2013 NHL Entry Draft Review
The 2013 NHL Entry Draft is in the books. Below we review the top 30 selections that were made on Sunday in Newark, New Jersey.
1)Colorado Avalanche: Nathan MacKinnon (C, Halifax-QMJHL): An argument can easily be made that Seth Jones would have filled a bigger "need" for Colorado, but Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy deserve credit for sticking to their draft board and taking the player they had ranked first overall. Along with perhaps having the highest ceiling in this draft class, MacKinnon is also seen as one of the safest selections. His defensive game is already extremely sound and he is a fantastic skater to go along with his tremendous offensive ability. It would be a major surprise if he didn't play in the NHL next season and he should be a fantasy asset from day one.
2)Florida Panthers:Aleksander Barkov (C, Tappara-Finland): The Panthers deserve credit also. They overlooked bigger names in Jones and Jonathan Drouin to select Barkov. No one in the draft class is as physically ready for the NHL as Barkov is. The gap between the top four selections was seen as very small, so in reality, the pick wasn't much of a reach. Barkov is a purely offensive player, and he is expected to come over to North America for this coming season. It's highly doubtful that the Panthers want him sitting in the AHL, so if he doesn't make the team out of training camp, he's likely headed back to Finland for another season.
3)Tampa Bay Lightning: Jonathan Drouin (LW, Halifax-QMJHL): Steve Yzerman and the Lightning were clearly thinking long term with this selection. Drouin had a fantastic season with 105 points in 49 games, but he needs to mature physically and it would be wise for the Lightning to send him back to Halifax for one more season. If for some reason he does make the team, he would likely be worth a late round selection right away, but this is a kid who a year and a half ago didn't think he was even ready for junior hockey, so the Lightning would be smart to take it slow with him.
4)Nashville Predators:Seth Jones (D, Portland-WHL): The Predators publicly admitted that Jones was the top ranked player on their draft board, so they were thrilled to see him drop to number four overall. In a perfect world, it would probably be a bit better if Jones was a left handed shot to complement the right handed shooting Shea Weber, but the Preds aren't going to complain. Jones should play in the NHL next season and figures to lug a ton of minutes right away. He should have some fantasy value down the road, but don't expect much next season.
5)Carolina Hurricanes:Elias Lindholm (C, Brynas-Sweden): Some scouts see Lindholm as having only third line offensive upside, but the Hurricanes clearly think he's capable of more. Lindholm is extremely well rounded and enjoys the physical aspect of the game despite being undersized. He is another safe if not spectacular pick in a draft that had tons of them. Lindholm has stated that he is likely to spend one more year in Sweden, so Carolina knew what they were getting into when they made this pick.
6)Calgary Flames:Sean Monahan (C, Ottawa-OHL): Valeri Nichushkin was clearly the most talented player on the board at this point, but with arguably the league's worst prospect pool, it was a risk that Calgary couldn't afford to take. Instead they went with perhaps the safest pick amongst all draft eligible forwards. Monahan is going to have a long and effective NHL career, but he's another player who would probably be best suited as a third line center in the long run. The Flames are clearly expecting more. Monahan is nearly certain to spend another season in Ottawa.
7)Edmonton Oilers: Darnell Nurse (D, SS Marie-OHL): Considering how the draft fell, it didn't take a genius to see this one coming. After spending so many high picks on talented forwards, the Oilers badly needed another good young defenseman. For a huge kid, Nurse is a fantastic skater, but his offensive game is somewhat limited at this point and his physical play in his own zone needs work. The Oilers will almost certainly be very patient with Nurse in hopes that he can play on the first pair alongside Justin Schultz one day.
8)Buffalo Sabres:Rasmus Ristolainen (D, TPS Turku-Finland): For many years, the Sabres did everything they could to avoid European players. But this year, they dipped into the Finnish talent pool for the second time in the last three years. Ristolainen is big, strong, and plays a very boring game. His skating is strong, his offensive skills are adequate and he can play physical when needed, but he doesn't ever project to be much of a point producer at the NHL level. He's likely ticketed for at least one more season in Finland's top league.
9)Vancouver Canucks:Bo Horvat (C, London-OHL): The Canucks thought enough of Horvat to trade Cory Schneider to the Devils to obtain this pick. A favorite of NHL scouts, Horvat is the exact kind of player that is in high demand every draft day. He score goals, he hits, he wins faceoffs and he kills penalties. He's the kind of player who you can put out there up a goal with a minute left or down a goal with a minute left. Horvat's game is actually pretty advanced so he may not need more than one more season in juniors.
10)Dallas Stars: Valeri Nichushkin (LW, Chelyabinsk-KHL): An argument can be made that this was the best pick of the entire first round. Nichushkin had no business being available at the number 10 selection and the Stars snatched him up. Nichushkin has publicly claimed that he plans to play in North America this coming season, but there were clearly teams who were a bit skeptical of that. He has all the tools to be an absolutely dominant power forward in the NHL and since the Stars don't figure to be winning anything next season, it's not the end of the world if he has to spend another season in the KHL.
11)Philadelphia Flyers: Samuel Morin (D, Rimouski-QMJHL): Morin has the size (6'7, 200 pounds) and offensive ability to offer some real upside down the road. He's still working on his all-around game, but the skills are clearly there. Guys who are Morin's size don't grow on trees and the Flyers couldn't let him pass. He may never offer any fantasy value, but he has the chance to be a real good NHL defenseman. Morin probably needs at least two more seasons in Rimouski.
12)Phoenix Coyotes: Max Domi (C, London-OHL): This is about where Domi was expected to go, so the pick wasn't much of a surprise, but it was still a strong one by the Coyotes. Domi is seriously undersized, but his offensive skills are among the best in the entire class. He can certainly get stronger, but there isn't much in Domi's game that he may be projected to do in the future that he can't do now. He is a sleeper to crack the Coyotes roster out of training camp.
13)Winnipeg Jets:Josh Morrissey (D, Prince Albert-WHL): After taking Jacob Trouba in the first round last year, the Jets continued to stockpile on the blueline. Morrissey is pretty small and his play in his own zone needs work, but he can really skate and he should work well alongside the more offensively oriented defensive prospects that are in the Winnipeg system. He is another player who is likely looking at two more years in juniors at a minimum.
14)Columbus Blue Jackets: Alexander Wennberg (C, Djurgarden-Sweden): The Jackets clearly weren't scared off by the fact that Wennberg played most of the season in Sweden's second tier league for Djurgarden. The level of competition wasn't that of what he would have faced in the Swedish Elite League, but he played fairly well at the World Juniors and was fantastic at the Five Nations Tournament. Wennberg has a chance to be a second line center in the NHL, but at worst he should be a top nine forward. Columbus will attempt to get him to North America as soon as possible.
15)New York Islanders:Ryan Pulock (D, Brandon-WHL): Mark Streit is gone to the Flyers and Lubomir Visnovsky isn't getting any younger, so the Islanders drafted the guy they hope will be their future power play quarterback. Pulock has a bomb of a shot, but he isn't much of a passer and he can get running around in his own zone at times. There were other players available who would have fit their needs, but the Isles clearly believe Pulock's overall game will develop to the point that he won't be a defensive liability at even strength.
16)Buffalo Sabres: Nikita Zadorov (D, London-OHL): Buffalo set out to improve their defense and they certainly did that with Zadorov and Ristolainen. From a personal perspective, this was perhaps my second favorite pick of the first round behind the Nichushkin pick. Zadorov is 6'5 and 230 pounds and he's still growing. He has a higher ceiling than any other defenseman in the entire draft (including Seth Jones), and he was well worth the risk here in the middle of the first round. As long as Buffalo can prevent him from returning home to Russia, they made a fantastic selection here. While Ristolainen's upside is limited, but he's a safer pick, Zadorov has a much higher ceiling.
17)Ottawa Senators:Curtis Lazar (C, Edmonton-WHL): Lazar is the type of player that Senators fans will love. He was a big time scorer this year on a very talented Oil Kings team, but his offensive output is going to be limited as a pro. On the other hand, he plays a physical game, is willing to drop the gloves and can chip in a big goal here and there. It's a very safe and solid selection for the Sens.
18)San Jose Sharks:Mirco Mueller (D, Everett-WHL): Mueller has yet to really fill into his 6'3" frame, but he moves pretty well and his puck skills are improving. His offensive output this year (31 points in 63 games) was minimal for junior hockey, but he actually has pretty decent offensive ability. The overall upside here isn't huge, but Mueller has a pretty decent shot to turn into a second-pair defenseman at the NHL level.
19)Columbus Blue Jackets:Kerby Rychel (LW, Windsor-OHL): With three first round picks, the Jackets were in position to take a chance that Rychel's 40 goals and 87 points this past season are a sign of what's to come. Lots of people think Rychel's offensive production is going to drop as a pro, but he will do a lot of other things to help his team win, most notably his willingness to drop the gloves if necessary. His game is pretty refined, so he has the potential to move quickly.
20)Detroit Red Wings:Anthony Mantha (RW, Val d'Or-QMJHL): The Red Wings are always among the league's best at the draft and this selection was no different. Mantha does little else besides score goals, but he scores a lot of them (50 goals in 67 games this year). His laid back personality is often mistaken for laziness, but he works pretty hard to get to the slot and has great hands for a big guy. Mantha was probably the top pure goal scorer available in the entire draft.
21)Toronto Maple Leafs:Frederik Gauthier (C, Rimouski-QMJHL): Gauthier has real good size, but he projects as a far better player in the NHL than in fantasy circles. He was about a point-per-game player this year in Rimouski, but that's doubtful to last once he turns pro. Gauthier is a great penalty killer and very good in his own zone, so he may be ready to crack the Leafs roster after one more year in juniors.
22)Calgary Flames:Emile Poirier (LW, Gatineau-QMJHL): There's nothing wrong with wanting to take "safe" players (especially for the Flames), but this one was a serious reach. Virtually no one saw Poirier as a first round selection and some that he was more of a late second to early third round pick. Poirier projects as a third liner at the NHL level who can kill some penalties and may chip in 10 goals. It was a poor selection by Calgary.
23)Washington Capitals: Andre Burakowsky (LW, Malmo-Sweden): The Caps love their Swedes and this year was no different. Burakowsky got ridiculously little playing time this past season while bouncing between Malmo's top team and junior team, but his offensive skills are noticeable. The Caps seem likely to let him continue his develop overseas for a couple more seasons.
24)Vancouver Canucks:Hunter Shinkaruk (C, Medicine Hat-WHL): Shinharuk was projected to go much higher than this, so this was a nice pickup for the Canucks. Shinkaruk has top line offensive ability but his play in his own zone needs a lot of work. He can often look lost away from the puck so he's going to need some more time in juniors, but the upside potential here is about as well as you can do late in the first round.
25)Montreal Canadiens:Michael McCarron (RW, US NTDP-USHL): 6'5 and 230-pound 18 year olds don't grow on trees and the Habs certainly had that in mind when they selected McCarron. A true power forward in every sense of the word, McCarron's game needs overall development, and he will get that at Western Michigan University next season. He had scholarship offers from more established NCAA programs, but the Grosse Pointe, Michigan native decided to stay close to home.
26)Anaheim Ducks:Shea Theodore (D, Seattle-WHL): It remains to be seen if Theodore's solid offensive numbers (19 goals and 50 points in 71 games) will translate to the professional level, but the rest of his game is pretty solid as well. He is a prototypical Western Hockey League defenseman who does everything well but nothing great. Theodore's skills are more slanted towards the offensive side of the puck.
27)Columbus Blue Jackets:Marko Dano (C, Bratislava-KHL): I was extremely close to handing Dano one of the last two spots on my draft preview page, but I honestly didn't think that any NHL team would take him in the first round. Leave it to the Blue Jackets (who had three first round picks) to take the plunge. Dano was stellar for Slovakia at the World Juniors, but there were some who thought it was a bit of a fluke. It's an eerily similar tale to that of Red Wings prospect Tomas Tatar, who dominated the World Juniors for Slovakia and has turned into one of the NHL's better young prospects.
28)Calgary Flames: Morgan Klimchuk (LW, Regina-WHL): It's hard to knock the Klimchuk pick late in the first round, but it was part of a Calgary draft that lacked any imagination. They spent three first round picks on forwards who are seemingly a lock to have long NHL careers, but there are serious questions about how much production they will get out of any of them. Klimchuk has no really weaknesses in his game, but he does nothing at an elite level.
29)Dallas Stars:Jason Dickinson (C, Guelph-OHL): The Flames played it safe, but the Stars went for upside. Dickinson's numbers (47 points in 66 games) this year weren't all that impressive, but the tools are there for a serious jump in production next season. Dickinson hasn't come close to realizing his vast potential yet and this was another solid selection for a Dallas team that had a terrific first round.
30)Chicago Blackhawks: Ryan Hartman (RW, Plymouth-OHL): Hartman was far too valuable a player to be available with the last pick of the first round, but the Hawks will take him and run. Hartman has tremendous grit, an ability to score big goals and the ability to drive opponents nuts. Hartman will head back to Plymouth next season and once again represent Team USA at the World Juniors.