2013 NHL Entry Draft: Other Names You Need To Know

nhl draft
nhl draft
Jun 17 2013 Boston MA USA Darnell Nurse is interviewed during a press conference for top prospects for the upcoming 2013 NHL Draft at TD Garden Greg M Cooper USA TODAY Sports

A couple of days ago, I took a look at the top three picks who can be expected to go in today’s NHL Entry Draft. That was fairly straightforward and while we can debate what order they might go in, there’s no doubt that Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin and Seth Jones are 1A, 1B and 1C.

However, this draft is loaded with talent, especially when discussing the top forwards that are available. Here are some other names you need to know and/or watch out for today.

C – Aleksander Barkov (Finnish Elite League)

This is one of those cases where in most years, a player like Barkov could easily be viewed as a first overall pick. The 6’2” center has already spent two seasons playing in the SM-liiga, the highest level of hockey Finland has to offer, and has excelled; Barkov racked up 64 points in 85 games as a 16-and-17-year old.

Some people see Barkov as a great playmaker, and no doubt he is. I don’t think we should restrict him to one label though. He does have great passing and vision but he also knows how to bury the puck. He has a quick release when he decides that he wants to shoot and this can create problems for opposing goalies; he can just as easily go top-corner over the glove hand as he can saucer pass to a teammate on a two-on-one.

D – Darnell Nurse (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds – OHL)

As good as Seth Jones may be in the future, there is no reason to think that Darnell Nurse might not end up being just as impactful an NHLer in the very near future.

Nurse is a player, much like Jonathan Drouin, whose stock has risen significantly in the last 6-8 months. The offensive prowess that Nurse showed this year is why his stock rose so much. Typically a defensive defenseman, Nurse chipped in with 41 points in 68 games this year. A fantastic skater who can use his body to his advantage to make that first pass coming out of the zone, at 6’4” and around 190 lbs he’s also big enough to handle just about anyone in the defensive zone.

LW – Valeri Nichushkin (Chelyabinsk – KHL)

An under-age member of the 2013 Bronze Medal-winning U-20 Russian Junior Hockey team, Nichushkin was an 18-year old playing in the KHL, or Russian men’s league, who managed 15 points in 43 games.

Watching Nichushkin at the World Junior Championships, the first thing that stood out to me was his play-making. I don’t mean in a strict passing-ability sense of the term, but his ability to seemingly create a potential offensive chance out of nothing. A player who possesses great skating abilities in all facets, Nichushkin may be ready to make the jump to the NHL. He can protect the puck using his 6’3” frame and can use this skill to create those offensive chances.

There have already been contract issues with Nichushkin, he signed a two-year contract with Dynamo of the KHL a couple of months ago. This contract has since been altered so that he can leave if he makes an NHL team out of training camp, but it is nonetheless an overlying issue that may or may not drop his draft position.

C – Sean Monahan (Ottawa 67’s – OHL)

Considered possibly the top two-way forward in this year’s draft, Monahan put up back-to-back 78 point seasons for his junior team in Ottawa.

You might look at his statistics and scoff at his -18 plus/minus rating this year. Make no mistake, Monahan is an elite two-way player; Ottawa was the worst team in the OHL this year, winning just 16 games over the course of the season and allowing an astounding 4.75 goals against/game.

All the scouting reports on Monahan say that he’s an extremely versatile player who can play all three forward positions as well as all three facets of the game – even-strength, penalty kill and power play. It’s easy to write off a two-way forward as a non-elite offensive threat, and that could end up being the case with Monahan down the road (although I don’t think that’s very likely). However, much like elite two-way forwards in the NHL like Pavel Datsyuk and Patrice Bergeron, it’s his ability to transition the game from defense to offense that makes him an offensive threat.

While it’s difficult to quantify a player’s hockey I.Q., there’s no doubt that Monahan can certainly think the game as well as he can play it.

D – Samuel Morin (Rimouski Océanic – QMJHL)

When you think of the elite defensemen in the NHL, you can pretty much put them all into two categories: small-ish puck-movers and big defenders. Morin falls into the latter category.

Standing at 6’6” and over the 200 lbs mark, Morin is an imposing figure who can handle just about any player in the defensive zone. I was only able to catch one Rimouski game this year but this is what stood out to me about Morin; his ability to limit time and space for the opponent is remarkable. A lot of this has to do with his size, sure, but it also lends credence to his ability to think the game even when under offensive threat from the opposition.

Big defensemen can be somewhat of a crapshoot. Often, it can take larger defensemen a bit longer to become effective in all areas of the game, literally because they have to get used to their body at the highest level. You need only look at the track records of players like Zdeno Chara, Shea Weber and Victor Hedman.

C – Elias Lindholm (Swedish Elite League)

Another player who may be NHL-ready simply because of his spending a little over a season in the SEL, Lindholm racked up 30 points in 48 games for Brynas IF this season, a mark that led all junior players in the top men’s league last year.

As good as MacKinnon and Drouin are, it’s possible that Lindholm possesses just as good an offensive skill set as either of them. He uses his exceptional hands to get himself in and out of tight areas, as is necessary when you play in a men’s league yet stand just 6’0” tall.

Much like Nichushkin, my impression from Lindholm was his ability to create offensive chances out of the smallest mistake. Unlike Nichushkin, however, Lindholm seems more likely to wait for his teammates and try to create a passing play, where Nichushkin seemed to want to take his chances on a one-on-one (and there’s no inherent problem with either approach, I’m just stating there’s two different ways to look at transition hockey).

Those are some of the bigger names you will need to know for today. There should be lots of movement as teams need to fiddle with lineups and salary cap issues, so today’s draft promises to be one loaded with excitement (as much as there can be at a draft, I suppose).

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Michael Clifford
Michael Clifford was born and raised in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada and is a graduate of the Unviersity of New Brunswick. He writes about fantasy hockey and baseball for XNSports and FantasyTrade411.com. He can be reached on Twitter @SlimCliffy for any fantasy hockey questions. !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+'://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');