This year’s draft is deep. So deep, in fact, that we could have easily made a top-16 forwards list. It was tough to whittle this list down, but below are the best 10 prospects of the 2013 NHL draft.
1. Nathan MacKinnon 6-0/182 Center
MacKinnon is a first-line center with top-line ability. He has great vision and he’s an above-average passer. He also can speed through the neutral zone like few others can. He has the soft hands of a scorer and never loses focus. He has been getting more feisty in offensive zone and has been showing more toughness. Under the right circumstances, he could play in the NHL next year - he might soon be looking at Halifax in the rear view mirror.
2. Aleksander Barkov 6-3/209 Center
This pivot is a flashy skater and an excellent passer. He already has a pro one-timer, and he uses it as a power-play point man. He knows how to use his size, too. Barkov is a solid defensive player who gets to loose pucks quickly, and can find a small area and score. As a young man, he was the second leading scorer on his team of professionals in the Finnish Elite League. He’s the best European player in the draft.
3. Jonathan Drouin 5-11/186 Left wing
Drouin has NHL speed already. He’s improved dramatically since last year, making the Halifax Mooseheads a powerhouse in the QMJHL. He has great elusiveness and a scorer’s touch. He’s a patient, passer in 5-on-5 and power play situations. He has elite vision and great hockey sense, and plays a solid two-way game. He was named the CHL Player of the Year.
4. Valerie Nichushkin 6-4/202 Right wing
This Russian is a terrific skater who can go end-to-end. He has a great compete level in the offensive zone and has lots of tools in his toolbox. He can grow into an elite NHL player if his good all-around game becomes great. He already has a pro shot, and with his big frame he can fight through defenders to dish or score. He won’t give up on plays and can sniff out fat rebounds. He will train in North America, and that will help him get used to North American culture. The caveat is, he doesn’t play a full 60 minutes.
5. Sean Monahan 6-2/193 Center
Monahan is a big part of a very potent power play for the Ottawa 67’s. He has good wheels, good vision, and can score down low. He has a lightning fast pro wrist shot. This center has a nose for the net. Knowing how to use his size, he will defend his teammates when necessary. He’s a very good passer and he can setup a goal just as easily as he can score goals.
6. Elias Lindholm 6-0/192 Center
Lindholm was money in international play playing for Team Sweden. He plays against men in the Swedish Elite League and he was third on his team in scoring with 30 points in 48 games. He trails the play well and finds open spaces on International ice, and that should translate to North America. Father Mikael played 18 games with the Kings. This centerman is a solid two-way player and he’s strong on the puck.
7. Max Domi 5-9/197 Center/Left wing
Tie’s son is fast and relentless going after the puck. He’s a shifty skater who can rifle off a fast shot on the rush. He’s deadly on the power play. If you don’t play this speedy forward tight, he will go past you and get to the net. He can score in small spaces the goalie gives him. This versatile forward gets through the neutral zone quickly, but can be knocked off the puck. The London Knights star has an average slap shot, but he will play defensive and block shots.
8. Bo Horvat 6-0/206 Center
He was one of the London Knights' best players, but he’s not the fastest skater. However, his desire and excellent stick and puck control serve him well. He seems to score many 1-on-1 goals. Horvat is an effective power-play scorer. He tallied some big game-winners in his team's Memorial Cup run showing that he is a clutch player. He plays a solid brand of defense, blocks shots and plays on the penalty kill, as well.
9. Adam Erne 6-0/205 Left wing
This Connecticut native knows where to go with or without the puck. His superb wrister is a weapon, and he can bury that from anywhere on the sheet. He closes well on the net making him hard to handle at that point. He’s good on the power play. This winger lays big hits and that will translate at the next level.
10. Anthony Mantha 6-4/200 Right wing
He had a four-goal game for Val D'Or this season. His long stick enables him to get a lot of torque on his wrist shot. For a big kid, he has good speed and he gets his stick to the corners of the net quickly. He has a big frame that can add more bulk down the road.
Next week: The top 10 defensemen