Welcome to today’s edition of “Top Shelf Prospects”. If you missed any of my previous articles you can find a complete listing of them here.
Today I give an early look at the 2013 NHL draft with my top 30 rankings so far.
If someone obvious is missing off the list (especially a European player) chances are i haven’t seen enough to properly rank him yet. I often use the World Juniors, the Five Nations, and the Under 18s as my reference point for ranking some of these players as Euro tapes are hard to come by. That said guys like Barkov, Nikushkin, and Lindholm who were seen last season (or in 4 nations events, or the Subway Super Series) will be included.
I’ll be doing this ranking in four parts this week. 1-10, 11-20, and 21-30, and honourable mentions
Ok, lets go with our top 10.
1. Nathan MacKinnon, Centre, Halifax Mooseheads 5’11 179 lbs – The Best player in this class for sure. Right now many have our #2 challenging him, but I don’t see it. To me its MacKinnon and everyone else. Lets be honest, he’s not as good as Sidney Crosby, but he plays the same style and is Sid-lite. He’s still a future franchise centre, just not the generational talent of Crosby. He’s very strong on the puck, a great playmaker or goal scorer, and a tremendously agile and quick skater. His albility to make lateral cuts gives defenders nightmares.
2. Seth Jones, Defence, Portland Winterhawks 6’4 206 lbs – This great skater holds down the #2 spot. He’s got the size, he’s got the offensive skill, he’s very good positionally, and he’ll be a top defender in the NHL. The only thing missing is the physical game, I’d like to see him take advantage of that size.
3. Aleksander “Sasha” Barkov, Left Wing/Centre, Tappara (SM-Liga) 6’2″ 205 lbs: One of the drafts youngest eligible players, Barkov has been lighting up the stat sheet in the SM-Liga. In games I’ve seen, he was outstanding at the four nations, and was very good at the U18 and WJC last year. A big World Junior Tourney would see him challenging for top 2. Barkov is outstanding on the boards, has great hands, can score goals and set them up, and has a well-polished two way game. One of the best Finnish prospects in years.
4. Sean Monahan, Centre, Ottawa 67s, 6’2″ 170 lbs: Monahan was #3 on my preseason top 10. So why has he dropped? Well its nothing he has done, and everything Barkov has done to push him ahead. Monahan has been everything he was advertised to be this season for Ottawa and is currently holding down a spot amongst the OHL’s top 10 scorers. A powerforward in the making with both goal scoring and playmaking skill in the middle of the ice.
5. Jonathan Drouin, Left Wing/Right Wing, Halifax Mooseheads 5’11” 176 lbs: The dimunitive Drouin has been scoring at a greater pace than his Halifax linemate MacKinnon so far this season, and has really risen up draft boards (including this one). He’s a dynamic skater and creative offensively as both a playmaker and a finisher. The only thing that holds him back is his size and some questions defensively. And yes, I know he’s listed at 5’11” the same height as MacKinnon. But I’ll bet on the two having at least a two inch gap in height if the NHL combine was held today. I see him on the ice next to MacKinnon and there is just no way the two players are the same size. You can’t deny the talent though.
6. Elias Lindholm, Centre, Brynas, Elitserien 6’0″ 192 lbs: The talented Swedish centre has put up 14 points in 22 games in Sweden’s top league. He also had a good 4 nations tournament until an ankle injury slowed him down. He’s an excellent skater and stickhandler, whose playmaking skills will be highly coveted in the NHL Draft.
7. Hunter Shinkaruk, Left Wing, Medicine Hat Tigers 5’11” 175lbs: Another player who has fallen a bit from his preseason rank where I had him number 4. However this is of no fault of his own, but more a reflection of how good this draft is for forwards. Here is a player who is 6th in WHL scoring with 17 goals and 35 points in 24 games this year. A shifty, talented skater with a tremdous shot and release coming off the left wing. He also has very good playmaking skill and vision.
8. Ryan Pulock, Defence, Brandon Wheat Kings, 6’1″ 211 lbs: At this point I’m seeing the draft as being a big 8 with a drop off coming after Pulock. Pulock has been great so far this season, and with 24 points in 22 games he’s the highest scoring defenceman in the WHL (Myles Bell is listed ahead of him, but he’s been playing forward), He has an absolute rocket of a slapshot and is a feared shooter on the Powerplay. A natural PP Quarterback, Pulock makes smart crisp passes and sees the ice extremely well. Pulock is an above average skater with good mobility on the blue line.
9. Valeri Nichushkin, Centre, Traktor Chelyabinsk (KHL) 6’3″ 195lbs – Nichushkin really impressed me in the Subway Super Series. He’s a dynamic skater, who has a great stride, very good top end speed, and outstanding acceleration. He is able to use quick changes of pace to attack defenders off the rush and is especially effective driving wide on defenders. He creates plays with his great puck protection and stickhandling skill and has a good shot. This ranking is based on his pure talent though, I expect that he’ll fall when I start putting in the “Russian Factor” as he is signed to a three year KHL contract (this season and two more). This could really hurt his final draft position depending on interviews, but the talent says top 10 pick.
10. Josh Morrissey, Defence, Prince Albert Raiders, 6’0″ 185 lbs: Morrissey has had a very good start to the season in Prince Albert. Hes is a talented two way defensemen, equally adept at putting up points and quarterbacking a powerplay, or playing a shut down defensive role. His great skating and mobility is a tremendous asset in all aspects of the game as it helps him to rush the puck offensively, and contain opponents defensively. He has 16 points in 23 games and is a +12 to start the year.
Thanks for reading. Check back in later in the week for parts 2, 3 and 4 of the November Rankings.
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