Category: 2013 NHL Draft Previews

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Get to know a draft pick — Nathan MacKinnon

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Leading up to the 2013 NHL Entry Draft in New Jersey, we’ll be profiling top prospects who may hear their names called Sunday in the first round. Nothing too in-depth. Just enough so you know who they are and what they’re about.

Nathan MacKinnon (C)

Height: 6’0 Weight: 182 Shoots: Right

Team: Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

Country: Canada

NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 2 among North American skaters

What kind of player is he?

MacKinnon was raised close to where Sidney Crosby grew up in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia and he’s been compared to the Penguins superstar for years. If the Avalanche aren’t bluffing and they go through with their plan to draft MacKinnon he might serve as a third-line center in his first season, but make no mistake, MacKinnon is a potential franchise player.

He’s fast, has a great shot, and the tools to develop into top scorer. He’s also demonstrated that he can handle pressure at a young age, given the immense hype and expectations that have been surrounding him throughout his QMJHL career.

Further evidence of his ability to rise under pressure can be found in his performance during the 2013 Memorial Cup. He had a tournament-high seven goals and 13 points in just four games.

Quotable:

“A total package of skill, speed and power. He can play a lot of different styles, a power or finesse game, equally well. He’s such a gamer, a guy who gets better when there’s a big moment.” — Mooseheads coach Ducharme (courtesy of the Denver Post)

For more 2013 NHL Draft Previews, click here.

Get to know a draft pick — Max Domi

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Leading up to the 2013 NHL Entry Draft in New Jersey, we’ll be profiling top prospects who may hear their names called Sunday in the first round. Nothing too in-depth. Just enough so you know who they are and what they’re about.

Max Domi (C)

Height: 5’9 Weight: 185 Shoots: Left

Team: London Knights (OHL)

Country: Canada

NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 19 among North American skaters

What kind of player is he?

As the son of Tie Domi, you’d expect Max Domi to be pugnacious beyond anything else (kind of like how Henrik Samuelsson stirs the pot in a way that reminds many of his father Ulf). Instead, the small forward is known more for his prodigious skill and speed.

(Word is that he isn’t totally adverse to mix it up, either. He is a Domi, after all.)

As a diabetic, he’s adopted Bobby Clarke as something of an idol, switching to No. 16 in his honor.

While his overall offensive skill set impresses, his playmaking ability stands out. Some might find his fanciness a little off-putting, so expect a lot of jokes about certain failed attempts “not exactly making dad proud.”

In what’s far from a shocking development, the Toronto Sun reports that Toronto Maple Leafs fans really want the team to grab Domi if he’s available at pick 21.

Quotable:

Knights (and former Washington Capitals) head coach Dale Hunter provided high praise of Domi to NHL.com.

“He has extensive offensive skills and his skating ability is — and I hate to say it — [Sidney] Crosby-esque,” Hunter said. “You never want to compare [a player] to someone like that, but he has a very strong lower torso, so his center of gravity is amazing.”

For more 2013 NHL Draft previews, click here.

Get to know a draft pick — Rasmus Ristolainen

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Leading up to the 2013 NHL Entry Draft in New Jersey, we’ll be profiling top prospects who may hear their names called Sunday in the first round. Nothing too in-depth. Just enough so you know who they are and what they’re about.

Rasmus Ristolainen (D)

Height: 6’3 Weight: 201 Shoots: Right

Team: TPS (Finnish Elite League)

Country: Finland

NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 4 among European skaters

What kind of player is he?

As you can see from his measurements, he’s already at (or near) the size an NHL team would hope for from a first-round prospect. It’s clear that he isn’t shy about using that large frame, either.

Ristolainen told NHL.com that he models his game after Chris Pronger, has regularly been compared to Shea Weber and deeply admires the physical play of Milan Lucic. It all gives the impression of a big, mean player.

He already has a season of experience in Finland’s Elite League, so he’s gotten some experience playing against grown men rather than players his age. That could serve him quite well, even if he gets another year or two to develop.

(Or some might say, more time to nurture that mean streak.)

Quotable:

Ristolainen impressed 2012 first-round draft pick Olli Maatta, who teamed with him at the World Juniors. (via NHL.com)

“I’ve played him a lot and I know him well,” Maatta said. “He’s a great player to play with. He made good plays and made you feel better, gets you more time. He’s a little bit nasty in the [defensive] zone, gets big hits, which I don’t do. I think we did well [together].”

For more 2013 NHL Draft previews, click here.

Get to know a prospect — Anthony Mantha

Anthony Mantha

Leading up to the 2013 NHL Entry Draft in New Jersey, we’ll be profiling top prospects who may hear their names called Sunday in the first round. Nothing too in-depth. Just enough so you know who they are and what they’re about.

Anthony Mantha (RW)

Height: 6’4″  Weight: 190  Shoots: Left

Team: Val-d’Or Foreurs (QMJHL)

Country: Canada

NHL Central Scouting ranking: 10th ranked skater in North America

What kind of player is he?

The million dollar question for Mantha is figuring out just what kind of player he’s going to be. This season he scored a career-high 50 goals and 89 points for Val-d’Or. His 50-spot led the QMJHL in goals but there are some who believe he can’t bring that kind of production to the next level.

His offensive game goes unquestioned (hey, 50 goals will do that) but questions have been raised about his eagerness. The offensive numbers and talk about how good his shot is are hard to ignore. Are the questions about the “fire in his game” enough to keep him down in the first-round? Stranger things have happened (remember Zach Parise’s slide to 17th overall in 2003?) but one stinging critique of his game has seen him compared to Benoit Pouliot.

Quotable:

“Love him when he has the puck on his stick. I’m not his biggest fan when he doesn’t. Looks like a boom or bust guy to me.” — Mark Edwards – HockeyProspect.com

“Big stud that can skate, hard to handle, can dominate. Long stride, soft hands, not physical, great feel, didn’t do enough in Halifax, needs to be WAY more physical.” — Mark Seidel – North American Central Scouting

“He’s a big kid with a lot of skill. He has everything you need to succeed — he can skate, he’s smart, he reads the play, he has everything. He might need to work on his defensive game, but he can be taught that. You can’t teach talent like he has, or hands like he has.” — Chris Bordeleau – NHL Central Scouting

For more 2013 NHL Draft previews, click here

Get to know a draft pick — Darnell Nurse

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Leading up to the 2013 NHL Entry Draft in New Jersey, we’ll be profiling top prospects who may hear their names called Sunday in the first round. Nothing too in-depth. Just enough so you know who they are and what they’re about.

Darnell Nurse (D)

Height: 6’4 Weight: 185 Shoots: Left

Team: Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)

Country: Canada

NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 4 among North American skaters

What kind of player is he?

Much like Seth Jones, Darnell Nurse grew up in a family full of high-end athletes. His parents played at high levels, yet you might know his uncle the best: former Philadelphia Eagles QB Donovan McNabb.

He shares other similarities with Jones, as he also draws plenty of Chris Pronger comparisons. That makes sense as most regard him as an outstanding stay-at-home defenseman. (Some evoke the names Shea Weber and Dion Phaneuf instead, so the theme is size, physicality and a healthy helping of nastiness.)

He’s shown a decent amount of offensive skill, scoring 12 goals and 41 points in 68 games during his second season at the junior level.

Still, the main draw will likely come from a team looking for a bruising blueliner with prototypical size and the kind of bloodlines that imply something special.

Quotable:

Greyhounds head coach Sheldon Keefe told Hockey’s Future that Nurse is part of a “new wave” of defensemen.

“When you talk about those top-level NHL defensemen, he has the potential to do that,” Keefe said. “But when you look at all the different tools that he brings to the table, he really is the next wave of defensemen coming into the NHL — these natural athletes, these top guys. You saw how he performed at the Top Prospects Game, how well he did … you usually don’t see those results from big guys. I think he’s got a lot of tools that are going to bring some very interesting options for the team that’s lucky enough to draft him.”

For more 2013 NHL Draft previews, click here.