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2013 NHL Draft: Top 10 defensemen available

By Chris Peters | Hockey Writer

Chris Peters ranks Seth Jones the No. 1 defenseman available in the NHL Draft.
Chris Peters ranks Seth Jones the No. 1 defenseman available in the NHL Draft (USATSI)

More NHL offseason: Rumors | Top 50 Free Agents | Top 50 Prospects | Mock Draft

The NHL Draft is Sunday in New Jersey and here are my top 10 defensive prospects available starting with Seth Jones.

Top 10 Defensemen available in 2013 NHL Draft by Chris Peters
1. Seth Jones - D - Portland Winterhawks (WHL) - 6-4, 205 - Overall 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. Rasmus Ristolainen - D - TPS (SML) - 6-3, 201 - OR: 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.

3. Darnell Nurse - D - Soo Greyhounds (OHL) - 6-4, 185 - OR: 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.

4. Ryan Pulock – D – Brandon (WHL) – 6-0, 211 – OR: 12

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.

5. Nikita Zadorov - D - London Knights (OHL) – 6-4, 200 - OR: 14

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.

6. Robert Hagg - D – MODO (SEL) - 6-2, 193 - OR: 20

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.

7. Madison Bowey - D – Kelowna Rockets (WHL) - 6-1, 195 - OR: 22

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.

8. Steven Santini - D - U.S. National U18 Team (USHL) - 6-2, 205 - OR: 23

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.

9. Josh Morrissey – D – Prince Albert Raiders (WHL) – 6-0, 186 - OR: 24

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.

10. Mirco Mueller – D – Everett Silvertips (WHL) – 6-3, 176 - OR: 31

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.

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