NHL Draft 2013: Biggest Slides of Round 1

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NHL Draft 2013: Biggest Slides of Round 1
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The 2013 NHL draft came and went on Sunday, and it left us watching some of the draft's best players slide down the board as teams refused to pick them up. 

The first few picks of the draft went somewhat close to expected, but the twists and turns came quickly as some notable players fell further down the board and other unheralded players were picked up too early.

Let's break down the biggest slides of the first round in Sunday's draft.

 

No. 4 Pick: Seth Jones, D, Nashville Predators

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You know a player is ultra-talented when him dropping to just the fourth overall pick is seen as a big slide, and that was the case with Seth Jones on Sunday.

The American defenseman has long been one of the most highly touted players in this draft class, and it was seen as a foregone conclusion for some time that he'd be selected No. 1 overall by his childhood team, the Colorado Avalanche. 

If the Avs didn't take him, surely the Florida Panthers would. After all, they were dead last in the league in defense for 2012-13, and Jones would be able to step in quickly to help out that cause. 

However, three of the best teenage forwards the NHL has ever seen just so happened to join Jones in this class. The hype of Nathan MacKinnon, Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Drouin ended up being so high that Jones was left watching his name slip further and further.

The Nashville Predators finally stopped his tumble at No. 4 overall. Ironically, the Preds' biggest need (by far) is offensive firepower, and they have a pretty sound core of defense that bodes well for the future. They just missed out on the three superstar prospects who would've helped transcend their attacking efficiency. 

But the Preds saw top-pick talent in Jones, unlike the three teams they followed behind. 

 

No. 10 Pick: Valeri Nichushkin, RW, Dallas Stars

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The Dallas Stars officially became the luckiest team in the 2013 NHL draft when Valeri Nichushkin fell in their laps with the 10th overall pick. 

The Russian was predicted to be taken third overall by B/R's own James Onusko in his final projections, which had Nichushkin slotted over both Barkov and Drouin. That alone says it all.

Nichushkin has emerged as a top-flight player in the KHL, which is arguably the only pro league that can come close to rivaling the NHL in competitive talent. That explains why he put up less-than-stellar numbers, but you can't expect a player who just turned 18 in March to stand out too much at the highest level of competition.

Regardless, Nichushkin had no business falling anywhere further than fifth in this draft. He was the most talented forward outside of the big three, no question about it.

The Stars will benefit from being the team smart enough to realize what they were missing out on in passing up Nichushkin

 

No. 24 Pick: Hunter Shinkaruk, C/LW, Vancouver Canucks

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

There were very few players in this draft class who had more of the complete package than Hunter Shinkaruk, but that wasn't enough to convince teams to pick him up until the Canucks stopped his slide at No. 24.

Onusko's mock draft had Shinkaruk going 12th to Phoenix, and you can't blame the Coyotes for going with Max Domi there. But if the Canucks expected to get Shinkaruk anywhere, it would've been with their ninth overall pick they acquired from New Jersey in trading goaltender Cory Schneider (per Kevin Allen of USA Today). 

Shinkaruk came in as a formidable selection for any team that is starved in the goal-scoring department, as he boasts the ability to set up scoring chances and generate goals on a regular basis. He also plays with a high hockey IQ and lines up to be a top-six forward given all of these traits.

Instead, he nearly fell out of the first round. 

Of course, the pain that comes from falling so low in the draft also often produces the chance to play on a playoff-contending team that you have a better opportunity to have success with. The Canucks certainly fall into that category. 

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