha is not overly physical and prefers to play a perimeter game.
He’s skilled with the puck and would fit in well with Detroit’s system that emphasizes puck possession rather than a dump-and-chase game employed by some.
Pro Comparison: Rick Nash
Talented and big, centre Frederik Gauthier may end up being a late first-round steal for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He is excellent in his own end and especially good in the opponent's end.
He projects to be a top-nine forward and maybe even higher if he can continue to develop his scoring. Gauthier can be physical and is a very smart player.
He won't be with the Leafs for a few seasons, but when he is, Hogtown will embrace him.
Pro Comparison: Jordan Staal
With three first-round picks, the Calgary Flames could have one of their best draft days in 2013. Left wing Emile Poirier wasn't ranked this high, but he had a great second half to his season.
He has tremendous speed and is learning to handle the puck with speed. He won't be ready for a number of years, but the Flames will add players through free agency or trades in the offseason.
Poirier will spend at least another year in Gatineau in the QMJHL. His skill could carry him to being a top-six winger in the NHL at 6'1" and nearing 200 pounds as he continues to grow.
Pro Comparison: Jeff Skinner
The Washington Capitals had a roller-coaster season in many ways, but it ended on a relatively high note.
Coach Adam Oates demanded some new things from players, and players need to be fast and smart to flourish there. The Capitals are deep at forward, and Andre Burakowsky will add to this depth.
He loves to handle the puck and could become a top-line player or, at least, a top-six player with some further development.
Pro Comparison: Patrick Marleau
This is a steal at No. 24 for the Vancouver Canucks. Calgary native Hunter Shinkaruk should provide offence at the next level, and he is capable of doing all the little things that coaches love at the pro level.
Shinkaruk projects as a top-six forward but could be used on the third line as he transitions to the NHL in another couple of years.
Some had him projected as high as being in the top 10 in the draft.
Pro Comparison: Evander Kane
The Montreal Canadiens were up against it some nights with their lack of size up front. Montreal added some grit and sandpaper in Michael McCarron.
He loves to hit and will bring an element of toughness to the Habs. He is an underrated skater, though, and can skate better than some believe.
He is a product of the USHL bringing a lot of size.
Pro Comparison: Michael Rupp
The Anaheim Ducks were great this past season. They were at or near the top of the standings all year and should expect to be strong again next year.
The Ducks will have a good offensive defenceman in Shea Theodore from the WHL. He takes a lot of chances but is a good enough skater that he can often recover to address mistakes—most of the time. His defensive game does need work, though.
Theodore would fit in well with the Ducks' attacking style under Bruce Boudreau.
Pro Comparison: Duncan Keith
The Blue Jackets have the same opportunity as the Flames to add three young players to their organizational depth chart.
They have gone off the chart with Marko Dano. He is a smallish centre who can shoot the puck. GM Jarmo Kekalainen likely knows this player better than most.
The Blue Jackets are on the upswing with the talent they are amassing.
Pro Comparison: Jordan Eberle
The Calgary Flames are having an outstanding first round. Morgan Klimchuk is a steal at No. 28.
He has all kinds of skill and is a difficult player to defend. He had 76 points in 72 games this year and never takes a game off.
He is likely to spend at least one more year in Regina but could challenge for a spot given his determination. An excellent late first-round pick.
Pro Comparison: Patrik Elias
The Dallas Stars have made a safe and smart choice in selecting the 6'1" Jason Dickinson.
Dickinson is creative with the puck and is an elite puck mover. He can work the cycle or beat you on the rush with his feet.
He may develop into a power forward, but he does have to add some weight to do so. There is no rush to have him join the Stars given their depth.
Pro Comparison: Chris Stewart
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 skill levels.
Plymouth Whaler Ryan Hartman is the player opposing teams love to hate. He can hit, he can drop the gloves, and he is an agitator of the first degree.
The Blackhawks won't need him for a few years, but when he arrives, the fans in Chicago will take to him instantly.
Pro Comparison: Cal Clutterbuck