Christmas or NHL Draft Season?
It’s that time of year again and the excitement is building for Sunday’s NHL Draft in Newark, N.J. The Twitterverse is already abuzz with rumors and names flying around. Who is on the move? What will Colorado do with the first-overall pick? Who will be this year’s reach and who’s stock will plummet?
We still don’t have those answers, but we will soon enough. So for one last time, and first with The Hockey Guys, here is my 2013 NHL mock draft.
2013 NHL Mock Draft
No 1. Colorado Avalanche-Nathan MacKinnon,C Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
MacKinnon’s stellar Memorial Cup showing vaulted him into the top spot, and first-year Ave’s coach Patrick Roy is happy to have him. He racked up 75 points in 44 games this season. He has the skating ability and explosive offensive skill to transfer to the next level. I question whether he can take the physical wear and tear with his small frame, so he needs to add some weight. MacKinnon would be an elite scoring option on a team with Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan O’Reilly.
No. 2 Florida Panthers-Seth Jones, D Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
Thought of to be the consensus No. 1 pick, Jones is a once in a generation type of prospect. Jones possesses the size, skill, poise, physicality, leadership qualities, skating ability and natural hockey sense to live up to all the Chris Pronger comparisons. He has been a winner everywhere he has been, including a Western Hockey League title, Gold medal at the World Junior Championships and an appearance in the Memorial Cup just this past year. I have a feeling, Colorado may regret passing on Jones in the very near future.
No. 3 Tampa Bay- Jonathan Drouin LW Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Drouin is the most exciting offensive player in this draft class. His creativity and offensive prowess are as good as anyone in this draft class, as shown by his 105 points in 49 games, and 35 points in 17 playoff games en route to a Memorial Cup. Pair Drouin’s play making ability and fantastic vision with Steven Stamkos, and the Bolts have an explosive first line.
No. 4 Nashville Predators- Aleksander Barkov, C Tappara (Fin.)
Nashville is rebuilding and Barkov is a perfect building block. He turns 18 in September, which makes his play in the Finnish league SM-liiga that much more impressive. He plays older than a 17-year old, with the poise and hockey sense of a seasoned veteran. If he improves his skating stride, he could be the next Finnish phenom in the NHL.
No. 5 Carolina Hurricanes- Darnell Nurse, D Sault. Ste. Marie
TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported that Carolina wants to build the defensive corp, but may want to do that with a veteran presence. Carolina may trade out of the fifth spot, but Nurse would be a good building block to add to the young pairing of Justin Faulk and Jamie McBain. McKenzie said that Jim Rutherford wants to stay in the top-10, but may move down if they can add a veteran blue liner. It will be interesting to see what Carolina does.
No. 6 Calgary Flames- Sean Monahan, C Ottawa 67’s (OHL)
Calgary should make the smart pick and select this smart player. Monahan may be the best two-way forward in this draft. Calgary is another rebuilding team and starting with a responsible center who has a high IQ is a good start. Monahan does possess offensive ability, scoring 78 points in 58 games last season with Ottawa, but he is not elite.
No.7 Edmonton Oilers- Valeri Nichushkin, RW/LW Chelyabinsk (Rus.)
Reports have surfaced that Edmonton is looking to add a big defenseman via trade. If they are able to acquire their guy, I think Craig MacTavish adds some size up front in the form of this big Russian. Nichushkin has elite offensive ability and is a good skater despite his 6’3 frame. Edmonton has many small, skill guys and Nichushkin would be a nice compliment. One deterrent is that Nichuskin has two years remaining on his current contract in the KHL.
No. 8 Buffalo Sabres- Elias Lindholm, C Brynäs (SWE.)
To me, Lindholm is the Swedish version of Sean Monahan. He just does everything well and has a sense of calmness about him. He competes on both ends of the ice and has nice offensive upside. He’ll never light it up offensively, but his hockey sense and lead-by-example play is what makes Lindholm so intriguing. If Buffalo is looking to rebuild, Lindholm would be a nice addition to the prospect pool.
No. 9 New Jersey Devils- Hunter Shinkaruk, LW Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
The Hockey Guys own, Todd Cordell, reported that the Devils are plan on staying at No. 9 and that there is mutual interest between the Devils and Shinkaruk. He is one of the craftiest players in the draft and if he improves in the defensive end, he could be one of the best forwards to come out of this draft. Shinkaruk is undersized, but he is a fierce competitor.
No. 10 Dallas Stars- Rasmus Ristolainen, D TPS (FIN.)
Finnish defenseman aren’t typically known for being big, physical and mean. Don’t tell that to Rasmus Ristolainen. The 6’3 defensive stalwart is physical, but responsibly and uses his big frame to his advantage. First year general manager Jim Nill was a key part of the Detroit Red Wings draft success, especially with European players. Ristolainen would bring a matured game to the Dallas back end.
No. 11 Philadelphia Flyers- Anthony Mantha, LW Val d’Or Foreurs (QMJHL)
This mammoth winger is a flat out scorer. For a guy standing 6’4, Mantha is a very fluid skater which allows him to create separation to fire his wicked wrist shot. Flyers GM Paul Holmgren has said he is looking to add a young defenseman, but passing up on the lone 50 goal scorer in the QMJHL would be a mistake. He has the hockey smarts, now he needs to grow into his frame and use his body to his advantage at the next level.
No. 12 Phoenix Coyotes- Max Domi, C London Knights (OHL)
One of my favorite players in this draft, Domi is just tantalizing. He plays a responsible two-way game, but has room to improve on the defensive end. Domi uses his small stature to his advantage with great lower body strength and leverage. There are no questions about the kid’s skill and offensive abilities. He would be a good addition to a thin forward crop in the desert.
No. 13 Winnipeg Jets- Madison Bowey, D Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
I’ll admit this is a reach, but Winnipeg may go for the hometown kid. Bowey grew a lot last year with the Rockets and simplified his game down. He has great offensive abilities, but sometimes gets caught leaning toward the offensive end. He improved his first pass, but still needs some seasoning to make it to the show. The Jets could use another young defenseman to pair with Jacob Trouba in the future. Puck moving offensive defenseman don’t grow on trees, and Bowey has the potential to be a solid scoring threat from the blue line.
No. 14 Columbus Blue Jackets- Mirco Mueller, D Everett Silvertips (WHL)
Still a very raw talent, but Mueller’s size is intriguing. He tallied 31 points in 63 games with Everett last season and will continue to improve. Mueller is a smart hockey player, but needs time to grow into his frame. Columbus took Mueller’s teammate Ryan Murray No. 2 overall last year. Adding another young defenseman to an aging group would be the best bet.
No. 15 New York Islanders -Ryan Pulock, D Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
With the trade of Mark Streit to Philadelphia, the Islanders need to replace the quarterback on the power play. Pulock has possibly the best slap shot in the draft and is a good skater. He also brings a physical element to his game and he could be a solid puck-moving defenseman in the league. Pulock would be a welcome addition to the young core of the Islanders.
No. 16 Buffalo Sabres (From MIN) -Kerby Rychel, LW Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
Kerby Rychel-son of former NHLer Warren-has the hockey pedigree. Like his father, Rychel plays with an edge and doesn’t back down to anyone. He is also a proven scorer, netting 40 goals in consecutive seasons in Windsor. The concern with Rychel is his attention to detail. He looks disinterested at times and seems to just go through the motions. If he adds a little bit of discipline, Buffalo could have a talented and pesky player for years to come.
No. 17 Ottawa Senators – Robert Hagg Modo (SWE)
Ottawa may look to add another Swede into the mix. He doesn’t bring any flash or pizzazz, but he is a solid defenseman. Hagg is a bit of a project, but is loaded with potential. Ottawa is pretty well set a defense for the next few seasons, so slowly molding Hagg into a defensive stalwart would be beneficial for the Sens.
No. 18 Detroit Red Wings – Alexander Wennberg, LW Djurgarden (SWE)
Let’s be honest, Detroit hits home runs on European players. Wennberg fits the Wing’s finesse style perfectly. He is gifted with soft hands and stick-handling ability. Wennberg is a pass-first playmaker, and Detroit lacks that sniping goal scorer right now. Detroit could go many directions with this pick, but Wennberg may be a mid-round steal.
No. 19 Columbus Blue Jackets (From NYR)- Frederik Gauthier, C Rimouski Oceanic
Columbus could use a big center, and at 6’4, Gauthier fits that bill. Gauthier is an adept two-way player with great hockey senses and knows where to be on the ice. He tallied 60 points in 62 games last season in the QMJHL, but how his offense translate to the NHL is uncertain. The Jackets have an identity as a tough team to play against and Gauthier has established himself as that type of player.
No. 20 San Jose Sharks- Josh Morrissey, D Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
Dan Boyle isn’t getting any younger in San Jose. Morrissey may be a solid replacement for Boyle down the line. He has great vision an is a confident puck carrier. He makes an accurate first pass, must use it more at the next level instead of carrying too much. He needs to become more responsible and add weight to battle with the big forwards out West.
No. 21 Toronto Maple Leafs- Ryan Hartman, RW Plymouth Whalers (OHL)
Hartman is a meat and potatoes type of player who brings his lunch pale to the rink every day. He grinds, he hits, and he competes. Hartman opened a lot of eyes at the 2013 World Junior Championship by playing with an edge for the gold medal winning United States. Toronto has skill guys up front, but adding a character guy like Hartman would be a big boost to the emerging Leafs.
No. 22 Calgary Flames (From STL)- Nic Petan, C Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
Petan sliding to No. 22 is a testament to the depth of this draft. Petan tied teammate Brandon Leipsic with 46 goals to lead the WHL. He is small (5’9, 165 lbs.) but as shifty as they come. There is no question he needs to add some bulk, but Petan could be the spark to re-ignite the Flames. He has a quick release and will be a power play contributor.
No. 23 Washington Capitals- Bo Horvat, LW London Knights (OHL)
The best way to describe Horvat is sandpaper. He is rugged, plays with an edge, and is useful in many situation. To me, he projects as a third line, checking center with offensive upside. Horvat is good on draws, responsible on both ends and proved he can provide a scoring punch. He’ll be a good fit on an offensive-minded Caps team.
No. 24 Vancouver Canucks- Cutis Lazar, C Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
New head coach John Tortorella is sure to bring his tough, blue collar style to Vancouver. Lazar fits the Tortorella mold with good two-way play and playing with heart and determination. His offensive game needs a lot of work, but his willingness to do the little things will make him intriguing to the Canucks.
No. 25 Montreal Canadiens- Sam Morin, D Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
Morin plays a huge defensive game to fit his huge, 6’6 203 lb. frame. He plays a stout defensive game with a mean streak to match and isn’t afraid to drop the gloves. The Habs have offensive firepower on the back line, and Morin would bring a physical presence to battle in the Habs competitive conference.
No. 26 Anaheim Ducks- Morgan Klimchuck, LW Regina Pats (WHL)
Klimchuck is offensively gifted, but it’s his hockey smarts that impress me. He knows where to be on the ice at all times and picks his spots. Klimchuck is good at booth ends of the ice, but his offensive skills are endless. He has special hands and is good in tight around the net. The Ducks have a good crop of forwards, and Klimchuck will fit in nicely in a few years.
No. 27 Columbus Blue Jackets (From LAK) -Valentin Zykov, LW Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)
This kid has no fear. He battles in front of the net and in the dirty areas. Not the best skater, but has shown a knack for scoring goals, as shown by his 40 goal campaign with Baie-Comeau. Still has room to develop, but could be another pesky player to add to the Jackets’ lineup.
No. 28 Calgary Flames (From Pit)- Zachary Fucale, G Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Questions surrounding the status of Miikka Kiprusoff leaves Calgary in a sticky situation. John Gillies and Laurant Brossoit are both talented goaltending prospects in the Flames system. Adding Fucale to the mix gives them tremendous depth and a better chance of finding their next franchise goaltender to build on. Fucale has great lateral movement and many scouts say he covers the bottom of the net really well.
No. 29 Dallas Stars (From-BOS) -RW Andre Burakovsky, Malmo (SWE)
Burakovsky is extremely crafty and could stick-handle in a phonebooth. He is a pure goal scorer who has a very accurate shot and is good at creating space. Burakovsky needs to become more of a north-south type of player instead of holding onto the puck too long. With scorers like Jamie Benn and Louie Eriksson, Burakovsky would add another weapon to Lindy Ruff’s team.
No. 30 Chicago Blackhawks- J.T. Compher, C US-NDTP
Compher is an offensively gifted player with a laser for a wrist shot. He was the second leading scorer for the U18-US development team with 50 points in 52 games. Chicago will keep its Stanley Cup winning core in tact, and Compher may develop into a solid secondary scoring option down the line. He is set to attend the University of Michigan in the fall.
Other players to watch: Nikita Zadorov (D London, OHL), Steve Santini (D US-NDTP), Adam Erne (LW Quebec, QMJHL), Ian McCoshen (D Waterloo, USHL), Michael McCarron (D US-NDTP), Zach Nastasiuk (C/LW Owen Sound, OHL), Jacob de-la-Rose (C/LW Leksand, SWE), Connor Hurley (F Edina HS, MIN).