Nathan MacKinnon is safe – for the time being.
The Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia native stayed atop the McKeen’s December rankings for the 2013 NHL Draft, but with less margin for error now after exceptional performances from his main challengers for the first-overall spot.
Aleksander Barkov leads Tappara with 14 goals and sits among the top ten scorers in the Finnish SM-liiga – and padded a whirlwind month by taking home MVP honours at the U-20 4-Nations Tournament last month in Sundsvall, Sweden (3-0-3-3).
However, it was the play of the gold medal-winning host Swedes which left an even bigger impression with the NHL scouting fraternity. Specifically Elias Lindholm (3-1-1-2) and Andre Burakowsky (3-0-1-1), as the duo were dominant whenever they were on the ice – in spite of unassuming stat lines.
MacKinnon’s lead was compromised the most though by Halifax linemate Jonathan Drouin.
Peel your eyes away from the Ste-Agathe, Quebec native if you can. His overall game has shown remarkable growth since the beginning of the season, his tempo and decision-making speed seemingly increasing with each passing game. The knock on Drouin coming in was his ordinary size along with associated concerns on whether he survives an ‘inside’ game at the NHL level.
Well, you can’t hit what you can’t catch – or so it goes – and Drouin has been a blur in the offensive zone. Teammates such as MacKinnon have been the benefactors of Drouin’s inspired work on both sides of the puck. He makes those around him better by creating space using his intellect and skating superiority.
Rounding out the Fab Five – and not to be outdone – is stud Portland blueliner Seth Jones, the son of former NBA star Popeye Jones, who is starting to figure it out after a tentative start in his WHL debut.
Jones posted an impressive nine-game assist streak (9-2-12-14) and is looking ever more comfortable on the ice and resembling the player that took over games last season with the U.S. National Team Development Program.
After MacKinnon, pick one of the next four names out of a hat – and NHL clubs are sure to get an outstanding prospect.
Whichever player winds up fifth overall on draft day, they join an impressive list of current and potential future NHL stars to go in the No. 5 slot over the past decade; Morgan Rielly, Ryan Strome, Nino Niederreiter, Brayden Schenn, Luke Schenn, Karl Alzner, Phil Kessel, Carey Price, Blake Wheeler and Thomas Vanek.
|1||1||Nathan MacKinnon||C||6-0/180||9/1/1995||Halifax (QMJHL)||30-22-30-52|
|2||2||Seth Jones||D||6-3/205||10/3/1994||Portland (WHL)||31-8-20-28|
|3||9||Jonathan Drouin||LW||5-11/185||3/28/1995||Halifax (QMJHL)||24-19-29-48|
|4||4||Aleksander Barkov||C||6-2/210||9/2/1995||Tappara (Fin)||31-14-14-28|
|5||3||Elias Lindholm||C||6-0/190||12/2/1994||Brynas (Swe)||32-6-15-21|
|6||5||Sean Monahan||C||6-2/190||10/12/1994||Ottawa (OHL)||26-13-24-37|
|7||7||Hunter Shinkaruk||LW||5-10/180||10/13/1994||Medicine Hat (WHL)||31-19-25-44|
|8||6||Rasmus Ristolainen||D||6-3/205||10/27/1994||TPS Turku (Fin)||28-2-5-7|
|9||8||Ryan Pulock||D||6-0/210||10/6/1994||Brandon (WHL)||30-10-19-29|
|10||15||Anthony Mantha||RW||6-4/200||9/16/1994||Val d’Or (QMJHL)||34-28-22-50|
|11||18||Andre Burakowsky||LW||6-1/180||2/9/1995||Malmo (Swe 2)||22-1-3-4|
|12||13||Nikita Zadorov||D||6-5/230||4/15/1995||London (OHL)||31-2-10-12|
|13||21||Adam Erne||LW||6-1/195||4/20/1995||Quebec (QMJHL)||34-19-25-44|
|14||11||Curtis Lazar||C||6-0/195||2/2/1995||Edmonton (WHL)||34-14-10-24|
|15||12||Josh Morrissey||D||6-0/185||3/28/1995||Prince Albert (WHL)||35-8-17-25|
|16||14||Robert Hagg||D||6-2/200||2/8/1995||MODO (Swe J20)||23-9-11-20|
|17||17||Frederik Gauthier||C||6-5/210||4/26/1995||Rimouski (QMJHL)||30-13-21-34|
|18||20||Max Domi||C||5-9/195||3/2/1995||London (OHL)||34-18-27-45|
|19||10||Valeri Nichushkin||RW||6-4/195||3/4/1995||Traktor (Rus)||8-0-2-2|
|20||23||Darnell Nurse||D||6-3/190||2/4/1995||Sault Ste Marie (OHL)||35-6-17-23|
|21||22||J.T. Compher||C||5-11/185||4/8/1995||NTDP (USA)||22-3-5-8|
|22||NR||Valentin Zykov||LW||6-0/210||5/15/1995||Baie-Comeau (QMJHL)||35-22-14-36|
|23||16||Jason Dickinson||C||6-1/180||7/4/1995||Guelph (OHL)||34-12-17-29|
|24||19||Zachary Fucale||G||6-1/180||5/28/1995||Halifax (QMJHL)||21-3-1, 2.58|
|25||26||Jacob de la Rose||LW||6-2/190||5/20/1995||Leksands (Swe 2)||27-4-2-6|
|26||24||Kerby Rychel||LW||6-1/200||10/7/1994||Windsor (OHL)||35-19-13-32|
|27||25||Hudson Fasching||C||6-2/215||7/28/1995||NTDP (USA)||24-6-7-13|
|28||27||William Carrier||LW||6-1/200||12/20/1994||Cape Breton (QMJHL)||34-16-26-42|
|29||30||Eric Comrie||G||6-1/170||7/6/1995||Tri-City (WHL)||16-12-3, 2.64|
|30||NR||Steve Santini||D||6-1/210||3/7/1995||NTDP (USA)||24-0-8-8|
* Goalies (W-L-T, GA)