The Connections Draft: What Became Of The Players From The First Round Of The 2013 Draft

Photo: NHL via Getty Images

The 2013 NHL Entry Draft took place on June 30 at the Prudential Center arena in Newark, New Jersey. It was held in just one day instead of the normal two days, because the season had started and ended later than normal, thanks to the NHL Lockout of 2012.

Many considered defenseman Seth Jones to be the best available pick, but there were many good forwards available, especially a center named Nathan MacKinnon. The rallying cry for tanking teams would be “No Winnin’ for MacKinnon. In this post we examine the fate of the players drafted in the first round of the “Connections Draft” of 2013.

Pick #1 — Nathan MacKinnon – Colorado Avalanche – Center

Nathan MacKinnon, who hailed from the same hometown as Sidney Crosby, Cole Harbor, Nova Scotia, debuted in the NHL with the Avalanche during the 2013-14 season. He has blossomed into a superstar with the Avalanche. MacKinnon leads all members of his draft class in goals, assists, and overall points.

Pick #2 — Aleksander Barkov – Florida Panthers – Center

Barkov is the son of a Russian hockey player, also named Aleksander, who played in Finland. He was born the day after MacKinnon as he was born September 2, 1995, while MacKinnon was born on September 1. Barkov broke into the Panthers lineup in the 2013-14 season and is currently their team captain. He ranks third in goals, second in assists, and second in overall points for his draft class.

Pick #3 — Jonathan Drouin – Tampa Bay Lighting – Left Wing

For a variety of reasons, including injuries and a surplus of talented forwards on the team, Drouin was unable to earn a full-time role with the Lightning until the 2016-2017 season. The Lightning traded him to the Montreal Canadiens after the 2016-17 season. He has remained with the Canadiens, but his productivity dropped greatly after his first two seasons with the team. Drouin stepped away from the team for personal reasons in March of 2021 and didn’t return to them, even for the Stanley Cup Finals. Montreal left Drouin off their protected list for the expansion draft of 2021.

Pick #4  — Seth Jones – Nashville Predators – Defense

Jones played with the Predators for two full seasons (2013-14 and 2014-15) but was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets midway through the 2015-16 season. He became an important part of the Blue Jackets’ defense, along with Zach Werensky. With his contract ending after the 2020-21 season, he indicated he wished to head to free agency and not return to the Blue Jackets. The Blue Jackets traded him to the Chicago Blackhawks before the NHL Entry Draft of 2021 and signed an eight year contract to remain with them.

Photo: NHL via Getty Images

Pick #5 — Elias Lindholm – Carolina Hurricanes – Center

Lindholm played five seasons with the Hurricanes before he was traded to the Calgary Flames just before the 2018-19 season. As his career developed, he became more of a winger than a center.

Photo: Getty Images

Pick #6  — Sean Monahan – Calgary Flames – Center

Monahan has been a productive player for the Flames since his first NHL season, 2013-14. He has scored at least 20 goals every season except 2020-21, which was shortened by the pandemic. Since he only scored 10 goals during the 2020-21 season, there is concern that his productivity has dropped. There is even talk that the Flames could trade him. He ranks second in goals scored and third in assists for this draft class.

Pick #7 — Darnell Nurse  — Edmonton Oilers – Defense

Nurse made his NHL debut during the 2014-15 season, playing in two games. During the 2015-16 season, he mostly played in the NHL and has been with the Oilers ever since. He is currently an important part of the Oilers’ defense and serves as an Alternate Captain for the Oilers.

Pick #8  — Rasmus Ristolainen – Buffalo Sabres – Defense

Ristolainen debuted with Buffalo during the 2013-14 season and became a full time player with them during the 2014-15 season. He remained with the Sabres through the 2020-21 season when he was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers on the day of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.

Pick #9  — Bo Horvat – Vancouver Canucks – Center

Horvat turns out to be the second cousin of Philadelphia Flyers’ forward, Travis Konecny. He made his NHL debut early in the 2003-14 season and has remained with them ever since. He has been the Canucks’ team captain since the 2019-20 season and is considered to be a good two way player who can handle a checking line role as well as an scoring line role.

Pick #10 — Valeri Nichushkin – Dallas Stars – Right Wing

Nichushkin made the Stars after his first training camp in 2013-14. Between injuries and the fact that he did not see eye-to-eye with Stars’ Head Coach, Lindy Ruff during the 2015-16 season, he returned to the KHL for two years, playing with CSKA in 2016-17 and 2017-18. He returned to Dallas for the 2018-19 season and scored no goals. After that season, Dallas put in on unconditional waivers and bought-out the last year of his contract. He then signed a contract with the Colorado Avalanche for 2019-20 and has been with them ever since.

Pick #11 — Samuel Morin – Philadelphia Flyers – Defense

Morin made his NHL debut during the 2016-17 season, playing in one game. He only played in a handful of games during the 2017-18 through 2019-20 seasons. He played in 20 games for the Flyers during 2020-21, a career high, and scored his first NHL goal. He went back-and-forth between the Flyers and their taxi squad in 2020-21. He still remains in the Flyers organization.

Pick #12 — Max Domi — Phoenix Coyotes – Center

Domi did not make it to the NHL until the 2015-2016 season. He played with the Coyotes through 2017-18 and was then traded to the Montreal Canadiens for Alex Galchenyuk. He played for the Canadiens during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons and then was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets prior to the 2020-21 season. Columbus exposed him to the expansion draft but he did not get selected.

Pick #13 — Josh Morrissey – Winnipeg Jets – Defense

Morrissey made his NHL debut during the 2015-16 season where he played one game for the Jets. He became a full time member of the Jets during the 2016-17 season and has played with them ever since. He is an important member of the Jets’ defense and currently serves as an Alternate Captain.


Pick #14 — Alexander Wennberg – Columbus Blue Jackets – Center

Wennberg made his NHL debut during the 2014-2015 season with the Blues Jackets, spending most of that season with them. He remained with the Blue Jackets through 2019-20. After that season, Columbus ended up buying-out the last three years of his contract. He then signed a new contract with the Florida Panthers for 2020-21. After the 2020-21 season, he signed a three-year deal with the Seattle Kraken.

Pick #15 — Ryan Pulock – New York Islanders – Defense

Pulock debuted with the New York Islanders during the 2015-16 season, playing in 15 games. He played one game with the Isles during the 2016-17 season. He became a full time member of the team during the 2017-18 season and has been with them ever since. He generally scores around 10 goals per season but scored just two goals in 2020-21.

Pick #16 — Nikita Zadorov — Buffalo Sabres – Defense

Zadorov made his debut with the Sabres during the 2013-14 season, playing in seven games. He was traded to the Colorado Avalanche before the 2015-16 season and remained with them through the 2019-20 season. He was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks prior to the 2020-21 season and was then traded to the Calgary Flames where he signed a one-year contract.

Pick #17 — Curtis Lazar – Ottawa Senators – Center

Lazar played the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons with Ottawa. He was traded at the 2016-17 trade deadline to the Calgary Flames. He played the 2017-18 season with the Flames but just one game with them in 2018-19 when he was waived and sent to their AHL farm team. The Flames chose not to give him a qualifying offer and he signed with the Buffalo Sabres for the 2019-20 season where he played with both Buffalo and their farm team. In 2020-21, the Sabres traded Taylor Hall and him to the Boston Bruins at the trade deadline. He is still currently with the Bruins.

Pick #18 — Mirco Mueller — San Jose Sharks – Defense

Mueller made his debut in the NHL during the 2015-16 season but never earned a full time role with them. During the summer of 2017, he was traded to the New Jersey Devils. He remained with the Devils through 2019-20, which turned out to be his last year in the NHL. He played in the Swedish Hockey League during the 2020-21 season.

Pick #19 — Kerby Rychel – Columbus Blue Jackets — Left Wing

Rychel was never able to gain a regular role with the Columbus Blue Jackets, playing in just a handful of games with them in 2014-15 and about half a season in 2015-16. After that season, he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs. He eventually played in a handful of games with the Montreal Canadiens and the Calgary Flames but mostly played in the minor leagues.

Pick #20 — Anthony Mantha – Detroit Red Wings – Right Wing

Mantha did not make it to the NHL until 2015-16 and played in just 10 NHL games that season. The next season, 2016-17, he mostly played with the Red Wings but played 10 games in the AHL as well. He became a full time NHL player in 2017-18. He remained with the Red Wings until the 2020-21 trade deadline when he was traded to the Washington Capitals at the 2020-21 trade deadline in exchange for Jakub Vrana, Richard Panik, and two draft picks. He is currently with the Capitals.

Photo: Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post

Pick #21 — Frederik Gauthier – Toronto Maple Leafs – Center

Gauthier made his NHL debut during the 2015-16 season but bounced back and forth with the Maple Leafs and their AHL affiliate during the next two seasons. He finally played full time in the NHL during the 2018-19 season when he made the team out of training camp. He remained with the team for the 2019-20 season, too. After that, he became a free agent. He signed a two-way contract with the Arizona Coyotes, spending some time with the Coyotes’ farm team.

Pick #22 — Emile Poirier – Calgary Flames — Left Wing

Poirier played a total of eight NHL games for the Flames, playing six games in 2014-15 and two games for them in 2015-16. He never played in the NHL again, playing most of his career in the AHL. He is one of the biggest first round busts in a draft that had several.

Pick #23 — Andre Burakovsky – Washington Capitals – Left Wing

Burakovsky made his debut for the Caps during  the 2014-15 season. He remained with the team through the 2018-19 season and was part of the Capitals’ team that won the 2018 Stanley Cup. He was traded to the Colorado Avalanche just before the 2019-20 season. He has been with the Avalanche ever since and has scored 20 goals and 19 goals in each of his two seasons.

Photo: Washington Times

Pick #24 — Hunter Shinkaruk – Vancouver Canucks — Left Wing

Shinkaruk played in just one game for the Canucks during the 2015-16 season. He played in 14 more games for the Calgary Flames during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons for a total of 15 NHL games overall. He mostly played in the AHL but went overseas to the KHL to play for the Kunlun Red Stars for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons.

Pick #25 — Michael McCarron – Montreal Canadiens – Right Wing

McCarron made his NHL debut during the 2015-16 season, playing in 20 games for them. He was up and down between the Canadiens and their AHL affiliate throughout the next three seasons, playing in 69 games total for the Canadiens. The Canadiens traded him to the Nashville Predators in the middle of the 2019-20 season and he finished that season with their AHL affiliate. He played in six games for the Predators during the 2020-21 season.

Pick #26 — Shea Theodore – Anaheim Ducks – Defense

Theodore made his NHL debut in 2015-16 as he played in 19 games for the Ducks but spent most of that season in the minors. He played in 34 games for the Ducks in 2016-17 but played in the AHL that year. The Ducks traded him to the Vegas Golden Knights at the time of the expansion draft. He played most of the 2017-18 season with the Knights but spent time with their AHL affiliate as he was one of the few players exempt from waivers. Since then, he has played with the Knights every season.

Pick #27 — Marko Dano – Columbus Blue Jackets – Center

Dano made his debut with the Columbus Blue Jackets during the 2014-15 season but never was able to earn a full time role with them. He ultimately played for the Chicago Blackhawks, Winnipeg Jets, Colorado Avalanche, and Columbus Blue Jackets, but was unable to earn a full-time NHL role with any of those teams. He ended up playing 141 NHL games in all.

Pick #28 — Morgan Klimchuk – Calgary Flames — Left Wing

Klimchuk played in just one NHL game for the Calgary Flames in 2017-18. He mainly played in the AHL with his professional career ending after the 2019-20 season. He ranks as the greatest bust of the first round in a round that had several.

Pick #29 — Jason Dickinson – Dallas Stars – Center

Dickenson made his debut with the Stars during the 2015-16 season, playing in one game. He played with Dallas during the 2016-17 and 2017-19 seasons but mostly played in the AHL. His first full season in the NHL was 2018-19. He remained with the Dallas Stars through the 2020-21 season and was their third line center before getting traded to the Vancouver Canucks this summer.

Pick #30 — Ryan Hartman – Chicago Blackhawks – Right Wing

After playing a handful of games with Chicago during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 season, Hartman became a full time player for the Blackhawks during 2016-17. Chicago traded him to Nashville at the trading deadline of 2017-18. The Predators traded him to the Philadelphia Flyers at the 2018-19 trade deadline. The Flyers then traded him to the Dallas Stars who did not tender an offer. He then signed with the Minnesota Wild in free agency before the 2019-20 season where he has been ever since.

Notable Later Round Picks

The most notable players drafted in rounds after the first round were three players drafted in the third round: Brett Pesce, drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes, Jake Guentzel, drafted by the Penguins, and Anthony DuClair, drafted by the New York Rangers. Guentzel is a perennial 20-goals-a-year scorer, who scored 40 goals one season and has topped 20 goals in shorter than normal seasons. He currently ranks sixth overall in goals for his draft class despite playing in less than 300 NHL games. All five of the players ranked ahead of him in goals were chosen prior to tenth overall. Another notable later round pick was Pavel Buchnevich who was chosen in the second round.


There were several first round busts, especially in the last half of the round, including Samuel Morin, Kerby Rychel, Emile Poirier, Hunter Shinkaruk, Michael McCarron, and Morgan Klimchuk, who did not even play in 80 NHL games. Some of these players were derailed by injuries. While most of the first rounders are still in the NHL, just eight of them are still with the team who originally drafted them.

Nathan MacKinnon, the first overall pick proved to be the best offensive player in the draft as he now leads the draft class in goals, assists, and overall points. The Avalanche were correct in their assessment when drafting him. Aleksander Barkov, the second overall pick, ranked second in assists and points and third in goals. Five of the top offensive players were chosen prior to tenth overall. Among defensemen, Rasmus Ristolainen and Seth Jones were the most productive in assists.

Two relatively late first-rounders outperformed their draft slot: Andre Burakovsky, who was drafted 23rd overall, ranks seventh in goals and tenth in assists in the draft class and Anthony Mantha, who was drafted 20th overall, ranks eighth in goals and thirteenth in overall points. Jonathan Drouin has underperformed his draft slot of third overall.

The best picks in rounds after the first round included: Jake Guentzel, who Pittsburgh selected in the third round, Pavel Buchnevich and Anthony Duclair, two third round selections for the New York Rangers, Brett Pesce, a third round selection for the Carolina Hurricanes, Oiver Bjorkstrand, a third round pick for Columbus, Andrew Copp, a fourth rounder chosen by the Winnipeg Jets, and Will Butcher, a fifth round pick for the Colorado Avalanche.

By Diane Doyle

Related Reading
Evaluation of Forwards Picked in 2013 NHL Draft
Reviewing All Of The Washington Capitals First Round Draft Picks And How They Turned Out
Draft Class Grades (Updated): Grading the Capitals’ Draft Picks in the Last 10 Years — Pre-2019 NHL Entry Draft Edition
A Retrospective On The Last Decade of Draft Picks by the Washington Capitals
“We Could Have Had…?!”: Washington Capitals’ Draft Day Regrets – 2011 – 2013
Draft Class Grades (Updated): Grading the Capitals’ Draft Picks in the Last 10 Years — Pre-2019 NHL Entry Draft Edition
The Athletic: Pronman’s Final Grades — Auditing the 2013 NHL Entry Draft

About Diane Doyle

Been a Caps fan since November 1975 when attending a game with my then boyfriend and now husband.
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