Sweden stole the draft headlines in 2011, and this past summer it was defensemen taking the spotlight – with eight of the top 10 picks.
Next June, it could very well be the QMJHL grabbing all the attention.
The ‘Q’ is back – and in a big way.
Led by the Halifax trio of Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin, and top-rated goalie Zach Fucale – seven players from the revitalized QMJHL earned spots in the McKeen’s preliminary rankings for the 2013 NHL Draft.
Four other forwards have also stepped up to claim top-round berths – Val d’Or sniper Anthony Mantha, big Rimouski pivot Frederik Gauthier, gritty shooter Adam Erne, and strong-skating William Carrier.
It would mark quite a turnaround for a league that produced just one lone first-rounder last time – Russian import Mikhail Grigorenko.
The ‘Q’ factor is one of the storylines emerging so far in a draft year that is showing signs of being above-average in quality – and possibly special.
Certainly this draft class are shooting the lights out across junior – and beyond – with three of our top 10 flourishing in European pro leagues in Elias Lindholm, Aleksander Barkov, and Rasmus Ristolainen.
Maintaining or climbing the rankings won’t be an easy task however since the depth of talent for 2013 exceeds what we’ve witnessed over the past few drafts.
Normally, in an average crop year, there are about 15-20 players that initially stand out as distinct first-round candidates.
There won’t be any passengers this time around – with at least 40 ‘A’ grade prospects waging battle for a coveted top-30 placing.
We can expect movement among the top tier as well heading into a busy month of November – a key time for NHL scouts to assess how players respond as the level of play elevates.
It’s shaping up to be quite a race – in spite of the dampening effect of this tortuous NHL labour dispute.
Really, all we can do is drown ourselves in the World Juniors – and the draft – and hope the powers that be come to their senses – soon.
MCKEEN’S 2013 NHL DRAFT RANKINGS (NOV, 2012)
|1||Nathan MacKinnon||C||6-0/180||9/1/95||Halifax (QMJHL)||16-18-11-29|
|2||Seth Jones||D||6-3/205||10/3/94||Portland (WHL)||13-4-6-10|
|3||Elias Lindholm||C||6-0/185||12/2/94||Brynas (Swe)||19-5-8-13|
|4||Aleksander Barkov||C||6-2/205||9/2/95||Tappara (Fin)||19-10-9-19|
|5||Sean Monahan||C||6-2/195||10/12/94||Ottawa (OHL)||14-6-16-22|
|6||Rasmus Ristolainen||D||6-3/205||10/27/94||TPS Turku (Fin)||17-0-5-5|
|7||Hunter Shinkaruk||LW||5-10/165||10/13/94||Medicine Hat (WHL)||18-11-14-25|
|8||Ryan Pulock||D||6-0/210||10/6/94||Brandon (WHL)||16-7-11-18|
|9||Jonathan Drouin||LW||5-11/185||3/28/95||Halifax (QMJHL)||10-10-13-23|
|10||Valeri Nichushkin||RW||6-4/195||3/4/95||Chelmet (Rus 2)||15-8-2-10|
|11||Curtis Lazar||C||6-0/195||2/2/95||Edmonton (WHL)||15-8-3-11|
|12||Josh Morrissey||D||6-0/185||3/28/95||Prince Albert (WHL)||16-3-11-14|
|13||Nikita Zadorov||D||6-5/230||4/15/95||London (OHL)||14-0-4-4|
|14||Robert Hagg||D||6-2/195||2/8/95||MODO (Swe J20)||17-5-9-14|
|15||Anthony Mantha||RW||6-3/200||9/16/94||Val d’Or (QMJHL)||15-15-13-28|
|16||Jason Dickinson||C||6-1/180||7/4/95||Guelph (OHL)||15-8-9-17|
|17||Frederik Gauthier||C||6-4/215||4/26/95||Rimouski (QMJHL)||17-10-10-20|
|18||Andre Burakovsky||LW||6-1/180||2/9/95||Malmo (Swe 2)||16-0-2-2|
|19||Zachary Fucale||G||6-1/180||5/28/95||Halifax (QMJHL)||12-1-0, 2.53|
|20||Max Domi||C||5-9/195||3/2/95||London (OHL)||15-7-13-20|
|21||Adam Erne||LW||6-1/195||4/20/95||Quebec (QMJHL)||15-11-13-24|
|22||J.T. Compher||C||5-11/180||4/8/95||NTDP (USA)||6-2-1-3|
|23||Darnell Nurse||D||6-3/190||2/4/95||Sault Ste Marie (OHL)||16-4-9-13|
|24||Kerby Rychel||LW||6-1/200||10/7/94||Windsor (OHL)||17-10-5-15|
|25||Hudson Fasching||C||6-3/195||7/28/95||NTDP (USA)||13-3-5-8|
|26||Jacob de la Rose||LW||6-2/190||5/20/95||Leksands (Swe 2)||16-1-0-1|
|27||William Carrier||LW||6-1/200||12/20/94||Cape Breton (QMJHL)||17-10-16-26|
|28||Shea Theodore||D||6-2/185||8/3/95||Seattle (WHL)||14-4-7-11|
|29||Bo Horvat||C||6-0/200||4/5/95||London (OHL)||15-6-5-11|
|30||Eric Comrie||G||6-0/175||7/6/95||Tri-City (WHL)||9-6-2, 2.46|
|* Goalies (W-L-T, GA)|