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NHL Draft 2013: Who Will Be Available for the Canadiens' First Round Pick?

Based on consensus draft rankings, we're taking a look at who might just be available for the Canadiens at 24th or 25th overall this Entry Draft.

Adam Erne gets behind Josh Morrissey for a scoring chance on Zach Fucale at the CHL Top Prospects Game.  All three players should be on the Canadiens' radar for their first round draft pick in 2013.
Adam Erne gets behind Josh Morrissey for a scoring chance on Zach Fucale at the CHL Top Prospects Game. All three players should be on the Canadiens' radar for their first round draft pick in 2013.
Richard Wolowicz

First off, a disclaimer: entry drafts are unpredictable. We can take a look at prospect rankings given by independent organizations and try and come up with some sort of consensus, but even after we include the most reputable or commonly used sources, you have to realize that the NHL has thirty separate rankings that decide the ordering on draft day. The closest ranking tends to be that of TSN's Bob McKenzie, who surveys scouts on several NHL teams to come up with his consensus list, as it reflects actual opinion from those that makes the decisions. What independent organizations like International Scouting Services or Red Line Report provide for NHL teams is an outside opinion on players they are looking at already, and maybe will provide information for a second look. For the fans, however, the opinions of these organizations are treated as primary sources rather than secondary ones in many cases.

The Canadiens have three picks in the top 40 of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, and we've already put the question up as to whether or not the Canadiens should look to trade up in the Entry Draft this year by utilizing those picks. A question was posed in the comments about who might be available if the Canadiens just sit on their picks, which would be useful when we compare it to the list of players that are likely gone by that point in the draft as well. Using several different sources that are available for free online, I've put together a list of likely players the Canadiens could choose from at 24th or later.

These sources are as follows: NHL Central Scouting (Full List), International Scouting Services (Top 30), The Hockey News (Top 30), Hockey Prospectus (Full List), TSN's Craig Button (Top 75), TSN's Bob MacKenzie (Top 10 only), and the Red Line Report (Top 10 Only).

Here's a look at who is likely off the board by 24th or 25th overall:

Forget About It
Player Pos. Current Club League Likely Picked
Seth Jones RD Portland WHL 1st Overall
Nathan MacKinnon C Halifax QMJHL Top 3
Jonathan Drouin LW Halifax QMJHL Top 3
Aleksander Barkov C Tappara SML Top 5
Valeri Nichushkin RW Traktor KHL Top 5
Elias Lindholm C Brynäs SEL Top 8
Darnell Nurse LD Sault Ste Marie OHL Top 10
Sean Monahan C Ottawa OHL Top 10
Hunter Shinkaruk LW Medicine Hat WHL Top 15
Rasmus Ristolainen RD TPS WML Top 15
Alexander Wennberg C Djurgården SWE-2 Top 20
Bo Horvat C London OHL Top 20
Nikita Zadorov LD London OHL Top 20

Every single one of the independent sources seems to agree: none of these players will fall to 24th or 25th overall. There's always a chance, but in every scenario involving these scouting organizations these players are off the board by 24. If one of them falls to us, well it'll be a surprise. We'll find out if it's a welcome one in future years, but these prospects seem to be exactly what teams in the top two-thirds of the draft will be looking for. So there are 13 players we can pretty much discount from the start. For what it's worth, all of these players crack my personal top 20 board as well.

In short, if the Canadiens want one of these young talents, they should be expecting to pay a price for them.

The next list of players will be guys that stand a chance of falling to 24-25. These guys all should be expected to be taken at some point in the first round of the 2013 Entry Draft (NAS = North America Skater, ES = European Skater):

Wishin' And Hopin'
Player Pos. Current Club League NHL CS HP ISS Button THN Other
Max Domi C London OHL NAS 19 9 25 10 25 HM (Bob Mac), 9 (RLR)
Ryan Pulock RD Brandon WHL NAS 12 12 14 25 8 -
Josh Morrissey LD Prince Albert WHL NAS 27 20 21 15 20 -
Anthony Mantha LW Val D'Or QMJHL NAS 10 22 23 14 15 -
Valentin Zykov RW Baie-Comeau QMJHL NAS 7 19 19 30 22 -
Adam Erne LW Québec QMJHL NAS 26 18 - 16 13 10 (RLR)
Frédérik Gauthier C Rimouski QMJHL NAS 8 31 18 22 19 -
André Burakovsky LW Malmö SWE-2 ES 6 13 16 39 27 -
Robert Hagg LD MODO SEL ES 8 21 - 36 10 -
Curtis Lazar C Edmonton WHL NAS 20 29 12 28 19 -

None of these players individually is likely to be available at 24th or 25th overall, but collectively, it is likely that one or more of them will still be on the table. In that sense, I consider the odds of any one of them being taken by 24th or 25th to be greater than 50%, but the cumulative chances of one of them, as a group falling to that spot or lower is quite high. I expect Trevor Timmins is eyeing this group of players closely, as well as players below this group. All of these players will factor into any decisions the Canadiens make about their selection at 24th or 25th, or whether they will move up a handful of spots to make a selection.

Max Domi is touted by some as a top 10 selection, but there are enough doubters to think he could slip below that, and enough people that don't value him that highly that it is possible, if highly unlikely, to see him available for the Canadiens. It is also possible that Domi is picked in the top 5 of the Entry Draft.

While Anthony Mantha has no scouting organization taking him at 24th or lower, it is also possible that the sequence of picks would push him down to the Canadiens spot. If every organization takes their best player available, enough players ranked below Mantha by some organizations could be moved off the board that he doesn't come up as any team's best player available until the Canadiens take the stage.

Anthony Erne, for another example, has significant doubters (International Scouting Services, NHL Central Scouting) but also definite believers in his ability, with Red Line Report even pegging him in the top 10. Same goes for Swedish professional blueliner Robert Hagg and Brandon Wheat Kings offensive defenseman Ryan Poluck. There's enough uncertainty with these players to think there will be one, and likely more than one of this group on the board for the Canadiens. So it's worth taking a closer look at them if you're interested.

Finally, here is the list of players that are considered borderline first round draft picks. Some of these players will also likely be off the draft board by the time the Canadiens come to pick at 24th or 25th overall. But some of them are likely to still be available when the Canadiens pick at 34th and 36th overall in the 2nd round. Heck, there's a shot one or more of them will be on the board at 54th or 55th overall when the Canadiens make their fourth scheduled selection:

Stuck In the Middle
Player Pos. Current Club League NHL CS HP ISS Button THN
Zachary Fucale G Halifax QMJHL NAG 1 93 - 9 23
Kerby Rychel LW Windsor OHL NAS 17 44 20 21 17
Madison Bowey RD Kelowna WHL NAS 32 23 22 43 -
Artturi Lehkonen RW KalPa SML ES 9 24 - 18 -
Steve Santini RD USNTDP Jrs. USHL NAS 47 28 17 47 26
Jacob de la Rose C Leksand SWE-2 ES 7 27 - 50 24
Mirco Mueller LD Everett WHL NAS 9 26 - 33 -
Jason Dickinson LW Guelph OHL NAS 30 39 - 23 -
Laurent Dauphin C Chicoutimi QMJHL NAS 28 34 - 26 -
Shea Théodore LD Seattle WHL NAS 11 30 - 59 -
Chris Bigras LD Owen Sound OHL NAS 14 36 29 52 -
Pavel Buchnevich LW Severstal KHL ES 10 17 - 31 -
Morgan Klimchuk LW Regina WHL NAS 25 33 - 17 28
Ryan Hartman RW Plymouth OHL NAS 16 42 - 24 -
J.T. Compher C USNTDP Jrs. USHL NAS 34 25 24 29 -
Nicolas Petan C Portland WHL NAS 33 32 26 27 -
Ian McCoshen LD Waterloo USHL NAS 24 35 - 37 29
Samuel Morin LD Rimouski QMJHL NAS 23 60 30 32 -
Dillon Heatherington LD Swift Current WHL NAS 31 49 27 65 -
Michael McCarron RW USNTDP Jrs. USHL NAS 35 47 28 - -
Eric Comrie G Tri-City WHL NAG 2 127 - 44 30

Any of these players seems to stand an outside shot of hearing their name called in the first round of the Entry Draft, but most of them won't be taken at that point. The Canadiens will have multiple chances to take one of these players, so it is definitely worth one's time to research them... unless you believe the Canadiens are going to trade their picks before that happens.

It's also a group of players that Trevor Timmins might believe have higher upside than the second group of players I mentioned. Maybe he shares Craig Button's high opinion of goaltender Zach Fucale and takes him with their pick, loving that the Canadiens notched a top 10 talent in the bottom third of the first round. Maybe he has a higher opinion of all of these organizations on scoring forwards like Nicolas Petan or Charles Hudon's teammate Laurent Dauphin. Maybe he agrees with NHL Central Scouting and sees Mirco Mueller as a future two-way force on defense in the NHL, or is attracted to the raw potential of hulking Rimouski blueliner Samuel Morin.

Timmins has a lot of choice here, and this doesn't even get into the guys who appear to be consensus second round draft picks that maybe the Canadiens scouting staff identifies as having a higher ceiling than the players already mentioned. However, it's good to know the names at least of the players under consideration for the Canadiens draft position.