|1 || ||Nathan MacKinnon, C, |
|Memorial Cup MVP Nathan MacKinnon is the best player available. The 6-foot-0, 182-pound product of Cole Harbour racked up 32 goals and 75 points in 44 regular-season games, and seven goals and 13 points in four games at the Memorial Cup this past season. Possessing elite speed, a spectacular shot and toughness beyond his years, MacKinnon is the complete package. (Joe Sakic has already indicated that the Avalanche will pass on Colorado-raised defenceman Seth Jones.) |
|2 || ||Seth Jones, D, |
He’s big (6-foot-4, 205 pounds), he’s strong and he has the offence to go along with it. As a rookie with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks, Jones recorded 14 goals and 56 points. Thriving in a shutdown role, he made life miserable for the Edmonton Oil Kings throughout the 2013 Championship Series. During Game 6 at Rexall Place, one scout leaned over to me and said, “Can you believe this kid is only 18?” No, I can’t.
|3 || ||Jonathan Drouin, LW, |
Drouin is perhaps the most talented player available. Primarily known as a playmaker, the 5-foot-10, 186-pound winger was named the CHL Player of the Year after putting up 41 goals, 105 points and an incredible +48 rating in 49 regular-season games. Deftly navigating open ice with speed, Drouin challenges defenders and promptly burns them with his vision and creativity. Think Pavel Datsyuk.
|4 || ||Aleksander Barkov, C, Tappara (FIN) || |
With Shea Weber and Roman Josi locked in long term, David Poile’s focus will almost certainly be on drafting a gifted goal scorer. If the Predators are unsuccessful in moving up, Aleksander Barkov is right there for the taking. The 6-foot-3, 209-pound pivot tallied 21 goals and 48 points in the Finnish Elite League this past season.
|5 || ||Darnell Nurse, D, |
Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
Primarily known as a defensive specialist, Nurse controls the puck with the poise of a seasoned pro. In addition to his size (6-foot-4, 185 pounds) and obvious strength as a fearless defender, the Hamilton native recorded 12 goals and 41 points this past season. Darnell's father, Richard, was once a wide receiver with the CFL's Hamilton Tigercats. His uncle (by marriage) is former NFL great Donovan McNabb, who spent 13 seasons quarterbacking the Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings.
|6 || ||Sean Monahan, C, |
Sean Monahan could very well become that elite, top-line pivot the Flames have long been searching for. In 58 regular-season games this past season, the 6-foot-2, 187-pound captain of the Ottawa 67’s recorded 31 goals (15 of which were scored on the power-play) and 78 points. Perhaps most importantly, he's an outstanding leader and could very well be considered for the captaincy at some point in the future.
|7 || ||Valeri Nichushkin, RW, Chelyabinsk (RUS) || |
Nichushkin has a ridiculous -- I repeat, ridiculous -- amount of skill. The shifty right-winger played with Chelyabinsk Traktor of the KHL last season, scoring four goals and six points, while collecting an additional six goals and nine points in 25 post-season games. In the locker room, he would be a nice addition alongside fellow Russians Nail Yakupov and Anton Belov. General Manager Craig MacTavish and the Oilers might have their eye on any number of players in the Top 7, but it's a competitive crop and some may not last.
|8 || ||Elias Lindholm, C, |
Regarded as one of the most complete centres available, the Sabres will gladly pounce on what the Flames left behind. Scoring 11 goals and 30 points in the Elitserien last year, Lindholm has Top 5 talent and shouldn’t fall any further. If I had the choice between Lindholm and Monahan, I’d go with Lindholm -- and in speaking with several scouts around the League, that's a common sentiment.
|9 || ||Rasmus Ristolainen, D, TPS (Finland) || |
Ristolainen is the No. 1-ranked defenceman among European skaters by Central Scouting. He’s a smooth skater, has incredible vision and is one of the strongest players available in the draft. At 6-foot-4 and 207 pounds, Ristolainen has the tools, build and pedigree to make an immediate impact in the NHL.
|10 || ||Josh Morrissey, D, |
Prince Albert (WHL)
In my opinion, he’s easily one of the smartest and smoothest skating defencemen in this year’s class. While offensive numbers at this level can sometimes be a bit of a smokescreen, Morrissey produced in all situations (15-21-47 in 70 games) and was especially lethal as a premiere power-play quarterback. At 6-foot-0 and 186 pounds, size could an issue, but Morrissey’s talent far outweighs any physical disadvantages.
|11 || ||Hunter Shinkaruk, C/LW, Medicine Hat (WHL) || |
Scoring 37 goals and 86 points last season, Shinkaruk is a steal at No. 11. Skilled, smart and explosive, but his point totals dipped from the 2011-12 season. That, combined with a bit of a disappearance in the post-season, could cause him to drop a little further.
|12 || ||Max Domi, C, |
This pint-sized pivot is always on the move. Quick, creative and highly explosive, Domi collected 39 goals and 87 points in the high-scoring OHL last season. Turning some heads with an exceptional post-season (11-12-32 in 21 games), he rocketed up the charts and became a lock as a Top 20 pick. Remember that dazzling, between-the-legs saucer pass to Bo Horvat at the Memorial Cup? Scouts sure will.
|13 || ||Alexander Wennberg, C, Djurgarden (Sweden) || |
Like the Flames, the Jets need someone in a prominent role at the centre position. Wennberg won’t be ready right away, but is developing nicely and will get a shot next season as a full-timer in the Swedish Hockey League. In 46 games in Sweden’s Allsvenskan (second-best professional league) this past season, he recorded 14 goals and 32 points.
|14 || ||Ryan Pulock, D, Brandon (WHL) || |
With Jack Johnson in the fold, the Blue Jackets know exactly how important stud defencemen can be. Pulock provides size (6-foot-1, 211 pounds) and a knack for the net. The Grandview, MB product produced 14 goals and 45 points last season.
|15 || ||Zach Fucale, G, Halifax (QMJHL) || |
Heading into the draft, the Islanders have only one goaltender signed and on the books. However, I’m afraid Rick DiPietro isn’t the solution. Lacking some organizational depth between the pipes, the Islanders will take the best goaltender in the draft. Fucale appeared in 55 regular-season games last year, posting a 45-5-3 record, 2.35 goals-against average and .909 save percentage.
|16 || |
|Nikita Zadorov, D, |
|Defencemen have worked out well for the Sabres in recent history (Mark Pysyk, 23rd overall in 2010). Playing with an edge at 6-foot-5 and 221 pounds, Zadorov is an intimidating physical presence. He skates well for a big man, but needs to develop his offensive game. |
|17 || ||Bo Horvat, C, |
With the 67’s playing at Scotiabank Place during the lockout, Senators personnel saw plenty of Horvat before the NHL season got underway. In only his second OHL season, the Ontario-born pivot recorded 33 goals and 61 points in 67 regular-season games. He truly emerged in the post-season, however, notching 16 goals and 23 points in 21 games en route to the Memorial Cup. Impressive, no?
|18 || ||Anthony Mantha, RW, |
Mantha was CHL’s only 50-goal scorer (89 points) and shouldn’t drop any further. The Red Wings need help on D, but can’t pass up one of the best purebred snipers in the draft.
|19 || |
|Ryan Hartman, RW, |
|In addition to scoring 23 goals and 60 points in 56 regular-season games, he won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2013 World Junior Championship. |
|20 || ||Shea Theodore, D, Seattle (WHL) ||Without question, Theodore is an offensive defenceman. In 71-regular season games, he collected 19 goals and 50 points. His career -62 rating is a concern, but the Thunderbirds haven’t had much success since his debut in 2010. |
|21 || ||Kerby Rychel, LW, |
|Rychel is coming off back-to-back 40-goal campaigns with the Windsor Spitfires. As a 17-year-old last season, he was far and away the team's offensive leader. |
|22 || |
|Curtis Lazar, C/RW, |
My colleague Bob Stauffer compares him to Mike Richards, but I see him in the mold of Jarome Iginla. He’s a bit on the smaller side (6-foot-0, 190 pounds), but the feisty winger sure can play. After a bit of a slow start, Lazar scored 38 goals (61 points) in 72 regular-season games. His shot is elite. From the top of the circle, he can pick corners like nobody’s business. Like Jordan Eberle in 2008 (22nd overall), Lazar could end up being the steal of the draft.
|23 || ||Madison Bowey, D, Kelowna (WHL) || |
This selection is less about need and more about the quality of the player available. Bowey is an exceptional skater with big-league mobility on the transition. Best known as a puck mover, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound rearguard registered 12 goals and 30 points in 69 regular-season games last year.
|24 || ||Nic Petan, C, |
Petan was fortunate enough to play on a line and dish off to Ty Rattie and Brendan Leipsic with the Winterhawks, but still managed to do a lot on his own. He put up 46 goals and 120 points in 71-regular-season games and was a force all throughout the post-season. He competes extremely hard, but is a bit on the slighter side can become a little less effective when challenged by bigger and stronger defencemen.
|25 || ||Chris Bigras, D, |
Owen Sound (OHL)
Bigras helped Canada win gold at the 2012 Ivan Hlinka Tournament and 2013 World U-18 Championship. He's primarily known as a two-way defenceman, but he truly emerged as an offensive leader in 2012-13. In 68 regular-season games, he recorded eight goals, 38 points and a +35 rating.
|26 || ||Oliver Bjorkstrand, LW, Portland (WHL) || |
The rookie Winterhawk collected 31 goals and 63 points in 65 regular-season games. He’s fast, shifty, creative, instinctive and particularly impressive off the rush.
|27 || |
|Andre Burakovsky, LW, |
|Burakovsky put up 11 points in 43 games in the Allsvenskan and will be able to better showcase his ability next season in the SHL. |
|28 || |
|Jimmy Lodge, RW, |
|Lodge improved by 55 points in his sophomore year (28-39-67 in 64 regular-season games). He's a great skater with phenomenal acceleration, making him especially dangerous off the rush and in transition. |
|29 || |
|Jacob Del la Rose, C, |
|Del la Rose is particularly strong with an explosive stride. He's not an especially hard hitter, but is tenacious on the forecheck and is willing to do anything to get the puck. He appeared in 38 games in the Allsvenskan, recording six goals, six assists and a +8 rating. |
|30 || ||Robert Hagg, D, |
Modo Jr. (Sweden)
This Swedish blueliner can score in bunches and make opponents pay with his 6-foot-2, 192-pound frame. Hagg emerged in a shutdown role during the World Junior Championship when he was pitted against Nail Yakupov in the medal round.