Five 2013 Draft Picks Who Could Start The 2013-14 Season In NHL

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Five 2013 Draft Picks Who Could Start The Season In The NHL

Five 2013 Draft Picks Who Could Start The Season In The NHL
Ed Mulholland - USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 NHL Draft saw many talented young players get drafted by teams that need their help now and in the future. Some of these players are years away from being ready for play at the highest level, while others could find themselves in their respective teams’ lineups this fall. Last season fans watched as 2012 draft picks Nail Yakupov (Edmonton Oilers), Alex Galchenyuk (Montreal Canadiens) and Mikhail Grigorenko (Buffalo Sabres) got the chance to experience the NHL. While Yakupov and Galchenyuk thrived, Grigorenko struggled to adjust and was eventually returned to juniors. The dilemma facing teams that want their prospects to experience professional hockey is that players under the age of 20 can not suit up in the AHL, meaning they have to make the big club or get sent back to juniors. This fact may have a lot of bearing on what happens to players in this year’s draft class, but a handful stand out as players ready to contribute now.

This year’s draft was regarded as one of the deepest in recent years, and full of top-end talent. There is little question that at least three of the top five picks are expected to be NHL stars in years to come, as Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin and Seth Jones were expected to be taken with the first three picks in the draft. That isn’t the way things worked out, as a few teams selected European players that they have placed a lot of hope in. The higher picks in the draft go to teams that had a poor season before and need the most help, which is a big reason why these five players have a good chance at starting the 2013-14 season in the NHL.

Jonathan Katje covers the Detroit Red Wings for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter or add him to your circles on Google Plus.

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Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche

Nathan MacKinnon
Ed Mulholland - USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Avalanche selected QMJHL scoring sensation Nathan MacKinnon with the first overall pick. They ignored their needs on defense and took who they felt was the best available player, and with a strong training camp and preseason the 18-year-old could find himself on one of the top three lines to start the season.

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Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers

Aleksander Barkov
Ed Mulholland - USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Panthers made a bit of a surprise pick and selected Aleksander Barkov second overall. After scoring 21 goals and picking up 48 points in 53 games in Finalnd last season, Barkov has little left to prove overseas. The Panthers are in the process of rebuilding their team with young talent, and their recent agreement on a three-year entry-level contract with Barkov shows they think he has at least a chance of making their opening night roster.

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Jonathan Drouin, Tampa Bay Lightning

Jonathan Drouin
Ed Mulholland - USA TODAY Sports

Jonathan Drouin recorded an astonishing 105 points in just 49 QMJHL games last season. The Tampa Bay Lightning were more than happy to have the chance to select him with the third overall pick, and if he impresses in the preseason there seems to be little reason to send him back to juniors.

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Seth Jones, Nashville Predators

Seth Jones
Ed Mulholland - USA TODAY Sports

The Nashville Predators were shocked that defenseman Seth Jones was still there for them with the fourth overall pick. Jones may only be 18 years old, but he was considered one of the most NHL-ready prospects in this draft class, and the Predators should have him in the lineup this fall. The Predators have signed Jones to a three-year entry-level contract, and he’ll have the chance to improve his game while working alongside three-time All-Star Shea Weber.

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Valeri Nichushkin, Dallas Stars

Valeri Nichushkin
Ed Mulholland - USA TODAY Sports

Valeri Nichushkin could end up being one of the biggest steals of the 2013 draft. The Dallas Stars were excited to still have him on the board when they picked 10th overall, and GM Jim Nill has said Nichushkin is physically ready for the NHL. If the young Russian can impress in the preseason, don’t be surprised if there’s a roster spot for him when the season starts.