The internet has done two things simultaneously: shortened our attention spans and yet somehow fostered a love for long-term projections. Considering that we have yet to even begin the 2012-13 season, it may seem a bit premature to start anointing the cream of next year’s draft crop. However, hockey fans have to do something to stave off lockout depression, and this is about the best we can do.
1. Nathan MacKinnon– Center- Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
MacKinnon is a naturally gifted playmaker whose hands have been compared to another Nova Scotian that may be familiar to some hockey fans: Sidney Crosby. Though not a physically imposing specimen at 5’11”, 180 lbs., his aggressive style of play certainly makes up for it. He’s started off this season right where he left off last year with 5 points in the Mooseheads’ first two games.
2. Seth Jones- Defenseman– Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
Jones is simply one of those players that does everything well. He’s an outstanding skater who is extremely comfortable handling the puck, and is also very gifted defensively. At 6-3, 200 lbs, it’s likely that he will fill out that frame over the next couple of years. It takes a rare talent to start in the NHL right off the bat as a defenseman, but it’s possible that Jones can do just that.
3. Aleksander Barkov– Center- Tappara (SM-Liga)
Barkov is a very raw talent, but it is often these types of players who make a big impact when given the chance. Barkov will still be 17 on draft day, but at 6-2, 200 lbs, he certainly won’t look like I did when I was 17. Blessed with a tremendous skill set along with that Malkin-esque size, he could fly up teams’ draft boards after this season.
4. Hunter Shinkaruk– Center- Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
Admittedly, I have an affinity for undersized players. Particularly in a league with players who have excelled for long periods of time (Martin St. Louis, Pavel Datsyuk, etc.) yet probably weigh under 170 pounds soaking wet. Shinkaruk is a mature player with great vision and a great ability to finish a play. Don’t believe me? Check this out.
[youtube width=”400″ height=”215″ link=”a href=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y7noAMfaxBg”]
5. Elias Lindholm– Center/Left Wing- Brynas (Elitserien)
This is my “hit-or-miss” of the top 5. In 10 years, we could look back at this draft and say “Why on Earth was this guy not picked #1?” Or we could forget his name entirely. He’s recently gotten some positive press, with some comparing him to fellow Swede Peter Forsberg. From those that have coached him, he seems to share Forsberg’s ability.
Photo Credits: Dirty Dangle