Another year, another top 10 from a draft class! 2013 was a year many in hockey tend to not look back in fondness off. Mainly because of the whole lockout thing. As a hockey fan, I just have to reiterate how that whole stretch from October 11th to January 19th was excruciating to sit through with no hockey.
Regardless of that, however, the 2013 draft class in hindsight was arguably one with tremendous upside. Despite some slow starts and rough seasons, 25 out of the 30 picks in the first round have played in an NHL game as late as the 2019-20 campaign. However, let’s just stick to the top 10 as normal!
1. Colorado Avalanche: Nathan MacKinnon
2013 was a rough season for everyone in hockey, however, all eyes were on the draft and who would go first overall.
After a difficult season of going 16-25-7 in 48 games, the Avs lucked out and got the first overall draft pick, bumping down the Florida Panthers (who were the worst team in the NHL). The consensus was clear, and with that pick, Colorado selected Nathan Mackinnon from the Halifax Mooseheads.
The Halifax native had big shoes to fill. Another player went first overall out of Nova Scotia in 2005. You may know him as Sid “the Kid” Crosby. Mackinnon was one of the smartest players in the draft and was elite in both offense and defense. With the depth of Matt Duchene, Ryan O’Reilly, Gabriel Landeskog, this team was unstoppable on paper.
Mackinnon won the Calder in the 2013-14 season with the Avs and put up 63 points (24 goals, 39 assists) in 82 games, following that up with 10 points (two goals, seven assists) in seven playoff games that year. It wasn’t always smooth sailing as he hit some rough patches in his next three seasons where he did not score higher than 53 points and missing the playoffs for three years in a row. However, in 2017-18, Mackinnon turned it on and proceeded to tally 90+ points in his next three seasons with the team.
He was a finalist for the Hart Memorial Trophy, the Leagues MVP award twice. In 2017-18 and 2019-20 respectively . Mackinnon to date has played in over 525 NHL games and tallying 495 points (190 goals, 305 assists). Needless to say, Colorado made out like bandits with this pick.
2. Florida Panthers: Aleksander Barkov
Sure the Panthers finished last and had the best odds at Mackinnon, but second fiddle is never the worst prize. In this case, many could say they got someone just as good in the draft at second.
Aleksander “Sasha” Barkov is praised as one of the best defensive centers the game. He joins the conversation of the ranks of Patrice Bergeron, Ryan O’Rielly and Sean Couturier. The 6’3″ Finnish native finished 9th in SM-Liiga Scoring, the highest since Oli Jokinen (who led the panthers in all-time scoring till this past year).
Not only is Barkov slick in his own end, but he’s got some of the sweetest mit’s in the game. We’re talking Datsyukian like hands, which any hockey fan loves to see on display. If you want any better proof of this, just Youtube videos of his shootout goals and his through the legs gem on Carey Price. Thank me later.
Barkov took a big leap in the 2017-18 season where he scored 78 points in 79 games. The next season? Oh, just 96 points in 82 games! Barkov won the Lady Byng trophy in the 2018-19 season having only 8 penalty minutes in 82 games played, now that is some serious poise and discipline! To date, Barkov has played in 479 career NHL games and tallied 407 points (155 goals, 252 assists) during those games. From the looks of it, he is going to age like fine wine in the coming years. I see a Selke or two for the young Fin soon.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning: Jonathan Drouin
Oh boy, this going to be fun. I’m sure many hockey fans know the deal about Johnathan Drouin’s career, but I’ll try my best to paraphrase and summarize.
Drouin was picked third overall by the Tampa. Back to back 100 point seasons in Halifax showed tremendous potential for great things in the NHL. However, when he got to the show in 2014-15, he things hit a snag.
Unfortunately, he sustained a fractured thumb and spent significant time on the shelf. 32 points (4 goals, 28 assists) in 70 games showed some promise, yet things kept going wrong. More nagging injuries and trade requests made Drouin’s value come into question.
After sitting out for over two months in 2016, Drouin climbed back to the NHL where he put up his career-high 53 points (21 goals, 32 assists). Then the trade happened. On June 15th, 2017, Drouin along with a conditional sixth-round pick in 2018 traded to Montreal for defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev and a conditional second-round pick in 2018.
This trade was a blockbuster being how Drouin was a native of Quebec. The pressure though was intense. He was also challenged as a Hab, he was the new number one center. After being a winger for most of his career, it was a big change. For any player its a hard adjustment.
Despite a slight dip in points in his first year, 46 points in 77 games, he returned to tallying 53 points in the 2018-19 season. Drouin’s only played in 27 games this past season, missing 3 months recovering from a fractured wrist. Yeah, he has a lot of baggage in his young career, but Drouin still has potential in his young career. He has recorded 209 points (67 goals, 142 assists) in 349 games split between Tampa Bay and Montreal.
4. Nashville Predators: Seth Jones
This is one draft pick that I honestly forgot played for this team. To say Nashville’s defense is and has been top five for a long time is really not hard to fathom. Roman Josi, Shea Weber, Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis, Ryan Suter, and now Jones? Wow, this team knows defense. 6’4″, 209 lbs and shoots right-handed? Every coaches dream to have on their team.
Jones was the consensus number one draft pick among defencemen. A bomb of a shot, slick skating abilities, and great eyes and playmaking make him a complete package. In Nashville though, Jones was immediately a solid blueliner putting up 25 and 27 points in his first two seasons in Smashville.
January 6th, 2016, Jones was traded to Columbus for Ryan Johansen. (former top 10 pick, who went fourth overall back in 2011).
On paper the deal made sense, Nashville needed a true number one centre to take over from Mike Fisher and Mike Ribeiro. They sadly had to part with Jones in the deal. Nashville was and still is rich with defenders. An expiring RFA defender made sense to move, albeit stings to do.
In hindsight, Nashville really must miss Jones. Columbus on the other hand? Yeah, they like that deal very much. In 325 games with the Blue Jackets, Jones has put up 195 points (45 goals, 150 assists).
Making $5.4 Million a year for a defender who puts up 40+ points a season is a great value deal for the Jackets. Jones sits amongst the top 10 defensemen in the league and finished fourth and ninth respectively during the last two Norris Trophy votes. In 524 games split between Nashville and Columbus, Jones has recorded 60 goals, 168 assists for 258 points across seven seasons.
5. Carolina Hurricanes: Elias Lindholm
Well here’s an interesting story in hindsight. Rounding out the first half of the top 10, Elias Lindholm is a player that many forget was a top-five pick. Lindholm was one of the best European players in the draft. Despite his size, many believed him to be creative in the offensive zone and with his passing decisions. He has drawn some comparables to that of Peter Forsberg and fellow Swede, and second overall pick in last years draft, Gabriel Landeskog.
Fun Fact, Landeskog held the record for the youngest born Swedish player to score a goal in the NHL. That was until he gained the record on October 10th, 2013. Despite this feat, the rest of Lindholm’s career numbers were average. He averaged 40-45 points through his five years in Carolina and never made the playoffs in Raleigh.
That was until a blockbuster draft trade on day two of the 2018 draft. June 28th, 2018. Lindholm along with 2015 fifth overall pick Noah Hanifin, was traded to the Calgary Flames. Carolina acquired defender Dougie Hamilton, forward Micheal Ferland, and defense prospect Adam Fox.
Since hitting the ice in Calgary, Lindholm took off with a 78 point season (27 goals, 51 assists) in 81 games in Calgary. It was there where he gelled with a line of Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau. Granted he only tallied two points in five playoff games with the flames, but he kept his scoring touch up by putting up 54 points (29 goals, 25 assists) in 70 games. Lindholm currently has 230 career NHL points (120 goals, 200 assists) with 525 career games under his belt split between Carolina and Calgary.
6. Calgary Flames: Sean Monahan
Speaking of the Calgary Flames! This worked out nicely when looking back and writing this, so that’s nice! Anyways, the mid-2010s were a rough time for Calgary as they were going through a rebuild. 2013 was also the end of an era in the Saddledome. Soon to be Hall of Famer, Jarome Iginla was shipped to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Needless to say, Flames fans were devastated.
2013 had Calgary picking sixth overall. It was the first top 10 draft pick for the Flames since 2003. That last top 10 draft pick? Dion Phaneuf, who went ninth overall. They decided to draft the Ottawa 67s center, Sean Monahan.
Ranked fifth among North American skaters, Monahan thrives with great puck control and strong leadership qualities. A determined two-way player for a struggling defensive team was something that helped out tremendously.
After a rookie season of just 34 points, Monahan broke out with back to back 60+ point seasons. He has averaged 25-30 goals a season in five of his seven seasons in Calgary. He scored a career-high in points with 82 points (34 goals, 48 assists) in 82 games in 2018-19.
Monahan is a player that may not be as overly flashy as Johnny Gaudreau, or as feisty as Matthew Tkachuk, but he still brings a great two-way game to the table and has been great in driving the Flames forward. At just 25 years old, we could see more growth as he enters his prime.
7. Edmonton Oilers: Darnell Nurse
Finally the Oilers not in the first overall pick category! This is very refreshing although as we will see soon, very short-lived. I digress nonetheless. 2013 rolled around and after drafting three forwards first overall for three straight drafts, they decided to address another need inside the top 10 this year, in the form of a defenseman.
Yes, Oskar Klefbom was taken 11th overall back in 2011, the Oilers needed someone to be a more defensive player compared to an offensive defender. Enter Darnell Nurse.
Standing at 6’4″ and 221 lbs, Nurse is freakishly big in size, but also very smooth in his skating abilities. Nurse has the look many NHL GMs would gush over in that he can kill penalties and throw his body around. An easy draft pick for the Oilers.
Despite making the opening day roster in 2014-15, Nurse-only skated in two games, before being demoted to the AHL. After a rough 69 game stretch in 2015-16, Nurse turned his career around.
In the next three seasons, Nurse put up 26, 41, and 33 points respectively and has become the prime shutdown defender for the Oilers alongside Ethan Bear. Many in his draft class compared him to a Dan Girardi-like defender in his own end but has the ability to drive play every so often. Hence him being on the second power-play unit. In his 350 games played with Edmonton, Nurse has put up 121 points (29 goals, 91 assists).
8. Buffalo Sabres: Rasmus Ristolainen
Here is a pick that may be playing somewhere else come 2021. Alas, there is another time for that conversation. Let’s talk about Rasmus Ristolainen. The final defenseman in the top 10, Ristolainen was coming out of SM-Liiga. Praised by his high IQ, wicked shot, and physicality on the ice, he screams elite defender.
With Ristolainen however, you get a mixed bag. Offensively he is a fantastic point producer and playmaker. On the backend, however, things have gone a little bit sour. Ristolainen has had multiple 40 point seasons in the league, sadly he has been on one of the worst teams defensively in Buffalo.
Over his career, he is a +/- of -2 with last season being his worst with a -41. This lack of change could ultimately lead to Ristolainen’s departure from the Sabres organization, however, as of this moment, nothing has changed.
He averages 24 minutes of ice time through his seven seasons in Buffalo. In 493 games with the Sabres, Ristolainen has recorded 227 points (42 goals, 185 assists)
9. Vancouver Canucks: Bo Horvat
WE HAVE A TRADE TO ANNOUNCE! Well, lets first start with some context. This pick originally was New Jersey Devils property, however a trade! After a Vezina quality season, Cory Schneider was flipped to New Jersey for the ninth overall pick. The Canucks jumped into the top 10 and got Bo Horvat.
Schneider was brought in to help ease pressure off an aging Martin Brodeur. Despite a strong few seasons in Jersey, Schneider’s had numerous injuries. As well as his big $6 million salary, which is hard to move for the Devils.
Horvat on the other hand was the piece the Canucks chose to draft. His draft value came from being adaptable in any situation. He excelled in the faceoff circle, as well as having great vision and awareness of his surroundings.
Although the scoring process took a little more time than normal, Horvat broke out in the 2016-17 season with 52 points in 81 games. As years progressed he averaged 20 goals and 30 assists in each of his 6 seasons after his rookie campaign. Horvat became the captain of the Canucks on October 9th 2019.
Despite Elias Pettersson now being labelled as the Canucks number one centre, it’s Horvat that the fans look at to showcase leadership, grit and determination. In 446 NHL games, Horvat has recorded 275 points (120 goals, 155 assists).
10. Dallas Stars: Valeri Nichushkin
One player that has seen countless people look at his abilities in the draft was Valeri Nichushkinnet-front. The Stars gained a speedy winger inside the top 10 with a nose for crashing the net. His strength was no fear to crash the net and be a net front presence. Similar to those of Evgeni Malkin and Rick Nash.
Nichushkins first season with in Texas was pretty promising with 34 points in 79 games. 2014-15 was a tough one for Nichushkin as he missed time due to hip surgery.
He was upset with his role in Dallas being less than expected. He left the NHL in the summer of 2016. Dallas then dealt his rights to CSKA Moscow in the KHL. After two seasons in Russia, Nichushkin returned to Dallas in the 2018-19 season. He had a poor season with just knocking up 10 assists and 0 goals in 57 games.
After not being tendered by the Stars, he signed a one year deal with the Colorado Avalanche. Like a Phoenix from the ashes, Nichushkin revived his career. This past season, he put up 27 points (13 goals, 14 assists) in 65 games with the Avs.
While he wasn’t Malkin on the scoresheet, but Nichushkin is an example of how sometimes a change of scenery really helps with your morale.
In 288 NHL games, Nichushkin has put up 101 points (38 goals, 65 assists) split between Dallas and Colorado.
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