In a few hours, the NHL Entry draft is going to start and as names start getting called out, we start crossing off players.
As Minnesota Wild fans, we don`t have the luxury of a top 15 pick, so guessing who is going to still be available when we pick is all a big mystery. But that is what mock drafts are for!
Plus, I had a hell of time making it so...
Here is the Hockey Wilderness 2013 Mock Draft!
#1 Colorado Avalanche - C NATHAN MACKINNON, HALIFAX (QMJHL)
I personally feel that Seth Jones is the perfect player for the Avalanche. Their organization needs a potential franchise defenseman and he is the perfect fan favorite for the team.
But who I am to say that Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy are liars...
Mackinnon is still an excellent choice; a forward that can not only score an amazing amount of goals but can also forecheck, play the grind, and left fans out of their seats.
Projection: Franchise 50 goal-scoring forward
#2 Florida Panthers - D SETH JONES, PORTLAND (WHL)
Like Colorado, I believed another prospect was perfect for Florida. Mackinnon would have been the perfect linemate for playmaker Jonathan Huberdeau. But alas, Jones falls to them.
While the team already has a talented young group of defensemen in Erik Gudbranson, Dmitri Kulikov and Mike Matheson, can they be more than #2-3 defenseman and become a true number 1? Well, you even have to think about it, Jones gives you that insurance that team will have a defenseman that is going to carry the team offensively and defensively.
Projection: Two-way all-situation franchise defenseman
#3 Tampa Bay Lightning - C ALEKSANDER BARKOV, TAPPARA (FINLAND)
Any other year, a 6-3 smart centerman who plays like a first liner in a men's league would probably a surefire first overall pick. Luckily for Tampa Bay, it just happens to be 2013 and Barkov falls to the Lightning.
While there are few other prospects that just might have a tad more offensive flash that the team could use, Barkov has a triple threat of skill, NHL build and proven playing experiences that he is just too hard to pass up on. One of the safest picks in the draft but also brings a good amount of two-way skills.
Projection: Two-way all-situation #1 centerman
#4 Nashville Predators - LW JONATHAN DROUIN, HALIFAX (QMJHL)
The most electrifying prospect in this year's draft, Drouin a consistent highlight machine. He'll make you look stupid if you try to bully him, he'll undress you three times before finally finding his open linemate to finish off the play.
Predators has always been known as a more two-way grinding type of team and as such, their offense is often unflashy and unspectacular. In order for the team improve, maybe a bit of flash is exactly what they need; a player that can generate offense on his own, slow down the play, and make breathtaking moves.
Projection: Offensive, playmaking magician; potential 80-100 point winger.
#5 Carolina Hurricanes - C ELIAS LINDHOLM, BRYNAS (SWEDEN)
Carolina is one of the teams that needs help everywhere in terms of prospect so they go best player available, whether that be a forward, defenseman or goaltendder. In this case, it happens to be a smart and slick two-way Swedish centerman.
A bit of a Pavel Datsyuk-lite, Lindholm's ability to anticipate plays makes him extremely dangerous offensively and defensively. He isn't very big or strong but he will be able to pick off passes, make quick plays, and be a constant presence all over the ice.
Projection: Two-way, slick playmaker. 60-70 point while #1 on PP and PK.
#6 Calgary Flames - C SEAN MONAHAN, OTTAWA (OHL)
While the previously mentioned prospects all have had the luxury of media exposure, Monahan spent the year playing for a struggling OHL team with no showings in any international tournaments.
Still, he is a 6-2 187lbs two-way centerman that can is equally good in every zone on the ice. Like Lindholm, Monahan is the type of player that plays in every single situation but who has enough offensive upside to become a regular #1 centerman.
The Flames have some decent pieces in their system with Sven Baertschi and Mark Jankowski but will need to continue adding more bluechip pieces into their organization and Monahan is both safe and skilled to help their rebuild move forward.
Projection: Two-way, all-round centerman. 60-70 point while #1 on PP and PK.
#7 Edmonton Oilers - D DARNELL NURSE, SAULT ST MARIE (OHL)
I believe it was clearly stated that the Oilers were going to search for a centerman prospect but with both Elias Lindholm and Sean Monahan gone, their next best choice is defenseman Darnell Nurse.
Although the team has decent depth, they lack a defenseman with strong first pairing potential to partner up with Justin Schultz. Darnell Nurse is a big, two-way defenseman that brings both grit and skill at the same time. While he is a bit lanky, his tools have shown the ability to dominate games.
With their forwards core already nice and solid, having a group of young defensemen like Justin Schultz, Oscar Klefbom, Martin Marincin and now Darnell Nurse, the Oilers is going to be a strong team in the next 2-3 years.
Projection: Two-way, all-round defenseman with grit and size. #2 man on the first PP and #1 PKer.
#8 Buffalo Sabres - RW VALERI NICHUSHKIN, CHELYABINSK (RUSSIA)
This year's draft wildcard, Valeri Nichushkin has shown the potential to be a dominating powerforward type of player. Although slightly lanky, his stance is wide and well-balanced, and he loves driving towards the net.
And although his KHL contract is up and he has stated he wants to play in the NHL, what worries me is that he never said anything about playing in the AHL or juniors, which alot of youngsters need to their development.
Still, can you imagine a duo of Mikhail Grigorenko and Valeri Nichushkin playing together in Buffalo? It gives the Sabres the much needed offense and gives them a tandem that will be able to dominate the NHL in the next few years.
Projection: Powerforward with drive and grit and who can score 70-80 points.
#9 New Jersey Devils - C/LW HUNTER SHINKARUK, MEDICINE HAT (WHL)
The Devils have needed scoring for years and it shows in their prospect pool as well. They somehow find serviceable NHLers but need to finally draft some bluechip offensive players and Hunter Shinkaruk seems to have a Devils-mold in him.
He has the speed, he has the goal-scoring instict, and he has that fearlessness that made Zach Parise so loved in New Jersey. He will need to continue adding muscle to his frame but the potential of a quick and active goal-scorer is a beautiful thing.
Projection: Quick 40 goal-scoring scorer with 70-80 points. PP specialist.
#10 Dallas Stars - C MAX DOMI, LONDON KNIGHTS (OHL)
The Stars have a talented defenseman pipeline with Brendan Dillon, Jamie Oleksiak, Philip Larsen and Joe Morrow. While there are some good things on forward, they just have the same depth their blueline shows. The addition of Max Domi will add some flashy, offensive potential to the group.
Dom is a very skilled forward but who is noticeably undersized. However, what is impressive is he is a good 185lbs, good enough for a strong 6-0 player, nevermind a 5-9 offensive dynamo. He already looks good in green so he'll fit nicely in Dallas.
Projection: Undersized but stocky offensive forward. 65-75 point player. PP specialist.
#11 Philadelphia Flyers - D NIKITA ZADOROV, LONDON (OHL)
Flyers need help everywhere as they lack solid depth and talent; Zadorov gives them a safe but potentially physically dominating defenseman who'll punish players, play tons of minutes and act as triggerman on the #1 PP.
#12 Phoenix Coyotes - C ALEXANDER WENNBERG, DJURGARDEN (SWE-2)
Phoenix probably has the best group of young defensemen in the league so they look for a forward. Wennberg has the look of a Dave Tipett player; versatile, fast and smart. He is a good selection of offensive skills which he can utilize at any speeds.
#13 Winnipeg Jets - D RASMUS RISTOLAINEN, TPS (FINLAND)
The Jets have one bluechip prospect in every position so they pick the best player available. Rasmus Ristolainen is a blend of physicality and skill; a strong reliable presence. He should be a good defensive partner alongside Jacob Trouba.
#14 Columbus Blue Jackets - C BO HORVAT, LONDON (OHL)
Columbus has some good depth in their blueline with Ryan Murray and Tim Erixon with Jack Johnson still quite young. With three picks in the first, they started rebuilding their forward group with a safe but strong Bo Horvat. Some might question his offensive upside but he brings everything else and his playoff performance was promising.
#15 New York Islanders - G ZACH FUCALE, HALIFAX (QMJHL)
One of the best prospect pool in the league, the Islanders have the luxury to pick a goaltender with their 1st round pick because of the amount of talent they have everywhere else. Fucale is a potential star goaltender and with the addition of him, Long Island will have the best young group in the NHL.
#16 Buffalo Sabres - D SHEA THEODORE, SEATTLE (WHL)
The Sabres have solid depth on their blueline but lack a clear bluechip prospect that can dominate from the blueline. Although Theodore is very raw, he has the frame and vision to be that high-end defenseman that Buffalo could use to partner with Tyler Myers.
#17 Ottawa Senators - RW ANTHONY MANTHA, VAL-D'OR (QMJHL)
Great depth in every position with some strong two-way forwards like Mika Zibanejad and Stefan Noesen and could use a home-run goalscorer. Anthony Mantha might have some questionable work ethics but he has the size, mobility and goal-scoring potential. Senators can afford to make a high risk/high reward selection.
#18 Detroit Red Wings - RW RYAN HARTMAN, PLYMOUTH (OHL)
Detroit is starting to look for some toughness and physicality into their lineup. Ryan Hartman is one of the toughest and most agitating forwards in this draft but can also produce offensively and should work very well in the Detroit system.
#19 Columbus Blue Jackets - RW/C CURTIS LAZAR, EDMONTON (WHL)
With their 2nd, they continue adding more forwards with the best forward available, Curtis Lazar. Versatile, hardworking and a quick release, he'll add another energetic and gritty forward to the team. Columbus isn't going to make any huge gambles with their first picks and just focus on adding more potential NHLers.
#20 San Jose Sharks - D JOSH MORRISSEY, PRINCE ALBERT (WHL)
Like Carolina, the Sharks need talent in every department. Although they are starving for goal-scoring, they wouldn't mind adding a talented defenseman either. Considering the best player available is agile, two-way defenseman Josh Morrissey, the Sharks do not hesitate.
#21 Toronto Maple Leafs - LW/RW FREDERIK GAUTHIER, RIMOUSKI (QMJHL)
With a young blueline group consisting of Jake Gardiner, Morgan Rielly, Matt Finn and Stuart Percy, the Maple Leafs forget defensemen and looking for a solid, two-way forward. Frederik Gauthier is a big bodied forward that can skate, extremely smart defensively, and has some decent offensive skills to raise questions of whether he still has untapped offensive potential.
#22 Calgary Flames - D RYAN PULOCK, BRANDON (WHL)
Not many expected Pulock to drop this far but that is just how the draft unfolded. Pulock is the best player available who has a rocket of a shot and is smart defensively with a solid frame. His offensive upside is questionable but he looks very solid and has a low bust factor; something a rebuilding team like Calgary could use.
#23 Washington Capitals - D SAMUEL MORIN, RIMOUSKI (QMJHL)
The team seems to have solid depth in every position but lack clear cut bluechip prospects on its blueline. Well, you can't miss 6-6 Samuel Morin who skates quite well for his size with decent puck skills. His recent upward progression has made him a fast draft rise late in the season.
#24 Vancouver Canucks - LW VALENTIN ZYKOV, BAIE-COMEAU (QMJHL)
A stocky, gritty and hardworking forward. Zykov is not your protypical Russian player. He also compliments his hardworking style of play with a good, strong shot. He will get the Canucks a good solid player who, if he doesn't translate his offense into the NHL, will still provide the team with a strong and physical forward.
#25 Montreal Canadiens - LW KERBY RYCHEL, WINDSOR (OHL)
The Canadiens need a good sized forward that can play physical and crash the net. Well, that is Kerby Rychel's speciality; playing gritty and scoring goals close to the net. He struggled slightly from inconsistency but its very hard to score 40 goals in two consecutive years
#26 Anaheim Ducks - LW MORGAN KLMICHUk, REGINA (WHL)
The team has a steady stream of provirtes on every position, with high and low end quality so with this pick, they choose best player available. They have the luxury to do so. Klimchuk is a speedy forward with very good scoring instincts.
#27 Columbus Blue Jackets - LW ANDRE BURAKOVSKY, MALMO (SWE-2)
Burakovsky had an up and down year but still possesses the tools to be a scorer. The Blue Jackets have drafted Bo Horvat and Curtis Lazar already so they go for someone a little higher risk but someone who could develop into a speedy, offensive player.
#28 Calgary Flames (via Pittsburgh Penguins) - D MADISON BOWEY, KELOWNA (WHL)
Flames again choose best player available with Sean Monahan and Ryan Pulock already selected. Bowey has a great first pass and is quite solid in his own zone. He is a mobile defenseman that can keep his players in check but keep the puck out of his own zone through quick and efficient passing.
#29 Dallas Stars (via Boston Bruins) - C NICOLAS PETAN, PORTLAND (WHL)
Although Domi is undersized, he is still considered a fairly safe pick with his strong build and impressive work ethic. With their 2nd pick, the Stars go for another undersized forward but one less about the muscle and more about the dodging. Petan is super evasive and magical hands but is at a dangerous 5-8 165lbs build.
#30 Chicago Blackhawks - C JACOB DE LA ROSE, LEKSAND (SWE-2)
The Stanley Cup winners is an extremely impressive organization. Not only do they have one of the best pro teams but also have an extremely deep prospect pool. This allows them to pick best player available and select a gritty, versatile forward in Jacob De La Rose.