Michael Finewax

In The Crease

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2013 NHL Draft: Round One

Sunday, June 30, 2013


11. Philadelphia Flyers - Samuel Morin (D)


Sam Morin is a smart and smooth skating giant of a defenseman who made impressive strides in his second QMJHL season with Rimouski. He's now a first-round caliber pick who could potentially anchor an NHL blueline a few years down the road. Morin is solid in his own end, using his size and reach to disarm attacking forwards with relative ease. He shows poise with the puck and despite registering only 16 points in 46 regular season games in 2012-13, he proved he has some offensive flair by recording seven points in six playoff contests. Morin needs time to develop his technical skills and get stronger, but should eventually evolve into a capable two-way NHL defender. The Flyers were thought to be thinking defense heading into the draft, so this move isn't surprising.


12. Phoenix Coyotes - Max Domi (C)


Much has been written about Domi, especially since he's following in his popular father's footsteps. However, Domi's game is vastly different than his father Tie's as he is more of a scorer than a fighter. He had a breakout 2012-13 season leading a loaded London team with 39 goals and 87 points in 64 games. He's a dynamic player in the offensive zone, combining unique playmaking skills and elite ice vision. When he's not setting up his teammates, Domi spends his time crashing the net or winning board battles. Obviously size is a concern for Domi, but scouts do praise his strength on the puck, which could counteract any disadvantage he may have due to being vertically challenged. He also has a strong compete level and his energy is infectious on his teammates. Domi has the tools, but he'll need to prove he can withstand the level of physical play at the NHL level. It is unlikely Domi spends any time in the NHL this upcoming season.


13. Winnipeg Jets - Josh Morrissey (D)


 Josh Morrissey sure makes a big impact with his small body. Logging big minutes in all situations for Prince Albert this past season, Morrissey proved to be a gifted offensive puck mover with fantastic skating and mobility. He is also creative and possesses an excellent hockey IQ that is showcased on the power play, but he could stand to reign in some of his offensive aggressiveness. Although Morrissey doesn't shy away from physical contact, he's not physically dominant. Morrissey needs to beef up in order to reach his potential, which could be a top-four blueliner in the NHL and power-play specialist. He's something of a long-term project and shouldn't be a factor in fantasy leagues for at least a couple years.


14. Columbus Blue Jackets -  Alexander Wennberg (C )


Wennberg has seen his draft stock soar throughout the season. Considered the second-best Swedish prospect in the draft, the center has been compared to a chameleon by scout Kyle Woodlief because you can slot him in any line and he'll fit to whatever that role necessitates. Wennberg is an extremely adaptable player who can literally play in any situation and those types are a coach's dream. The lanky pivot could stand to get stronger, but he's a plus skater and isn't afraid to play with some sandpaper in his game. An intelligent player, Wennberg has an innate sense of where to be on the ice, which makes him very opportunistic. An 18.9 percent shooting percentage and four game-winners for Djurgarden proves that.


15. New York Islanders - Ryan Pulock (D)


Pulock's character alone makes him an NHL prospect. The fact that he contributes offensively, is reliable defensively and understands how to think and play the game makes him one of the best in this draft class. Pulock has an explosive shot and projects as an offensive defenseman as his 105 points in 132 WHL games over two seasons attests. What makes that point total even more impressive is that Pulock had little offensive support and battled multiple injuries last season. Although he's not very flashy, physically intimidating or elite in his skating or puck moving abilities, his guts, tenacity and offence will be welcomed on an NHL blueline within the next two years. Pulock will not hit the NHL next season but may be ready to contribute in 2014-15.


16. Buffalo Sabres (via Minnesota) - Nikita Zadorov (D)


Nikita Zadorov is near the top of this year's class in the big, powerful and physical defenseman category. The OHL rookie played a pivotal role in London’s title run, improving immensely as the season went on. Zadorov’s speed, balance, crisp pivots and impressive edgework make him an excellent skater who can fill big gaps with his long reach. The Russian plays an intimidating brand of hockey, makes bone-rattling hits and drops his gloves when challenged to fisticuffs. Zadorov’s offensive skills are still raw and he lacks poise with the puck making him prone to turnovers and bad passes. His defensive shutdown capabilities can translate well into the NHL as soon as next season, but a little seasoning in the juniors will improve his offense and polish. Between Rasmus Ristolainen and Zadorov, the future of the Sabres defense is looking very bright.


17. Ottawa Senators - Curtis Lazar (C)


Before the season, Lazar was considered one of the top prospects in the draft, but a change of role into a more defensive-minded position seems to have unfairly lessened his value in the eyes of many scouts. He still scored 38 goals in 72 games for the Oil Kings, despite being asked to shut down opponents' top players on a nightly basis. Lazar is one of the top two-way forwards in the draft, and is seen as one of the surest bets to make an NHL roster. He knows how to position himself at both ends of the ice, and uses his size well despite his relatively small frame. While Lazar knows when to make the safe, smart play, he can sometimes be a little too conservative which detracts from his offensive capabilities. How he develops those capabilities will determine how far he will go once he reaches the NHL.


18. San Jose (via Detroit) - Mirco Mueller (D)


Mueller is a tremendously smart and quick defenseman with the sound fundamentals you like to see in a prospect. His rookie season with the Silvertips took an unexpected twist when his star defense partner Ryan Murray suffered a major injury early in the campaign. The Swiss national stepped up big time, registering 31 points in 63 games as Everett's go-to defenseman and was arguably their best player. Mueller's quick footwork and smart positioning of both his body and his stick compensates for his lack of physical prowess. That said, he still has a lot of beefing up to do in order to make the jump to the NHL. Scouts love his playmaking abilities, especially his breakout passes. He generally plays consistent, mistake-free shifts and could be an asset worthy of a roster spot in San Jose as soon as next season.


19. Columbus Blue Jackets (via New York Rangers) - Kerby Rychel (LW)


The Blue Jackets got this pick from the New York Rangers as part of the Rick Nash trade. Rychel registered back-to-back 40 goal campaigns for the Windsor Spitfires, but his production increased this season as he added more points and penalty minutes to his totals. While he has a scoring touch, he's also a very gritty player who is willing to drop his gloves to shift the momentum in a game and stand up for his teammates. Scouts do worry about his consistency, however, as he tends to get lazy when the puck is out of his vicinity. Moreover, he's not a great skater and will need to improve in this area before he makes an NHL club. However, when engaged, Rychel is a load to stop and looks to be one of the top players out of this draft.


20. Detroit Red Wings (via San Jose) - Anthony Mantha (RW)


Mantha led the QMJHL in goals in 2012-13 with 50 to go along with 89 points in 67 games played. He has a natural scoring ability that teams covet, which will likely get him to the NHL faster than his overall play might warrant. He doesn't need much time and space to get his shot off thanks to his lightning-quick release. However, there are concerns about his lack of intensity and fight in the defensive end. He doesn't use his 6'4 frame to his advantage and absolutely needs to become more physical if he's to succeed in the pros. Moreover, he needs to raise his compete level in the defensive zone as he often takes the easy way out, which results in opponent’s counter chances. Nonetheless, his ability to score goals may mask his deficiencies in other areas of his game.  Detroit tends to take their time with their prospects though.

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Michael Finewax is entering his 10th season as the Senior Hockey Writer and Editor for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter @mfinewaxhockey.
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