The NHL Draft is on Sunday (3 p.m. ET) and this is our final mock draft. It appeared for the longest time that the Avalanche, who select first, would select one-time Denver native Seth Jones, but it looks like Nathan MacKinnon will be taken with the first overall pick.
One thing that you should count on is that there should be plenty of trading, most likely in the middle and at the end of the first round. As was seen during the NBA draft on Thursday, one pick off the board changes the whole draft.
David Burstyn, McKeen's Hockey Director of Scouting, has put together the capsule comments for first round of the Mock Draft. My comments are in italics.
Don't forget to check out McKeen's Hockey Draft Guide. McKeen's Hockey has put out their top 120 picks for the 2013 Draft. In addition, they also preview the 2014 and 2015 Drafts. Click here to enter their site, it's a great buy.
1. Colorado Avalanche Nathan MacKinnon (C)
MacKinnon finished off strong in the final two rounds of the QMJHL playoffs before shooting out the lights at the Memorial Cup. MacKinnon gives the Avalanche star power and is a player who can easily jump into their line up next season as his speed and hand skills are NHL ready. He missed 14 games in the regular season with a knee injury and still had 32 goals and 75 points in 44 games for Halifax but really took his offensive game to a new level in the playoffs with 11 goals and 33 points in 17 games.
It was thought that the Avs were a lock to take Seth Jones but Colorado seems to think that MacKinnon is a special talent who cannot be overlooked. It helps that new head coach Patrick Roy saw MacKinnon play plenty of times in the QMJHL.
2. Florida Panthers Seth Jones (D)
Jones gives the Panthers a legitimate first pairing defenseman who brings a winning attitude and strong athletic abilities to the table. Coupled with a strong point shot Jones could become a PP option as early as his rookie season and having Brian Campbell to help out will not hurt his development offensively. The son of former NBA player Popeye Jones, had 14 goals and 56 points in 61 games with Portland of the WHL.
The Panthers really need help up front so we would not be surprised if they traded down or took Jonathan Drouin as he would look good alongside Jonathan Huberdeau. Carolina needs defensive help badly but may not have enough to package up and trade for Jones.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning Jonathan Drouin (RW)
A dynamic player who oozes offensive skills, Drouin can score just as easily as he can make a nice pass. He would be a perfect complement to Stamkos in the next few years with some of the Lightning players such as Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis getting long in the tooth. The MVP of the Quebec League, Drouin had 105 points including 41 goals in just 49 games, finishing second in scoring by five points despite missing 19 games, and then led the league in playoff scoring with 35 points.
The Lightning have been rumored to be enamored with Valeri Nichushkin and that could be a possibility if the Panthers take Drouin with the second pick.
4. Nashville Predators Aleksander Barkov (C)
Barkov has already performed exceptionally well in the SM-Liiga, the top Finnish Men's league. He gives the Predators a first line center option and one who can produce offensively, playing with heightened temperament and intensity away from the puck which helps round out his game. Barkov finished ninth in scoring with 21 goals and 48 points, the all-time best for a player of his age, surpassing Olli Jokinen who had 14 goals and 41 points at the same age.
The Predators need lots of help up front and Barkov could be just as good as anyone in the draft.
5. Carolina Hurricanes Nikita Zadorov (D)
The mammoth Russian defender has sky-high upside as his skating and physical play complement his six foot, five inch frame like no other prospect available in this draft. Zadorov had six goals and 25 points for the London Knights in 2012-13 and has the potential to become a great shut down blueliner with the capability of contributing offensively in the NHL.
The dream draft of the Hurricanes has MacKinnon, Drouin, Nichushkin and Barkov going in the top four, leaving Jones for them.
6. Calgary Flames Sean Monahan (C)
The Flames need a lot of help up front and get the strong two-way center to get things going. Monahan gives the team more size up the middle and is backed by a strong competitive streak. He had 31 goals and 78 points on a weak Ottawa squad. Some teams may want to move up and grab Monahan as he could end up being the first line center every team (with the possible exception of the Pittsburgh Penguins) looks for in a draft.
The Flames could also consider Lindholm at this spot. It's the first of three first round picks Calgary has going into the draft.
7. Edmonton Oilers Darnell Nurse (D)
The Oilers need some help on the blueline and Darnell Nurse gives their pick more value and upside as a staunch stay-at-home defender whose value in the playoffs would be considerably higher as he can match-up well against other team's best. Nurse had 12 goals and 41 points in 68 games at the Soo. He is the nephew of former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb.
The Oilers have plenty of talent up front and could still use some help on the blueline so look for Nurse or possibly Zadorov to be taken at this spot, if he is not already gone. Rasmus Ristolainen could also go here.
8. Buffalo Sabres Elias Lindholm (C)
Lindholm had a great season in the top Swedish Men's league, competing against players 10 years his senior; not only did he produce offensively but he did not back down from physical confrontations. Lindholm saw time as a top-six forward and rewarded his coach's faith in him with 11 goals and 30 points in 48 games. He is NHL ready.
Nichushkin could go here but Lindholm is a safer pick.
9. New Jersey Devils Valeri Nichushkin (RW)
Pending KHL contract may come into play however Nichushkin is a complete package whose athletic ability, skating skill, size and hands can break open a game singlehandedly . Nichushkin impressed everyone at the NHL Combine a couple of weeks ago and could still move up this draft class. He had only six points in 18 games in the KHL this season but starred in February's U18 five nation tourney in Sweden where he had five goals and 11 points in four games.
The Devils could use a goalie so Zach Fucale is being talked about, but the Devils didn't take a goalie last season when Oscar Dansk was available (I'm not comparing the two) so it's hard to believe that they will grab one here. The Devils have to forfeit a first round pick either this season or next because their original deal with Ilya Kovalchuk circumvented the salary cap but look for the Devils to forfeit next season as this draft is being held in New Jersey.
10. Dallas Stars Max Domi (C)
Dynamic torpedo is tenacious and a threat to score each time he has the puck. Unlike his father Tie, Max uses his hands to score and could get an audition next year with several openings up front for the Stars. He had 39 goals and 87 points for the OHL champion London Knights and was second in playoff scoring with 32 points in 21 games including 11 goals.
First of two picks for the Stars in the first round.