The 2013 NHL Draft will take place at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ on June 30.
This year’s prospect pool is one of the deepest the league has ever seen. The first round in particular will have the clubs and their fans excited for the future considering how many high-calibre hockey players are on the board.
The Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers, and Tampa Bay Lightning hold the highly coveted first three picks of the draft, where these three youngsters with enormous potential are likely to be taken.
Seth Jones | Defenseman
This past year, many draft analysts had Seth Jones as the clear-cut No. 1 prospect for the upcoming draft.
Though some others may have closed the gap with impressive late season performances, Jones is still the type of defenseman that an NHL franchise can build around. His size, poise, maturity, and ability to make plays at both ends of the rink will make him hard to pass up.
Jones helped the United States win the World Junior Championship this year, and then led his WHL team, the Portland Winterhawks, to the Memorial Cup Final.
The 6-foot 4-inch defender looks to be ready to step right into the NHL next year, another factor that teams have to love about Jones. He is looking to be the first defender to go No. 1 overall since Erik Johnson in 2006.
The storyline only got more intriguing when the Avalanche received the first pick via the draft lottery. Jones grew up in Colorado, dreaming of one day playing for his favourite team.
If he does go No. 1, Jones will also become the first African-American player selected first overall in an NHL Draft.
Nathan MacKinnon | Center
Nathan MacKinnon looks to be the biggest threat to Jones going first overall in the 2013 NHL Draft.
Scouts are raving about MacKinnon’s combination of intensity and skill. He has the speed and shooting ability to put up big offensive numbers, as well as the energy to compete with the top power forwards.
The future superstar had a fantastic season with the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL. The Mooseheads won the Memorial Cup thanks to a hat trick from MacKinnon in the final. MacKinnon also had 32 goals and 43 assists in 44 games during the regular season.
The big centre has drawn comparisons to Sidney Crosby. MacKinnon may have a little less skill and a little more feistiness than ‘Sid the Kid,’ but being compared to the best player in the game today is never a bad thing.
Jonathan Drouin | Left Wing
Jonathan Drouin may be the most purely talented player in this year’s draft.
Though he may not be as far along in his development as Jones or MacKinnon, Drouin can already be found all over hockey highlight reels.
His sublime skill with the puck brings even the most casual fans to their feet. Drouin’s unique stickhandling wizardry and vision on the ice has him drawing comparisons to superstars like Martin St. Louis and Pavel Datsyuk.
Drouin was MacKinnon’s line mate in Halifax, and he also made a large contribution to the Memorial Cup victory. Though MacKinnon’s three goals stole the headlines from the final, Drouin assisted on five of the Mooseheads’ six goals.
This isn’t the only proof that the flashy playmaker has what it takes to produce offensively. Drouin finished this past season with an incredible 41 goals and 64 assists in 49 games, and was named the CHL Player of the Year.
Drouin may have the biggest risk/reward factor of the top three draft prospects, but considering the ability he possesses it would be shocking to see him drop lower than third.
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