As the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks battled in what turned out to be an incredible six-game Stanley Cup Final, twenty-eight other teams already turned their attention to their offseasons. For some, it was hiring a new coach. Others, decisions were being made about exercising compliance buyouts once the window opens Wednesday night.
But for all thirty teams, their homework for Sunday’s 2013 Entry Draft, taking place at the Prudential Center in Newark, began long before Gary Bettman called Jonathan Toews over to get the Stanley Cup. Those teams with high picks no doubt will be looking to write their own Chicago-style story; after all both 2010 Conn Smythe winner Toews (2006) and 2013 Conn Smythe winner Patrick Kane (2007) were top-three picks in their respective draft years.
Members of Hockey Independent’s writing staff – Benjamin Woodward (Bruins), Christopher Triantafilis (New York Islanders), Cris Cohen (New York Rangers), Seth Levin (New Jersey Devils) and WB Philp (Tampa Bay Lightning) got together to play General Manager and conducted a 2013 mock entry draft. In today’s part I, the first fifteen selections are revealed.
1 – Colorado Avalanche
GM: Woodward (@_BWoodward)
Selection: Seth Jones, D, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
Despite the discussions that are sure to take place within the Avs’ boardroom about the connection between Nathan MacKinnon and new head coach Patrick Roy, I believe there is only one obvious choice to make with the top selection in this year’s entry draft. With a young forward group that already includes Ryan O’Reilly, Matt Duchene, and Captain Gabriel Landeskog, the Avs will sure up their blueline with the addition of Portland Winterhawks defenseman Seth Jones. The 6-foot-4, 205-pounder has elite skating skills, despite his extra-large frame, and should immediately step into the Colorado lineup next season.
NHL Comparable: Alex Pietrangelo
2 – Florida Panthers
GM: Philp (@LightningShout)
Selection: Nathan MacKinnon, C, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
MacKinnon has all the tools that GM Dale Tallon wants. He is a scorer who will play right away at the NHL level. MacKinnon is a highly skilled skater, an attribute that some have described as generational. The 5’11”, 179 lbs. forward displays unreal agility on a game by game basis. It is nearly impossible to knock him off his skates. The MVP of the Memorial Cup is surprisingly powerful and is the most creative player in the draft. There isn’t a defenseman that he can’t dangle. Scouting reports have stated that his abilities are only matched by his work ethic…an exciting combination for the Panthers.
NHL Comparable: Taylor Hall
3 – Tampa Bay Lightning
Selection: Valeri Nichushkin, RW, Chekyabinsk (RUS)
Nichushkin is a truly gifted, NHL ready power forward who is destined to be a star NHL winger. The reigning KHL Rookie of the Year is a strong, gifted skater who likes to barrel his way to the net. He can go end to end and score and is a solid playmaker. Nichushkin needs to improve his defensive game.
NHL Comparable: Alex Ovechkin
4 – Nashville Predators
GM: Cohen (@CC_927)
Selection: Jonathan Drouin, LW, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Playmaking ability. Creativity. Speed. Drouin possesses all of these things that can help breathe some life into a Preds offense that ranked 30th in the 2013 season. With undeniable skill and a high hockey IQ, Drouin’s biggest question mark is his size. At 5’11” and 176 pounds, can he physically withstand being a boy among men? He certainly wouldn’t be the first player to have that question asked about him, and size hasn’t stopped other highly talented players from becoming stars in the NHL.
NHL Comparable: Pavel Datsyuk
5 – Carolina Hurricanes
GM: Levin (@levinakl)
Selection: Alexsander Barkov, C, Tampere (FIN)
Alexsander Barkov Jr is the son of a former Russian professional player Alexsander Sr, who played hockey in Russia from 1982-94. His post-playing career took him to coaching in Finland where Alexsander Jr grew up and thrived as a hockey player, culminating in his status as the top European skater in both the mid-term and ending rankings. At 6’3″, 210 lb. Barkov has size teams covet and the strength and hockey sense to match. The skating ability is a little less, but it’s easily above average and could easily develop further. Plain and simple, Barkov has shown the skills to play with men at 17, as he proved scoring 48 points in 53 games (the highest ever for a kid under the age of 18) and could be the complete package both offensively and defensively for the Carolina Hurricanes with the fifth pick in the 2013 NHL Draft.
NHL Comparable: Mikko Koivu
6 – Calgary Flames
GM: Triantafilis (@ChrisTriants)
Selection: Elias Lindholm, C, Brynas (SWE)
The Calgary Flames have many holes to fill, and they will have a chance to fill them with three first round picks in 2013. At #6, Elias Lindholm is the best player available. Lindholm may be the most complete centre in the NHL draft this year. His two-way play combined with his speed and elite playmaking ability has all the makings of a superstar for the Flames.
NHL Comparable: Peter Forsberg
7 – Edmonton Oilers
Selection: Darnell Nurse, D, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
With a bevy of dynamic and talented forwards, including three number one overall draft picks, already in the fold, the Oilers will almost certainly be looking for a defenseman with this selection. That is, if they don’t decide to trade the pick for someone who may be able to help the team immediately. If the Oilers do go through with this pick, I’d think Darnell Nurse will be their choice. Outside of super-prospect Seth Jones, many consider Nurse to be the best defenseman in the 2013 class. His size (6-foot-4, 190 pounds), physicality and on-ice intelligence should allow him the potential to one day become a top-pairing shutdown defenseman at the NHL level.
NHL Comparable: Brent Seabrook
8 – Buffalo Sabres
Selection: Sean Monahan, C, Ottawa 67′s (OHL)
Monahan was a bright spot on an Ottawa team that went 16-46-6 this season, putting up 31 goals and 47 assists in the 58 games he played. A blend of size (6′ 2″, 187 lbs) and hockey smarts, he is a skilled two-way forward that can play in most situations. The Sabres will be getting a top-6 forward with impressive work ethic and leadership skills. If there’s one weakness in his game, it’s his skating.
NHL Comparable: Jordan Staal
9 – New Jersey Devils
Selection: Hunter Shinkaruk, C/LW, Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
Hunter Shinkaruk is a left wing prospect who excelled for the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League the past three seasons. A quick and shifty skater, Shinkaruk doesn’t always look fluid in his skating but usually can beat his opponents to the puck or blow by defenders in the offensive zone. An exceptional stick handler with a deadly accurate wrist shot, Shinkaruk has the ability to be a dynamic offensive player at the NHL level. He’s shown the ability to score clutch goals too as his overtime hat trick winner helped give Team Canada the bronze medal at the 2012 U18 World Championships. I’ve seen some comparisons to Zach Parise but I won’t give him that burden and label to live up to as a potential Devils pick, but that thought should give the Devils and their fans a lot of excitement as they look to replace the departed Parise.
NHL Comparable: Jeff Skinner
10 – Dallas Stars
Selection: Frederik Gauthier, C, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
A two-way player already with temendous size for an 18-year-old, Gauthier is capable on the offensive side of the game (22 goals, 38 assists in 62 regular season games in his first season in the “Q”). However, he really shines in the defensive aspects of the game. The Laval, QC native can shut down opponents’ top players, kill penalties and block shots. With a maturity level beyond his teenage years, Gauthier has the potential to be a second- or third-line center.
NHL Comparable: Sean Couturier
11 – Philadelphia Flyers
Selection: Nikita Zadorov, D, London Knights (OHL)
Philadelphia’s defense fell apart without Chris Pronger manning the blue-line in 2013. Nikita Zadorov, who stands at 6’5 and 230 pounds, is the perfect fit for the Flyers, who may never see Pronger play until the end of his deal that runs through the 2016-17 season.
NHL Comparables – Tyler Myers, Zdeno Chara
12 – Phoenix Coyotes
Selection: Bo Horvat, C, London Knights (OHL)
Bo Horvat is an all around player who has the ability to do just about anything on the ice in any of three zones. With good size, fantastic work ethic and a great hockey IQ, Horvat displays the ability to be a truly two-way star. Not a flashy player, but as I said there really isn’t much he can’t do, Horvat has scored some timely goals in his past and put up a whopping 16 goals (with 7 assists) in 21 games in the Memorial Cup playoffs. Horvat can do it all and would be a great pick for the Phoenix Coyotes at number 12.
NHL Comparable: David Backes
13 – Winnipeg Jets
Selection: Max Domi, C, London Knights (OHL)
After missing out on the playoffs again in 2013, having London Knights’ pivot Max Domi fall into their lap at the 13th spot in the draft will be a nice consolation prize for the Winnipeg Jets. Domi is undersized (just 5-foot-10, 190 pounds), but more than makes up for his lack in stature with an incredible skill set and tremendously explosive speed. Being the son of former NHL enforcer Tie Domi, Max also has a physical edge to his game, which should fit in perfectly with the way the Jets like to play.
NHL Comparable: Nazem Kadri
14 – Columbus Blue Jackets
Selection: Rasmus Ristolainen, D, TPS (FIN)
Ristolainen is a big bodied defenseman (6’3”, 208 lbs.) that can play in any situation. He excels in quarterbacking the power play and is a mobile, offensive-minded defenseman. The top ranked European defenseman has played with adults for the past two seasons and has matured into a solid physical, two way skater that can unleash a wicked slap shot. The Blue Jackets have made depth on defense a priority and to get Ristolainen this late in the draft would thrill the Columbus front office.
NHL Comparable: Chris Pronger
15 – New York Islanders
Selection: Ryan Pulock, D, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
Mark Streit is gone. The future of the oft-injured Calvin de Haan has to be in question. Ryan Pulock is the ultimate power-play quarterback, a glaring need for the Islanders. His 101 MPH slapshot will grab the attention of all teams, but his leadership intangibles (captain of Brandon) will make the decision an easy one for Garth Snow.
NHL Comparable - Shea Weber
Filed Under: Featured
About the Author: Likes: Hockey, the New York Rangers, King Henrik, singing the Rangers goal song, "The Save", the sound skates make against ice, heckling Marty Brodeur. Dislikes: 3-point games, front-office mismanagement, Denis Potvin, overpriced arena beer. Interested? Follow me on Twitter: @CC_927