The Stanley Cup Finals are still underway between the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks, but much of the attention around the NHL has turned to the 2013 NHL Draft, scheduled for June 30th at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
The 2013 draft class is considered to be a deep group of prospects. By the mid-to-late first round, projections vary widely from scout to scout. As such, trade rumors surround the event, with some teams looking to trade down for additional picks while others look to move up to guarantee they get the player they covet. Several clubs have already acquired multiple picks in the first round, with Calgary and Columbus each holding three picks inside the top 30.
Below is the Hockey's Future 2013 Staff Mock Draft. All selections were made by Hockey's Future's NHL writers with input from the league writers and editorial staff.
Jones is a terrific skater and an extremely smart player at both ends of the ice, and a right-handed shot to boot. His hard shot and great first pass are among his greatest abilities and he is not afraid to use either. He plays in all situations and is just as comfortable shutting down a team's top players as he is manning the point on the power play. The son of former NBA player Popeye Jones, he notched 56 points in 61 games this season for the Winterhawks, as well as 15 in 21 games in the playoffs and seven points in seven games at the 2013 World Junior Championships, where he looked like a man among boys. Jones will not turn 19 until October, but he is NHL-ready now and should make an immediate impact on Colorado's blue line before his 19th birthday.
A supremely skilled center, MacKinnon would bring instant credibility to the Panthers offense. He also gives the team a number one center for the future and would be a perfect complement to Calder winner Jonathan Huberdeau. The addition of MacKinnon could also soften the potential loss of center Stephen Weiss to free agency.
The Panthers need someone who can put the puck in the net, and so there is tremendous temptation to select Jonathan Drouin. The question for Dale Tallon and crew is whether they want the best pure hockey player or the best scorer. The question is further complicated by the fact that the Panthers are deep down the middle with players like Nick Bjugstad and Drew Shore, so the center position is not exactly a priority. However, even though Drouin may eventually score more highlight reel goals, MacKinnon is ultimately the better fit.
Valeri Nichushkin, RW, Chelyabinsk (KHL)
The Lightning are in a great position to grab some high end talent with the third overall pick. The obvious Russian factor aside, Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman has shown a knack for selecting Russians with his first picks, and Lightning Director of Amateur Scouting Al Murray seemed impressed with Nichushkin's skill set and performance during February's 5 Nations Under-18 Tournament.
Nichushkin has drawn lofty comparisons to fellow countrymen Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin, which would be hard for any GM to pass up. This may be the unconventional pick with Jonathan Drouin still available, but Nichushkin has stated his plans to play in North America next season (provided he earns a spot in camp), and with the Lightning needing to get bigger in their top six, Nichushkin carries a slight edge over the talented Drouin.
Jonathan Drouin, LW, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
The Predators would be ecstatic if the dynamic Drouin fell to the number four pick. His playmaking ability and hands are second to none, and his ability to cycle the puck is already elite. Drouin finished well ahead of teammate Nathan Mackinnon in QMJHL scoring this year, and while scoring does not tell the whole story, on an offensively underachieving Predators team, goals are one thing they desperately need.
Aleksander Barkov, C, Tappara (SM-liiga)
With the drop off in talent for defensemen after Seth Jones, the Carolina Hurricanes are pleased to select a surefire top-six forward in Barkov. The highest rated European skater available in this draft according to Central Scouting, Barkov is also only 17 years old and has a huge frame that he will continue to grow into. The half-Finn, half-Russian is a tremendous power forward with exceptional playmaking ability. His size, natural hockey sense, and ability to play against men at such a young age assures that he will be able to dominate all three zones in the NHL by the time he matures. On a team that is predominately North American, Barkov will be made to feel at home by fellow Finns Tuomo Ruutu and Joni Pitkanen.
As the Calgary Flames find themselves in retooling mode, their three first round picks provide a great opportunity to add key components to their developing future core. The highly sought after position of a first-line center could be filled for the Flames by selecting Sean Monahan. He has the size, grit, and hockey sense that could turn him into a valuable two-way center in the NHL. At 6'2 and 187 pounds, Monahan lead a struggling 67's team the past two seasons with 78 points in each year. He can be a versatile playmaker, play the physical game, and battle in the faceoff circle. As captain of the 67's, Monahan also demonstrated his leadership skills, which could play into a future role with the Flames.
Darnell Nurse, D, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
The Edmonton Oilers' 2012-13 season was a clear indication of the lack of depth that the team possesses on their blue line. Without some strength and size on the back end, their smallish skill forwards were unable to generate the type of offense that they are truly capable of and their shots-against per game number was second worst in the league, only surpassing Buffalo. Nurse, standing at 6'4 and 185 pounds, is a strong physical presence on the ice, logging 116 penalty minutes in his last season with the Greyhounds. He also has offensive ability, and has been compared to ex-Oiler Chris Pronger in his versatile playing style. Nurse would be a welcome addition to the Oilers' prospect pool and a key component in what will likely be a multi-phase restructuring on the blue line.
Elias Lindholm, C, Brynas (SEL)
Elias Lindholm is the best player available, and even though the Sabres have taken a lot of centers, they can never have enough depth. It would be easier to move centers to the wing than a wing to center, especially with players like Tyler Ennis and Cody Hodgson both sporting sub-50% faceoff percentages in their career. The Sabres have a pretty good crop of young defensemen (Mark Pysyk, Brayden McNabb, Jake McCabe), but none are guaranteed first pairing material and each have glaring holes in their game so far. Darnell Nurse would have brought a lot of athleticism and nastiness to the blue line, but as he is off the board, the Sabres take the best player available.
Hunter Shinkaruk, LW/C, Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
It is no secret the Devils need more goal-scoring as well as star power in their prospect pool. There is a good amount of quality forwards available, but by selecting Shinkaruk, New Jersey would add one of the best pure goal-scorers in the 2013 draft to their organization. The left-handed forward contains all the assets to succeed as a goal-scorer: speed, stickhandling, an excellent shot, good hockey sense, and a passion to get better. Shinkaruk also forechecks hard and likes to fight in the physical areas for the puck. He must get stronger to not only survive the pros, but continue playing his style. He projects to be a top-six forward who can provide a spark, something the Devils need badly.
10. Dallas Stars
Alexander Wennberg, C, Djurgarden (Allsvenskan)
The Stars seem to love prospects from the WHL, NCAA, and Sweden. They do not seem to have a set system in place and are not afraid to take a myriad of different players at different stages of their development. They have been known to go for home runs (Jack Campbell), but they will take safer/closer-to-ready players (Radek Faksa), and they will take immature players (Scott Glennie). There has also been a good deal of front office turnover in the last decade or so. Jim Nill from Detroit is their new General Manager and if his draft strategy is anything like that of the Red Wings, a well-rounded Swedish prospect who oozes hockey sense would be a pick that makes sense. Wennberg's versatility and ability to mesh with a variety of linemates make him an ideal candidate for Nill to begin building around at forward.
Rasmus Ristolainen, D, TPS (SM-liiga)
Despite not having a legitimate slap shot like Ryan Pulock, Rasmus Ristolainen is far more ready to compete at the NHL level. His skating ability will give him the opportunity to jump right to the NHL and be a member of the same blue line as Kimmo Timonen for at least a year. This is definitely a move to eventually replace Timonen.
Erik Gustafsson, a welcome surprise, will be penciled into the top four next season leaving all six positions full assuming Andrej Meszaros returns, but Ristolainen could probably make some kind of push. With Gustafsson, Ristolainen, and Shayne Gostisbehere in the pool, there is legitimacy once again among the blueliners in the Flyers' stable, even if Brandon Manning never rights his ship or Marc-Andre Bourdon never recovers from concussion problems.
12. Phoenix Coyotes
Max Domi, C, London Knights (OHL)
It is no secret that the Phoenix Coyotes have been lacking a forward who can be a game-changer on offense. By selecting Max Domi, the Coyotes get a prospect who has the potential to be an offensive force for years to come in the NHL. Although Domi is considered to be on the short side at 5'10", he has a solid build and does not get knocked off the puck easily. He possesses great vision along with the "pit bull" mentality that his father, Tie, was known for. It would not come as a shock if Domi is moved to the wing in the NHL, and even though the Coyotes are thin up the middle, they cannot pass on a potential star like Domi in order to draft for positional needs.
13. Winnipeg Jets
Frederik Gauthier, C/W, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
The Jets possess blue-chip prospects in Jacob Trouba and Mark Scheifele, as well as several strong goaltending prospects, so they do not have any specific positional needs to address. Big forward Frederick Gauthier is among the best players available and adds another skilled prospect at forward. Much like Scheifele, the 6'5 Gauthier can use his frame to work along the boards and protect the puck in traffic. Like any young player, he must fill out his frame and work on improving his consistency. If he can do that, this pick would be a nice addition to the Jets current group of big, talented forwards.
Valentin Zykov, LW, Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)
Zykov is a burly winger who revels in the battle in front of the net. He has great puck control, quick hands in close, and finishing ability. He will give Columbus another talented winger to complement its gritty centers. Zykov's acceleration is one area in need of improvement.
There is a chance that Columbus could grab a skilled defender like Ryan Pulock, but with last year's pick going to Ryan Murray and the team's significant depth on the blue line, grabbing a forward is the better option.
Bo Horvat, C, London Knights (OHL)
Considering Garth Snow selected defensemen with all of his picks last year, a hard-nosed forward like Bo Horvat would go a long way in strengthening the Islanders forward depth. Horvat plays a solid two-way game and is considered by many to be the most well-rounded forward in this years draft. He is also thought to be among the more NHL-ready players available, which could pay huge dividends for a team already on the rise.
16. Buffalo Sabres (from Minnesota)
Nikita Zadorov, D, London Knights (OHL)
It is a close call between Zadorov and Ryan Pulock. Having used their earlier pick on a forward, it makes sense to shore up the blue line a bit, especially after missing out on Darnell Nurse. Zadorov gets the edge with his much bigger size at 6'4 and 200 pounds along with good mobility for a big defenseman.
Zadorov has been inconsistent all year, but with several offensively-minded defensive prospects already in the system, a potential shutdown player is more likely than other available players Ryan Pulock, Shea Theodore, or Mirco Mueller. Zadorov is a low-risk selection even though he must develop his consistency, but the Russian blueliner has the tools to develop into a top-four defenseman in the NHL.
17. Ottawa Senators
Chris Bigras, D, Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
Ideally, the Senators want someone who can play both ends well, as current defensive prospects Cody Ceci and Patrick Wiercioch are considered more offensive-minded defensemen. Mirco Mueller, Shea Theodore and Bigras all improved their draft stock, but Bigras has the better two-way game and plays close by in Owen Sound. If there is a forward with good offensive upside that is available with the 17th pick – perhaps Andre Burakowsky, whose father played for the Senators in the 1990's – then Ottawa may take him. But with a wide cast of forward prospects breaking through this season and in the near future, the more pressing need is defense.
Ryan Pulock, D, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
The Red Wings' system is fairly well-stocked with defensemen, but it is hard to pass when a talent like Pulock falls. Scouts seem to love his shot, and he plays the sort of two-way game with an offensive tint to it that Detroit loves. He also possesses a high hockey IQ, which is also looked upon fondly by Detroit's management. Although the Red Wings do not have any positions of great need at the draft, the team would relish the opportunity to add to their deep defensive group by drafting a player with excellent hockey sense and the puck skills to contribute to the team's possession numbers.
19. Columbus Blue Jackets (from New York Rangers)
Curtis Lazar, C/RW, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
If Curtis Lazar is not taken by the 19th overall pick, it would be irresponsible for Columbus not to pick him up. He is a finesse forward who plays a quick game, which is exactly what new Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said he would be looking for at this year's draft. A high-end talent, Lazar is a safe pick in the sense that he can play multiple roles and will do anything asked of him. He projects as a top-nine player with the versatility to skate in a variety of roles. Columbus has some depth with centers in their system such as Boone Jenner and Michael Chaput, but with T.J. Tynan coming off a poor year at Notre Dame, the selection of Lazar would bring some stability to the center position.
20. San Jose Sharks
Anthony Mantha, C, Val d'Or Foreurs (QMJHL)
The QMJHL's leading goal scorer was not Mackinnon (22nd), Drouin (7th) or even Zykov (10th), it was Anthony Mantha of the Val-d'Or Foreurs, who over the course of the season tickled the twine 50 times. In a sport where the objective is to score more times than your opposition, players who can do this often, and do it well are highly sought after. Despite his NHL frame at 6'4" and 190 pounds, the late-blooming forward is not a physical force and plays more of a sneaky game; he has an uncanny way of finding the open spaces on the ice like all great offensive players do, and because of his quick release, hard shot, and long reach, he is a dangerous player. It should be noted that Mantha's consistency and his defensive play have come into question, and are likely the reason for his fall on many draft boards. Under the right development structure, Mantha could be one of the best offensive players to come from the entire 2013 draft.
Andre Burakowsky, RW, Malmo (Allsvenskan)
Andre Burakowsky adds a high-end offensive talent to the Maple Leafs system. Playing a limited role in Sweden's second division with Malmo, Burakowsky has shown his skills on the international stage. He is a high-end skater with a knack for scoring goals. At 6'2", Burakowsky possesses good size which makes him hard to contain, but he will need to add more strength in order to fill out physically. Burakowsky would be the Maple Leafs first European selection in the first round since Jiri Tlusty in 2006.
22. Calgary Flames (from St. Louis)
Kerby Rychel, LW, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
The Calgary Flames remain in the OHL with their second pick in the first round. Rychel is a forward that can form a lethal combo playing alongside a talented playmaker like fellow first round pick, Sean Monahan. Rychel can score from all locations. He has the hands to finish off goals down low, has a quick wrist shot, and a strong one-timer. He has seen time playing the point on the powerplay and can see the ice quite well as a playmaker. Coming from NHL bloodlines and playing for a winning organization with the Spitfires can only help Rychel develop as an NHL player, because there are areas that could use work, like his shift-to-shift consistency and willingness to crash the net more regularly. He has the dedication and determination to get better and can also provide leadership for the Flames.
Ryan Hartman, RW, Plymouth Whalers (OHL)
The Washington Capitals return to Plymouth to select Ryan Hartman, who played last season alongside Capitals prospects Tom Wilson and Connor Carrick. Hartman is a smaller power forward with an extremely high work ethic who can play a physical game and score goals. He is a versatile player, able to play multiple positions and various roles. He is also an outstanding skater and has good hockey sense. Hartman is a low-risk, high-reward player because there is little doubt that he can quickly become an energy or checking line forward, but has the signs to develop into a top-six forward.
Adam Erne, LW, Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
Adam Erne is exactly what the Vancouver Canucks organization needs at this time, a budding power forward that has some wheels. He loves to hit and has demonstrated from a young age that he is very successful playing that style. There is little denying that his multifaceted, all-around game and his physical flare is just what the Canucks need. If he continues to grow his game as he has every step of the way in his career so far, Erne could be a top-six fixture for the Canucks well into the future.
Samuel Morin, D, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
Samuel Morin is a giant defenseman who is nasty, physical, and more than willing to drop the gloves. The 6'6" blueliner lays big hits, battles well in front of the net, and works hard along the boards in his zone. A good skater for his size, Morin plays a shutdown style of game, using strong positioning and his long reach to cut down passing and shooting lanes. Morin has worked extra hard with his coaches on his puck skills, his slap shot, one-timer, and his first pass. He improved enough offensively and in his poise with the puck in the second half of the season that his coaches played him on the team's first unit power-play.
As a big lanky kid, he needs to gain muscle mass and there are some normal skating issues with his reverse pivots, edgework, and footwork speed. Morin has some raw offensive potential and should be at least a good defensive defenseman capable of making life difficult in the Canadiens end of the rink. The X-factor is that Morin grew up in the same neighborhood as GM Marc Bergevin.
26. Anaheim Ducks
With his penchant for drafting USHL products, it will be tough for Bob Murray to lay off big American defenseman Ian McCoshen. Even though the real organizational need lies at left wing, McCoshen could be a much needed stalwart on the blue line behind Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm in the prospect pool.
McCoshen has a skill set that reads a lot like current Ducks blueliner Francois Beauchemin. He has a big slap shot, excellent gap control, decent skating, and an aggressive defensive style. At 6'3 and 207 pounds, he already has the right size to play at any level. It is also a bonus that he is committed to Boston College, as the Ducks have a plethora of defensive picks in the system from recent drafts who are still trying to cut it. McCoshen can take his time and develop even further.
27. Columbus Blue Jackets (from Los Angeles)
Robert Hagg, D, Modo (SEL)
It may have taken a little bit but Jarmo Kekalainen finally dips into Europe with the 27th overall pick. Hagg is an intelligent two-way defender that impressed scouts while winning a silver medal at the 2013 U20 WJC. Hagg has a forceful shot from the point and can make an impact in the physical aspect of the game. He may not be the flashiest defenseman available in the draft, but the Jackets could strengthen their already deep group of defensive prospects with a smart hockey player that can be tough to play against.
28. Calgary Flames (from Pittsburgh)
Josh Morrissey, D, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
Morrissey is an excellent skater who can move the puck up and carry the play into the offensive zone with ease. Although he is not a towering defensemen at 6'0 and 183 pounds, he does not shy away from the physical play and has room to bulk up. He is responsible at both ends of the ice in transition, has an accurate strong shot, and exceptional vision to set up plays. If Calgary decides to keep all three first round picks, the trio of Monahan, Rychel, and Morrissey can develop into a productive force for the Flames organization.
TBD. Dallas Stars (from Boston)
Nicolas Petan, C, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
The Stars loaded up their defense a little bit at the deadline (Joe Morrow, Kevin Connauton, Cameron Gaunce), so they can wait until their next pick at 40 to scoop one up. In Petan, the Stars could get a boatload of skill, vision, creativity, and speed. At 5'8 and 165 pounds, Petan's size could inhibit his play at the NHL level. That said, he is a player that hunts the puck well and does not shy away from contact. If he can transition his offensive game to the NHL level, the Stars could have found one of this draft class's more productive players late in the first round.
TBD. Chicago Blackhawks
Shea Theodore, D, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
A mobile, puck-moving defenseman is right in the Blackhawks' wheelhouse. Chicago depends a lot on their blueliners being able to carry the puck and move it out of the zone safely, so they cannot have too many players like Shea Theodore in the pipeline. Theodore has an excellent shot and is an aggressive player offensively. His skating ability and agility is what really makes him stand out on the ice. The native of Aldergrove, British Columbia was asked to do a lot for the Thunderbirds in his draft year and rose to the occasion as the season wore on, finding success on the power-play and leading the defense in goals and points.
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