Nathan MacKinnon is still the biggest prize, but some early season surprises have given the 2013 NHL Draft a lot to look forward to in all areas of the hockey community.
With strong starts to the season for a plethora of draft hopefuls, 2013 is certainly shaping up to be highly anticipated, and highly competitive in the positions below MacKinnon.
And the competition is coming from all corners of the hockey world.
Portland Winterhawks Seth Jones – an American prospect – sits directly behind MacKinnon in Future Considerations’ October ranking for 2013. Jones’ adaption to the Western Hockey League after spending seasons with the US National Team’s Development Program has been smooth with six points 10 games.
Trailing Jones is Finnish sensation Aleksander Barkov, who has shown he can already play against elite competition, playing against men as a member of Tappara. The six-foot-two 17-year-old has put up incredible numbers in Finland’s top league with nine goals and 17 points in 14 games – sixth in league scoring.
With 15 points in 11 games this season, Ottawa 67s co-captain Sean Monahan is among the Ontario Hockey League’s leaders as well. The standout forward, who represented his nation at the 2012 Canada/Russia challenge, has done nothing but solidify himself as a top-5 talent with his play following a 33 goal, 78 point campaign last season.
Sweden is also represented in the top-5 of October’s ranking in the form of Elias Lindholm. Playing for Brynas of the Swedish Elite League, Lindholm finds himself among the league’s top-25 scorers as well with 10 points in 15 games as he continues to see his ice time grow.
Valeri Nichushkin has ensured Russia also finds representation in the top-10. The six-foot-three forward excelled at the MHL level with eight points in seven games before being promoted to the VHL, continuing his scoring touch with five goals in eight games.
Strong starts from these players have done nothing but increase the anticipation and excitement surrounding the 2013 NHL Draft. They aren’t the only ones with strong starts that are impressing, though.
Jonathan Drouin, MacKinnon’s linemate in Halifax, has thoroughly impressed in the young season, recording five goals and 15 points in just seven games. Drouin’s early performance sees him jump from 19 in September to 14 this month. Nikita Zadorov, the towering import defenseman for the London Knights, has also impressed early on. Though he’s got just three points, Zadorov has shown he can effectively use his six-foot-five, 228-pound frame against Ontario Hockey League competition. For his efforts, Zadorov has jumped from 21 to 15.
Zadorov isn’t the only OHL defenseman to jump, either. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds defenseman Darnell Nurse has impressed with his blend of size, speed and natural athletic ability, which has translated into 11 points in 12 games. The blend of production and ability has jumped Nurse to 16th, up from September’s 24th ranking.
With the emergence of these players and the strong play of many others, scouts are buzzing about the depth of the 2013 NHL Draft – from all corners of the hockey globe.
Rank / Pos. / Name / Team / League / Ht / Wt /
1). C/RW Nathan MacKinnon, Halifax, QMJHL, 6-0, 180
2). D Seth Jones, Portland, WHL, 6-4, 205
3). C Aleksander Barkov, Tappara, SM-liiga, 6-2, 205
4). C Sean Monahan, Ottawa, OHL, 6-2, 195
5). C Elias Lindholm, Brynas, Elitserien, 6-0, 185
6). D Rasmus Ristolainen, TPS, SM-Liiga, 6-3, 205
7). LW/C Valeri Nichushkin, Chelyabinsk, MHL, 6-3, 175
8). D Ryan Pulock, Brandon, WHL, 6-1, 210
9). C Curtis Lazar, Edmonton, WHL, 6-0, 185
10). LW Hunter Shinkaruk, Medicine Hat, WHL, 5-10, 170
11). D Josh Morrissey, Prince Albert, WHL, 6-0, 185
12). C Max Domi, London, OHL, 5-10, 185
13). RW Adam Erne, Quebec, QMJHL, 6-1, 195
14). C/LW Jonathan Drouin, Halifax, QMJHL, 5-11, 175
15). D Nikita Zadorov, London, OHL, 6-5, 225
16). D Darnell Nurse, Sault Ste. Marie, OHL, 6-4, 185
17). LW André Burakovsky, Malmo, Allsvenskan, 6-1, 175
18). G Zach Fucale, Halifax, QMJHL, 6-0, 165
19). LW Kerby Rychel, Windsor, OHL, 6-1, 200
20). C Ryan Kujawinski, Kingston, OHL, 6-2, 195
21). D Robert Hägg, Modo J20, SuperElit, 6-2, 200
22). RW Artturi Lehkonen, KalPa, SM-liiga, 5-10, 160
23). C Connor Hurley, Edina, USHS, 6-1, 175
24). C J.T. Compher, U-17 USDP, USHL, 6-0, 165
25). D Madison Bowey, Kelowna, WHL, 6-1, 195
26). C Jacob De la Rose, Leksand, Allsvenskan, 6-2, 185
27). C William Carrier, Cape Breton, QMJHL, 6-0, 200
28). RW Hudson Fasching, U-18 USDP, USHL, 6-3, 190
29). LW Anthony Duclair, Quebec, QMJHL, 5-11, 175
30). C Bowie Horvat, London, OHL, 6-0, 195