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January 6, 2013
From Daigle To Datsyuk
Top 50 NHL Draft Prospects, Midseason

by Corey Pronman

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The 2013 NHL Draft class is shaping up to be a very strong one. I know fans sometimes hear that often about a particular class and may not always buy it, but on this occasion, one can see the difference when a player I ranked 17th in the previous draft Anton Slepyshev, who I have not change my opinion on, is ranked 30th this time around. My methods are the same as always for how I acquire information and value players, and described in detail here.

For me, when evaluating this class, there are three elite prospects at the top, and a coin flip between 1 and 2. There's a slight drop off in talent after 5, and another after 13 after which the gradual decline in marginal prospect value begins. These rankings are not meant to be comprehensive or detailed. I will do detailed reports and ranking explanations in a few months. I plan to do three draft rankings, preseason, midseason, and final. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me on Twitter (@coreypronman) or email cpronman@hockeyprospectus.com.

1. Nathan MacKinnon, Center, Halifax-QMJHL (Previous Ranking: 1)

MacKinnon is an elite prospect in every sense of the word. He can do everything at such a high level and has the tools to potentially be a star if not a superstar. However, this top spot ranking was not an easy call for me. In fact, I would rate it as a coin flip scenario between MacKinnon and Drouin for now, and leaned MacKinnon as he is the safer call. If the positive signs for Drouin keep flowing in at the same pace for another half a season, it will make a tough debate even tougher.

2. Jonathan Drouin, Left Wing, Halifax-QMJHL (Previous Ranking: 5)

MacKinnon's teammate is also an extremely talented player, with elite puck possession and skating abilities. He has been great from the Ivan Hlinka tournament onwards and has the looks of a special talent. I really liked Drouin in the summer, which is why I ranked him fifth, but he has surpassed my expectations. As usual, when the talent levels are even close, I always lean toward the forwards because there is less development risk. That's why I prefer the two Halifax forwards over Seth Jones.

3. Seth Jones, Defense, Portland-WHL (Previous Ranking: 2)

Jones is a unique defense prospect with tremendous hockey sense plus mobility and intriguing physical abilities. He probably steps into an NHL lineup next year and may even be one of those rare defensemen to be above-average right away.

4. Aleksander Barkov, Center, Tappara-SM-Liiga (Previous Ranking: 10)

Barkov is on pace to have one of the best 17-year-old seasons ever in Finland's top league. He is a big man with high-end skill and elite hockey sense, but his skating still needs work.

5. Elias Lindholm, Center, Brynas-SEL (Previous Ranking: 3)

Lindholm, like Barkov, is also playing at an extraordinary level in his respective pro league considering his age. His skill level with the puck is great as is his hockey brain and he is a fast/high energy player.

6. Sean Monahan, Center, Ottawa-OHL (Previous Ranking: 6)

Monahan is a top-end thinker who shows good all-around play. My only quibble with him is only average skating, but aside from that, he does everything else well or really well.

7. Andre Burakowsky, Left Wing, Malmo-Allsvenskan (Previous Ranking: 7)

Burakowsky is a really fun player to watch due to his top-end speed, offensive skill, and work ethic. He has been okay at the pro level this season, but in international play he shines.

8. Valeri Nichushkin, Center, Traktor-KHL (Previous Ranking: 11)

Nichushkin has a ton of upside between his elite skating, his great skill level, and a good power game. He has been playing in the KHL at 17 and had an impressive World Junior showing.

9. Rasmus Ristolainen, Defense, TPS-SM-Liiga (Previous Ranking: 8)

Ristolainen has logged really tough minutes this season, displaying significant two-way ability. He does everything really well, as he can skate, move the puck, and make plays in his own end.

10. Hunter Shinkaruk, Center, Medicine Hat-WHL (Previous Ranking: 4)

Shinkaruk is a dynamic offensive player who is a unique skater with high-end hands and finishing ability. He is a little on the small side, though.

11. Ryan Pulock, Defense, Brandon-WHL (Previous Ranking: 14)

Pulock is an offensive weapon from the blue line with good puck skills, vision, and a bullet shot. I hear conflicting reports on his skating and defense.

12. Pavel Buchnevich, Left Wing, Cherepovets-MHL (Previous Ranking: 9)

Buchnevich is a very talented puck possession forward who can flash top-end puck skills and vision. Scouts were really high on him after the Ivan Hlinka, but it would help his draft stock if he could maintain a spot in the KHL.

13. Robert Hagg, Defense, Modo-J20 SuperElit (Previous Ranking: 20)

Hagg is a player who I have been up and down on with limited viewings, but have heard a ton of scouts really praise him for his mobility, vision, and great defensive ability.

14. Max Domi, Center, London-OHL (Previous Ranking: 12)

I'm a big Domi fan—the son, that is—as he has so much offensive ability and couples it with a high level of grit. He is small, though.

15. Josh Morrissey, Defense, Prince Albert-WHL (Previous Ranking: 22)

Morrissey is a really fun player to watch due to his skating and offensive ability. His only real issue is that his physical game is just okay, leading to questions whether he can be a really effective defender.

16. Adam Erne, Left Wing, Quebec-QMJHL (Previous Ranking: 19)

Erne was a player I wasn't enamored with in the summer. I ranked him highly due to what I was hearing from scouts, but he has grown on me as the season has gone on. He has great speed and can play a straight-forward power style game, and he has the skill to create as well.

17. Jacob De La Rose, Left Wing-Leksand-Allsvenskan (Previous Ranking: 16)

De La Rose is a very interesting player because he is a good skater with physical and defensive value, and what I believe is notable offensive value, but that aspect of his game causes division among scouts I have talked to. If you believe in his offense, he is in the middle of the first round, if you don't more, he gets moved towards the mid-twenties.

18. Artturi Lehkonen, Left Wing, KalPa-SM-Liiga (Previous Ranking: 17)

Lehkonen has been very quality in the SM-Liiga this season. He has good speed, above-average if not high-end offensive sense, and a good shot, although he is a bit small.

19. Anthony Mantha, Left Wing, Val-d'Or-QMJHL (Previous Ranking: NR)

Mantha is an intriguing package of tools as he is 6'4'' with good speed, a heavy shot, and offensive instincts. I wasn't all that sold on him last season, but he has developed well over the last six months or so.

20. Nikita Zadorov, Defense, London-OHL (Previous Ranking: 13)

Zadorov is an elite physical player who is big, strong, and consistently lays out bone-crunching hits. He skates well—very well for a big man—and can be a decent puck mover.

21. Alexander Wennberg, Center, Djurgarden-Allsvenskan (Previous Ranking: 27)

Wennberg has been very good this season for his age in Sweden's tier-two league. He is an interesting prospect who doesn't stand out with flashy high-end skills, but does just about everything at an above-average level.

22. Anthony Duclair, Left Wing, Quebec-QMJHL (Previous Ranking: 15)

Duclair is a really exciting prospect to watch due to his blazing speed and impressive puck skills. He can create a chance out of nothing on any given shift. He is a little underwhelming from a physical standpoint, but his upside makes him very intriguing.

23. Shea Theodore, Defense, Seattle-WHL (Previous Ranking: NR)

Theodore is a toolsy player with top-end offensive abilities across the board, but his own end play is still a work in progress.

24. Frederik Gauthier, Center, Rimouski-QMJHL (Previous Ranking: NR)

Gauthier is an interesting prospect as he comes in at about 6'5'', 210 pounds, is a good skater and puck handler, and his development has been trending way up over the past few months. His upside can make him very desirable.

25. Curtis Lazar, Center, Edmonton-WHL (Previous Ranking: 18)

Lazar is a plus skater with a similar amount of two-way work ethic. His production this year has caused mild concerns, but he remains an above-average but not a great offensive player with an upper tier shot.

26. J.T. Compher, Left Wing, USA Under-18-USHL (Previous Ranking: 26)

Compher is a good do-it-all forward who has no apparent hole in his game other than needing to get stronger—which is typical of most young players. His production is just starting to come around after an injury, but I believe it will get to a good point.

27. Darnell Nurse, Defense, Sault Ste. Marie-OHL (Previous Ranking: 29)

Nurse is a big man who can skate well and has shown a significant amount of two-way ability this year although I have questions about exactly how high his offensive upside is.

28. Jason Dickinson, Center, Guelph-OHL (Previous Ranking: NR)

Dickinson is an interesting prospect because it seems he can do everything well. He is quick, smart skilled, gritty, and I could see him possibly rising up my board as I get to know more about him over the next few months.

29. Juuso Ikonen, Left Wing, Blues-SM-Liiga (Previous Ranking: 21)

Ikonen is an extremely exciting offensive player who can blaze past defenders or pull off impressive dangles. He has a lot of intriguing qualities, but his main weakness is his size as he measures in at 5'9'' and 169 pounds, and I think that might be a little generous.

30. Anton Slepyshev, Left Wing, Novokuznetsk-KHL (Previous Ranking: 23)

Even with potential issues about his transfer risk, I was puzzled by Slepyshev being overlooked at the previous draft, because he looked like a first round prospect to me. He has been quality again in the KHL for his age and was good at the World Juniors. I do not take transfer risk into account with my rankings.

31. Kerby Rychel, Left Wing, Windsor-OHL

32. Ryan Fitzgerald, Left Wing, Valley Junior-EJHL

33. Valentin Zykov, Left Wing, Baie-Comeau-QMJHL

34. Chris Bigras, Defense, Owen Sound-OHL

35. Laurent Dauphin, Center, Chicoutimi-QMJHL

36. Nick Sorensen, Right Wing, Quebec QMJHL

37. Ryan Hartman, Right Wing, Plymouth-OHL

38. Keaton Thompson, Defense, USA Under-18-USHL

39. William Carrier, Left Wing, Cape Breton-QMJHL

40. Steve Santini, Defense, USA Under-18-USHL

41. Mirco Mueller, Defense, Everett-WHL

42. Nicolas Petan, Center, Portland-WHL

43. Tyler Hill, Right Wing, Hotchkiss- US High School

44. Marko Dano, Center, Bratislava-KHL

45. Bo Horvat, Center, London-OHL

46. Ian McCoshen, Defense, Waterloo-USHL

47. Ryan Kujawinski, Center, Kingston-OHL

48. Justin Bailey, Left Wing, Kitchener-OHL

49. Morgan Klimchuk, Left Wing, Regina-WHL

50. Bogdan Yakimov, Center, Penza-VHL

Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus. You can contact Corey by clicking here or click here to see Corey's other articles.

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