The Nashville Predators top online media members have provided nashvillepredators.com with a little insight into the 2013 NHL Entry Draft by participating in the inaugural Nashville Predators Online Media Mock Draft.
The online writers participating in this year's draft are: Amanda DiPaolo from Smashville 24/7, Dirk Hoag from Ontheforecheck.com, Jeremy Gover from Section303.com, Kris Martel from The Predatorial, Mark Willoughby from TheViewFromSection112.com, Patten Fuqua from PuckScene.com, Paul McCann from SlapShot Radio, Robby Staley from Smashville 24/7, Ryan Porth from Smashville 24/7 and Sarah Fuqua from PuckScene.
In the coming weeks, we will have three different draft scenarios posted here at NP.com as the media members tell us what they believe will happen on Sunday, June 30 in Newark. Each writer has been asked to look at their respective picks from the team's position and what they need to benefit their team.
1. Ryan Porth (Colorado Avalanche) - Seth Jones, D (Portland Winterhawks) - Newly-hired bench boss Patrick Roy may be tempted to go with QMJHL prospects Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin, but Colorado needs a cornerstone defenseman to complement the talent they already have at forward. Defenseman Seth Jones, viewed as the draft’s top overall prospect, fits the bill.
2. Sarah Fuqua (Florida Panthers) - Jonathan Drouin, F (Halifax Mooseheads) - For a team that finished with the worst record in the NHL, the Florida Panthers cannot lose in this draft. The franchise has a lot of young defensemen already on the NHL roster and another young forward could help put some much needed points on the board. In keeping trend with the team's investment in the future, banking on a truly star player and goal scorer (Drouin tallied 105 points this past season... I had to double check to make sure that stat was even real!) would not be in vain. Move him around on the wing and he could easily complement Calder nominee Jonathan Huberdeau and create the building blocks to an all star line that the Panthers so desperately need.
3. Kris Martel (Tampa Bay Lightning) - Nathan MacKinnon, F (Halifax Mooseheads) - Tampa Bay already hit the jackpot five years ago with Steven Stamkos and they're getting ready to strike gold yet again. Even though the Lightning need help defensively, with Nathan MacKinnon they would acquire a player that comes along only once-in-a-generation. By far the most talented scorer in the entire draft, MacKinnon's speed and offensive prowess will give Tampa Bay another deadly weapon to their already potent arsenal.
4. Mark Willoughby (Nashville Predators) - Valeri Nichushkin, F (Chelyabinsk) - With the 4th pick in the draft, the Nashville Predators select Valeri Nichushkin. The Predators have long struggled for impact power forwards that can score consistently, and Nuchushkin certainly fills that role. He is an explosive skater with great hands and good size. He is not afraid to go to the hard areas to score, but also has exceptional skill with the puck and a scorer's mentality.
5. Jeremy Gover (Carolina Hurricanes) - Aleksander Barkov, F (Tappara) - Former Kitchener Rangers captain Ryan Murphy is already in the fold and, therefore, the future of the Carolina blueline is in good hands. With their top forward prospect being Victor Rask (projected as a two-way player with some offensive upside), the Hurricanes need a stud they can build around up front. Eric Staal, their top line center and team captain, is one of the league's best players and is still in the prime of his career at 28 years old. However, he was the victim of that ugly knee-on-knee during the World Championships and you have to wonder if he'll be able to return to his 70-point ways. Best case scenario, Barkov (a huge 6'2", 205 pound center at just 17 years old), gives the Canes a possible-second line pivot for years to come. Worst case, he gives them an insurance policy if Staal never fully recovers.
6. Patten Fuqua (Calgary Flames) - Sean Monahan, F (Ottawa 67s) - With their first of three first round picks pick, Calgary could select Sean Monahan in an effort to fill the gigantic hole created by Jarome Iginla's departure. The captain of an absolutely terrible Ottawa 67's team, Monahan still managed to rack up 78 points (31 G - 47 A) in a season shortened by injury and a 10-game suspension for a head hit. In addition to providing an elite scoring touch, Monahan is also an adept penalty killer and is noted for his strong play everywhere on the ice. With Monahan possessing the tools to become an elite two-way forward, Calgary could end up setting the tone for their franchise's future with a player that, per one scout, "exudes leadership qualities that scream future NHL captain."
7. Paul McCann (Edmonton Oilers) - Darnell Nurse, D (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) - A major problem for the Edmonton Oilers have been complimentary players to play alongside their top draft picks over the past few seasons. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, Jordin Eberle... all great young forwards, all the best players available at their draft time... but teams need defense to win and this is the Oil's chance to get a stud that I am surprised is still available at this point in the first round. Often compared with players like Chris Pronger and Shea Weber, this physical, driven player knows what it's like to be a pro, learning from his uncle, former Eagles QB Donovan McNabb. Nurse is the prototypical defensive defenseman and will be one of the missing pieces to success for new Edmonton coach Dallas Eakins.
8. Amanda DiPaolo (Buffalo Sabres) - Nikita Zadorov, D (London Knights) - The Buffalo Sabres need a little bit of everything. Having traded defensemen Robyn Regehr and Jordan Leopold at the deadline, the Sabres need defense maybe a touch more than anything else. At 6'5 and 230 pounds, the Russian blueliner is expected to develop into a top defensive pairing for the NHL club that takes him. In his rookie season with the OHL's best team, Zadorov scored six goals, added 19 assists and was a plus-33; he also had 54 penalty minutes in 63 regular season games. He is projected as a stay-at-home defenseman with a physical edge to him. With two first-round draft picks as well as two second-round picks this year, Buffalo has an opportunity to restock the shelves a little this offseason.
9. Dirk Hoag (New Jersey Devils) - Hunter Shinkaruk, F (Medicine Hat) - With the 9th pick, the New Jersey Devils will select Hunter Shinkaruk, of the WHL's Medicine Hat Tigers. General Manager Lou Lamoriello has been forthright about the Devils' need to add a scoring forward in this draft, and Shinkaruk fits that description admirably. Over his three seasons with Medicine Hat Shinkaruk has developed an all-around game while growing into a leadership role, but his calling card is offensive production, with demonstrated ability to create scoring chances for both himself and his teammates. While many might discount his value due to his 5'11" 180 lb. frame, the Devils have proven they know how to make the most out of sub-6' forwards such as Brian Gionta and Zach Parise.
10. Robby Stanley (Dallas Stars) - Elias Lindholm, F (Brynas) - Dallas Stars select centerman Elias Lindholm. The Stars need help defensively as well, but Lindholm is just too good to pass up at the number 10 spot. Some scouts have Lindholm as the best available player in the entire draft. He can potentially provide the Stars with the first legitimate face of the franchise since Mike Modano.
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