|1. D Seth Jones||Portland Winterhawks|
|Date of Birth: October 3, 1994||Height: 6.04||Weight: 205||Shot: Right|
Seth Jones made headwaves during the Summer of 2012 as the former US U18 Captain deliberated between the NCAA and the WHL. After his rights were dealt from Everett to Portland, everything was set in motion for the 6-foot-4 defenseman to make the jump to Major Junior.
It didn’t take long for Jones to impose his will on a new league. An excellent skater especially for his size, Jones is a rare combination of athleticism and skill. More than capable of playing in the NHL next year, Jones will be a quality transition defenseman with Top 4 capabilities from Day 1. A strong slap shot and good hockey sense will allow him to also see powerplay minutes early in his career.
|2. C Nathan MacKinnon||Halifax Mooseheads|
|Date of Birth: September 1, 1995||Height: 6.00||Weight: 185||Shot: Right|
In the eyes of the scouting populace, MacKinnon has gone from 1A, to 1B, to fighting for a spot in the Top 3 with no shortage of challengers. While MacKinnon stock isn’t vaulting the way many expected, we still view him as a legitimate franchise caliber player.
The 17-year-old will be one of the youngest players in the draft and continues to show strong progression in his game. MacKinnon’s dynamic ability makes him a threat every time he’s on the ice. He has a high skill level and is able to make moves at full speed that most players would struggle to make in practice. Compete level and a consistent motor are also assets to his game.
|3. C Aleksander Barkov||Tappara|
|Date of Birth: September 2, 1995||Height: 6.02||Weight: 205||Shot: Left|
Not very many players in the history of Finnish hockey can say they’ve made it to the SM-Liiga at Age 16. Even fewer can say they had a 20-goal season at Age 17. One who can is Tampere native Aleksander Barkov. The 6-foot-2 pivot might be cerebral to some, but make no mistake, he’s one of the top offensive players you’ll find in this draft.
Barkov’s touch around the net and in the offensive zone are exceptional while his vision makes him a complete package. At this point his skating is the main area of concern, but like players such as John Tavares before him, we’re hedging our bets that as his skating improves, his skill will only be extrapolated.
|4. LW Jonathan Drouin||Halifax Mooseheads|
|Date of Birth: March 27, 1995||Height: 5.10||Weight: 185||Shot: Left|
Drouin’s rise to the cream of the 2013 crop has been swift and steady. The top scorer in the Q, Drouin is set to have one of the most dominant draft year seasons since Patrick Kane in 2006/07. While he lacks optimal size, Drouin has a stocky build and his elusive agility and supreme puck handling should allow him to compete fine against bigger NHL defensemen.
In terms of raw skill, you could make an easy case to slot Drouin ahead of both MacKinnon and Barkov, as well as being a player who could very well be in the mix for 1st overall come draft day. For now, the only thing holding him back from our Top 3 is the value that the other 3 players bring to the table in a very strong draft.
|5. C Elias Lindholm||Brynas|
|Date of Birth: December 2, 1994||Height: 6.00||Weight: 183||Shot: Right|
If you haven’t noticed, teams looking for a forward at the top of the draft will be very happy this summer. The second international born player to hit our rankings is 6-foot Elias Lindholm. Already a very polished player at 18, the late 1994 birthdate is a very effective player in all 3 zones. Lindholm has already proved himself capable of logging heavy minutes in Sweden’s top level of professional competition and should be ready for the NHL when his domestic contract expires in 2014.
Lindholm is a very good playmaker who controls the pace of play quite well. His competitiveness and positioning are additional assets that provide all around value. At this point, his shot and goal scoring are the main areas of development.
|6. C Sean Monahan||Ottawa 67s|
|Date of Birth: October 12, 1994||Height: 6.02||Weight: 185||Shot: Left|
If Sean Monahan was born a few months earlier, it’s very possible he could have contended for a Top 3 selection at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. As a result of a late birthday, he’ll have a more difficult time cracking the Top 5. But don’t see that as an issue for Monahan, a player who has dealt with far more adversity with a rebuilding 67’s squad this year.
The rangy pivot won’t wow you with his foot speed or skating stride, but his ability to control the game and an emerging defensive game are traits that scream NHL Top 6 forward. The 6-foot-2 centre has a unique ability to make those around him better and his offensive vision and patience are top notch. For any team outside the Top 5, Monahan would be a great prize to land.
|7. RW Valeri Nichushkin||Chelyabinsk|
|Date of Birth: March 4, 1995||Height: 6.04||Weight: 195||Shot: Right|
The package of size, skill, and sheer dynamic ability that Valeri Nichushkin brings to the table has some considering him as not only a Top 3 talent, but someone who could be worthy of top honours. The Chelyabinsk native made a big splash on the world stage over Christmas showing flashes of the dynamic skillset many NHL teams will covet.
Nichushkin is particularly strong off the rush, similar to players like Rick Nash. He does a great job of attacking lanes and driving his body through defenders to the net where an accurate shot and quality puck handling make him an impressive threat. Consistency is the main area of concern with his game at this point in time
|8. D Nikita Zadorov||London Knights|
|Date of Birth: April 16, 1995||Height: 6.05||Weight: 225||Shot: Left|
Potential is an overused word you’ll hear a lot come draft day but it’s a word that really describes what Nikita Zadorov’s game is about. Sure, the 6-foot-5 blueliner is a physical freak at such a young age. And sure, he’s already a very good all around player. But if he lives up to his potential, we’re talking about a franchise defenseman right here.
Zadorov’s game is a little rough around the edges, but his competitiveness and physicality allow him to really impact the game. His offense is continuing to evolve and his positioning in the defensive zone has also steadily improved this year. If his game continues to develop, he’s well worth a Top 10 pick.
|9. D Rasmus Ristolainen||TPS|
|Date of Birth: October 27, 1994||Height: 6.03||Weight: 210||Shot: Right|
Where a team will probably have to be more patient with Nikita Zadorov, many feel that Rasmus Ristolainen could crack an NHL roster as early as next season. A 1994 birthdate, Ristolainen has already logged two full seasons in the SM-Liiga with TPS and has the body frame to play in the NHL as a teenager.
Ristolainen is a mobile defenseman who is effective in the transition game and not out of place offensively. He does a good job of identifying passing lanes and also has the ability to jump into the rush when he sees an opportunity. How much upside Ristolainen ultimately has is a question mark, but at this point he looks like a safe bet to be a long-term Top 4 defenseman at minimum.
|10. D Darnell Nurse||SSM Greyhounds|
|Date of Birth: February 4, 1995||Height: 6.04||Weight: 195||Shot: Left|
After being the 3rd overall pick in the 2011 OHL Priority Selection, there were high expectations on Darnell Nurse as a 16-year-old rookie with Sault Ste. Marie last year. While the defender showed flashes of his upside, big things were expected in Year 2. As they say, “so far, so good”.
Nurse is a very athletic defenseman with high-end skating ability and all-around skill. Defensively he’s physical and nasty at times, and with the puck, he makes great outlet passes and has developed into a strong PP player. At this point, Nurse needs to continue to show consistency and prove that he’s able to overcome the occasional gaffe that might leave one scratching their head.
|11. RW Adam Erne||Quebec Remparts|
|Date of Birth: April 20, 1995||Height: 6.00||Weight: 200||Shot: Left|
If your team is looking for a hard-nosed forward at the draft, Adam Erne may fit the bill. He doesn’t have overwhelming size, but the stocky winger is physically mature and will be NHL ready sooner than later. Erne is a player who won’t shy away from the dirty areas on the ice and is always willing to initiate contact and play in traffic.
The Connecticut native has a quick release and heavy shot which should translate into at least 20-goal potential at the NHL level. Active in all 3 zones, he plays a pro style game which is another positive. Character is a concern as Erne was suspended by Quebec earlier this season. Although he is a quality skater, improving his explosiveness will be another element that should help his transition to the NHL.
|12. D Ryan Pulock||Brandon Wheat Kings|
|Date of Birth: October 6, 1994||Height: 6.00||Weight: 205||Shot: Right|
Aside from playing in different leagues, one major difference (despite gaudy stats), is that Pulock is actually a defenseman. After battling upper body injuries this season, Pulock hasn’t had the year he may have liked but it’s still been an admirable one. Leading his offensively challenged team in points, Pulock also has scored 14 goals and has a respectable -8 +/- rating. His heavy shot projects well to the NHL as a PP quarterback while his solid all-around play should make him a dependable Top 4 defenseman capable of 20+ minutes a night.
|13. C Hunter Shinkaruk||Medicine Hat Tigers|
|Date of Birth: October 13, 1994||Height: 5.10||Weight: 175||Shot: Left|
Scoring ability is the defining skill that Hunter Shinkaruk brings to the table. Undersized and overmatched physically, Shinkaruk has that rare hockey sense that goal scorers possess with his ability to be in the right place at the right time. Already in his 3rd season, Shinkaruk has been productive every year and is now showing that he can carry the offensive workload.
Shinkaruk’s playmaking ability is not elite, but it’s a strength of his game and something he uses to keep the defense off balance in terms of what he’s going to do. Overall, however, NHL teams will have to question how his 200-foot game translates to the NHL level at his size.
|14. C Frederik Gauthier||Rimouski Oceanic|
|Date of Birth: April 26, 1995||Height: 6.05||Weight: 210||Shot: Left|
After deliberating taking the NCAA route, it would appear that the decision to go to Rimouski has paid off for Frederik Gauthier. The mammoth pivot has quickly burst onto the scene as a legitimate top line centre in the QMJHL in addition to a potential blue-chipper for an NHL team.
Gauthier has a powerful stride and above average skating ability, something that is a major weapon given his size. His hockey sense and positional awareness is well developed and his skill level continues to impress. Overall, Gauthier is a player who needs polish but continues to see his stock on the rise. Don’t be surprised to see him continue his ascension in our Final rankings at this rate.
|15. D Josh Morrissey||Prince Albert Raiders|
|Date of Birth: March 28, 1995||Height: 6.00||Weight: 185||Shot: Left|
Prince Albert’s rise in the WHL standings this year has been helped greatly by the growth of sophomore defenseman Josh Morrissey. After stepping in and logging heavy minutes as a rookie, the 17-year-old has taken the next step this year as a reliable presence in all situations.
Smart decision making and a transition game are elements that define what Morrissey brings to the table. Morrissey rarely makes questionable decisions and his high hockey IQ also translates to the offensive zone where he serves as the #1 PP option on defense for the Raiders. Morrissey has adept strength for his frame and projects to have great value in the middle of the 1st round
|1. C Sam Reinhart||Kootenay Ice|
|2. D Aaron Ekblad||Barrie Colts|
|3. C Michael Dal Colle||Oshawa Generals|
|4. C Leon Draisaitl||Prince Albert Raiders|
|5. C William Nylander||Rogle|
|6. LW Nick Ritchie||Peterborough Petes|
|7. D Haydn Fleury||Red Deer Rebels|
|8. D Roland McKeown||Kingston Frontenacs|
|9. LW Sam Bennett||Kingston Frontenacs|
|10. C Jared McCann||Soo Greyhounds|