Young Talent Essential to Success (2013 NHL Draft Preview)

5580__nhl_draft-primary-2013The NHL is ever-changing and as the league continues to grow it continues to become that much more complex. It wasn’t so long ago when the key to winning a Stanley Cup was adding veteran players to a team that could bring the experience needed to win in the league. Rookies were seen as pieces that would fill injury riddled teams when they needed someone to fill a hole when needed. The young players were not seen as players that could make a difference in the league. They were too inexperienced and would easily crumble under the pressure of the NHL and so they would have to wait. The American Hockey League would be the place where young talent would go to develop before making their debut. That would change recently though as young stars began to creep onto NHL rosters to the point where many first round picks are expected to make an impact immediately. The trend truly took over when Sidney Crosby would enter the NHL draft in 2005. Crosby was built as the best player to put on a pair of skates since Wayne Gretzky and he quickly proved that to be right. Crosby would play 81 games in 2005-06 spending no time in the AHL to develop. In that season he would score 39 goals and 63 assists for a total of 102 points and would win the Calder Trophy as the Rookie of the Year. The Penguins would eventually move on to win the Stanley Cup in 2009 with Crosby leading the way. Since Crosby was drafted the talent that has come out of the draft has been unmatched from years before. Young players are more prepared than ever to make an immediate impact in the NHL. As a result players like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, John Tavares, Steven Stamkos, and many more first round picks would begin to make an impact on their teams without even touching the AHL ice. In 2013 the trend will continue as the draft has now become the best way to build a team. It may not be the fastest way as teams with the top picks may not be a Stanley Cup team the next year but year after year the NHL sees a team that has done well on draft day take home the Cup. A lot of that has to do with the fact that these players are more ready than ever to step on to the NHL ice. They are generally more mature and more developed thanks to better coaching and better systems around the world that teach them how to be a professional at a young age. Another big factor is that NHL free agency has been a non-starter as of late. Every year Unrestricted Free Agents are either traded or given a new contract before they can enter the free agent market. Instead of letting players go teams look to lock them up to long-term deals the year before they can look to other teams. If the team doesn’t think they will be moving on with a player they trade them and let another team sign them to a contract. This way teams do not lose a player without getting anything from them in return for their investment. This causes a lack of good free agents and so teams have to turn to the trade market and to the draft to find their missing pieces. This year there are plenty of players who can fill a lot of holes and will take no time to develop. Nathan MacKinnon, Seth Jones, Jonathan Drouin, and Aleksander Barkov could be the best top four players in a draft for a long time. All are very talented and all are very different as MacKinnon provides the best all-around talent while Jones is a goal scoring puck moving defenceman that is hard to find in the NHL. Jonathan Drouin is a playmaker who has a knack with the puck while Aleksander Barkov is a big body that many teams could use. All four seem set to be great players in the NHL but where they will make their impact is yet to be determined. With teams using different strategies to draft there is no telling who will go where and who will be the biggest surprise of the draft but one thing is for sure, the NHL will get some future champions in this draft as another wave of talent enters the NHL.

1. Colorado Avalanche
colorado_avalanche Joe Sakic has made it clear that the Avalanche are looking for a new offensive star rather than going for Seth Jones. Taking the best all-around talent is a safe bet even if it leaves them with four good centres.
Who They Will Draft:

Nathan MacKinnon, C (Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL)

2. Florida Panthers
94 The Panthers have plenty of holes that they need to address this offseason and so they have the freedom to take the best player available. That will be Seth Jones as a great defenceman is hard to find.
Who They Will Draft:

Seth Jones, D (Portland Winterhawks, WHL)

3. Tampa Bay Lightning
97hhvk8e5if0riesnex30etgz Drouin is available and the Lightning and their fans cannot miss him. He will work perfectly with the best goal scorer in the NHL as a truly gifted playmaker who made Nathan MacKinnon better.
Who They Will Draft:

Jonathan Drouin, LW (Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL)

4. Nashville Predators
Nashville Predators The Predators are a very gritty team but they lack that pure goal scorer and one is available. Barkov played in the Finnish Elite League as a 17-year-old last year and put up 48 points in 53 games showing he is ready for the NHL.
Who They Will Draft:

Aleksander Barkov, C (Tappara, Fin)

5. Carolina Hurricanes
fotih31tn5r345nufo5xxayh3 The Hurricanes may very well move out of this spot to try to get something from another team. If they don’t they need some help on defence and will take the second best defenceman in the defensive defenceman Nurse.
Who They Will Draft:

Darnell Nurse, D (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, OHL)

6. Calgary Flames
Calgary-Flames-Logo The Flames are rebuilding despite what they may want to say and with captain Jarome Iginla gone they are looking for the future. They will get a solid centre who has that leadership ability to be a future captain in the NHL.
Who They Will Draft:

Sean Monahan, C (Ottawa 67’s, OHL)

7. Edmonton Oilers
oilers There is no doubt that the Oilers need a defenceman but there will be none left at this point. If they don’t move from this pick they will take another young forward who may get some time to develop.
Who They Will Draft:

Elias Lindhom, C (Brynas, SWE)

8. Buffalo Sabres
i40oxcdbo7xtfamqqhqachoyo The Sabres continue to try to build their offensive powers and they will get another one at #8. Nichushkin impressed everyone at the Combine this year as he showed that he could turn out to be a big power forward in the NHL.
Who They Will Draft:

Valerei Nichushkin, RW (Chelyabinsk, KHL)

9. New Jersey Devils
32tfs723a3bes0p0hb4hgcy1u The top 10 of the draft is not a place to take a goalie but the Devils are in a much different situation than most. They need to put someone in their system before they are left with no future at the position after Broduer.
Who They Will Draft:

Zach Fucale, G (Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL)

10. Dallas Stars
200px-Dallas_Stars_logo.svg The Stars are in need of a centre and there will be plenty to choose from at this spot. The Stars could take Bo Horvat who was a clutch player for the Knights but may not play in the NHL this in 2013.
Who They Will Draft:

Bo Horvat, C (London Knights, OHL)

11. Philadelphia Flyers
161 The Flyers might want to go with a defenceman here but they do not have the best track record at developing D-men. For that reason taking an offensive player who can score might be the best option here.
Who They Will Draft:

Hunter Shinkaruk, C/LW (Medicine Hat Tigers, WHL)

12. Phoenix Coyotes
coyotes12 The Phoenix fans have a lot more to worry about than who they will draft but the show must go on. They will take their pick and add a solid forward who may take some time to develop but will be a good NHL player.
Who They Will Draft:

Curtis Lazar, C/RW (Edmonton Oil Kings, WHL)

13. Winnipeg Jets
z9qyy9xqoxfjn0njxgzoy2rwk The Jets already have Mark Scheifele developing to be their #1 centre but more support is always welcome. The young Swede won’t be in the NHL this year but he is not far off and will be good support for Scheifele.
Who They Will Draft:

Alexander Wennberg, C (Djurgarden. SWE)

14. Columbus Blue Jackets
200px-Columbus_BlueJackets.svg The Blue Jackets have the luxury of three picks in the first round this year and will have plenty of chances to fill holes. The first one will be to try to add some much-needed depth to their offence.
Who They Will Draft:

Max Domi, C (London Knights, OHL)

15. New York Islanders
79520qbne58r9i71zhuggbff0 The Isles need some replacements on the blue line and if they keep this pick they will try to solve that problem. Ristolainen is a big body that will be welcomed without Mark Streit and an aging blue line.
Who They Will Draft:

Rasmus Ristolainen, D (TPS, FIN)

16. Buffalo Sabres (from Minnesota Wild)
i40oxcdbo7xtfamqqhqachoyo The Sabres have the luxury of having two picks in the first round and can take a bit of a risk. Morrissey is that risk as he is not as big as the other defenceman in the draft but his hockey smarts make him a good pick.
Who They Will Draft:

Josh Morrissey, D (Prince Albert Raiders, WHL)

17. Ottawa Senators
2bkf2l3xyxi5p0cavbj8 The Sens have plenty of offensive potential even in their blue line but they will try to build the other way now. Zaradov is a massive defenceman at 6’5” 230 lbs and will provide a solid defensive presence for the Sens.
Who They Will Draft:

Nikita Zaradov, D (London Knights, OHL)

18. Detroit Red Wings
yo3wysbjtagzmwj37tb11u0fh The Red Wings have one of the best systems in the NHL but for prospects it means that they will stay in the system for a while. That could be good for Mantha who is a great scorer but might need to round out his game in the AHL.
Who They Will Draft:

Anthony Mantha, RW (Les Foreurs de Val D’Or, QMJHL)

19. Columbus Blue Jackets (from New York Rangers)
200px-Columbus_BlueJackets.svg The Blue Jackets have already taken a good centre to take care of some offensive depth and now they look to another problem. They will take a defenceman who can add some major grit and size to the team.
Who They Will Draft:

Samuel Morin, D (Rimouski Oceanic, QMJHL)

20. San Jose Sharks
640px-SanJoseSharksLogo.svg The Sharks are in need of some younger players and they have to start building now. They will likely go with the best defenceman left in the draft taking the big body Mueller from the WHL.
Who They Will Draft:

Mirco Mueller, D (Everett Silvertips, WHL)

21. Toronto Maple Leafs
199 The Leafs have a completely new attitude as they are quick and tough and they are looking for that type of player. Kerby Rychel  fits the profile as a solid offensive producer and a tough player.
Who They Will Draft:

Kerby Rychel, LW (Windsor Spitfires, OHL)

22. Calgary Flames (from St. Louis Blues)
Calgary-Flames-Logo The Flames second pick of the first round might very well give them two good future centres. Gauthier is a different type though as he is a career third liner with great defensive ability that can be used in multiple areas.
Who They Will Draft:

Frederik Gauthier, C (Rimouski Oceanic, QMJL)

23. Washington Capitals
llrs2zxi127vkqgcsvfb The Capitals are a good offensive team but will likely look for some defensive help in the draft. They will find it in Ryan Pulock who many have going higher but may just fall this low.
Who They Will Draft:

Ryan Pulock, D (Brandon Wheat Kings)

24. Vancouver Canucks
vancouver-canucks The Canucks are an aging team and they need to start stockpiling young talent before it’s too late. They will find that in Nic Petan who can come in and provide some secondary scoring.
Who They Will Draft:

Nic Petan, C (Portland Winterhawks, WHL)

25. Montreal Canadiens
124 The Canadiens are in a good position leading into next year but more help is always welcome. They may just find it in another Russian scorer who helped himself with a 40 goal season.
Who They Will Draft:

Valentin Zykov, LW (Baie-Comeau Drakkar, QMJHL)

26. Anaheim Ducks
Anaheim Ducks Simply looking for depth at this point the Ducks are able to take the best player available. It will work out well as they will take Adam Erne who grew up playing in LA.
Who They Will Draft:

Adam Erne, LW (Quebec Remparts, QMJHL)

27. Columbus Blue Jackets (from Los Angeles Kings)
200px-Columbus_BlueJackets.svg The Blue Jackets will close out their busy first round by taking another forward. It won’t be a player that will make an immediate impact as Burakovsky is a project but has a high ceiling.
Who They Will Draft:

Andre Burakovsky, LW (Malmo, SWE)

28. Calgary Flames (from Pittsburgh Penguins)
Calgary-Flames-Logo The Flames will also be wrapping up their busy draft by taking a raw but good defenceman. Steve Santini has the potential to be a great defenceman with a little bit of work.
Who They Will Draft:

Steve Santini, D (US National Development Team)

29. Dallas Stars (from Boston Bruins)
200px-Dallas_Stars_logo.svg The Stars are playing with house money on this pick acquiring it for Jaromir Jagr. With that in mind they can take a solid defenceman who will not see the NHL for a while as Ian McCoshen will be attending Boston College.
Who They Will Draft:

Ian McCoshen, D (Waterloo Black Hawks, USHL)

30. Chicago Blackhawks
200px-ChicagoBlackhawksLogo.svg The good thing about the Blackhawks this year is that they will not blow up their team. This leaves more time to develop players like Madison Bowey who has plenty of potential to be a top blue liner.
Who They Will Draft:

Madison Bowey, D (Kelowna Rockets, WHL)

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