2013 NHL Draft Prospects: The Most Overrated Players in the 2013 Draft Class

James Onusko@@jonuskoContributor IIIJune 24, 2013

2013 NHL Draft Prospects: The Most Overrated Players in the 2013 Draft Class

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    The 2013 NHL draft prospects are considered one of the strongest groups in years by most observers. The additional attention that this group has received has led to intense discussions about dozens of players.

    The general belief that is an exemplary draft, in terms of depth, has led to some players receiving even more hype than they would in other years. There are so many high-quality talents that it is easy to overrate several of these players amidst all of this hype. Regardless of being overrated, all of the listed players remain likely to make the difficult jump to the NHL.

    The following list, in ascending order of their projected selection, is of the most overrated players in the 2013 draft.

Valentin Zykov, RW

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    Baie-Comeau’s Valentin Zykov of the QMJHL is a talented winger with size. He stands 6’0” and is listed at 200 pounds. Zykov does not shy away from physical play, and certainly, he gives more than he takes. The biggest question with Valentin is his skating.

    He does not accelerate like the top prospects, such as Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin or Alexander Barkov. There is a degree of rawness to his offensive game, outside of his shot. Zykov has a great shot, and his ability to find the puck in traffic is well above average.

    Over time, Zykov could develop into a top-six forward, but there are enough questions surrounding his skating to cast him as overrated as a top-15 pick in the 2013 NHL draft.

Ryan Pulock, D

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    Ryan Pulock of the Brandon Wheat Kings is one of the better offensive defenceman in the WHL. He is a converted forward who has one of the best shots in the entire CHL. The conversion to defence may be an important factor in his future since his defensive game is not nearly as developed as his offensive abilities.

    Ryan needs to improve his mobility even more to be an elite defenceman in the NHL. With his tremendous shot and his willingness to take chances in the offensive zone, he could become a power-play specialist in the pros, but he has work to do to become an everyday top-four blueliner.

    Pulock has a great deal of potential. However, it remains to be seen if he can capitalize on it in the next two or three seasons, given the work he needs to do to improve elements of his skating.

Andre Burakovsky, LW

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    Andre Burakovsky is an excellent skater who has as much speed as anyone in the 2013 class.

    Burakovsky is a creative offensive force, although there is a large jump to NHL play from where he has been playing in Europe. There are a few issues with Burakovsky’s game. The main one is that he lacks the ability to play a straight-ahead game for large parts of the play—something required in the NHL game on the smaller ice surfaces.

    Burakovsky is no shrinking violet, but he is not as battle-tested as many of his contemporaries who have completed taxing junior seasons in North America.

    Andre has a lot of talent, but he needs to develop a complete game in all three zones if he is to become a top-six NHL winger. He is projected to be a top-20 pick by the ISS, but he could slip to late in the first round or even the early part of the second round.

Robert Hagg, D

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    Defenceman Robert Hagg can look well above average for large parts of a game. Conversely, there are times when he seems to be a non-entity for significant portions of the same game. This makes it more challenging to assess his overall game. Focusing on the good, almost exclusively, may have led to Hagg being overrated.

    There is no questioning that Hagg is a very good skater who has a lot of poise with the puck. He makes the right choices with the puck. He can either carry the puck out of his zone or make the smart first pass.

    Robert will need to bring a much higher level of consistency and intensity to his game to excel at the NHL level. Not all players wear their hearts on their sleeves, but regardless, he will sit for long stretches if he “checks out” of NHL games.

    With some improvement in defending in his own end, along with the better consistency, there is no reason to believe he can’t become a top-four defenceman in the NHL.

Rasmus Ristolainen, D

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    According to NHL.com, Rasmus Ristolainen is the fourth-ranked European skater in the upcoming draft. Some experts have him pegged as high as No. 7 or 8 in the draft.

    He is a great skater who can join the rush in just a few quick strides. The issues with Rasmus are not in the offensive zone but in the defensive zone. His overall commitment to defence is in need of work, and he will need to develop the physical elements of his game to evolve into a top-pairing NHL defenceman.

    It is clear that Ristolainen has an excellent shot, and his release seems exceptional. He is a threat to score from most areas of the ice in the offensive zone.

    His positioning in the offensive zone also seems quite good in most instances. It is the defensive zone that seems to present issues for him. Many will disagree, but his defensive positioning appears to need at least a year or two of development before he can become an everyday top-four NHL defenceman.

    Raising his defensive skills to a level near his offensive prowess will go a long way to seeing him achieve these goals.

Bo Horvat, F

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    Without question, Bo Horvat improved in nearly all facets of the game this past season.

    He has no glaring weaknesses, although at the same time, there is nothing that he does exceptionally well. It is also more difficult to assess players who play on such strong junior teams, as individual numbers can be inflated, to a degree, because of the strong team play.

    Horvat could be taken in the top 10 of the first round, although that seems like a stretch based on his numbers and the need for his skating to continue to improve. With the number of talented players available in the early part of the first round, Horvat’s offensive numbers don’t compare favorably. He seems destined to be a second-line or third-line centre instead of an NHL team's go-to guy.

    Make no mistake that Horvat should be a solid NHL contributor, but it is difficult to project him as a top-line player. If anyone is able to prove critics wrong with hard work and dedication, it will be Bo. 

Valeri Nichushkin, LW

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    Valeri Nichushkin created waves of excitement when he announced he would be available to NHL teams for the 2013-14 season.

    Nichushkin is a physical force at 6’4”, well over 200 pounds, and he is still growing by all accounts. He has electrifying speed for a big man and loves to handle the puck. However, there are still major questions about how his game will transfer to North America, and how he will handle a punishing NHL season against the best players in the world.

    Nichushkin has played in what is likely the world’s second-best league, the KHL, and done reasonably well for a young player.

    But six points in 25 games is not earth shaking by any measure. Additionally, he has not spent any extended time on the smaller ice surface in North America. He will not have the same room to wind up for his end-to-end rushes. His first step and acceleration will need to improve a great deal in a short period of time.

    Nichushkin has a lot of talent and size, but he has not proven himself to the same degree as the other seven or eight top prospects in the 2013 NHL draft.