Evaluation of Forwards Picked in 2013 NHL Draft

The 2013 NHL Entry Draft was expected to be a relatively talent-rich draft at the time it occurred. It was also expected to be a draft in which multiple players would be considered NHL-ready from the outset. Some even wondered if this draft could produce as many good NHL players as the draft of 2003 did. 

Many observers considered defenseman Seth Jones the best overall prospect; however, there were plenty who considered center Nathan MacKinnon, the best forward available, to be the best prospect. MacKinnon was a good enough prospect and fans of some of the bottom-dwelling teams began to embrace the “No Winnin’ for MacKinnon” mantra.

One common theme in this draft, especially in the first-round, was “reminders of players past”. The players evoked memories of past NHL players either by being related to them or having similarities to them.  This applied to both forwards and defensemen.  Among defensemen, Seth Jones was the son of former NBA player, Popeye Jones. Darnell Nurse, the second defensemen selected in the draft, was a nephew of former NFL quarterback, Donovan McNabb, and is related to other athletes as well. There were numerous other family connections in the later rounds of the draft.

This article examines the productivity of the forwards drafted in the first round of the 2013 Entry Draft and only discusses the defensemen in passing.

 Another Top Pick from Cole Harbor
The Colorado Avalanche chose MacKinnon with the first overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, bypassing Jones, who had been expected to go first. In addition to his obvious hockey talent, MacKinnon shared a similar background with another first overall pick, none other than Sidney Crosby.  Like Crosby, MacKinnon was raised in Cole Harbor, Nova Scotia and learned hockey there.  They both had played bantam level hockey with the Cole Harbor Red Wings and ended up playing hockey at the Shattuck St. Mary’s private school in Faribault, Minnesota before moving onto junior hockey.  Both also played the same position (center). While MacKinnon has not produced at the level of Crosby during his NHL career, he has proven to be one of the better players in his draft class.

In a 300-game NHL career, he is ranked first in his draft class in assists, with 131, second in goals with 75, and second in overall points with 206.  In his very first NHL season (2013-2014), he helped the Avalanche finish first in their division. This was a great accomplishment especially given that the team was bad enough to qualify as a lottery team in 2012-2013.

Things have not gone as well for the Avalanche since then, especially during the 2016-2017 season, as they finished with the worst record in the NHL.  MacKinnon’s rookie year has been his best campaign in the NHL to date.

For 2016-2017, MacKinnon’s assist total of 37 was just two less than his career high of 39.  He scored 16 goals, which was five less from the previous season. He had 53 points overall in 2016-2017, one more point than the previous season.

The Second Pick – Russian to Finnish

With the second overall pick, the Florida Panthers chose Center, Aleksander Barkov. Ironically, Barkov was born the day after MacKinnon. MacKinnon was born, on September 2, 1995.

Barkov was born in Tampere, Finland.  His father had played hockey for teams in his native Russia, in Italy, and in Finland.  The younger Barkov was born while his father played for the Tappara Tampere team in Finland.  Despite identifying as a Finn rather than a Russian, he shared similarities to another player with the same first name, Alexander Ovechkin.  Both Ovechkin and Barkov have September birthdays and both had mothers who played basketball and represented Russia in international competition.

As his career has developed, Barkov has proven to be a great goal-scorer.  His productivity has been hampered by injuries, as he has never played more than 71 games in a season.

During 2016-2017, Barkov scored 21 goals and had 31 assists for 52 points in 62 games played.  His career high in goals came in 2015-2016, when he had 28.

Career-wise, he has 73 goals and 98 assists for 131 points overall.  He is third in his draft class in all those categories for his career.  For the 2016-2017 season, he was tied for second place in his draft class for goals with 21.

How Ya’ Drouin
The Tampa Bay Lightning picked Jonathan Drouin, a teammate of MacKinnon on the Halifax Mooseheads, with the third overall pick.

Drouin, a winger, outscored MacKinnon during the 2012-2013 season.  His season was good enough for some fans of lottery-caliber NHL teams to have the rallying cry of “Nothing Doin’ for Drouin”.  For a variety of reasons, including injuries and a surfeit of talented forwards on the team, Drouin was unable to earn a full-time role with the Lightning until the 2016-2017 season.

This past season, he scored 21 goals and had 32 assists for 53 points overall. The previous season he had been sent down to the Lightning’s AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, but had refused to report there and requested a trade.

Because of that, Tampa Bay suspended him indefinitely.  He relented and reported to Syracuse nearly six weeks later.  Following the 2016-2017 season, he was traded to the Montreal Canadiens.  So far in his NHL career, he has 29 goals, 66 assists and 95 points overall in 164 games played.

Southern Swedeness in Carolina
With the fifth pick overall, the Carolina Hurricanes drafted the next forward, Elias Lindholm, a Swedish-born center who had played with the Brynas IF, a Swedish Elite League hockey club in Gavle, Sweden.  This is the team best known as being the one with whom Nicklas Backstrom played prior to joining the Washington Capitals.

Lindholm himself is the son of Mikael Lindholm, who played 16 games with the Los Angeles Kings, but played most of his hockey career in the Swedish Elite League.

Lindholm is also the cousin of Calle Jarnkrok who plays with the Nashville Predators. As his career developed with the Hurricanes, Lindholm spent time playing both center and wing, usually playing the latter, but would still take faceoffs when paired with a left-handed center.

For his NHL career, Lindholm had 48 goals and 96 assists for 144 points overall.  He seems to be better at setting up teammates than scoring.  His career-high in goals was 17 goals, which he achieved during the 2014-2015 season.  During 2016-2017, he had 11 goals and 34 assists for 45 points.  The assists and overall points were career-highs.

Monahan a Flame Burning Bright
The Calgary Flames drafted Sean Monahan, a center, with the sixth overall pick.  He played his junior hockey career with the Ottawa 67s in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and, while there, was teammates with Tyler Toffoli, Shane Prince, and Cody Ceci who also have made it to the NHL.

Monahan ended up making the Flames after the 2013 training camp and made his way on the team by scoring six goals in his first nine games.

As it turns out, Monahan has so far been the leading goal-scorer in his draft class.  He has 107 goals, 110 assists, and 217 points.  He leads his draft class in both goals and overall points and is fourth in assists.

During the 2016-2017 season, he scored 27 goals and had 31 assists for 58 points overall.  His career-high in goals was 31 which he achieved in 2014-2015.  His career-high in assists was in 2015-2016 when he had 63 assists.

The Flames have made the playoffs during two seasons of his career and, in two seasons’ worth of playoffs, he has scored seven goals.  Given his seasonal and career totals, if a redraft of the 2013 NHL draft class took place, he would go first overall rather than sixth.

Bo Knows Hockey
The Vancouver Canucks chose the next forward, Bo Horvat, with the ninth overall pick.  Horvat came very close to making the NHL in the season following the draft, but when Vancouver acquired two centers in a trade, they returned him to his junior hockey team, the London Knights.

Horvat was projected to be a good two-way forward.  The following year, he injured his shoulder in a preseason game and was sent to their minor league farm team for a conditioning stint.

He made his NHL debut on November 4, 2014, and scored his first NHL goal on November 20.  Horvat finished with 13 goals and 12 assists that year in a bottom-six role.

He has made steady improvements in productivity each year since then. In 2015-2016, he scored 16 goals and added 24 assists for 40 points. In 2016-2017, he scored 20 goals and added 32 assists for 52 points.  Career-wise, he has scored 49 goals with 68 assists for 117 points.

Russian to Dallas
Prior to 2013, Russian Valeri Nichushkin was regarded as the one of the top five prospects available in the draft.  However, he was not chosen until the Dallas Stars picked him with the tenth overall pick.

Prior to the draft, Nichushkin primarily played with Traktor Chelyabinsk in the KHL and had attended the hockey school affiliated with Traktor Chelyabinsk.

Traktor Chelyabinsk was the KHL team for which Evgeny Kuznetsov played prior to joining the Washington Capitals. Another former Washington Capital, Alexander Semin, also attended the same hockey school in Chelyabinsk, although Chelyabinsk was not in Russia’s highest league at the time.

Nichushkin had signed a two-year deal with Moscow Dynamo, but the deal had a condition – it allowed him to go play in the NHL, but he would return to Dynamo if he failed to make the team.

Regardless, Nichushkin made the Stars after his first training camp. He was off to a solid start to the 2013-2014 season, having scored 11 goals by the end of January and was selected to the 2014 Sochi Olympics for Team Russia. He tailed off the rest of the season, ending up with 14 goals and 20 assists for 34 points overall.

He started his second NHL season, 2014-2015, having hip and groin-related issues and, after five games, opted for hip surgery, which took place in November 2014.

During the 2015-2016 season, Nichushkin scored nine goals and 18 assists. After the season, he became a restricted free agent. As a result of the fact he was unhappy with his role in the Stars’ lineup and the fact that he and then-head coach Lindy Ruff did not see eye-to-eye, he opted to go to the KHL, signing a two-year contract with CSKA Moscow.

His plan is to return to the NHL when that contract ends.  So far in his NHL career, he has 23 goals and 41 assists for 64 points.

Desert Domi-Nation
The then Phoenix Coyotes (now Arizona) chose the next forward, Max Domi, with the 12th overall pick.  Domi is the son of Tie Domi, a former NHL enforcer, who played with the franchise while they were still located in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Domi did not make it to the NHL until the 2015-2016 season, but had a great rookie season, with 18 goals and 34 assists for 52 points.  He played on a line with Anthony Duclair, whom the New York Rangers drafted in the third-round that year, but was traded to the Coyotes.  Duclair had previously played with him on Team Canada in the World Junior Championship. They became known as the “Killer D’s”.

The 2016-2017 season was much rougher for Domi, as he missed time due to a broken hand suffered in a fight.  In addition, Duclair had a disastrous season that year. Domi scored nine goals and added 29 assists in 2016-2017 for 38 points.  Career-wise, he has 27 goals and 63 assists for 90 points.

Swedeness in Columbus
The Columbus Blue Jackets selected Alexander Wennberg of Stockholm, Sweden, with the 14th overall pick.  Prior to earning a full-time role with the Blue Jackets, he won Silver Medals as part of Team Sweden in the World Junior Under 18 Championship in 2012 and World Junior Championships in 2013 and 2014.

Wennberg spent nearly the entire 2014-2015 season with the Blue Jackets and scored four goals along with 16 assists for 20 points overall. He has steadily improved in each of the following seasons, having scored eight goals and 32 assists in 2015-2016 and 13 goals and 46 assists for 59 points in 2016-2017.

Wennberg is currently the first-line center for Columbus and is much better at passing, as evidenced by his assist totals, than in scoring goals.  For his career, he has 25 goals, 94 assists, and 119 points.

Mantha Ray with Winged Wheel
The Detroit Red Wings drafted Anthony Mantha with the 20th overall pick in the draft.  Like many of the other first-rounders in this draft, he had family members who played in the NHL. In his case, it was Andre Pronovost, his paternal grandfather, who was part of four consecutive Stanley Cup winning teams with the Montreal Canadiens from 1956-1960.

Mantha was another example of the Detroit Red Wings’ development philosophy of letting players “marinate in the minors” before earning time with the team.

Prior to 2016-2017, Mantha had played just 10 NHL games and all were during the 2015-2016 season.  Even in 2016-2017, Mantha began the season with the Red Wings’ AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, where he had eight goals and two assists in just 10 games played there. He was finally called up to stay with the Red Wings on November 11, 2016.  Mantha blossomed with Detroit during 2016-2017, scoring 17 goals and adding 19 assists for 36 points in just 60 games played.  His NHL totals thus far are 19 goals and 20 assists for 39 points in 70 games.

Burracuda in the Capital
The Washington Capitals drafted Andre Burakovsky with the 23rd overall pick.  He was born in Klagenfurt, Austria, but raised in Malmo, Sweden.

Like Elias Lindholm, a fellow Swede who was drafted earlier in the round, Burakovsky was the son of a former NHL player, Robert Burakovksy.  Robert Burakovsky played in the NHL for the Ottawa Senators for 23 games during the 1993-1994 season.

Andre was born while his father played hockey for the Klagenfurt Athletic Sports Club in Austria.

In the year following the draft, Burakovsky played junior hockey with the Erie Otters. He played on a line with Connor McDavid, who went on to be the first overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, and Connor Brown, who also eventually made it to the NHL.

Burakovsky spent most of the 2014-2015 season with the Capitals, but also played 13 games with the Hershey Bears. He scored nine goals and 13 assists for 22 points overall in a season in which he was trying to find a role.

In 2015-2016, he improved to 17 goals and 21 assists for 38 points in 79 games played. In 2016-2017, after an early season slump, he ended up with 12 goals and 23 assists for 35 points in 64 games played.

Burakovsky broke his hand on February 9, 2017, his 23rd birthday, and missed about six weeks.  For his career, he has 38 goals, 57 assists, and 95 points overall. He has outperformed his draft slot so far, ranking seventh in goals and ninth in points overall for his draft class.

Last But Not Least – Ryan Hartman
The Chicago Blackhawks had the last pick in the first round and they used it to pick Ryan Hartman who was born in South Carolina, but grew up in West Dundee, Illinois.

While playing youth hockey, he played with future Blackhawks teammates Nick Schmaltz and Vince Hinostroza. Hartman had played in only a handful of games prior to the 2016-2017 season, but during 2016-2017 he finally played a full NHL season.

In his first full season with the team, he had 19 goals and 12 assists for 31 points in 76 games played. For his career, he played 84 games.  The Blackhawks, like the Detroit Red Wings, seem to subscribe to the philosophy of letting prospects marinate in the minors before sticking in the NHL.

The Busts and Other Undeveloped
The remaining forwards drafted in Round 1 of the 2013 draft have not yet earned a full-time role in the NHL and/or appear to be busts, as of this writing.

These include Curtis Lazar, drafted at 17th overall by the Ottawa Senators, who played two full seasons with Ottawa in 2014-2015 and 2015-2016. He has bounced back and forth between the Senators and their farm team in Binghamton and was traded to the Calgary Flames at the trade deadline.

There are also Mirco Mueller, chosen at 14th overall by the San Jose Sharks, who has played just four NHL games, and Kerby Rychel, the son of a former NHLer named Warren Rychel, who did not play in the NHL during 2016-2017.  Others include Emile Poirier, Hunter Shinkaruk, Michael McCarron, Marko Dano, Morgan Klimchuk, and Jason Dickinson.

Other Round Notables
For 2013 picks drafted beyond the first round, the best players so far are: Artturi Lehkonen (Round 2), Jake Guentzel (Round 3), and Mattias Janmark-Nylen (Round 3).  In future years, these players will be included in articles discussing this draft.

Conclusion: The 2013 NHL Entry Draft was certainly a memorable draft.  Some very good talent was drafted early in the round.  Sean Monahan, who was chosen with the sixth overall pick has been the best player in the draft class, so far, which was not anticipated at the time.  The latter part of that round featured busts, two late bloomers in Mantha and Hartman, and one player performing in the “Top 10” in Burakovsky.  As is typical, it is difficult to project the performance of 18-year-old players, especially beyond the top half of the first round.

Career Statistics – Forwards Drafted in 2013

Previous Annual Evaluations:
Evaluation of Forwards Picked in the First-Round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft
Evaluation of Forwards Selected in the First-round of the 2010 NHL Evaluation of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft
5-Years Later: Evaluation of Top Forwards Picked in 2012 Draft

By Diane Doyle

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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1 Response to Evaluation of Forwards Picked in 2013 NHL Draft

  1. I had no idea that Andre Burakovsky once played on a line with Connor McDavid

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