The countdown to the 2013 NHL Draft is on and fans all over North America are anticipating who their favorite team might select. For those franchises looking to add some offensive firepower, these five players are highly regarded as the top play makers available this year.
Nathan MacKinnon might be just 17 year-old, but 5'11” 180 pound teenager is a dynamic offensive force on the ice. This past season with Halifax, MacKinnon scored 75 points in just 44 games and established himself as perhaps the best offensive player in the draft. With explosive speed and quick hands, this teenager has moved up draft boards over the last few months and is now considered a sure first top five selection this year.
Jonathan Drouin has been on the radar for a couple years now and was considered the top offensive prospect before the year began. This past year with Halifax only made it clearer that this 18 year-old has all the skills necessary to have a long and productive career in professional hockey. With 41 goals and 105 total points in 49 games, Drouin looked like the Wayne Gretzky of the QMJHL and could become the first player taken in this years draft.
At 6'4” and 205 pounds, Anthony Manthra is another youngster from the QMJHL that has established himself as an offensive force to be reckoned with in the future. This 19 year-old put the puck in the net 50 times this past season and scored 89 points overall and with his combination of size, speed, and vision, has become a hot prospect for the 2013 NHL Draft and will likely hear his name called within the first ten picks.
Valeri Nichushkin is the top offensive International prospect and compared highly with fellow Russian Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins. At 6'3” and just over 200 pounds, this 18 year-old was a dynamic player in five different hockey league in his home country, including four goals and three assists in just six games for the Russian under 18 International team. A move to North America is inevitable for Nichushkin and playing in the NHL will likely happen for this youngster in the near future.
Hunter Shinkaruk could be the best pure goal scoring player available this year. The 18 year-old has scored 86 goals over the past two years with Medicine Hat of the WHL. Shinkaruk has developed a more all-around offensive game over the past twelve months and improved his assist total this past season, scoring 86 total points in 64 games. At just over 170 pounds, he may need to add more bulk for the physical play in the NHL, but his quick hands and leadership skills on the ice are second to none and he will get a look in the first round of this years draft.
These are just five of the better prospects for this season and all of these young men have big aspirations, but it will still take more hard work and dedication for them to realize their dreams of playing with the top players in the world and possibly adding their names to that list.