Hi, this is Lowetide. Each year, two or three of the folks who follow the draft closely (and have informed opinions) guest post their top 30′s. Tonight, we’re delighted to present the top 30 for 2013 from our friend spOILer. It’s an outstanding read and a strong 30. Enjoy!
This draft is deeper than Hades. Ever since the Oil have decided to follow Moses Katz deep into the wilderness, we have not seen salvation like this. The blessings are abundant: The best NHLE in years, the Holy Grail… Another famous Messiah from Cole Harbour… Possibly the first African-American kid to go 1st overall, and equally as Messiah… A prophetic performance in Finland by a 17 year old savant with a September 95 birthdate… And a Jedi season from a young padawan in the SEL with The Force.
And that’s just the halo at the head of this draft. The next tier has, at worst, second violiners with little bust risk, followed by a large chorus of about 20 prospects where any one of them could be the best in class and many of them will be top 6/4ers. There’s sick music in the heavens this year.
Once again this is a ranking of my guess at each player’s level of NHL success—figuring out who will do more to help you win games. Who will be Moses on the ice. It is not a mock draft. The order is guided by NHLE in concert with a player’s talent and tools. IQ/Sense is my most favoured spell; Centers are my most favoured position, pari passu. Here’s a link to the NHLE for the top prospects as compiled by Kent Wilson, The Nation Network.
And of course I’d like to thank LT for his gracious hospitality and his willingness to allow me to inflict my thoughts upon you once again. And thanks to all of you for taking the time to read these Nostradamian ramblings. Rumour is, it was a circumsized season. Cut. Missing a little skin up front. *Spits* So time is of essence–let’s dispense with ceremony and get the alchemy bubbling:
1. MacKinnon – Halifax (QMJHL) Sep. 1/95 C R 6’0/182 44 32-43-75 +40
Tough call for First… One of the toughest ever. MacKinnon is up against a line mate who comes into the draft with an NHLE of 50.96. However Drouin achieved that number with a shooting percentage of 23.7%. If I give MacKinnon the same shooting percentage, his NHLE would be 48.64. Not to mention MacKinnon also obtained only 32% of his points on the PP, whereas Drouin racked up 40% of his points with the man advantage. These two issues make the offensive upside close to a wash in my opinion. MacKinnon’s work rate is outstanding, his defensive skills are better than Drouin’s, and he’s 55% in the face off dot. I think they’re both amazing talents, but I think MacKinnon will do more to help a team win hockey games. In fact, he plays with a relentless determination and imposes his will upon games at a level that is mythical. I also give the nod to Cs over Ws when it’s close. A September 95 birthday is just icing on the cake.
He is an exceptionally powerful skater and a natural goal scorer. He plays with determination and he is highly competitive with his style of play. He is one of those players who is capable of being a difference maker in the game and because of that he is drawing comparisons to Steven Stamkos. – Dan Marr, NHL Director of Central Scouting
He has a huge appetite for the puck, and is a game breaker. The bigger the moment the more hungry he becomes. … MacKinnon has all the offensive tools to produce at the next level. He has the ability to be the best player on the ice when he wants to be and already shoots the puck like a pro. He loves to attack on the rush and isn’t afraid to attack one on one, however he needs to start to use his linemates more effectively. MacKinnon is a great skater with the ability to beat a defender by changing gears very well in mid stride. His balance and ability to protect the puck are outstanding. – International Scouting Services 2013 Draft Guide
2. Drouin – Halifax (QMJHL) Mar. 27/95 LW L 5’11/185 49 41-64-105 +48
Has all-world talent, reflected in an absolutely transcendent NHLE. He has been my favorite for #1 all year, but after looking more closely at the stats, and seeing how strong MacKinnon is away from the puck (in a more difficult position), I had to slide Drouin to second. That shooting percentage looks a little scary… and I think there’s a bit of luck in that NHLE. Drouin still has more raw offensive talent than his linemate, but is not as complete a player. He has a smaller frame than MacKinnon and a little less willingness to engage physically. Still a wonderful player— wicked smart, has lightning feet and a wizard’s hands.
One of his biggest attributes is his hockey sense, he reads and understands the game at a level higher then most players his age. He has the ability to beat a defenseman one-on- one and make them look like they were standing still. It looks like at times that the puck is attached to his stick with a string because he can move in any directions with the puck and not lose speed. He possesses an elite shot. He can create plays off his vision and creativity which gives him dangerous options. – International Scouting Services 2013 Draft Guide
His hockey sense and playmaking ability are just over the top. He is one of those thread-the-needle passers. He can be on the ice and create a play out of nothing that is there. – Dan Marr, NHL Director of Central Scouting
3. Barkov – Tappara (FIN) Sep. 2/95 C L 6’2/205 53 21-27-48 +18
I think there’s a very good chance Barkov could be taken ahead of Drouin in this draft, due to his size and the position he plays. He’s another two-way Center with a pious work rate, and excellent sense away from the puck and in his own end. His skating is his biggest question, but mostly just in terms of high-end speed. He has decent mobility, good first step and the ability to change gears. Still it is not in the same class as the rest of the top 5. So Barkov won’t be a Malkin-type supersonic centre. Craig Button once compared him to Ron Francis and then later to Dale Hawerchuk. He’s almost a year younger than Jones and 9 months younger than Lindholm and with such a late birthday, could have tremendous upside. According to Pronman of Hockey Prospectus, Barkov’s defensive IQ is absolutely heavenly.
.. big, skilled playmaking pivot .. highly methodical – plays with remarkable poise and maturity for his age .. always calm and in control .. crafty puckhandler and passer – supported by soft, strong hands and a finely-honed sense for pressure .. boasts sharp in-close finishing abilities – and a wristshot that is quick and powerful .. his release is compact and his slapshot packed with twang … – McKeen’s Draft Guide 2013
He always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. He’s a very good stick-handler with great vision. He’s one the better two-way players in this class and has shown more consistency than any other European over a full season. – Goran Stubb, NHL Director of European Scouting
4. Jones – Portland (WHL) Oct. 3/94 D R 6’3/208 61 14-42-56 +46
Most pundits have Jones beatified. Brobdingnagian size, reach and strength, blinding straight-ahead speed, a booming shot, brilliant vision and baby-soft hands… so why don’t I have this Blue Chip higher? Part of the issue is his skating. His balance, lateral first step, and back speed are very good but not at the same elite level as the rest of his skating. He is still very mobile, however it shows better in full flight than in stalking around the trenches. And while his offensive sense is razor sharp, his defensive sense is less keen, partly out of cheating to activate. He got a lot of help from his more experienced defensive partners this year (which is to be expected of a Dman this age), who covered for lapses. I’m not sure he should play in the NHL next year, so he can gain a little more dominance in his own end first. I also nicked him a little for his birthdate, and for being a defenceman, but I would rank him higher than 4th in most other drafts. The Oilers are probably sad he wasn’t born a month earlier.
“He fits all the criteria to be a dominant NHL blueliner: size, mobility, smarts, poise. The only thing missing is a nasty streak, though physical play doesn’t intimidate him. One scout said he knows Jones can handle the rough stuff, ‘but you’d like to see him get mad sometimes.’ Jones is seen as a potential franchise defenseman. His skating, passing and shooting set him apart. His hockey sense allows him to skate the puck out of his end or make an accurate first pass without many turnovers. Plus he has a bomb from the point.” – The Hockey News Draft Preview 2013
5. Lindholm – Brynas (SWE) Dec. 2/94 C R 5’11/181 48 11-19-30 +1
Lindholm is blessed with better skating than Barkov has, but lacks his size and offensive creativity. Like Barkov, he plays a strong, smart, mature two-way game and has been doing it against adults. Unlike Barkov, he didn’t do it at Center. I don’tb doubt he can play the C position and will do so going forward, but I think having him at wing shelters him a little more than the role Barkov faced. Barkov’s role, physical attributes, younger birthdate, and better creativity give him the edge. Lindholm shares many skills with Monahan, who has the edge in size, but Lindholm gets the nod for the superior NHLE delivered against men. Tough call though. Red Line has Monahan ahead.
He’s a passionate, determined force who makes everyone around him better. He can beat you with a big hit, a creative set-up, a clutch goal, or even a shot block on the penalty kill. He just loves the game and has a great will to compete. He’s also freakishly strong for his size and wins corner battles against much larger defensemen through sheer strength of will.—Red Line Report 2013 Draft Guide
He excels off transition and is a master at creating turnovers and forcing opponents to make mistakes. He has great hands, especially around the net, is a dynamite faceoff presence and is always engaging opponents in battles. Lindholm has future captain written all over him. He brings it every single shift and can be dominant in all situations. He has some surprising power for his size. – International Scouting Services NHL Draft Guide
6. Monahan – Ottawa (OHL) Oct. 12/94 C L 6’2/186 58 31-47-78 -18
It’s tough to say what kind of numbers Monahan would have posted with a winger like Drouin and reasonable secondary support. But to take 1st line duties at his age is still an outstanding achievement. Baptism by fire. Nor are his numbers anything to be ashamed about, ranking 7th in terms of NHLE while surrounded by a boat anchor of a team. Monahan might not have the elite offensive upside of the Forwards ahead of him, but his vision and passing are still top end, and has a wide range of skills. Plays in all situations, displays a lot of heart, and has the combination of size, strength, sense and skating that coaches love. I could see him surpassing Lindholm in the NHL, but think he has a little farther to go to reach that potential. Birthdate nicks him a little.
“He is gifted enough that in most years he would be a top three overall pick. Has all the tools you look for in a legitimate #1 centre: excellent size, a smooth, deceptive stride, great stickhandling skills, and tremendous creativity and passing touch. Is able to hold onto the puck that extra split second, drawing checkers to him and then finding his wingers with perfectly placed feeds. Has shown great character this year, persevering through very trying times. Does the little things well.” – Red Line Report 2013 Draft Guide
7. Nurse – S. Ste. Marie (OHL) Feb. 4/95 D L 6’3/189 68 12 29 41 +15
Nurse has a nice combination of size and skating, defense and offense. Works harder than a Calvinist. Has an under-rated shot, good vision and should be able to play some PP time. Nurse plays every shift hard with an edge to his game and ate up a lot of minutes at a young age. He could be a Seabrook to someone else’s Keith. Still a bit lanky. Shows more of a developed offensive game than Zadarov, better skater than Pulock, but doesn’t quite have the all-round sense that Ristolainen has. He brings less offensive talent than the two forwards ranked after him, but climbs higher based on a wider range of skills, and low bust potential.
Not only is Nurse an excellent 1 on 1 defender but he adds an intense mean streak to put fear in the opposition. He shows no hesitation in doing what it takes to win from blocking shots to dropping the mitts, Darnell was born to lead. Offensively he brings an arsenal of weapons whether it’s using his vision to find his man up ice or jumping up into the rush he continues to develop in these areas. He shows excellent mobility on the point and has great quickness for his size which makes him very effective in PP situations. He has a heavy shot but could stand to use it more often. Has all the tools to be a franchise defender and captain down the road. – International Scouting Services 2013 Draft Guide
8. Domi – London (OHL) Mar. 2/95 C/LW L 5’9/193 64 39-48-87 +33
Like his Dad, he needs a ladder to get to the cookies on the top shelf, but also like his Dad, he’s built like a tank. I don’t think strength and size are really a concern for this smaller player and he has the quick burst in his skating needed to create separation. He can be a bit selfish with the puck and is going to need to learn how to dish when facing NHL traffic. Dynamic offense with a laser shot. Motor never quits. He doesn’t quite have the vision or sense as Monahan who sports a similar NHLE, and certainly not the size–and he had a much better supporting cast than the 67. Domi doesn’t have the high end talent that the similarly height-challenged Petan has, although he brings more strength and grit and is less of a risk pick. Thus I have him ahead of the Winterhawk, but very grudgingly.
“Boy, he plays like he’s 6-foot-2,” one scout said. “Real competitive – wonder where he gets that from, eh? He plays big and that’s what you want.” While Domi does have the requisite physicality that comes with the family name, he is primarily a scorer, an offensive dynamo who never gives up on a puck and knows how to wire it when it’s on his stick. ‘He creates offense, he competes and has a win-at-all-cost mentality,” another scout said. “Fearless little guy with skill.’” – The Hockey News Draft Preview 2013
9. Petan – Portland (WHL) Mar. 22/95 C L 5’9/163 71 46-74-120 +68
An unbelievable NHLE of 41.58 highlights this young man’s season, ahead of everyone but Drouin. Normally he would get a higher ranking, but I’m taking into consideration linemate effects, and of course his diminutive size, which brings a great deal of risk to the pick. Plus he happens to be eligible in a year stuffed with outstanding talent. He is certain to be picked below the level that his offensive production would suggest and the team that does should be hitting a real home run from that lower slot. There’s not a skill he lacks and his hockey sense is off the charts. If he was 6’0”, he’d be a top 3 pick–even in this draft! The biggest boom/bust chance in this tier, but I don’t think it will be an issue.
“Nicolas Petan’s an extremely exciting, skilled, competitive, passionate, offensive centreman that’s 5’8.5”. Has the drive to score and wants to be a high-end offensive player. He has to get bigger and stronger. He’s not getting any taller but he’s got to make sure that he’s strong enough and continues to play at that same level of intensity as he moves forward to pro hockey. Obviously, there’s another one of those circumstances that you have to deal with in making some decisions, but he’s going to be a player that’s going to have a chance to play in the National Hockey League just because of that high skill level and desire to play”—Stu MacGregor, Edmonton Oilers
“Has convinced us he’s the rare tiny guy whose hockey sense will allow him to transition to the NHL”—Kyle Woodlief, Red Line Report
10. Ristolainen – TPS Turku (FIN) Oct. 27/94 D R 6’3/203 52 3-12-15 -7
He’s from the low risk group due to a wide range of skills and Zen hockey sense. I don’t think he processes the game quite as well as Brodin or Murray, or skates as well as those two, but he’s close. Very mobile. Plays a smart, efficient game. He has all the size, reach and strength you want in an NHL defenceman. Ristolainen doesn’t have elite offensive skills and probably won’t be a first power play option, but he can still contribute on the scoresheet. I had a tough time ranking him due to the lack of second assists in Europe and because Risto’ probably saw less ice time than most CHL defenders despite this being his second year against adults. Nurse looks like he’s going to bring more offense and gets the nod here, despite Risto’s better all-round sense.
The big-bodied Ristolainen has played against men for a couple years now, including nearly a full schedule in Finland’s top league the past two campaigns. “He’s been on the board for three years,” one scout said. “He has size and skating. He’s steady. He doesn’t wow me, but he has all the tools.” At the WJC, when foes tried to get near his goalie, he exhibited a nasty side without drawing refs’ attention. … Ristolainen does have some offensive pop to his game and finished the season as the top-scoring blueliner on TPS, but evaluators would prefer for him to stay in his wheelhouse. “He has more value as a solid two-way guy – he’s not Erik Karlsson,” the scout said. “But he’ll be fine.” – The Hockey News Draft Guide 2013
11. Gauthier – Rimouski (QMJHL) Apr. 26/95 C L 6’5/210 62 22-38-60 +22
If I’m the Oilers and I am trading down (and I rather they didn’t), this is the player that I am trading down to take. To find a 6’5”, 210 lbs (at 17!) Center with a prodigious work rate, silky smooth skating and passing, and an eagerness to engage is a very difficult thing. I give him the nod over Horvat for having this rare combination of attributes along with better vision. I have both Gauthier and Horvat higher than their NHLEs would suggest due to their all-round hockey sense (which I weight heavily), consistent compete levels and wide range of tools. Both players have very low bust risk with Gauthier having the edge in upside.
“I’ve never seen a kid get back and play defense like he does in 20 years. In his own end, he’s always around the puck. A kid that can play defense like he does at his age, with that kind of maturity, is very rare. … He’s the first player back, gets the puck, turns the play around and goes the other way. He has great hockey sense, can shoot the puck and reads the ice. He’s a natural talent.” – Chris Bordeleau, NHL Central Scouting
“Humongous and well skilled two-way centre in the Jordan Staal mould. Good puckhandler who distributes it well. Moves well for a big man-child and does good work in Will use his size to win battles. Very defensively aware and responsible; cuts off passing lanes and understands positioning. Strong hockey sense in all three zones. Quick release on his shot.” – Red Line Report 2013 Draft Guide
12. Horvat – London (OHL) May 4/95 C/LW L 6’0/200 67 33-28-61 +3
Horvat is another all-round smart two-way Center, which seems to be the theme this draft. Lacks some of the hands and creativity of the other Cs, so doesn’t quite make the top 10. Horvat was the OHL Playoff MVP, which is an impressive award for a 17 year old without top 10 offensive upside. Brings determined crease presence and board presence. Can shut down opposing centers and was facing tough comp all year. I would also be happy with Horvat if the Oilers trade down. Due to his excellent work rate, play on both sides of the puck, and overall maturity, I have him ahead of the more talented Nichushkin.
“We just love this big horse. Owns whatever territory he feels like taking. Creates loads of problems down low for both defenders around the corners, and goalies around the crease. Sets up camp around slot, boxing out defenders …. and holding his position while he creates screens and looks for tip-ins/rebounds. Really hard on his stick and impossible to knock off the puck. Consistently gets open in scoring territory. Leader who plays hard at both ends every shift and does all the little things right. Scores most of his goals in dirty areas.” – Red Line Report 2013 Draft Guide
13. Nichushkin – Chelijabinsk (KHL) Mar. 4/95 LW L 6’4/196 18 4-2-6 +6
Not one of the major lists has this talented kid ranked so low. Yet his NHLE is by far the weakest of any of the elite talents in this draft. It ranks behind guys like say Lazar, who worry some scouts that they will not have enough offense at the next level. Like many big men, consistent effort seems to be an issue, yet he always seems to be there for the big games. I don’t doubt that this is a player that will help you in the playoffs, much like a Dustin Penner, but are you getting the same player for the first 60 games of the season… much like a Dustin Penner? I’m not sure he has the consistent will and effort and maturity needed to transform his elite potential into elite reality. I can’t rank him ahead of those that have a little less innate talent, but a much more consistent work rate… and accordingly a vastly superior NHLE. A game-breaker, yes, when motivated. A hoss, no. If that light ever goes on though…
He’s a big, strong player with a high overall skill set. He can score the big goals and can dominate games. He was a bit inconsistent at times, but he’s very skilled and talented and, by far, the best Russian available in the draft this year. He had an outstanding playoff as well. – Goran Stubb, NHL Director of European Scouting
Nichushkin is a phenomenal talent who has seen his stock fall and rise quickly all year long. He isn’t your typical Russian offensive dynamo as he plays an intense two-way game and shows fantastic will to win in big games. He has great size and knows how to use it well to protect the puck. He is very strong on his skates and also has the quickness to burn opponents the second he gets them off balance. – International Scouting Services NHL Draft Guide
14. Shinkaruk – Medicine Hat (WHL) Oct. 13/94 C/RW L 5’11/174 64 37 49 86 -13
If Shinkaruk had elite speed we’d be talking about a top 10 ranking. His hands rank right behind Drouin and Petan’s—shoot, pass, stickhandle, he can do it all. Size, strength and defensive sense are the only questions to his game. But he doesn’t have the top gear he’s going to need to bring all of his offense to the Bigs. I have him ahead of the bigger Zykov because of his superior skating and passing, reflected in a NHLE 5.5 goals better. I couldn’t however place him above Nichushkin, who has similar offensive talents but with big league size and power.
“Dynamic if given even a sliver of space. Comes out of corners and lasers home bullets before goalies or defencemen can get set. Powerful skater with a separation gear – balance continues to improve with increasing leg strength. Stickhandles with the puck on a string and is a better skater when he has the puck. Outstanding ability to get shots off in full flight handcuffs goalies. Compete level in contested areas is a positive. Uses teammates effectively on the PP.” – Redline Report 2013 Draft Guide
15. Zykov – B. Comeau (QMJHL) May 15/95 RW R 6’0/210 67 40-35-75 +29
Strong power winger with a cannon shot and a direct game. He will likely be a Corsi machine, registering a sweet 3.7 shots per game at the Junior level. He’s not particularly agile or fluid on his feet, but has decent acceleration and speed. Zykov can find the open areas or bull his way through defenders. His stats might seem padded a bit by powerplay time on a stacked Drakkar squad, but he only scored 26.7% of his points on the PP! That makes him an even strength killer. I have him ahead of Erne–another power winger–because he has a far better shot, and a little more finesse to his game. Erne also comes with some attitude risk.
Big-time sniper with a great release. … A major force on the power play with a tremendous 1-timer from the circle – has superb hand/eye coordination. Shows a natural instinct for picking his way through traffic and getting to open ice in scoring territory at just the right moment. . … Not a big banger, but uses size/strength and wide body to shield off defenders and establish position around slot. Shows surprising foot speed and quickness for such a bulky body. Only average vision, but will create chances for ‘mates by attacking the net with gusto. Dramatically improved his play away from puck over the season.– Red Line Report 2013 Draft Guide
16. Zadarov – London (OHL) Apr. 15/95 D L 6’5/230 63 6-19-25 +33
He’s huge yet he skates like Toller freakin’ Cranston. He hits everything that moves, but displays soft hands. He could be a real home run pick. He’s similar to Morin in that it’s probably going to take a couple of years for him to develop, but his adjustment to North America this year and to its different ice and play was nothing short of assured and adept. I have him ahead of Morin because he put up slightly better number… He also played on a better team, but I think the transition he had to make coming to the OHL gives those numbers an edge and speaks well to his future development.
“Even if he didn’t develop one bit the next three years, he’s still going to be a solid NHLer,” one scout said. “If he does develop, he’s going to be an absolute stud.” Zadorov skates well for his size and though his transition game and offense improved with London as the year went on, what tantalizes most scouts is his frame. “He’s a mammoth of a kid,” another scout said. “He’s big, he’s strong and he’s raw.” – The Hockey News Draft Guide 2013
… a remarkably light and agile skater given his mammoth 6-foot-5, 230-pound frame .. transitions rapidly to offence, his mobility allowing him to jump into the rush and recover with relative ease .. his feet are softer than his hands however .. adequately skilled – makes a crisp and accurate first pass – but will need to continue refining his finesse skills .. gradually grew more effective on the power play.” – McKeen’s Draft Guide 2013
17. Morin – Rimouski (QMJHL) Jul. 12/95 D L 6’7/200 46 4-12-16 +10
Six foot freakin seven! The other mammoth defenseman on the board, teams will have a tough time deciding which one of Zadarov and Morin will be the better man mountain in the long run. I think Zadarov’s skating and offensive upside are a little more refined and thus he’s a slightly less risky pick, but both players have sky-is-the-limit potential. Morin has a slimmer body type than Zadarov does, but doesn’t display any of the clumsiness you would expect from a fast-growing telephone pole. Battled injury this year, but worked hard and made it back for the playoffs.
Samuel Morin is the most intriguing prospect in the bunch, simply because of his massive size (6-6, 203) and upside. He’s already mobile for such a humongous man-child and is surprisingly aggressive offensively. Morin is a strong puckhandler who skates with his head up looking to make plays that show vision and creativity. He also plays with a mean edge that is highly appealing for NHL clubs, and you have to wonder how good he’ll be in three to four years with some physical maturation.—Kyle Woodlief, USA Today
18. Erne – Quebec (QMJHL) Apr. 20/95 LW L 6’1/195 68 28-44-72 +11
Erne is a power forward with the speed and size to play the same game in the NHL. He can play the cycle or blow by defenders on the rush. He has a decent shot, but it’s not exceptional from distance. Could be stronger and be more committed defensively. Has a better NHLE than Wennberg or Lazar and thus sneaks ahead of both in my rankings. Better skater than Zykov, but lacks his natural hands and vision. Also gets nicked for the attitude questions.
Adam Erne is a rugged winger with size and natural aggression. He attacks the net with power and dominates below the circles at the offensive end. He’s a big-time hitter, yet has the hands and offensive finesse to beat defenders wide with speed and slick moves. Unfortunately, there are times when his attitude has been questioned, and some veterans on the Quebec Remparts felt he was a prima donna who let the publicity go to his head. So teams will do a thorough vetting process.” – Kyle Woodlief, USA Today
‘He’s an intriguing player because I don’t think he’s figured out the conditioning part of the game yet,’ another scout said. ‘But even with that, he’s a really good player. Is he going to figure it out? If he does, he’ll be even better and the team that drafts him has to take that responsibility.’” – The Hockey News Draft Guide 2013
19. Wennberg – Djurgardens (SWE) Sep. 22/95 C L 6’1/174 49 14-21-35 +10
I was a little undecided on where to place Wennberg. On a tools basis I think he should be higher as has more of a finesse game than Zykov or Erne, superior skating to either player and projects to have more size and strength than the similarly talented Shinkaruk. But his NHLE at 20.54 looks very weak despite his array of weapons. I worry about his work rate but haven’t seen any negative comments on it. I would have liked to have seen more actual production though.
“Plays a very complete brand of hockey – skating, hitting, crashing net and creating. Good thought process at both ends. Speedy with soft shooter’s hands and can go upstairs even under pressure or from bad angles. Stickhandles well enough to beat defenders off the rush and create lanes for teammates. Plays with intensity and determination, and we like his effort and attitude. Anticipates well, making surprising passes that result in scoring chances. Goes to traffic areas looking for tips and rebounds. Versatile and can handle a variety of roles well.” – Red Line Report 2013 Draft Guide
20. Pulock – Brandon (WHL) Oct. 6/94 D R 6’0/211 61 14-31-45 -7
Pulock is renowned for his bomb of a shot and his slick passing. He played as a forward till Midget hockey and it shows as he is a raw defender and has positional issues in his own end. He does not play a tight defensive game. Not the purest thing on blades you will ever see either, however he is an under-rated skater… ISS loves his edge control and Red Line likes the power in his stride. He has the ability to change gears and the agility to make defenders miss. He has the stamina to munch a lot of minutes. If he can improve his defensive sense and decision-making, he could be a real elite defenceman. Reminds me of Duncan Keith a bit at the same age. Risky pick, but lots and lots of upside. Real value if he falls this far.
“Has an NHL calibre shot that generates a ton of offence – both directly from goals and off rebounds. Constantly jumps into the slot on PP with great anticipation. Rocket passes through the lanes arrive on target before teams can prepare. Explosive straight-ahead burst allows him to pounce on loose pucks and excel in transition. Terrific stickhandling maneuverability in traffic. Sees outlets well on the breakout and activates his feet if nothing is there. Not a physically intimidating defender, but occasionally will send forwards into next year, and has a frame that should add lots of muscle.” – Red Line Report 2013 Draft Guide
21. Curtis Lazar Edmonton (WHL) Feb. 2/95 C R 5’11/193 72 38-23-61 +25
Lazar is a tireless skater with a work rate to match. Has good hockey sense in both ends but lacks creativity to his game. He sports an excellent shot and decent passing hands. Good acceleration and uses his edges well, but doesn’t have much dangle to his game. Accomplished defensively. He should have the strength to handle board work in the NHL. Lazar plays a very determined, committed style of hockey difficult to play against. He doesn’t have the offensive upside that Lehkonen and Klimchuk and Dauphin possess, but he is a very low bust risk.
‘He grows on me every time I see him,’ said one scout. ‘I don’t think he’s a top-two-lines kind of player, but he’s a character guy. He’ll stand up for teammates and he’s as honest as they come. I don’t know how he has so many goals. Seems to be at the right place at the right time. Really safe bet to play.’ – The Hockey News Draft Guide 2013
“It’s been an up and down season for Lazar in terms of his prospect status. He can be simply dominant and the best player on the ice at times, but he can also fall into long lapses where the offensive potential is nowhere to be found. Even so, he is consistently an effective player, who plays with good determination and high skill. He can grind with players much larger than himself, has very good smooth hands and can shoot the lights out from almost anywhere on the ice. He’s not the biggest kid, but he plays without fear or trepidation.” – International Scouting Services 2013 Draft Guide
22. Lehkonen – Kalpa (FIN) Jul. 4/95 LW L 5’10/163 45 14-16-30 +12
Lehkonen is finesse forward who nailed down the Rookie of the Year honours in the SM-Liiga. He posted an impressive NHLE, although it was padded by games with NHLer Stepan in the first half of the season. Also gets nicked for his lack of size and strength, and for enduring two concussions this year. Has been compared to Jeff Skinner. It’s hard to believe someone with as lethal a wrist shot as Lehkonen has, combined with plus skating, could fail to make the NHL, but he really should add some muscle to ensure survival on the smaller ice surface. High boom-bust prospect.
Lehkonen is a good all-around offensive talent. He possesses every desirable tool except size. His skating might not be explosive, but it is quality, and he displays solid speed and elusiveness. He has above-average puck skills, with quick movements and good coordination. His best skills, however, are his hockey sense and his shot. Lehkonen shows awareness and instinctual ability when creating scoring chances. He has impressive vision as a playmaker, and he regularly makes good passes.—Corey Pronman, Hockey Prospectus
23. Klimchuk – Regina (WHL) Mar. 2/95 C/LW L 5’11/180 72 36 40 76 -1
Klimchuk rang up a decent NHLE on a young, struggling Pats team and took an impressive turn on the McDavid line during the U18 WCs. Works hard both on and off the ice. Demonstrates excellent hockey sense and offensive awareness—both in a primary role in Regina and a complementary role in Sochi. Has a plus shot and is always working on improving his already above average skating. Lacks ideal size and strength for the NHL, but his wonderful attitude and work ethic should get him there. I have him ahead of Dauphin due to his first line role in the U18s, but they are nearly identical in NHLE and Dauphin played C. So again, grudgingly. What a draft.
“Klimchuk will go higher than folks think,” said one NHL scout based in Western Canada. “You wish he showed just a little toughness, but the skating and skill are elite.”
Although his size is only average at a listed 5-foot-11, 180-pounds, Klimchuk is an excellent skater and puckhandler with a lightning release and the natural vision/hockey sense to be a threat to score on every shift. However, where he was considered by many to be a one-dimensional player during his 18-goal, 36-point rookie campaign, the center (who can play any forward position) jumped to 36 goals and 76 points while bringing a more rounded game in 2012-13.—Kirk Luedeke, NEHJ
24. Dauphin – Chicoutimi (QMJHL) Mar. 26/95 C L 6’0/167 62 25-37-62 E
Another smaller player with an abundance of skill and finesse… and a praiseworthy performance at the Under-18s. Dauphin’s hands, sense, compete level, work rate, vision are all top end. He’s a shot machine, connecting for 3.2 shots per game this season. His skating could be better, but he makes up for it with anticipation and smarts and gumption. And, as is the case with most smallish forwards, Dauphin needs to improve his strength on his stick and on his skates. He has the necessary height, but is as skinny as skim milk. With a late March birthdate, there’s hope his man-frame hasn’t popped yet.
“Love his smooth game, great hands, and play-making ability. Instinctive and shows awareness of different situations”—Kyle Woodlief, USA Today
Dauphin had a good rookie season for Chicoutimi, displaying a high amount of upside. He is a skilled player with the puck, with the kind of soft touch and control that a top forward prospect needs. He has shiftiness in his game, as he is able to make quick movements with his feet and hands. He couples strong acceleration with a good top gear. He is quality passer who makes nice saucer distributions, and he can make plays with limited time and space—Corey Pronman, Hockey Prospectus
25. Mantha – Val d’Or Sep. 16/94 LW L 6’4/190 67 50-39-89 +21
Mantha is a difficult player to rank. He rang up 50 goals (50!), and connected for an unbelievable 6.46 shots per game. Six and a half shots a game! And that’s not shots attempted. He has talent oozing from his hands and feet, the perfect stature for a power winger, the sense and vision to make the right decisions, but doesn’t seem to have the heart to battle and compete. I’m not certain such personality traits can be taught or learned without some sort of catharsis involved. If Mantha can raise his battle level then I would have this player ranked around 10th. If competing is truly not in his nature, I wouldn’t pick him in the top 40. This positioning is kind of an average of those two outcomes. Nichushkin, at least, has shown he can pay with intensity when required. With that 50 goal season under his belt buckle, this is the one player on the board who could be All Hat and No Cattle.
…let us begin by saying that Val-d’Or winger Anthony Mantha is a first-round talent – no question. However, if we were drafting, say… 24th overall and Mantha was the highest rated player left on our board when it came time to make the pick? Well, let’s just say we would somehow manage to find someone else we liked just a little bit better. Honestly, does this guy even have a pulse? He plays with absolutely zero fire or passion and, as we like to say: If he ain’t scorin’, he ain’t helpin’.
At a little more than 6-3, 200 pounds with great hands, you would think teams would be lining up to take him in the top 10. And we honestly do believe that he could become a 30-goal scorer at the NHL level. But it would be the softest 30 goals in the history of goaldom. And somebody in your organization along the way would have to teach him how to at least spell the word “compete,” because it’s absolutely certain at this stage that he has no clue about the meaning of that word.—Kyle Woodlief, USA Today
26. Rychel – Windsor (OHL) Oct. 7/94 LW L 6’1/200 68 40-47-87 -21
Most noticeable thing about Rychel is his howitzer shot. The second most noticeable is his porous skating. He’s racked up a lot of points in Junior and comes into draft day with a superior NHLE, but this stat was padded by 42% of his scoring coming from the powerplay. That leads his draft class. Unlike the higher-ranked Erne and Lazar, he might not be able to skate well enough to deliver the same kind of north-south game in the NHL. Lacks the same level of commitment in his own end as he does in the O-Zone. His stats were padded a bit by playing alongside the talented Khokhlachev, although the two youngsters showed great chemistry together. With the serious skating questions, I have to rank him behind Mantha, despite the output.
Has the grit of his old man, plus the skill to create and complete scoring chances. Will bang and chase to create turnovers. Seeks out dirty areas for scoring chances and is a natural goal scorer with a hard, heavy shot. Needs to work on his skating, particularly his first step, but gets where he needs to be through hard work. Strong on skates and tough to knock off the puck. Provides good puck support in all three zones. Works hard at both ends; team guy will do whatever it takes to win. Has the size/strength and naturally aggressive demeanor to be a prototypical power winger in the NHL. – Red Line Report 2013 Draft Guide
27. Morrissey – Prince Albert (WHL) Mar. 28/95 D L 5’11/182 70 15-32-47 +14
It was tough to decide which Dman I would rank higher—Pulock or Morrissey. I went with Pulock because of his better size and strength, and because he is still learning his position and thus has a lot of upside potential. But there is a smoothness and a calmness to Morrissey’s game that is a pleasure to watch. If he can add some bulk and strength he should be a reliable defender for years to come, but right now he slots in behind a few forwards after Pulock’s ranking.
” At No. 6 on Red Line’s list is Josh Morrissey, one of the safest bets to become a steady and dependable NHL rearguard. Morrissey sees the ice well and makes accurate outlets. He also makes very good decisions both with and without the puck, and shows fine hockey sense in all three zones. He’s not flashy, but is highly efficient. While he already plays like a 10- to 12-year NHL vet, Morrissey is the smallest defender on this list and is likely a couple of years away from the NHL as he needs to bulk up his 6-0, 185-pound frame.”
28. Buchnevich – Cheropovets (MHL) Apr. 17/95 C/LW L 6’1/161 24 8-15-23 -2
A point per game player even at 16 in the MHL, Buchnevich had his 17 year old season disrupted by injury. He also saw limited ice time in the K, notching two assists in 12 games. Excellent hands and vision, good shot and above average skating, he needs to add strength and size and preferably another gear to his repertoire, but these might have come without his injury issues. However questions have been raised about his off-ice commitment and a lack of time in the gym.
He has high-end puck possession skills, with top-of-the-line hands and hockey sense. He shows good offensive instincts, standing out through his reads and creative decisions. He can be a quality passer, although he is prone to the selfih play now and then. An NHL executive told me that he has the offensive ability to dominate, at times. His skating garners a mixed bag of reviews. One scout described it as average, with another saying he is very good, thanks to his impressive acceleration and ability to put defenders on their heels.
29. Ian McCoshen – Waterloo (USHL) Aug. 5/95 D L 6’2/207 52 11-31-42 +34
McCoshen is an under-rated defender who plays a very smart efficient game. He has the size for the position but he needs to learn to play the body more. But he’s very good at boxing out players and locking up sticks. Decent shot and vision and shows good offensive upside. Sports an August birthdate. I’m surprised he isn’t higher on most lists.
He is not a highlight-reel type of player, as he rarely makes great dekes or crushing hits, but he has a lot of good attributes. He projects as a two-way, tough minutes defenseman. He has above-average mobility in every direction, with good technique in his footwork, as he generates nice power from his strike. [sic] His best attribute is his hockey sense, which is arguably high end. McCoshen always seems to make the right plays in every end, with or without the puck. He has a very low level of panic with the puck. He knows how to make the basic plays, and he also possesses the awareness to try more difficult maneuvers when the opportunity presents itself.—Corey Pronman, Hockey Prospectus
30. Robert Hagg – Modo (SWE) Feb. 8/95 D L 6’2/193 30 10-12-22 +6
Top Swedish defender this year. Can play well with his peers but is still struggling against adults, which nicked his rankings on the lists. Needs to find more consistency in his game, but has lots of upside. If he had delivered a more even season, I would have ranked him ahead of Morrissey as his upside is greater.
“Sure-fire 1st rounder going into the season, but lost lots of ground due to wildly inconsistent, spotty play. Has all the offensive skills and physical tools to be a terrific two-way defender, but needs to show much better concentration and focus. … Plays a feisty, spirited physical style in own end and uses natural aggressiveness to win 1-on-1 battles. Impatience crept into his game and he was unusually prone to rushing decisions and forcing plays. Lethal when making smart choices about when to jump into the attack. Has booming point shot that is a major weapon on the PP; opens the hips and gets great torque on accurate 1-timers.” – Red Line Report 2013 Draft Guide
Honourable Mentions: Hartmann, Bowey, Poirier, Compher , Jarry, Burakowsky, Theodore, Hurley, M-A Roy, and Bigras… all of whom could exceed the players I have ranked 20-30. I don`t think Jarry will be there at the ANA pick.