The 2013 NHL Entry Draft is now just weeks away. To get you ready for the draft, I've compiled a top 60 rankings compiled based on my personal viewing of each prospect, either in person or on video, and input from NHL and junior scouts.
This was a difficult list to make based on the depth of this class. Many of the players ranked in the 30s and some even in the 40s will have a chance to be selected in the first round. That's almost never the case. This class looks special now, but as is the case with all prospects, just how good it really is won't be known until these players start matriculating to the NHL.
Seth Jones remains in the top spot, with Jonathan Drouin edging teammate Nathan MacKinnon for the No. 2 ranking. All three are so incredibly close in value that they're almost interchangeable at No. 1. Both No. 4 Valeri Nichuskin and No. 5 Aleksander Barkov also have valid arguments to be included in the top 3. This should be an incredibly fun draft.
All seven rounds of the draft will be completed on June 30 in Newark, N.J., at the Prudential Center. Stay tuned to Eye on Hockey for much more coverage leading up to draft day.
|2013 NHL Big Board by Chris Peters|
|1. Seth Jones - D - Portland Winterhawks (WHL) - 6-4, 205 - Previous Rank: 1|
The single biggest reason Jones has been at the top of this board all season is this: rarity. It is very rare for a defenseman like him to come along. He thinks the game at an elite level, has added more offense to his top-end defensive game, he skates well and at times has the ability to take a game over, which is hard for a defenseman to do. He's the best story in the draft, but more importantly, he is the best player.
|2. Jonathan Drouin - LW - Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL) - 5-10, 186 - PR: 3|
Though overshadowed by his goal-scoring linemate, Drouin is the best forward available. He has incredible hockey sense, elite vision and some of the best puck skills, if not the best, in the draft. His creativity and ability to make his teammates better when he hits the ice gives him the edge. He is still growing into his frame and, though a wing, impacts the game almost every shift. Because of his hockey sense and already-immense puck skills, I have Drouin's upside graded higher than MacKinnon's by a slight margin and that's just enough to put him over for me.
|3. Nathan MacKinnon - C - Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL) – 6-0, 182 - PR: 2|
He's an explosive talent. There's no two ways around it. MacKinnon very well could be the No. 1 pick, but I still like Jones and Drouin just enough better to put them ahead. It is very, very close, though. What MacKinnon did at the Memorial Cup was him showing his best. That's what everyone hoped to see and he delivered. He is perhaps the draft's best skater, has a nose for the net and some grit to his elite offensive game. MacKinnon is a special player and will make whichever team he goes to instantly better.
|4. Valeri Nichushkin - RW - Traktor (KHL) - 6-3, 196 - PR: 7|
I spent the most time debating between Nichushkin and Barkov for No. 4, but ultimately chose Nichushkin for his vast potential. To me, Nichushkin could be a dominant player at the NHL level. He has tremendous speed to go along with his big frame and then he adds some high-quality puck skills and finish. The Russian factor is going to make teams nervous, but I think letting him fall any past No. 4 or 5 in the draft would be a mistake. He's the best Russian prospect I've seen in five years, at least..
|5. Aleksander Barkov - C – Tappara (SML) - 6-2, 205 - PR: 4|
He's NHL ready right now. Barkov is a terrific two-way center with solid puck skills. His skating could probably be a touch better to increase his potential, but he is already physically strong and averaged nearly a point-per-game in the top Finnish pro league. That is no small feat for a 17-year-old. Some scouts have him rated in the top-three even, and as I mentioned, it was very difficult to kick him down to No. 5. He's a terrific prospect.
|6. Elias Lindholm - C – Brynas (SEL) - 6-0, 181 - PR: 5|
The European entires for this year's draft are fantastic with the two previous players mentioned and Lindholm tends to be forgotten a bit. He plays the game at a level beyond his years and shows such tremendous upside at the center position. Lindholm has good two-way instincts and some projectable puck skills that show he could produce at a decent clip in the NHL.
|7. Sean Monahan - C – Ottawa (OHL) - 6-4, 187 - PR: 10|
Monahan is another solid NHL-ready prospect who does just about everything well. He has good size, speed and strength and isn't afraid to engage physically. He put up 78 points in the OHL for the second straight season, which put some on alert about his potential progression, but he didn't have a great supporting cast in Ottawa. He should have a chance to contribute immediately at the NHL level.
|8. Rasmus Ristolainen - D - TPS (SML) - 6-3, 201 - PR: 8|
With two years of high-level professional hockey already under his belt in Finland, Ristolainen may be able to hop into an NHL lineup next season. He's a big defense-first defenseman with some puck-moving upside and a lot of fluidity to his game. Ristolainen has a professional's poise at such a young age. There's a moderate upside concern as I'm not sure how much further his game is going to advance, but he's really rounding out into a solid player.
|9. Hunter Shinkaruk - LW - Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL) - 5-10, 182 - PR: 9|
Shinkaruk's projections are all over the map, but I see him as a potential 30-goal scorer at the NHL level. Consistency issues got to him a bit this season as his production dipped slightly in the WHL, but he has such good speed and hands. There's a lot of offensive potential with Shinkaruk and he could develop into a dynamic NHL talent.
|10. Max Domi – C – London Knights (OHL) – PR: 14|
One of the draft's most creative players, Domi adds a lot of tenacity to his skill. His style of play will make teams overlook his relative lack of size. He followed up a 49-point rookie season in the OHL with an 87-point outburst in 2012-13. This might be a slightly optimistic ranking, but he's got skill that's worth taking a chance on.
|11. Darnell Nurse - D - Soo Greyhounds (OHL) - 6-4, 185 - PR: 11|
Nurse has a good mix of mobility and snarl, which makes him a top defender in this draft. His offense took a step forward this season, but it's that physical edge and defensive awareness that puts him at this somewhat lofty ranking for a defensive defenseman. He plays an NHL brand of defense and has tremendous size, which teams could reach a few spots for. One scout told me he's the type of guy every team needs to win.
|12. Ryan Pulock – D – Brandon (WHL) – 6-0, 211 – PR: 10|
With solid offensive tools, Pulock also brings a sturdy frame to the table and good physical strength. He has a pro-ready shot and top-end vision to move the puck in all zones. He posted 45 points in an injury-shortened season and his defensive game seemed to take a step forward as well.
|13. Bo Horvat – C – London Knights (OHL) – 6-0, 206 – PR: 32|
Despite some really sound two-way capabilities, Horvat's offense really jumped up a notch this season. With 33 goals and 61 points in the OHL, that type of production with his good hockey IQ has made him a late riser. Horvat commits himself to play at both ends of the ice, doesn't shy away from the physical game and has a really terrific release.
|14. Nikita Zadorov - D - London Knights (OHL) – 6-4, 200 - PR: 12|
Zadorov has some tremendous size, but still is a bit on the raw side. That might be a good thing for some scouts, as his upside is immense. One scout would like to see him show a bit more consistency in the physical aspects and play a little meaner for his size. Zadorov has potential to be an absolute force, however, with his good physical tools.
|15. Pavel Buchnevich - LW - Cherepovets (KHL) – 6-1, 161 - PR: 30|
As pure a goal scorer as there is in the draft, Buchnevich is a really exciting talent. Though his being Russian could negatively impact his draft stock, Buchnevich could be a highly-productive player at the NHL level. He has a good frame he is still growing into, strong puck skills and an NHL-ready shot.
|16. Adam Erne - C – Quebec Remparts (QMJHL) - 6-0, 210 - PR: 13|
Erne's progression over his last three years in junior hockey has been immense and it seems like he still has room to grow as a player. He has a sturdy frame, has strong speed and good physical strength. He showed improved vision and distribution skills this season and maintained his sniper's eye for the net.
|17. Anthony Mantha - RW – Val d'Or (QMJHL) - 6-4, 190 - PR: 20|
Mantha opened a lot of eyes this season by scoring 50 goals. He was already on a lot of radars at his size and ability to power through opposing defenders to create offense. However, his 50-goal outburst really turned up the heat on his stock. Mantha doesn't wow you with skill, but he knows how to get to the net and score and that's obviously a key attribute.
|18. Alexander Wennberg - C - Djugardens (Allsvenskan) – 6-1, 174 - PR: 18|
Wennberg is a guy who does a lot of the little things well and shows ability at both ends of the ice. He has good puck skills and sees the ice well. Wennberg has a solid frame to build on and shows a willingness to get to the hard areas of the ice. He posted 32 points in Sweden's second-division pro league last season, which is a solid output for an 18-year-old.
|19. Valentin Zykov - LW – Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL) - 6-0, 208 - PR: 43|
Zykov lit up the QMJHL in his first season in North America, with 40 goals and 70 points. He's sturdily built, which makes him hard to knock off the puck. One scout said he loves Zykov's character and that he's a natural scorer. So there should be no concerns with the Russian factor.
|20. Robert Hagg - D – MODO (SEL) - 6-2, 193 - PR: 27|
After splitting the season between Sweden's top pro league and MODO's junior team, Hagg got a good taste of what he needs to do to get to the next level. He's a poised player with the puck on his stick and has some solid puck skills. He could afford to engage more physically, but he's a solid defender. His skill level alludes to extremely high potential.
|21. Andre Burakowsky -- LW – Malmo (Allsvenskan) – 6-1, 176 - PR: 20|
Burakowsky certainly has the skill level and speed to be a top-10 pick, but he hasn't quite put everything together yet. Spending the majority of the season in the pros with Malmo was a good step for him. If he can get more assertive on the ice and bulk up a bit, he could be a steal here.
|22. Madison Bowey - D – Kelowna Rockets (WHL) - 6-1, 195 - PR: NR|
With a pro-level shot and an ability to get the puck up ice quickly, Bowey is showing he can be a high-end two-way defenseman. He uses his physical game and skates well to make him a tough guy to get around. He was Canada's best defenseman at the recent World U18 Championship, where they won gold.
|23. Steven Santini - D - U.S. National U18 Team (USHL) - 6-2, 205 - PR: 28|
Though a relative lack of offensive upside has Santini lower on some boards, his elite defensive awareness stands out too much. He was the best defenseman of the entire World Under-18 Championship, shutting down top lines every game almost. He has pro-ready size and strength, and added a good physical element to his game this year. Scouts are extremely high on his character as well.
|24. Josh Morrissey – D – Prince Albert Raiders (WHL) – 6-0, 186 - PR: 17|
A near-elite offensive defenseman, Morrissey has a load of quality skills that make him a threat from the blue line. He sees the ice extremely well and has terrific distribution capabilities. Morrissey is patient in his decisions and doesn't always try to do things by himself. His defensive game needs a lot of work, though, and he could afford to get stronger.
|25. J.T. Compher - C – U.S. National U18 Team (USHL) - 6-0, 165 - PR: 23|
Compher has the mix of grit and skill that scouts seem to drool over this time of year. I've also heard raves about his character and leadership ability. Compher is an excellent two-way centerman, with a quality shot and decent puck skills. He skates with power and plays with some nastiness that makes him difficult to defend.
|26. Curtis Lazar - C/W – Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL) - 6-0, 190 - PR: 24|
In other drafts, I think Lazar would be a top-15 pick easily. He plays the right kind of style that should translate to the NHL level and possesses high-end speed. Despite being slightly undersized, Lazar goes to all areas of the ice and is committed to a two-way game. His production jumped up this year to 61 points, which was encouraging to see as some doubt his offensive potential.
|27. Jacob de la Rose - C/W - Leksand (Allsvenskan) - 6-2, 176 - PR: 25|
A terrific skater and all-around talent, de la Rose has some exciting upside. He possesses good puck skills and uses his size fairly well. If he bulks up a bit, he could develop into more of a two-way power-forward type. He split time at the U20 level and the Swedish pro ranks this year.
|28. Laurent Dauphin - C – Chicoutimi (QMJHL) - 6-0, 165 - PR: NR|
A rising prospect in this draft, Dauphin's combination of strong puck possession skills and relentlessness in puck pursuit make him one worth watching. I'd grade his offensive upside a tick higher than most, as he is very good in tight spaces and should see a boost in production as he develops. He could afford to get bigger and stronger to play his style at the NHL level.
|29. Ryan Hartman - C/W - Plymouth Whalers (OHL) - 5-11, 185 - PR: 29|
One scout I talked to said he loved the way Hartman plays and that he could be a very effective agitator at the next level. Beyond his agitation abilities, Hartman plays a very solid all-around game. The scout said Hartman doesn't have any one elite skill, but does everything well. He put up 60 points in his first OHL season, so the offensive upside is there, too.
|30. Arturri Lehkonen - LW - KalPa (SML) - 5-9, 163 - PR: 15|
After spending much of the year producing at a solid level in Finland's top pro league, there's reason to believe Lehkonen could become a top-end scoring wing at the NHL level, despite his size. Lehkonen has an accurate shot and isn't afraid to take it from anywhere, but he can float around the perimeter at times. Even at his size, he could afford to be more assertive in the offensive zone.
|31. Mirco Mueller – D – Everett Silvertips (WHL) – 6-3, 176 - PR: 46|
I fully expect Mueller to go in the first round, but I had a hard time putting him over any of the previous ranked guys. That's just how good this draft is. Mueller is a top-end defender with some excellent mobility and a great big frame. He has a lot of offensive upside as well as his distribution skills are quite good.
|32. Michael McCarron - RW – U.S. National U18 Team (USHL) - 6-5, 228 - PR: NR|
Against my better judgment, I bumped McCarron off the mid-term ranking, but that's getting fixed now. Players at his size, with good enough feet and above-average puck skills simply don't come around very often. One team very well could take him in the first round as a result. He has some physicality to his game, which he needs to have, but the offensive ability is the real surprise.
|33. Nicolas Petan - C - Portland Winterhawks (WHL) - 5-8, 165 - PR: 33|
His size is the first thing everyone looks at, but as soon as you see 120 points in the WHL this season, the size melts away a bit. Petan has some high-end puck skills and distribution ability. Additionally, he asserts himself in the offensive zone, despite the size. His speed and shiftiness allow him to create well on the rush or in tight spaces. He's a terrific talent.
|34. Kerby Rychel - RW – Windsor Spitfires (OHL) – 6-1, 205 - PR: 22|
With good size and edginess, Rychel's offensive abilities stand out even more. He posted 40 goals this season on a fairly weak Windsor club and wasn't afraid to mix it up at all. There are some concerns about Rychel's overall upside, which is why he dropped on this board, but his style of play are going to make a lot of scouts happy.
|35. Shea Theodore - D - Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL) - 6-2, 178 - PR: 35|
Theodore had an extremely productive season in Seattle and his offensive game looks to be continually growing. He put up 50 points from the blueline this season and showed off some terrific passing ability and keen instincts for when to jump into plays. He can be a little more mistake prone in the D zone and could afford to get stronger, but the potential is there to be a top-four defenseman.
|36. Frederik Gauthier – C/W – Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL) - 6-3, 193 - PR: 16|
Questions about Gauthier's overall offensive upside led to his tumble down the board, but he's still a very good prospect that has a good chance to go in the first round. His size stands out, but he also uses it very well and could develop into a strong two-way power forward down the line. He was near a point-per-game as a QMJHL rookie this year.
|37. Morgan Klimchuk - LW – Regina Pats (WHL) – 5-11, 180 - PR: 44|
With some standout tools offensively, Klimchuk took a big step forward in his second year of junior. He was over a point-per-game and showed solid play-making ability with some good evasive puck skills. His skating probably could use a little more power if he's to be a top-six caliber forward at the NHL level.
|38. Ian McCoshen - D - Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL) - 6-2, 207 - PR: 38|
McCoshen's game took another big step forward this year in his third junior season as he was able to put up 44 points in the USHL, which is a tough league to score in at times. His offensive tools are solid, particularly his heavy shot from the point, but I think his value lies in his defense. He has a good pro frame and played with a veteran's poise this season.
|39. Samuel Morin - D – Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL) - 6-6, 202 - PR: NR|
Morin is still very raw, but his enormous frame and ability to move well with it are making a lot of scouts very happy. One scout told me he though Morin could end up being one of the best defenseman to come out of this draft down the line. There's still some risk tied to his game as he still has a lot of development ahead, but I think a team could take that risk early.
|40. Chris Bigras - D – Owen Sound Attack - 6-0, 186 - PR: 49|
A good puck-moving defenseman with some solid defensive characteristics, Bigras has been one of the hot names rising up charts in the second half. He took a big step forward offensively as he showed above-average vision and distribution ability. He's smart in transition and has good recovery speed.
|41. Anthony Duclair - LW – Quebec Remparts (QMJHL) – 5-11, 177 - PR: 21|
Character concerns may be a reason Duclair's draft stock has plummeted a bit in the second half, but inconsistency is another. His strong puck skills and offensive awareness keep his upside relatively high, which is why I didn't see fit to drop him any further.
|42. Zach Fucale – G – Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL) - 6-1, 181 - PR: 37|
Fucale is probably the best goaltender in the draft and there may be a team that selects him in the first round, but I don't see enough there to pass over that many top-end skaters. Fucale's big benefit is that he's played a ton of hockey and is developing well as a result, there's still some moderate risk as there is with any goalie.
|43. Marko Dano - C – HC Slovan Bratislava (KHL) - 5-11, 178 - PR: 31|
An injury-shortened KHL season didn't help Dano's stock much, but his solid performance at the World Juniors remains a standout evaluation point. He has a real knack for offense and utilizes the ice very well. He can create time and space for his linemates and forces every team to know where he is.
|44. Jason Dickinson – C – Guelph Storm (OHL) – 6-1, 179 - PR: 26|
Dickinson has all of the physical tools, but one scout explained he couldn't seem to put it all together this year, which led to inconsistency. Dickinson is good at both ends of the ice and his offensive tools are really starting to come along. Due to some risk, I think his value dictates a second-round selection because the upside is still there.
|45. Bogdan Yakimov - C – Dizel Penza (VHL) - 6-5, 202 - PR: 47|
Yakimov is all about upside. His enormous frame and terrific puck skills suggest he could be a dominant player if he reaches his full potential. The Russian second division is very tough on young players, and that shows in Yakimov's production, but he's a guy to watch closely. The Russian factor might drop him a bit, but not terribly far.
|46. Oliver Bjorkstrand - LW – Portland Winterhawks (WHL) – 5-11, 157 - PR: NR|
Though his size is a bit of a concern, Bjorkstrand is excellent in possession. The Danish forward has good patience with the puck and is able to make those around him better by creating time and space. He has solid puck skills, but his skating could use some touching up and obviously he needs to add some bulk.
|47. William Carrier – LW – Cape Breton (QMJHL) - 6-2, 198 - PR: 42|
A big winger, with power-forward potential, Carrier's season was unfortunately derailed by injury. His size and strength are key attributes that allow him to contribute at such a high clip. He is good on the forecheck and brings a solid physical game in all zones. His offensive upside may not be as great as his numbers suggest, but he has a lot of nice qualities.
|48. Zach Nastasiuk - RW – Owen Sound Attack (OHL) - 6-1, 190 - PR: NR|
A power-forward type with a lot of potential, Nastasiuk is rocketing up draft boards with a stellar second half in Owen Sound. One scout said his power-forward potential is what has Nastasiuk rising, but wasn't sure a good second half was enough to put him much higher than mid-second round. Nastasiuk has some skills and a willingness to use his power game offensively.
|49. Hudson Fasching - RW – U.S. National U18 Team (USHL) - 6-2, 189 - PR: 40|
After his draft stock dipped, a strong showing at the World Under-18 Championship should put Fasching back into the second-round conversation. He has a huge frame, pro-level strength and is really good around the net. He's still developing his power game to convert it to offense, but the puck skills have really come along to aid in that development.
|50. Justin Bailey - RW - 6-3, 186 - Kitchener Rangers (OHL) - PR: 50|
Having to battle through some injuries including a concussion, Bailey didn't get a full year under his belt. However, he showed some terrific tools and his skating is still at a pretty high level. He has a lot left to learn, but at his size and the growth he's showing already, he's worth a mid-second-round stab.
Best of the Rest
51. Jimmy Lodge – C – Saginaw Spirit (OHL) – 6-0, 166
52. Sergei Tolchinsky – LW – Soo Greyhounds (OHL) – 5-8, 154
53. Connor Hurley – C – Edina (MN-HS) – 6-1, 172
54. Nick Sorensen – RW – Quebec Remparts (QMJHL) – 6-0, 168
55. Dillon Heathrington – D – Swift Current Broncos (WHL) – 6-3, 196
56. Linus Arnesson – D – Djugarden (Allsvenskan) – 6-1, 179
57. Tommy Vanelli – D – Minnetonka (MN-HS) – 6-2, 165
58. Anton Slepyshev – Salavat Yulaev (KHL) – 6-2, 187
59. John Hayden – U.S. National U18 Team (USHL) – 6-2, 220
60. Brett Pesce – University of New Hampshire (NCAA) – 6-3, 170
Honorable Mention: D Jordan Subban (Belleville), LW Tyler Motte (U.S. National U18 Team), LW Juuso Ikonen (Espoo), RW Victor Arvidsson (Skelleftea), G Juuse Saros (HPK), LW Emile Porier (Gatineau), C Ryan Fitzgerald (Valley), D Michael Downing (Dubuque)