CHL Twist on the 2013 NHL Draft
Of the 211 players selected in the 2013 National Hockey League draft, 101 of them (48%) came from the Canadian Hockey League.
There were a record 22 CHL players selected in the first round, one more than in 2011 and 1998.
Canadian major junior players accounted for 63% of those selected in the first three rounds, equaling that of the 1995 draft.
All 30 NHL teams selected at least one CHL player.
QMJHL (31 players, six in the first round)
OHL (37 players, eight in the first round)
WHL (33 players, eight in the first round)
Top 2013 selection: Sean Monahan, Ottawa 67′s (6th overall)
I accurately picked all three of the Flames first-round picks. Sean Monahan was a no-brainer at No. 6 while Emile Poirier was a surprise at No. 22; but he would’ve been gone to Montreal at #24 if the Flames didn’t take him there. Morgan Klimchuk is the most interesting of this group. He’s versatile, as he showed while representing his country extremely well on a couple of occasions. He’ll be a tweener at the NHL level, but he’s good enough to be considered a top-nine guy who will give you time on the penalty kill and jump into a top-six role when needed. He’s faced a lot of adversity playing for a mediocre Regina team the last two-plus seasons and he’s unselfish with a high hockey IQ. The Flames also grabbed a couple of defencemen, taking behemoth Keegan Kanzig out of Victoria and Eric Roy out of Brandon. Both of these picks are solid, but different. Kanzig hits for keeps and as he continues to grow will become more mobile and a better puck handler. All he’ll need to do is play a simple, off-the-glass game with a first pass and defend well, while making opponents pay in front of the net. Roy is a beautiful skater and a guy who has come out of his shell playing in the shadow of Ryan Pulock. He is a nice pick for the fifth round.
Top 2013 selection: Darnell Nurse, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (7th overall)
The Oilers stuck to convention when picking at No. 7. Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish wanted character and he got a ton of it in Nurse. Nurse will be downright nasty to play against as he hits for keeps and has no issue dropping the gloves on his or his team’s behalf. I think there are some limitations to his offensive game, but he’ll do wonders in his own zone and for team chemistry, so much so that offense may not be required at all. The acquisition of even more picks allowed the Oilers to go to Russia for a couple of players, but really allowed them to focus-in on CHL prospects. Marc-Olivier Roy out of Blainville-Boisbriand will be interesting to watch next season as he should be a top flight offensive player, will likely grow a bit over the summer and with a good start to the season should get some consideration for the Subway Super Series. Jackson Houck is a mucker-grinder with some ability to produce. Where he fits on a deep junior team is anyone’s guess, but because Vancouver is in the midst of a rebuild, he’s a go-to guy. He rates out as a third or fourth line guy in the show. The Oilers hope Kyle Platzer develops the way Bo Horvat and Max Domi did in that he gained valuable playoff and Mastercard Memorial Cup experience while without primetime minutes. Those minutes should befall him next year and he has the skill set to handle it. Ben Betker is a solid defenceman that benefitted from scouts keeping an eye on teammate Mirco Mueller all season. He’s a longer term project on the back end, but gives the Oilers a sizable option down the road. Gregory Chase must be thrilled since his father Kyle is a popular former radio personality in Edmonton and he’s also the nephew of former NHLer Kelly. I can’t imagine how proud Kyle is of his son. Chase is a steal in the seventh round and the hometown connection will provide great motivation.
Top 2013 selection: Mike McCarron, USNTDP (25th overall)
I believe the Canadiens got three first-round picks, and were smart to keep numbers 34 and 36 to do so. Connor Crisp is a big body guy who plays a heavy game and provides good net front presence. Several teams gambled on Sven Andrighetto being available in the later rounds, but with two third-rounder picks the Habs were able to jump on him. Martin Reway is a smart player who’s a good skater, shoots the puck well and displays good escapability. The pick I like most is Jeremy Gregoire in the 6th round. He will play in the NHL, I promise you. Two more years under Eric Veilleux will do him wonders. He’s mature, plays a heavy game and understands his role.
Top 2013 selection: Curtis Lazar, Edmonton Oil Kings (17th overall)
Curtis Lazar is Bo Horvat-like in the completeness of his game and it is no surprise Ottawa sat patiently to get him. The Sens were not as high on this draft as most other teams, and were crafty in getting Ben Harpur out of Guelph, who is a project player with a good frame. Vincent Dunn turned a lot of heads this year and despite injury was almost a point-per-game player. He plays bigger than his size and reminds me a lot of Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who willed himself into the NHL this year despite size concerns when he was drafted. As usual, the Sens used their second and third picks on Swedish players, and it was no surprise as no team has had more success there.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Top 2013 selection: Frederik Gauthier, Rimouski Oceanic (21st overall)
I really thought the Leafs were going to jump on Hunter Shinkaruk and feel good about getting him at No. 21, but Frederik Gauthier is a solid pick. While he lacks finish and creativity on the offensive side, he’s a big body that is just coming into his own at centre. He backtracks well, is aware in his own zone and will likely play at 230 pounds. He will need to unearth a little more edge in his game, and I think the offensive side has a chance to develop. Carter Verhaeghe is a similar player with a smaller frame. His engine always keeps working and you will hear more from him in the coming season as he will be looked upon to provide offence for Niagara. I love Antoine Bibeau in the sixth round. He supplanted once-thought-to-be hot prospect Maxime Legace in P.E.I’s net last year, and the Islanders’ brass love him. He’s got big upside. I’m never a fan of using high picks to take goalies as they normally take so long to develop, but Bibeau here is a solid choice.
Top 2013 selection: Josh Morrissey, Prince Albert Raiders (13th overall)
I thought the Jets were a little aggressive with their pick of Josh Morrissey at 13, but then again, he would not have been available at 43. The Jets had their eye on Max Domi, but switched gears when Phoenix picked Domi just ahead of them. The Jets rocked in rounds two and three. Nic Petan was a steal at 43, while Eric Comrie would’ve challenged Zachary Fucale had he been healthy the entire season. James Lodge is a guy some prognosticators saw as an early second-round pick and you know he’ll be ready with Greg Gilbert as his coach in Saginaw. JC Lipon exceeded all expectations this year and may do the same as a pro. I love the Brenden Kichton pick 190th overall, he lead all WHL defencemen in scoring, and is a really efficient puck mover.
Top 2013 selection: Bo Horvat, London Knights (9th overall)
Gutsy move to get out from under the goaltending conundrum by acquiring the ninth overall pick in exchange for Cory Schneider. Horvat went exactly where he should have and the Canucks will love him. Oddly enough, he’s very similar to Cody Hodgson at the same stage in their careers. Hunter Shinkaruk was the draft’s biggest faller, but he knows how to score. His whole life has been centered around playing in the NHL and that mantra will continue. He’s a great kid that will be motivated by falling out of the top-15.He will have to improve play in his own zone and pack some pounds on that slight frame, but he’ll be willing to do both. His hands are magic, his skating is fine and he has a big league shot. Cole Cassels has a subtle game and NHL bloodlines. In developing, he will need to establish what he will be at the next level. Jordan Subban is so much like PK that the Canucks hope he grows like PK did after he was drafted. From play to personality, there’s not much separating the two of them. Jordan is a brilliant skater, is offensive minded and will need to find a way to defend against men if he doesn’t grow. Miles Liberati was seventh-to-last player taken in the draft. Canucks player development specialist Dave Gagner is tightly tied with the Knights coaching staff and I’m sure he had input on this pick. Liberati showed versatility in playing both forward and defence, and who knows where he’ll play next season, but he did show signs of brilliance while patiently waiting behind a talented group of Knights skaters last year.
I said to RJ Broadhead that the top end of the draft board would be turned on its heels if indeed Colorado stuck with Nathan MacKinnon. The Avs did, and Seth Jones slid all the way to Nashville at four, with Sasha Barkov going second overall to Florida.
If you listened to our Friday Night Hockey broadcasts throughout the season, and during the Mastercard Memorial Cup, you would’ve heard me say that Bo Horvat was a top-10 pick and Max Domi a top-15 NHL pick (sorry Tie, I think you owe me a beer). I said in my preview that Hunter Shinkaruk would slide outside the top-15 and that Emile Poirier would be the sleeper pick. All of those came to fruition. Nobody had Marco Dano going in the first round.
The last Gatineau player to go 22nd overall was Claude Giroux in 2006. Giroux was a sleeper pick like Poirier and if the Flames have the next Claude Giroux on their hands, their scouting staff will look genius.
I have a sneaking suspicion Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy confirmed their thoughts about Nathan MacKinnon with former Avs and current Flames Head Coach Bob Hartley. Hartley worked as an analyst for TVA during the MasterCard Memorial Cup and saw MacKinnon’s every move on and off the ice. Mind you, it wasn’t much of a stretch for the Avs to select MacKinnon.
Several scouts I spoke to questioned the fire that burns in Seth Jones. Sliding to fourth overall should ignite that fire and it’ll be fun to watch the Preds first games against Colorado, Florida and Tampa Bay.
Current Charlottetown Islanders general manager Grant Sonier was doing double duty through the 2013 draft as his contract with ESPN.com came to an end this week. He was the only draft prognosticator that had Jones going fourth overall. I emailed him previous to the draft applauding him for being the only one who had the balls to go to print with it. It crossed my mind, but I surely didn’t have the intestinal fortitude to write it.
Thanks to all of the teams that took time to share their thoughts with me not just before the draft, but throughout the entire season. You guys are half the reason going to the rink is so much fun.