|"The two top prospects seen thumb wrestling to decide who's better."|
Central Scouting is about to release their final rankings for the upcoming NHL Draft in June and we're pretty excited to see how they'll unfold. While we aren't out scouting games every week, we do catch a few junior games and follow many prospects throughout the season. As with every year, there are top prospects that have everybody excited, but this year there appears to be a plethora of talent to choose from. While analysts and fans can usually predict at who will go #1, this year has more than a couple names in the mix that could make for a surprising draft.
Here are our 2013 NHL draft predictions for the top 10 picks. Once the draft order is set and we can see where teams will be picking we will predict the top 30 picks.
Nathan MacKinnon, C
MacKinnon has been touted as the top pick for the last few years in this draft and even though Seth Jones has outplayed him the last little while we can't see a team passing up on MacKinnon's offensive strengths. MacKinnon is also 11 months younger than Jones for what that's worth.
Seth Jones, D
A hoss on the back end at 6'4" and 200+ lbs, Jones can do it all and many scouts feel he is already NHL ready. The reason we see him not going #1 in this draft is because he is a defenceman and if you look at the list of defencemen who have gone number one in the past you can see why we feel this way.
Jonathan Drouin, LW
Drouin has skyrocketed up the charts this year and in many games has outshined his Halifax teammate, MacKinnon. Averaging 2 points a game and displaying elite on ice vision, Drouin will be an exciting player to watch in the NHL soon. However, we're really not looking forward to Allan Walsh tweeting about him every time he gets a point.
Aleksander Barkov, C
Barkov performed very well in Finland's SM-liiga finishing 9th in league scoring as an 18-year-old. Averaging close to a point-per-game while playing against grown men will certainly get you noticed. Even more impressive is that he has a late birthday and if he was born 13 days later he would be a 2014 draft pick.
Elias Lindholm, C
You have to be pretty good when people in Sweden start calling you the next Peter Forsberg. Scouts rave about how complete Lindholm's game is and he has all the tools to be a #1 center in the NHL once he fully develops.
Valeri Nichushkin, LW
It will be interesting to see where Nichushkin ends up and if the Russian factor comes into play. Nichushkin is an elite offensive talent with a strong 6'3" frame and should entice a few GM's to take a chance on him. I am sure they will all remember passing over fellow Russian, Vladimir Tarasenko, and letting him slide to 16th back in 2010.
Sean Monahan, C
Monahan is a solid two-way centre with decent size that can also put up points. He projects to be a 1st line talent that can play many different roles for his teams. From killing penalties to powerplay time, Monahan is a versatile player that NHL GMs love.
Darnell Nurse, D
At 6'5" and 190 lbs, Nurse needs to add more muscle, but he is already a tough cookie in the OHL putting up 116 penalty minutes this year. Nurse scored 12 goals and had 41 points in 68 games this year with the Greyhounds and wouldn't he be a great fit with the Edmonton Oilers.
Hunter Shinkaruk, C
Shinkaruk was a late cut for Team Canada's world junior team this year and maybe they could have used his elite skating on the big ice surface. Shinkaruk has top 5 pick offensive talents with high end scoring ability, but being just 5'10" he might slip in the draft.
Rasmus Ristolainen, D
Ristolainen is a solid two-way defenceman who can give you a little bit of everything. At 6'3" and 210 lbs, Ristolainen already has a mans body and could be ready for NHL action. He is projected to be a top 4 pairing defenseman.
Here's TSN's Mid-Season Draft Rankings Show so you can view highlights for each player and get a feel for what they would bring to an NHL club: