Way back in the beginning of May, not long after the Colorado Avalanche won the lottery and the New Jersey Devils were guaranteed to select ninth overall, I asked you all for your top ten prospects. The plan was to get a whole bunch of your opinions and compile them into some kind of community list. It was a good exercise back in 2011 and I thought it would work similarly given that the Devils have a high pick. However, it didn't garner a lot of interest then so it really didn't reveal much.
Now that the 2013 NHL Entry Draft is only eight days away and we've done a lot of prospect profiles, let's try this again. I think there's more interest now in the draft and we've all had plenty of time to learn about who's available. There are an increasing number of mock drafts and, as I found earlier this week, there really isn't a consensus among them as far as who the Devils will pick other than it'll likely be a forward. Yet, we cannot guess who the Devils will pick without at least guessing who the eight teams in front of them pick, so let's consider those as well. And ten makes it a nice round number - and possibly a "runner up" to #9 depending on how you see this year's group.
For the sake of this exercise, assume all the teams will stay where they are in the draft. The order runs Colorado, Florida, Tampa Bay, Nashville, Carolina, Calgary, Edmonton, Buffalo, New Jersey, and Dallas. Feel free to consider their needs or assume Best Player Available for all ten, whichever you prefer. Next Saturday, I'll tally up the results as I did back in May, hopefully with more entries. To make it easier for everyone, you can leave your ten in a comment to this post or Tweet them to the @InLouWeTrust account. Feel free to explain or not explain your selections and discuss the first ten picks in addition the Devils' own first round pick in the comments, too.
To kick things off, here's my updated top ten for the 2013 NHL Entry draft with only at-least-slightly-more informed commentary than from a month ago.
1. Colorado - Seth Jones - Joe Sakic has been making noise about how they wouldn't select Jones first overall. I don't quite believe him. As much as I can agree with those who prefer Nathan MacKinnon over Jones if only because forwards carry less risk than defensemen, I doubt the Avalanche will pass up the glorious mix of size and skill he brings to the table to the blueline. With Jones, it's not a case of "if" but "when" he breaks into the NHL. Besides, Sakic also said he wouldn't hire a coach from the major junior ranks and yet the team hired Patrick Roy from the Q.
2. Florida - Nathan MacKinnon - You know, Florida's position in this draft is pretty sweet. They either get the best forward, the best defenseman, or MacKinnon's top teammate (who's quite good on his own) dropped in their laps at #2. MacKinnon absolutely crushed it in the Q for two seasons and just oozes talent. Panthers fans should probably be looking forward to a lot of "MacKinnon to Huberdeau" or "Huberdeau to MacKinnon" next fall.
3. Tampa Bay - Jonathan Drouin - Drouin is similar to MacKinnon in that they're both fantastic with the puck and does pretty much everything you would want in an offensive player. Plus, they're not at all a problem away from the puck either. Drouin just needs to get a bit stronger and he should be more than fine for the next level in Tampa Bay.
4. Nashville - Aleksander Barkov - As with Adam Larsson, I think highly of a prospect who's played against fully grown men in a professional league and succeeded. Barkov has played two seasons in the SM-Liiga and is coming off a near point-per-game season against other professionals before turning 18. Nashville not only will get a chance to get that offensive forward they really need, but in the form of a big body too.
5. Carolina - Elias Lindholm - I know the Canes may prefer to go with a defenseman, but I don't see them passing up on one of the best performing 17-year old Swedish player in the SEL in recent memory. Lindholm really does it all in both ends and has done it well against professionals already. To think, he's only going to get better. As much as I'd love to see him drop to New Jersey (and I do mean love), I don't think he goes that far out of the top six.
6. Calgary - Valeri Nichushkin - The Flames need all kinds of help and having multiple first round picks will certainly give them some hope in the future. But expect to see Nichushkin suit up as soon as possible. My understanding is that he'll leave the KHL if he can play right away and Calgary can offer him that opportunity. Plus, he's a huge winger that uses his strength to power through defenders to drive possession, draw calls, and finish plays. I think the KHL contract issue drops him down this low, but I doubt Calgary would let him slip.
7. Edmonton - Rasmus Ristolainen - Edmonton really needs to go with a defenseman and I think they take the second best one off the board. Again, the fact that Ristolainen has pro experience really makes him stand out and for a defensive prospect, I think it's a big plus. He does have some offensive tools, but he really shined in his own end with his composure, positioning, and awareness. Ristolainen may end up "only" as a defensive defenseman, but he could be a very good one. The Oilers really need a guy like him so I think they take him here.
8. Buffalo - Sean Monahan - Monahan has been one of the best parts of a pretty poor Ottawa 67's team for the past two seasons. He's been their leader in scoring, their leading two-way player, and their leader in general. He's got a large frame and he knows how to use it. The only concerns is that his skating isn't all that and he may end up more of two-way guy than an offensive leader. That said, in a year or two, he should make a fine professional and many Sabres faithful will appreciate him.
9. New Jersey - Hunter Shinkaruk - Here's my explanation of our pick in the SBN Mock Draft. TL;DR Version: He's an offensive winger and the Devils need one in the system, if not on the NHL team. (Note: I would take all of the forwards ahead of Shinkaruk if available with the possible exception of Monahan. That's forwards, not defensemen.)
10. Dallas - Max Domi - While he's definitely a smaller player, he works hard, he's quick, he's actually sturdy on the puck, and (most of all) has a high offensive ceiling. Given that Dallas doesn't really have that type of player in their system, I think they take a chance on him at the #10 spot.
Prospects outside of the top ten that wouldn't surprise me if they broke into the top ten on June 30: Darnell Nurse, Ryan Pulock, Alexander Wennberg, Bo Horvat if you really, really believe his playoff performances were the real deal.
Basically, I don't think there will be three defensemen selected before the Devils but it's all speculation. Again, give me your lists in the comments or on Twitter and I'll put the community results together next week. Thank you for reading.