Who is the best player available in the NHL Entry Draft coming up later this month? The answer depends upon who you ask.
Seth Jones was the clear front-runner at one point, but since Nathan MacKinnon was named MVP of the Memorial Cup, the dynamic center has been mentioned at the top more and more often. Of course that doesn't mean he will be selected by the Avs, who have the number one pick, but MacKinnon is getting his fair share of love.
The ISS recently named MacKinnon their number one prospect.
With the close of the junior hockey season this past weekend and in advance of the upcoming NHL Draft, ISS Hockey has named Nathan MacKinnon the #1 ranked prospect, supplanting Seth Jones who had held the position for much of the season. Rounding out the Top 5 are #2-Seth Jones, #3-Jonathan Drouin, #4-Valery Nichushkin, and #5-Sasha Barkov. The current ISS Top 30 can always be viewed at: ISShockey.com/iss-top-30
Although with Carolina picking at number five, it doesn't much matter who goes first, second, and third. Or does it?
Hockey Prospectus has Jonathan Drouin as their number one guy, though they admit it's virtual a coin flip.
In making the final call, I leaned towards the large edge for Drouin in puck skills and hockey sense. For forwards, these are the two most important skills. Skating is a close third, and MacKinnon's skating skills nearly close the value gap. Taking into account the edge MacKinnon has in physicality, along with his shot, defensive skill, his position, and his handedness—in that order—the argument for MacKinnon at number one is legitimate, to the point where I view this decision as a coin flip.
While some argue who is better, Drouin or MacKinnon, it's been noted that Seth Jones has no weakness in his game. The Red Line Report, (via USA Today), McKeen's Hockey, and the CSS still have him at the top.
At Red Line Report, we have Seth Jones positioned atop the entire draft board, and he had to be pretty special to earn top honors in a year filled with a bevy of flashy forwards. Jones represents as complete a package as we've seen in any defenseman over the past decade. With his mix of size, puck skills, natural athleticism and poise, Jones can dominate and take over games at both ends of the ice, and has an impact on the game in every aspect.
Most will say that the top three of the draft are in a class of their own, but not far behind are Valeri Nichushkin and Aleksander Barkov, two dominating players in their own right. After the two top Europeans, there are several more players who could possibly be game changers.
In the coming two weeks, we will be taking a closer look at each of the top prospects and will also look at several mock drafts. As always, I will be taking a crack at my own mock draft next week.
Below we can see how the experts rank their top 10 prospects. Barkov and Nichushkin seem to be nearly consensus selections for fourth and fifth. Which player is better? Who would be better for the Hurricanes?
We will try to answer those questions and more in articles coming up next week.
|1||Nathan MacKinnon||Seth Jones||Jonathan Drouin||Seth Jones||Seth Jones|
|2||Seth Jones||Nathan MacKinnon||Nathan MacKinnon||Jonathan Drouin||Nathan MacKinnon|
|3||Jonathan Drouin||Jonathan Drouin||Seth Jones||Nathan MacKinnon||Jonathan Drouin|
|4||Valeri Nichushkin||Elias Lindholm||Valeri Nichushkin||Aleksander Barkov||Aleksander Barkov|
|5||Aleksander Barkov||Aleksander Barkov||Aleksander Barkov||Valeri Nichushkin||Valeri Nichushkin|
|6||Darnell Nurse||Valeri Nichushkin||Elias Lindholm||Darnell Nurse||Darnell Nurse|
|7||Elias Lindholm||Nikita Zadorov||Sean Monahan||Elias Lindholm||Sean Monahan|
|8||Nikita Zadorov||Darnell Nurse||Rasmus Ristolainen||Max Domi||Elias Lindholm|
|9||Sean Monahan||Max Domi||Max Domi||Rasmus Ristolainen||Hunter Shinkaruk|
|10||Bo Horvat||Samuel Morin||Hunter Shinkaruk||Bo Horvat||Rasmus Ristolainen|