The 2013 Draft has been praised as one of the deepest in recent memory with plenty of intriguing prospects to choose from. Of course, it will be years before we will be able to properly judge this year’s class, but below you’ll find a preliminary look at each Western Conference team’s major picks and trades.
Anaheim Ducks - B
Top Pick: Shea Theodore (26th overall)
The Anaheim Ducks decided to go off the board a bit by picking Theodore with their first selection. Theodore had 19 goals, 50 points, and a minus-24 rating in 71 WHL games last season. Numbers can sometimes lie, but in this case they do represent what type of player Theodore is. He’s an offensively gifted blueliner who can be an asset with the man advantage, but his defensive skills could certainly use work. Still, the Ducks have three 30-ish blueliners in Sheldon Souray, Francois Beauchemin, and Bryan Allen, so now is as good a time as any to start planning for a transition.
They added yet another blueliner in the third round. Keaton Thompson. He’s not the offensive force Theodore is and is more of an unknown factor, but he might develop into a balanced defenseman. He’s heading to the University of North Dakota, so he’ll get a chance to further develop his game before attempting to turn pro.
Calgary Flames – A-
Top Pick: Sean Monahan (6th overall)
After years of mediocrity, the Calgary Flames finally started to take steps during the regular season to rebuild. On Sunday, they reaped the rewards of their tough trades by selecting three players in the first round.
They opted to go with three forwards who could be major factors for years to come. Monahan is the type of forward teams love to have. He can shift positions, score, and kill penalties. He’s a potential two-way forward who will work hard with or without the puck. With the 22nd pick they took Poirier, another guy who’s great with or without the puck. Poirier had 101 penalty minutes last season, which highlights his aggressiveness, but he’ll also use that to get into tough areas. Finally they took Morgan Klimchuk at 28, who still needs some work defensively, but is definitely a scoring threat. All-in-all, it’s a promising trio.
Chicago Blackhawks – B+
Top Pick: Ryan Hartman (30th overall)
Probably the most interesting thing Chicago did was deal Dave Bolland and Michael Frolik in separate trades. From those moves, they ended up with a second round, a third round, two fourth round, and a fifth round pick. The Blackhawks surrendered some of the depth that won them the Stanley Cup, but at the same time, they improved their cap situation, which allowed them to turn around and sign Bryan Bickell to a four-year deal reportedly worth $16 million.
On top of that, they added a lot of pieces to their farm system, including Carl Dahlstrom, a big defenseman who has some offensive upside as well. As for Hartman, he certainly has the potential to be the type of bottom-six forward opponents hate to play against. He’s a very aggressive, physical guy, but he’s certainly not devoid of skill. In fact, he can do quite a bit with the puck, as evidenced by his 23 goals and 60 points in 56 OHL contests last season.
Colorado Avalanche – A
Top Pick: Nathan MacKinnon (1st overall)
It’s very hard to go wrong with the top pick, but then again, there wasn’t a clear number one in this year’s draft. Until the Avalanche made their intentions clear, there was plenty of speculation about defenseman Seth Jones’ chances of going first. Even when the Avalanche specified that they wanted a forward, at first it wasn’t clear if they would go with MacKinnon or perhaps someone else like his teammate Jonathan Drouin. Regardless, in MacKinnon they got a phenomenal offensive talent who should begin the 2013-14 campaign with Colorado. With the 32nd overall pick, Colorado added a well-rounded defenseman in Chris Bigras.
Columbus Blue Jackets – B+
Top Pick: Alexander Wennberg (14th overall)
Like Calgary, Columbus had three picks in the first round and they also ended up going with a trio of forwards. Wennberg is a versatile one who can get things done offensively while still being responsible without the puck. They took Kerby Rychel with the 19th overall pick, who is something of a question mark defensively, but has a ton of offensive upside. Finally they went off the board to grab Marko Dano with the 27th overall pick. He’s a two-way forward who already has pro experience with the KHL.
Dallas Stars – A-
Top Pick: Valeri Nichushkin (10th overall)
Rightly or wrongly, NHL teams seem to fear taking Russian players, simply because they have the tempting option of heading back to the KHL if they have some initial struggles in North America. That’s probably the reason the Stars had the option of taking Nichushkin with the 10th pick and that could pay off handsomely for him. He’s a big, speedy forward who has all the tools to excel offensively.
They had one other pick in the first round and used it on Jason Dickinson. He’s another forward with offensive upside, but one thing both of the Stars’ top picks could stand to work on is their on-ice mental consistency.
Detroit Red Wings – B-
Top Pick: Anthony Mantha (20th overall)
Detroit had the 18th overall pick in the draft, but they gave it to San Jose in exchange for the 20th and 58th picks. Mantha could develop into a great goal scorer, but he still needs to work on his defensive game. That being said, going into the Red Wings system, he can expect to get plenty of AHL seasoning followed by a slow transition into the NHL. They later used the other pick they got from the Sharks on Tyler Bertuzzi, who is the nephew of Red Wings power forward Todd Bertuzzi. Tyler might have been taken a bit early, but he is a physically aggressive player who might eventually develop into a regular on the team’s third or fourth line.
Edmonton Oilers – A
Top Pick: Darnell Nurse (7th overall)
The Oilers spent three first overall picks in a row on skilled forwards, so it wasn’t surprising to see them take a different route this time around. Nurse showed last season that he can contribute offensively, but more importantly for the Oilers is the fact that he’s a big, tough blueliner who is also responsible defensively. He’s the type of player Edmonton needs to balance out their squad and is consequently a great selection for the up-and-coming team.
Late in the second round, they took Marc-Olivier Roy. He’s got some offensive skills, but he needs to work on his strength and defense, which makes him seem like significantly less of a natural fit with the Oilers considering their current makeup.
Los Angeles Kings – C+
Top Pick: Valentin Zykov (37th overall)
The Kings gave up their first round pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets as part of the Jeff Carter trade. In fact, Zykov was the only selection the Kings had in the first 100 picks. He’s a great goal scorer who will compete in tough areas. In the fifth round they grabbed Patrik Bartosak, who was the 2012-13 Canadian Hockey League goaltender of the year. He had a 2.26 GAA and .935 save percentage in 55 WHL games.
Minnesota Wild – B
Top Pick: Nick Sorensen (45th overall)
The Wild lost their top pick in the Jason Pominville trade, which turned out to be pretty substantial because they just barely made the playoffs and were then ousted in the first round.
Sorensen does have plenty of upside and could develop into a good two-way forward. It’s worth noting though, that he has already dealt with knee and foot injuries that have limited his QMJHL career.
More noteworthy was their acquisition of 20-year-old forward Nino Niederreiter for a third round pick and restricted free agent forward Cal Clutterbuck. Niederreiter never worked out with the Islanders, but the 2010 fifth overall pick has tremendous upside and is coming off of a strong AHL season.
Nashville Predators – A+
Top Pick: Seth Jones (4th overall)
Not many people thought Seth Jones would fall as far as fourth in the Entry Draft, but the Predators were certainly thrilled he did. If he lives up to his potential, he could be the type of defenseman you build your franchise around and he could eventually provide Nashville with the one-two defensive punch they lost when Ryan Suter left.
The Predators already had a promising young core of blueliners so an argument can be made that they needed a forward more, but getting Jones still looks like arguably the biggest steal of the first round.
Phoenix Coyotes – B+
Top Pick: Max Domi (12th overall)
Tie Domi’s kid has been drafted by the Coyotes, although it remains to be seen what city they’ll be in when he makes it to the NHL. Unlike his father, Max is an offensive juggernaut who has the potential to become a top-six forward. One criticism of Domi is that he sometimes attempts to do too much on his own, although he did begin to utilize his teammates more effectively during the latter part of the season.
They also went with a forward in the second round: Laurent Dauphin. He’s versatile and competitive. He’ll need to bulk up, but he certainly has potential.
San Jose Sharks – B
Top Pick: Mirco Mueller (18th overall)
The Sharks traded up two picks to grab Mueller and sacrificed the 58th overall selection in the process. Mueller is a balanced defenseman, but one who also needs work in a number of areas. Still, he did impressive offensively in the WHL with six goals and 31 points in 63 games.
The Sharks also traded away another of their second round picks to get Tyler Kennedy from the Pittsburgh Penguins. Kennedy is a restricted free agent that’s coming off of a two-year/$4 million contract. He had six goals and 11 points in 46 games last season.
St. Louis Blues – B-
Top Pick: Tommy Vannelli (47th overall)
The Blues surrendered their top pick as part of the Jay Bouwmeester trade and a second rounder to get Jordan Leopold during the 2013 campaign. All the same, they still had two second round picks in Vannelli and William Carrier.
Vannelli is a defenseman who can help out with the man advantage and in his own end of the ice. He’ll hone his game further at the University of Minnesota. Carrier is a forward can throw his body around and still chip in offensively. He might develop into a third or fourth liner.
Vancouver Canucks – D+
Top Pick: Bo Horvat (9th overall)
Vancouver’s draft was colored by their decision to trade Cory Schneider for the ninth overall pick. That move is problematic for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that the Canucks made it clear they were trying to move Roberto Luongo. So Luongo now has to adjust to a situation where he knows the team tried to move him, but ultimately weren’t able to at a price they found acceptable due to his contract.
More importantly, though, Vancouver just dealt a great goaltender entering his prime and signed to a favorable contract for a single, upper-mid round pick. That seems like pretty low value for Schneider. Clearly, the Canucks got desperate and had to make a move.
All that being said, Horvat isn’t a bad prospect. He’s intelligent, a team player who can help out offensively. Their other first round pick was Hunter Shinkaruk, an offensively gifted forward who still needs to work on the other aspects of his game.