2013 NHL Draft Grades: Scoring Every GM in the First Round

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2013 NHL Draft Grades: Scoring Every GM in the First Round
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The first round of the 2013 NHL draft is officially in the record books, as 30 prospects have become rookies. Nathan MacKinnon went No. 1 overall to the Colorado Avalanche to get the ball rolling, and from there, it was nothing short of a stunning day of NHL action.

The question is, how did every NHL GM fare in the first round?

Certain general managers shocked the world with their decision to pass over top prospects or execute controversial trades. Others reached for players who may have been available significantly further down the board, thus displaying the boom-or-bust nature of the selection process.

One way or another, the NHL was reshaped by this year's draft class.

 

Anaheim Ducks: A-

No. 26: Shea Theodore, D, Seattle Thunderbirds

 

The Anaheim Ducks entered the NHL draft with few holes, but with the room for improvement that all squads share. Coming off a disappointing postseason ending to a marvelous regular season, the Ducks did have reason to gamble on talent and thus improve their title legitimacy.

Instead, they landed one of the top defensemen in the draft class.

Shea Theodore stands at 6'2" and finished the season as NHL.com's 11th-ranked North American skater. Not only does he possess defensive upside, but Theodore is also one of the better offensive defensemen in this draft class.

With the ability to produce from the blue line and push it in deep, Theodore fits the bill of Anaheim's long history of two-way defensemen.

 

Boston Bruins: N/A

 

Buffalo Sabres: A+

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No. 8: Rasmus Ristolainen, D, Finland

No. 16: Nikita Zadorov, D, London Knights

 

The Buffalo Sabres don't have much going for them at this point, which opened the door for the franchise to go in virtually any direction. With two first-round draft choices, the Sabres were in prime position to make improvements on both ends of the ice.

Buffalo decided to go with two of the most physically imposing defenseman in the draft.

At No. 8, the Sabres took Rasmus Ristolainen out of Finland. Ristolainen is regarded as one of the top defensemen in the draft, going as high as No. 2 at his position behind Seth Jones on some draft boards.

Standing at 6'4" and 207 pounds, he certainly has the size to execute that physical style of play.

At No. 16, Buffalo went with defenseman Nikita Zadorov out of Russia. Zadorov is a 6'5", 221-pound heavy hitter who has international experience and a powerful shot from the blue line.

It's surprising to see Buffalo pass over the available forwards, but both Ristolainen and Zadorov have legitimate NHL upside.

 

Calgary Flames: A

No. 6: Sean Monahan, C, Ottawa 67's

No. 22: Emile Poirier, LW, Olympiques

No. 28: Morgan Klimchuk, LW, Regina Pats

 

The Calgary Flames entered, arguably, the most important draft in franchise history with three first-round draft choices. Having traded franchise player Jarome Iginla, it was imperative that the Flames found building blocks.

They did just that with Ottawa 67's center Sean Monahan.

Monahan is a two-way player who displays similarities to Jonathan Toews. He works well on faceoffs, gets back on defense and produces both as a goal scorer and facilitator.

With their final two picks, they further bolstered their offense with two revered wings in Emile Poirier and Morgan Klimchuk. While neither possess the star power that Monahan presents, both are high-quality two-way players who could be key players in Calgary's future.

This was a historically important draft for Calgary, and they walked away with reason for confidence.

 

Carolina Hurricanes: A-

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No. 5: Elias Lindholm, C, Sweden

 

The Carolina Hurricanes appeared to be in the market for a defenseman, but creating front-line depth was a legitimate option. The Hurricanes opted to go with the latter, selecting center Elias Lindholm of Sweden.

This is a pick that mixes upside with NHL readiness.

Lindholm is a strong, physical player with a respected motor and strong offensive production. The Swedish center should be able to contribute as soon as he comes over, although the Hurricanes can let him develop due to their depth at the position.

Lindholm should have a lengthy, solid NHL career, and Carolina is the perfect place for him to do just that.


Chicago Blackhawks: A

No. 30: Ryan Hartman, RW, Plymouth Whalers

 

NHL.com ranked right wing Ryan Hartman as the No. 16 North American skater in the 2013 NHL draft. That's an improvement of nine spots since his mid-term ranking, thus proving how fast Hartman moved up draft boards.

Somehow, he was available for the defending champions to take at No. 30.

Hartman listed the Chicago Blackhawks as his favorite team and Jonathan Toews as his favorite player leading up to the draft. Not only does that make this a dream fit for the player, but the Blackhawks should also be thrilled to have Hartman on board.

As a productive two-way forward who displays positional versatility, Hartman could be the fresh face Chicago needs to stay on top in future seasons—an absolute steal at No. 30.

 

Colorado Avalanche: A+

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No. 1: Nathan MacKinnon, C, Halifax Mooseheads

 

With the first overall draft choice in the 2013 NHL draft, the Colorado Avalanche selected center Nathan MacKinnon of the Halifax Mooseheads. This comes after months of a two-man race for the top pick between he and defenseman Seth Jones.

It may have been hard to pass over Jones, the hometown kid, but MacKinnon was the right selection.

MacKinnon is revered as the top playmaker in the draft, and at the 2013 Memorial Cup, he proved worthy of the hype. Not only was he productive, but he also ripped off a hat trick against Jones.

That may have been the clinching factor, as the Avalanche land a top-line center who could lead their franchise for years to come.

 

Columbus Blue Jackets: A

No. 14: Alexander Wennberg, C, Sweden

No. 19: Kerby Rychel, LW, Windsor Spitfires

No. 27: Marko Dano, C, Austria

 

The Columbus Blue Jackets are one of the NHL's fastest rising defensive teams, ranking ninth in goals against average and 11th in penalty kill percentage. They have an elite goaltender in Sergei Bobrovsky and very strong defensemen in Jack Johnson and Fedor Tyutin.

With their pick at No. 14, the Blue Jackets' acknowledged their No. 25-ranked scoring offense.

Alexander Wennberg out of Sweden is a 6'1" center who passes well and has international experience. How quickly he makes the leap to the NHL is unclear, but Wennberg displays promise in the faceoff circle and could be a two-way force.

With their second pick, the Blue Jackets padded their offense with left wing Kerby Rychel.

Rychel is one of the better goal scorers in this draft class, tallying at least 40 in consecutive seasons. In the span of one season, Rychel has also become a significantly better facilitator, making crisp and accurate passes along the blue line and to the front of the net.

At 6'1" and 205 pounds, Rychel certainly has the size to make an impact along the perimeter.

With their third and final pick of the first round, Columbus went with Austrian-born Marko Dano, who has made his mark in Slovakia. He most recently tallied nine points in six games at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Three picks, three successful moves.

 

Dallas Stars: A-

No. 10: Valeri Nichushkin, LW, Russia

No. 29: Jason Dickinson, C, Guelph Storm

 

The Dallas Stars were in the market for a defenseman, as they have promising offensive tools and an underwhelming defensive front. Rather than targeting their needs, however, the Stars opted to go with a player who possesses elite upside.

Russian left wing Valeri Nichushkin of Russia.

Nichushkin is viewed as one of the fastest and most powerful skaters in the 2013 NHL draft. Standing at 6'4" and possessing a powerful frame, it's not hard to see why teams would be intrigued by his offensive upside.

With international experience and his recently established NHL eligibility, the Stars refused to let him drop any further than No. 10.

Nichushkin has the potential to become one of the best offensive players on Dallas' roster, which makes this selection an intriguing one. Not only can he set up shop in front of the net and block the goaltender's vision, but his slap shot is also intriguing enough to put the puck on his stick.

Adding Jason Dickinson at No. 29 was of less risk, but it proved that Dallas is committed to improving their offense before they touch their defense.

 

Detroit Red Wings: A+

No. 20: Anthony Mantha, RW, Val d'Or Foreurs

 

When you find this type of value at No. 20, you absolutely aced the 2013 NHL draft. That was the case for the Detroit Red Wings, who found a player whom many ranked in the top 10 at No. 20 overall.

Anthony Mantha may be the steal of the draft.

Mantha is a 6'4" right wing who scores goals at virtual will in the QMJHL. While the Red Wings may not have expected him to be available at No. 20, he was, and Mantha could end up being a critical player in their future success.

Words can't express how much Detroit lucked out here.

 

Edmonton Oilers: A

No. 7: Darnell Nurse, D, Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds

 

The Edmonton Oilers have landed rising stars on offense in recent drafts, securing players such as Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov. What they lack, however, is a defensive presence that can help keep the puck out of their zone.

The addition of Darnell Nurse helps in that regard.

Nurse has extraordinary size at 6'5" and is one of the best skaters in this draft class. On top of being able to move well, Nurse plays physical hockey and projects to be a first-line defenseman at the next level.

With their offensive weapons of the future in place, this is the type of pick that Edmonton needed to bring it all together.

 

Florida Panthers: A-

No. 2: Aleksander Barkov, C, Finland

 

Wait, what?

Seth Jones has seen his draft stock diminish in recent weeks, as he put forth a lackluster effort at the 2013 Memorial Cup. With that being said, the Florida Panthers are a team that ranked 29th in scoring and 30th in scoring defense.

A two-way defenseman sounds like the way to go, right? Well, the Panthers didn't agree—not in the slightest.

The Panthers selected center Aleksander Barkov out of Finland, who is a star product, standing 6'2" and 207 pounds. While this may not have been an extreme reach, Barkov is coming off a shoulder injury. Few expected him to go before Jones or Jonathan Drouin.

Well, he did.

 

Los Angeles Kings: N/A


Minnesota Wild: N/A

 

Montreal Canadiens: B

No. 25: Michael McCarron, RW, USA

 

The Montreal Canadiens exploded offensively during the 2012-13 NHL regular season, ranking fourth in goals scored per game and fifth in power-play percentage. Young stars such as Max Pacioretty, P.K. Subban and Lars Eller emerged, thus leading Montreal to the postseason.

At No. 25, the rich got richer, as the Canadiens added the biggest man in the draft.

American right wing Michael McCarron steps in at a massive 6'5" and 228 pounds. Not only was he productive, but McCarron also proved that he knows how to use his body, serving as a team enforcer and racking up a team-high 182 penalty minutes while serving for the U.S. U-18 developmental team.

Sounds like your quintessential Canadiens player.

Between he and Subban, the Canadiens could have one of the most powerful duos in the NHL. Both play physically and utilize their strength to make an impact, which could help to improve Montreal's defense, as well.

With McCarron set to play for Western Michigan, his fundamentals will improve, and Montreal could end up with one of the steals of the draft.

 

Nashville Predators: A+

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No. 4: Seth Jones, D, Portland Winterhawks

 

You could debate Seth Jones' legitimacy and upside all you'd like, citing his disappointing play at the 2013 Memorial Cup. What you cannot debate, however, is how much of a steal it is for the Nashville Predators to land Seth Jones at No. 4.

How does a defensive duo of Jones and Shea Weber sound to you?

The Predators were 29th in scoring offense and 20th in goals allowed average, which makes a two-way player the ultimate coup. Not only can Jones fire shots from the blue line, but he can facilitate as well as most forwards in this draft class.

The 6'4" defenseman should fit in seamlessly with Weber and help Nashville create an elite last line of defense.

 

New Jersey Devils: A+

No. 9: Traded pick to Vancouver Canucks for goalie Cory Schneider

 

The New Jersey Devils had the opportunity to select a building block at No. 9 overall. Rather than use the selection, however, the Devils made one of the most stunning trades we'll see all year.

The Devils traded the ninth overall selection to the Vancouver Canucks for goalie Cory Schneider.

Let's talk about the star potential.

Martin Brodeur is 41, which opens the door for the Devils to find a long-term replacement as soon as possible. Fortunately for New Jersey, Schneider is a 27-year-old goaltender coming off a season in which he went 17-9-4 with a 2.11 goals against average.

Schneider is a rising star in the league, and he's headed to New Jersey in exchange for a pick that may be a star.

 

New York Islanders: B+

No. 15: Ryan Pulock, D, Brandon Wheat Kings

 

The New York Islanders have a long history of using the draft to improve their crop of defensemen. In 2013, they wasted no time in continuing that process, selecting defenseman Ryan Pulock of the Brandon Wheat Kings.

A selection that could pay off sooner rather than later.

Pulock is a blue-line player who is known for his ability to make plays offensively, pairing a strong slap shot with crisp passing skills. In terms of his pure defensive ability, Pulock lacks elite size, but he makes plays on the puck and is more physical than one might presume.

New York has valued defense in recent seasons and thus reached the playoffs in 2013, so this pick fits into their team identity.

 

New York Rangers: N/A

 

Ottawa Senators: B+

No. 17: Curtis Lazar, C/RW, Edmonton Oil Kings

 

The Ottawa Senators are one of the best defensive teams in the NHL, ranking second in goals against average and first in penalty kill percentage. With that being said, the Senators were 27th in goals scored per game.

Adding a versatile offensive player is the right way to go.

Curtis Lazar certainly fits the bill, as the Canadian can play both center and right wing. While he can create for his teammates, Lazar will see his paychecks because he can light up the scoreboard with goal after goal.

There aren't an abundance of pure goal scorers near the top of the board, but Lazar is one of them, and Ottawa made a smart choice based off upon that reasoning.


Philadelphia Flyers: B

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No. 11: Samuel Morin, D, Rimouski Oceanic

 

The Philadelphia Flyers have stars on offense, but there have been countless questions about their defensive prowess. While inconsistencies and indecision at goaltender is an issue, 38-year-old Kimmo Timonen is their top option amongst their defenseman.

Samuel Morin can help lead Philadelphia into the future.

Morin is a 6'6" defenseman who plays physical hockey and projects to serve as an enforcer in Philadelphia. For a team that's finesse enough to compete but unable to play the physical defense necessary to win big, this was a huge selection.

It was a reach with Zadorov on the board, but Morin is an intriguing player.

 

Phoenix Coyotes: B

No. 12: Max Domi, Center, London Knights

 

The Phoenix Coyotes are in a constant state of turmoil, as their future is in question in more ways than one. From the absence of a star playmaker to the potential to change cities, the Coyotes haven't been granted much time to breathe.

The addition of center Max Domi could help alleviate some of that pressure.

Domi plays low to the ground, is stronger than his 5'9" frame would suggest and is one of the most productive players in the draft. He's also a true winner, experiencing significant success with the London Knights and is one of the best stick handlers amongst all prospects.

The fact that he's a diabetic could be concerning, but in terms of what he puts on the ice, Domi is beyond stout.

 

Pittsburgh Penguins: N/A


Saint Louis Blues: N/A

 

San Jose Sharks: A-

No. 18: Mirco Mueller, D, Everett Silvertips

 

The San Jose Sharks got a steal at No. 18, as Mirco Mueller's stock may have fluctuated throughout the evaluation process, but his ability is undeniable. For a Sharks team that has no trouble producing, but inconsistently defends the net, that makes this a coup.

At 6'3", Mueller certainly has the size and build to make his mark.

Mueller is a superb athlete who moves the puck well and should be able to contribute offensively. The key here, however, isn't Mueller's offensive ability, but instead, his ability to play physical defense and bring an edge on the ice.

That's exactly what San Jose needed.

 

Tampa Bay Lightning: A

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No. 3: Jonathan Drouin, LW, Halifax Mooseheads

 

The Tampa Bay Lightning could have gone with defenseman Seth Jones, but they made a decision that could push their team into the postseason from the opening drop of the puck. Rather than go for defense, they completed what could become the best first line in hockey.

Steven Stamkos and 2013 points leader Martin St. Louis will be joined by left wing Jonathan Drouin of the Halifax Mooseheads.

Drouin is one of the smartest and most productive players in the draft, tallying 105 points in 49 games for Halifax. He tallied 41 goals, but his true strength is the ability to facilitate, as evidenced by his 61 assists.

There are questions about his size, but Drouin has elite ice vision and should be able to adjust to the NHL in no time at all.

 

Toronto Maple Leafs: A-

No. 21: Frederik Gauthier, C, Rimouski Oceanic

 

The Toronto Maple Leafs entered the 2013 NHL draft with one of the better offenses in the NHL. They ranked sixth in scoring offense, with Phil Kessel serving as the team leader and rising stars in James van Riemsdyk and Nazem Kadri.

Rather than attack their defense, the Maple Leafs decided to go with center Frederik Gauthier of Rimouski Oceanic.

NHL.com ranked Gauthier as the No. 8 North American skater in this year's draft class, thus displaying the value of this selection. While it may not have fit a need when you can get a player of this caliber at No. 21, it's a no-brainer.

An excellent selection for the Maple Leafs.

 

Vancouver Canucks: A-

No. 9 (via Devils): Bo Horvat, C, London Knights

No. 24: Hunter Shinkaruk, C/LW, Medicine Hat Tigers

 

The Vancouver Canucks shocked the hockey world, trading star goaltender Cory Schneider for the No. 9 pick. While it's unclear if they'll be able to match Schneider's value with this trade, it's clear that they're committed to Roberto Luongo.

They better hope Luongo is committed to them.

Fingers are crossed throughout Vancouver.

With the No. 9 selection, the Canucks selected London Knights center Bo Horvat. Horvat, one of the most revered playmakers in this draft class, should fit well with a Canucks team that has no shortage of offensive play makers.

It may not have been a need, but the pick offers intrigue for the future—the question is, did it cost them too much? Even if they did, they made it all right with the No. 24 pick.

Perhaps, the hockey Gods felt bad after the questionable trade and gift-wrapped Hunter Shinkaruk.

Shinkaruk has been ranked as high as No. 5 overall on draft boards, but dipped to No. 24 in an unspeakable manner. He's, arguably, the best goal scorer in this draft class, which makes the Canucks' draft one of great success.

As great as these picks were, we can't help but wonder—did Vancouver just trade away their goalie of the future and leave themselves without a paddle with Roberto Luongo's future in doubt?

 

Washington Capitals: B

No. 23: Andre Burakovsky, LW, Sweden

 

The Washington Capitals are a team that is known for their offensive prowess, as Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom leading an elite attack. Rather than invest in a long-term option on defense, however, the Capitals opted to bolster their offense.

A scary thought.

Andre Burakovsky is a Swedish left wing with good size at 6'1" and two-way versatility. While he may not be a first-line player, he was one of the top five offensive international players in this draft class.

There is rarely much flash at No. 23, but Washington added some grit here.

 

Winnipeg Jets: C+

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No. 13: Joshua Morrissey, D, Prince Albert Raiders

 

Joshua Morrissey fell down draft boards due to his size as a 6'0" defenseman. Before he could stumble, however, the Winnipeg Jets took Morrisey at No. 13 overall and landed one of the best open-ice hitters in the draft.

Offensive-minded defenseman are always a hot commodity, and Morrisey went significantly higher than most projected.

Morrissey has upside due to his ability to handle the puck and create plays in the neutral zone. While size could be an issue, there's no question that Morrissey's upside is legitimate, and his offensive potential could be tapped in Winnipeg.

This was a pure and utter reach, but the upside is present.

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