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Top prospects trying to avoid draft rumor mill

Friday, 06.28.2013 / 5:00 PM / 2013 NHL Draft

By Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Top prospects trying to avoid draft rumor mill
Many feel this year's draft could produce trades as teams jockey not only to bolster their lineups but to maintain salary cap-friendly rosters.

WEEHAWKEN, N.J. -- The odds of there being a trade or two when the 2013 NHL Draft is held Sunday at Prudential Center (3 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN) are pretty good.

The most recent time the draft was held in one session -- 2006 in Vancouver -- there were 20 trades made on draft day. Many feel this year's event could produce similar results as teams jockey not only to bolster their lineups but to maintain salary cap-friendly rosters.

Thursday, Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman decided to use one of his two compliance buyouts on captain Vincent Lecavalier. The move sent a few shockwaves throughout the League. It also may have changed Tampa Bay's plan on how to use the No. 3 pick in the draft.

Could the loss of one top center mean the next-best center in the draft, after Nathan MacKinnon of the Halifax Mooseheads, is in line to hear his name called at No. 3?

Ottawa 67's center Sean Monahan, who is No. 5 on NHL Central Scouting's list of the top draft-eligible North American skaters, was asked that question.

"You hear things, but I try not to focus on it because it's obviously not in my control," Monahan told NHL.com. "I'm just going to be happy to go wherever I land. I guess whatever team picks me is the team that wants me, so I'll be happy to play for them and do whatever I can to make them a better team."

That was the overall opinion of eight of the top players during press event here outside the Sheraton Lincoln Harbor Hotel overlooking the Hudson River.

In addition to Monahan, forwards MacKinnon and Halifax teammate Jonathan Drouin, center Aleksander Barkov of Tappara in Finland, forward Hunter Shinkaruk of the Medicine Hat Tigers, defensemen Seth Jones of the Portland Winterhawks and Darnell Nurse of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, and Halifax goalie Zachary Fucale were on hand to field many questions in preparation for the big day.

"It's definitely a little nerve-racking [hearing about the trades], but you just want to have your name get called," Shinkaruk said. "I'm sure that every pick that goes by and it isn't your name, you'll get a little more nervous, but at the end of the day this is an experience that I've looked forward to and my name's going to be called at some point. I just have to look forward to that and continue to go through the process."

Shinkaruk had 37 goals and 86 points in 64 Western Hockey League games in 2012-13 and is No. 6 on Central Scouting's final list.

Nurse, No. 4 in Central Scouting's final ranking and the second-rated defenseman, said he wasn't concerning himself with trade talk or what might happen the day of the draft.

"You can't control that stuff," he said. "The only thing you can control is how prepared you are when camp rolls around. I'm a hard worker … I think it'll be hard to find someone who works as hard as I do."

Dan Marr, NHL Director of Central Scouting, said he wouldn't be surprised if any of the top four players on this year's draft board -- Jones, MacKinnon, Drouin and Barkov -- were chosen by the Colorado Avalanche with the first pick.

"I'm not going to be surprised if any of the top three or four players went No. 1," Marr said. "That order is completely up in the air and the teams that are making the choices have a difficult choice, but it'll be great for the fans. Our list is always a work in progress and it could change from week to week, but it's based on the body of work during the season. The thinking is the same for the NHL teams … one tournament won't influence draft order or change an opinion."

Drouin, No. 3 on Central Scouting's list, might be the smartest player available in this year's draft. The Canadian Hockey League's player of the year finished the season with 41 goals, 105 points and a plus-48 rating in 49 regular-season games in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

"There could be a lot of trades and even the first overall pick could be traded," Drouin said. "But I'm more interested to see what's going to happen on Sunday [during the actual draft]. It's more excitement than nervousness. We've all done our part on the ice and now it's just waiting to see where you go."

No. 2-ranked MacKinnon, who had seven goals and 13 points in four Memorial Cup games to help Halifax win the title and earn the tournament's most valuable player award, again was asked about the possibility of being the first pick by the Avalanche. Colorado executive vice president of hockey operations Joe Sakic has made it clear MacKinnon would be the top choice.

Jones, the WHL Rookie of the Year and winner of the Canadian Hockey League's Top Prospect award in 2012-13, is No. 1 on Central Scouting's list.

"A lot could change in the next couple of days … Florida [which holds the No. 2 pick] is one choice away, so I could easily go there," MacKinnon said.

MacKinnon was asked if a kid from Nova Scotia would enjoy the change of scenery in sunny Florida.

"I have fair skin, so I'd have to put on a lot of sun screen," he said.

Jones didn't seem too concerned with the direction the Avalanche would take at the draft, despite the fact he grew up idolizing Sakic and the team as a kid.

"Joe and Patrick [Roy, coach] have a lot of experience in the NHL and I think they know what they're doing to help their team win," Jones said.

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