Nathan MacKinnon headlines a strong group of 2013 draft eligibles who will be playing at the 2013 World Junior Championships. Canada has an unusually large number of draft eligibles–three–and each of them looks like they’ll be strong prospects for the 2013 entry draft.
- #29 L Jonathan Drouin, Halifax (QMJHL): The Rocket man from this year’s draft/WJ roster, Drouin is being considered my many a lock for the lottery region this coming draft. Undersized, ridiculous hands. 48 points in 24 QMJHL games this season. Craig Button: "When he’s on the ice he’s always dangerous. That and the chemistry that he and MacKinnon have developed have made them as threatening a duo as there is in junior hockey. They intimidate opponents and electrify fans, and have certainly excited NHL scouts with their play to this point."
- #23 C Nathan MacKinnon, Halifax (QMJHL): Offers a wide range of skills combined with an eagerness to engage. He might be special, and is strong and a powerful skater. 52 points in 30 Q games, including 22 goals. Craig Button: "His skating is excellent with first step quickness that is exceptional. It allows him to beat defenders and create opportunities in a flash. He has great hands and is able to manoeuvre the puck in the tight areas. His shot is quick and accurate and he doesn’t allow goalies to get a read on it. He is forceful and at times may be inclined to shoot first rather than consider passing options, but his playmaking is very good. He’s a single-minded player in his approach and his determination, along with his skill, allows him to have an impact the game and to do so at the most important times. A clear cut No. 1 centre."
- #17 R JC Lipon, Kamloops (WHL): 19-year old passed through the NHL draft twice but teams are kicking themselves now. He’s 22-35-57 in 34 games and is getting all kinds of attention for his talent and effort. His head coach Guy Charron: "When you’re 16 or 17, you may have an image of what you think you are as a player, but sometimes you need direction. I know as a 16-year-old, JC thought he was what he is now, but he wasn’t ready for that. He was the type of player who would sometimes play fourth line, or third line, some games he would be very good. In the last couple years, he’s really matured and determined what kind of player he needs to be. Now he’s getting the dividends of his commitment."
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
- #3 D Seth Jones, Portland (WHL): Oh. My. God. What a prospect! 31, 8-20-28 so far in the WHL, he’ll be one of the first two names off the board at the draft.Craig Button: "Seth has the rare combination of skill, size and power which allows him to impact the game in multiple ways and in just about any conceivable situation. He is blessed with great athletic ability and he moves about the ice with ease and with the ability to use his skating to his advantage either defensively or offensively. He understands how to use his advantages to gain the upper hand and whether it is a skill situation or a physical situation, he’s able to do it a forceful manner. He is an excellent passer who remains composed under pressure and he has a heavy and hard shot which poses considerable challenges for goalies. He takes charge on the ice in some way and the word that comes to mind when you watch him is ‘unique.’ A cornerstone defenceman."
- #18 F Cole Bardreau, Cornell (NCAA): Bardreau is not a skill player, but is effective as a defensive forward and plays an aggressive game. Bardreau has a great motor on him and isn’t afraid to throw his body around. He’s also got a great on-ice work ethic.
- #21 L Ryan Hartman, Plymouth (OHL): I’ve read that he plays a powerforward game, but at 5.10 that sounds like an accident waiting to happen. Skilled forward, he is 32, 12-17-29 in the OHL this season. Redline Report: "He’s a feisty, prickly competitor who spent the last two seasons playing for U.S. NTDP. Last year, he had 16 goals, 41 points and 136 penalty minutes. His father played college soccer at South Carolina." Craig Button: "If Hartman was two inches taller, we’d call him Bill Guerin."
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
The Mayans are tough to factor, but that aside hockey fans get a great look at the very best talent available in the 2013 draft this Christmas. Seth Jones and Nathan MacKinnon represent the top level talent, but I’d suggest we should keep our eyes on men like Lipon and Hartman too.
Up next: the Swedes, the Finns and the Swiss.