The U-18 World Junior Championship is set to begin in just a few short days, an event that could bring the last major shake-up in the rankings of the 2013 NHL Draft prospects. So it is no surprise that the pre-WJC release of ISS Hockey's ranking of the top 30 NHL Draft prospects sports few surprises, and instead reflects pretty much the status quo from the March rankings.
For the fourth consecutive month, Portland Winterhawks defenseman Seth Jones is ranked as the top prospect for this year's draft. Jones and his Winterhawks teammates have advanced to the WHL's Western Conference Final after a sweep of the Spokane Chiefs. Jones has been productive in the WHL playoffs, posting two goals and six assists while sporting a +8 rating through 10 playoff games.
Sitting second is Russian prospect Valeri Nichushkin from Traktor Chelyabinsk of the KHL. Nichushkin's totals from the regular season were modest, given that he received only limited ice time. But the big forward has displayed some of his offensive prowess in the post-season, scoring six goals and adding two assists in 19 KHL playoff games.
As was the case in March, holding down the third and fourth slots in the April ISS rankings is the Halifax Mooseheads' forward duo of Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin. As is the case with Jones and Nichushkin, the two Mooseheads scoring stars are in the midst of an extended run through the playoffs. The Mooseheads have easily dispatched their first two opponents in the QMJHL playoffs, with MacKinnon and Drouin both posting 15 points in eight playoff games
There is a slight change among this month's top five, with last month's sixth-ranked player, Aleksander Barkov, changing places with last month's fifth-ranked prospect, Soo Greyhounds defenseman Darnell Nurse. Barkov was an offensive force during the regular season for Tappara in Finland's top league, but had his post-season ended due to an upper-body injury.
The greatest riser from March to April in the ISS top 30 was unquestionably London Knights forward, Bo Horvat. Horvat and the Knights have advanced to the OHL's Western Conference Championship after rolling through the first two rounds of the playoffs. While Horvat's offensive totals in the post-season have been modest, ISS cites his all-around ability and leadership qualities as the main reasons for his jump from #24 to the 10th position in this month's rankings.
Below is ISS Hockey's April ranking of the top 30 2013 NHL Draft prospects:
|6||Darnell Nurse||D||02/04/95||L||6.03.5||189||Sault Ste. Marie||OHL||5|
|11||Rasmus Ristolainen||D||10/27/94||R||6.04||207||TPS Turku||FinE||10|
|13||Hunter Shinkaruk||C||10/13/94||L||5.11||175||Medicine Hat||WHL||13|
|19||Josh Morrissey||D||03/29/95||L||5.11.75||182||Prince Albert||WHL||19|
|21||JT Compher||C||04/08/95||R||5.10.5||184||USA Under-18||NTDP||21|
|22||Steve Santini||D||03/07/95||R||6.01.5||207||USA Under-18||NTDP||22|
|25||Anthony Mantha||LW||09/16/94||L||6.04||190||Val d'Or||QMJHL||27|
|30||Chris Bigras||D||02/22/95||L||6.00.5||189||Owen Sound||OHL||38|
As of this writing, only the top two goaltenders as ranked by ISS were available, and there was no change in the two positions from last month. Halifax Mooseheads goalie Zach Fucale maintains his ranking as the top netminder available for this draft. Moving up to the second slot is Edmonton Oil Kings goaltender Tristan Jarry.