The 2013 draft just got very interesting, as the consensus #1 (Seth Jones) is apparently #4 on the Colorado Avalanche draft list. Is the race that close this year? Math suggests there is a clear option for #1 overall, and the name at the top may surprise.
For several years now the gold standard for projecting junior, college, Euro and minor league stats into the NHL is Desjardins NHLE.
FORWARDS NHLE (per 82gp)
- Jonathan Drouin, Halifax (QMJHL) 19-30-49
- Sasha Barkov, Tappere Tampere (SM-Liiga) 18-22-40
- Elias Lindholm, Brynas (SEL) 15-25-40
- Nathan MacKinnon, Halifax (QMJHL) 17-22-39
- Max Domi, London (OHL) 15-18-33
- Hunter Shinkaruk, Medicine Hat (WHL) 14-19-33
- Sean Monahan, Ottawa (OHL) 13-20-33
- Anthony Mantha, Val d’or (QMJHL) 17-13-30
- Valeri Nichushkin, Chelyabinsk Traktor (KHL) 20-10-30
- Adam Erne, Quebec (QMJHL) 9-15-24
DEFENSE NHLE (per 82gp)
- Seth Jones, Portland (WHL) 6-17-23
- Darnell Nurse, Sault Ste Marie (OHL) 4-11-15
- Rasmus Ristolainen, TPS Turku (SM-Liiga) 3-10-13
Jonathan Drouin–most often mentioned as the third in the CHL trio of elite talents in this draft–is in fact the top offensive player available this year. The next three forwards–Barkov, Lindholm and MacKinnon–are all quality offensive players and of course MacKinnon’s scouting report (and Barkov’s) boast a wider range of skills.
Jones offense from the blue isn’t earth shattering (Drew Doughty was 82, 6-23-29 NHLE) but he’s right in the same range offensively as guys like Alex Pietrangelo, Zack Bogosian and Michael Del Zotto. Jones has a wide range of skills, so delivering that kind of offense along with all of the other elements makes him an impact prospect.
THE NEW MATH
The other reason Colorado may be going the forward route is history: defensemen taken high in the draft often fail to deliver value, and very often come into their own with their second organization (or later). Even a guy like Chris Pronger–a pure Hall of Famer–did much of his damage after being traded the first time.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
The ugly truth is this: nothing has changed since Jason Gregor talked about defensemen and taking them high in the draft one year ago. No one would trade Nail Yakupov for Ryan Murray today, and the gap is extremely likely to widen moving forward.
It’s easier to project forwards into the future, and Colorado is probably making the correct choice in going forward.