2013 NHL Entry Draft: Top-10 Forward Rankings

Photo credit: Tim Krochak / The Chronicle Herald

Photo credit: Tim Krochak / The Chronicle Herald

By Todd Cordell (@ToddCordell)

The 2013 NHL Entry Draft is quickly approaching and debate about who should be taken where is really starting to heat up. General managers, scouts, media members and fans alike are polishing up their rankings for this year’s draft.

Now it’s my turn. Here are my rankings for the top-10 forwards in this year’s class.

Top-10 Forwards

10. Adam Erne – Left Wing (Quebec – QMJHL)

Projection: Top-6 Winger

Erne is among the best power forwards in this year’s draft class. He has the size and skill that teams look for, but he also possesses high end skating ability that teams drool over when looking at a power forward. Erne uses his solid frame to protect and control the puck well, and he uses it well when driving the net or positioning himself in front of the opposition’s goaltender. His puck skills are above-average and he is capable of scoring goals as well distributing the puck. When you factor in his above-average skill set with his solid frame and excellent skating ability, it’s not hard not to like what you see.

9. Max Domi – Center (London – OHL)

Projection: Top-6 Center

Domi is an intriguing prospect, to say the least. He’s a little small in stature, but he has a lot of heart and never backs down from any situation or player. He’s not afraid to battle for loose pucks or throw his weight at players much bigger than he is. The thing I love about Domi is his dynamic offensive ability. He is an excellent skater and his top-end speed is among the best in this year’s draft class. He’s a very shifty player who likes to cut strides which makes him very difficult to defend. Domi is a very good playmaker and is extremely creative in the offensive zone. He always comes up with new ways to distribute the puck to a teammate with the result ending in a goal quite regularly. Domi isn’t a one-trick pony in the offensive zone, though, as he’s quite capable of filling the net himself which makes him a very tough player to defend.

Photo credit: Terry Wilson / OHL Images

Photo credit: Terry Wilson / OHL Images

8. Bo Horvat – Center (London – OHL)

Projection: Top-6 Center

To me, Horvat is the most responsible two-way forward in this year’s draft class. His attention to detail, positioning, and effort level in the defensive zone is really a sight to see. He never gives up on a play and will do anything he can to help the team win, whether it be blocking a shot, finishing a check, etc. Horvat is a good faceoff man and plays in all situations. The thing many scouts love about Horvat is that he can produce offensively without taking anything away from his defensive play. He’s a smart player and isn’t afraid to go to the dirty areas of the ice. He can score goals, and also distribute the puck well. Horvat has above average puck skills and seems to rise to the occasion whenever a big player is needed – especially in big games, as he illustrated throughout the OHL playoffs.

7. Hunter Shinkaruk – Left Wing (Medicine Hat – WHL)

Projection: Top-6 Winger

Shinkaruk has a motor that not many players in pro sports have. He’s all over the puck every shift and never takes a night off. He’ll battle for loose pucks and the effort is always there with him. Work ethic alone doesn’t make him a potential top-10 pick, though. Shinkaruk is one of the better offensive forwards in this year’s draft. He’s a very good skater who sees the ice well and has an excellent shot. He’s known as a goal-scorer, but he’s a good playmaker as well. He needs to bulk up, but that should come with time.

6. Elias Lindholm – Center (Brynas – SEL)

Projection: First line Center

Lindholm is one of the more skilled players in this year’s draft class. He’s a very good skater and has excellent puck skills which makes him dangerous every time he’s on the ice. He has a high hockey IQ and understands what he needs to do and where he needs to go to make a play. Lindholm sees the ice well and is an excellent playmaker as he always seems to get the puck on a teammates stick. Lindholm also has a good shot and is responsible at both ends of the ice. He’s not very physical and he’s not the biggest in stature, but he doesn’t try to be something he’s not so it doesn’t really hinder his game.

Photo courtesy of OHL Images

Photo courtesy of OHL Images

5. Sean Monahan – Center (Ottawa – OHL)

Projection: First line Center

Monahan is a top-tier playmaker who uses his hockey IQ and exceptional passing ability to make plays. He sees the ice very well and often puts the puck where his teammates will be before they even get there. He also possesses an above average shot which makes him extremely tough to defend. He’s an elite power play player and is best suited playing on the half wall. When combining his ability to read and react with his playmaking skills and shot, he’s near unstoppable if he’s given any open space; hence why he’s such a threat on the power play. Monahan is a good faceoff man who can play in defensive situations, too, so he’s not just a one trick pony. Any team would be thrilled to have him.

4. Aleksander Barkov – Center (Tappara – SM-Liiga)

Projection: First line Center

Barkov is a very good two-way player who sees and thinks the game exceptionally well. He’s positionally sound, and he cares about taking care of his own end as much as he does producing offense. His vision and hockey sense is through the roof and he reads plays quickly as they develop, which allows him to dissect opposing defenses. Barkov is a big, strong centerman who protects the puck exceptionally well. He’s not a physical player, but if he has the puck you’re not going to get it from him. Barkov is a great playmaker, but he also possesses an above average shot and knows how to score goals.

Photo credit: The Canadian Press

Photo credit: The Canadian Press

3. Valeri Nichushkin – Right Wing (Traktor – KHL)

Projection: Top-tier Winger

Nichushkin ranked as the 3rd best forward is a perfect example of how good this draft class is. Nichuskin is a world class skater who uses his speed to blow through defenses and create chances. At 6’4″, his skating ability is even more impressive than it already would be. Nichushkin uses his size well to create space for himself and has no problems going to the dirty areas of the ice, whether it be battling for pucks in the corner or driving the net. Nichushkin can score goals, but he is a good passer as well which makes him that much harder to defend.

2. Jonathan Drouin – Left Wing (Halifax – QMJHL)

Projection: Top-tier Winger

Drouin is one of the most prolific and dynamic players in this draft, and had this been any other year, he likely would go 1st overall. Drouin is an excellent skater who sees the ice very well. His passing ability is excellent and he can make passes that very few can make. He’s very creative and he has an incredibly set of hands. Even when he’s given limited time or space, he regularly dances around defenders and creates scoring chances, either for himself or teammates, with ease. Drouin’s a very shifty player who’s extremely hard to defend and he should be an elite player in the NHL for a long time.

Photo credit: The Canadian Press

Photo credit: The Canadian Press

1. Nathan MacKinnon – Center (Halifax – QMJHL)

Projection: Franchise Center

There are some great forwards in this year’s draft, but, to me, MacKinnon is a step above the rest. He’s an extremely explosive player who can flat out fly. His top speed is easily the best in this draft class and it takes him just a couple strides to reach it. His puck skills are incredible and he’s extremely strong on the puck. He has a very hard, accurate, shot and a scary quick release. MacKinnon plays a strong two-way game, as well. He’s not Sidney Crosby, but when you factor in his lower body strength, passion, release and speed, it’s hard not to see a resemblance.

Follow Todd on twitter @ToddCordell

NHLToddCordell@Gmail.com

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