NHL Entry Draft Preview
*Updated • The 2013 NHL Entry Draft will be held on June 30th in Newark, New Jersey, and there have been a couple notable changes to the format. First, all fourteen teams that missed the playoffs had a chance at the number-one pick. Second, the entire draft will be held on one day.
Colorado is the big winner from the draft lottery, where Lady Luck smiled on the franchise by giving the Avs the number-one pick over Florida - the NHL's worst team in 2013. Florida will pick second, with Tampa Bay, Carolina and Nashville rounding out the top five. Calgary and Edmonton will be the first Canadian teams to step to the podium in the number six and seven spots, then Buffalo, New Jersey and Dallas complete the top ten draft positions.
It’s important for keeper league owners to keep tabs on upcoming rookie talent, so here’s our look at the NHL Central Scouting’s top-ranked prospects.
(Click here for the International Scouting Services "Top 30").
Top North American Prospects
Seth Jones (D – Portland, WHL) Seth Jones is the odds on favorite to go first overall on June 30th. He’s an offensive defenseman, and he finished fourth in defenseman scoring in the WHL with 56 points in 61 games. Jones is coming off a WHL Championship and a trip to the Memorial Cup, and he was also a big part of Team USA’s gold medal win at the World Juniors in 2013 (7 points in 7 games). Jones is the son of former NBA power forward Popeye Jones – who is currently an assistant coach with the Brooklyn Nets; potential NHL teams love Seth’s NBA-size. He was 6-4, 206 pounds at the start of the 2012-13 season, and he has the potential to go pro in 2013-14.
Nathan MacKinnon (C – Halifax, QMJHL) Prior to the Memorial Cup, we were unsure whether MacKinnon would simply retain his #2 ranking amongst North American prospects. But thanks to his championship performance in the tournament, he now looks like a viable first overall pick in New Jersey. International Scouting Services have him now ranked as the top prospect. MacKinnon has put up two solid campaigns of 70+ points for the Mooseheads in the past two regular seasons. He's 5-11, 179 pounds and 18 years old.
Jonathan Drouin (L – Halifax, QMJHL) NHL Central Scouting has Drouin ranked behind McKinnon, and thanks to the Memorial Cup it will likely now unfold that way at the entry draft. In 2013, Drouin finished second in the QMJHL in points (105), and was the league's runaway leader in points/game with a rate of 2.1.
Sean Monahan (C – Ottawa, OHL) Monahan stands out on a 67’s club that sits last in the OHL, which explains his minus-18 rating on the season. He finished 2013 with 78 points in 58 games, and his size (6-2, 193) is definitely something the scouts like. The Hockey News touts him as being the type of player who “makes his linemates better. . . . [He] also owns two-way appeal.”
Zachary Fucale (G – Halifax, QMJHL) At the mid-year mark, NHL Central Scouting had Fucale ranked number-one amongst North American goalies. He led the QMJHL in wins in 2013, but that has a lot to do with his teammates MacKinnon and Drouin. His height is decent, but his weight (176) and age (he is just 18 at the end of May) mean he's a long ways away from the NHL.
In our opinion, we wonder why Etienne Marcoux (6-0, 165) isn’t ranked higher. In 2013, Marcoux led the QMJHL in Save % and GAA. He was passed over at the 2012 Entry Draft.
Top European Prospects
Aleksander Barkov (C – Tappara, FIN) Barkov is excelling in the Finnish Elite League (SM-liga) despite his youth. He had 47 points in 51 games this year, and he also had a fine showing at the World Juniors with seven points in six games. His size is a plus (6-3, 205), but he won’t turn 18 until September. Does he have what it takes to go pro in 2013? It all depends on the team that drafts him, but he is the youngest player ever to record a point in SM-liga.
Elias Lindholm (C – Brynas, SWE) Lindholm was Central Scouting’s second highest ranked European prospect at the midway mark, but there appears to be a lag between him and Barkov. Lindholm had 11 goals and 30 points in 48 Swedish Elite League (Elitserien) games in 2012-13. He’s 6-0, 190.
That’s our take on NHL Central Scouting's current top-ranked prospects for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. We'll leave you with the TSN mid-season draft preview show.