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published 06/26/13 9:22am
The NHL Draft is all set for this upcoming Sunday in New Jersey.
Photo: Icon SMI
This year's NHL Entry Draft, set for Sunday afternoon in Newark, New Jersey, will feature a deep cast of talent, particularly up front. The Colorado Avalanche are on the clock and they've been linked to (at least) three names with their first pick. They've also been linked to trade rumors involving the pick.

What will happen in the end? Who goes first? How will the rest of the first round unfold? This is our annual NHL Mock Draft, complete with a breakdown of each club's team needs.


Primary need: defense
Options: Seth Jones, Portland (WHL); Nathan MacKinnon, Halifax (QMJHL); Aleksander Barkov, Tappara Tampere (SM-Liiga); Jonathan Drouin, Halifax (QMJHL)

Logic suggests Colorado will take the popular Jones, who also would fill a huge need along the blueline. However, the new Avalanche regime (led by Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy) are said to be leaning towards a forward here. They might even trade the pick and make a huge splash. Taking a forward is probably the safest bet here.

Pick: Nathan MacKinnon


Primary needs: offensive skill up front
Options: MacKinnon; Drouin; Barkov

It seems logical that the Panthers really want MacKinnon to center Jonathan Huberdeau on Florida's No. 1 line for many years to come. What happens if Colorado takes MacKinnon, though? Jones is the best available player and a defenseman any team could use. He's also a dynamic offensive player, which helps Florida too.

Pick: Seth Jones


Primary need: defense
Options: Jones; Darnell Nurse, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL); Rasmus Ristolainen, TPS Turku (SM-Liiga)

The Lightning could try to move up to secure Jones, or they may choose to move down a few positions and select Nurse or Ristolainen. They may also trade the pick for immediate help on defense or take a forward.

Pick: Jonathan Drouin


Primary need: offense
Options: Drouin; Barkov; Elias Lindholm, Brynas IF (SHL)

The Preds won't likely take a chance on Nichushkin because of the problems they've had dealing with KHL players such as Alexander Radulov. They need someone who can eventually become their No. 1 center.

Pick: Aleksander Barkov


Primary needs: defensive defenseman, grit up front
Options: Nurse; Valeri Nichushkin, Traktor Chelyabinsk (KHL); Nikita Zadorov, London (OHL)

The 'Canes may be tempted to take Nichushkin here, and they usually stay away from drafting defensemen in the early part of the draft. However, the needs for a shutdown blueliner are too big to ignore this time around.

Pick: Darnell Nurse


Primary need: center
Options: Lindholm; Sean Monahan, Ottawa (OHL); Alexander Wennberg, Djurgarden (Swedish Allsvenskan)

This one seems like a no-brainer: Lindholm fits the profile of what the Flames need up front: a playmaking center who has first-line potential and may arrive relatively quickly. If Lindholm is off the board, Monahan makes sense.

Pick: Elias Lindholm


Primary needs: center, defensive defenseman
Options: Monahan; Nurse; Curtis Lazar, Edmonton (WHL)

The Oilers could go in several different directions here. If Nurse is on the board, he could be their man. Monahan and Nichushkin are also possibilities to fill the center/size needs, respectively. Lazar is someone they know well.

Pick: Sean Monahan


Primary needs: power-play QB, winger
Options: Ryan Pulock, Brandon (WHL); Nichushkin; Max Domi, London (OHL)

The Sabres have a need for a long-term offensive rearguard to quarterback the power play but they may not be able to pass up the opportunity to take Nichushkin, who may eventually team with Mikhail Grigorenko.

Pick: Valeri Nichushkin


Primary needs: offense, goaltender
Options: Domi; Hunter Shinkaruk, Medicine Hat (WHL); Zachary Fucale, Halifax (QMJHL)

New Jersey has several unrestricted free agents on the wings this summer, and they need an infusion of talent to help Ilya Kovalchuk up front. Domi and Shinkaruk fit the bill, while Fucale would solve the goalie issue.

Pick: Max Domi


Primary need: offense
Options: Wennberg; Bo Horvat, London (OHL); Andre Burakovsky, Malmo (SHL)

Dallas has a new logo, new uniforms, a new GM (Jim Nill) and new coach (Lindy Ruff). There are a lot of building blocks in place but more help is needed, especially on offense. Nill may focus on a center for starters.

Pick: Alexander Wennberg


Primary needs: goaltender, defenseman
Options: Fucale; Zadorov; Ristolainen

What will the Flyers do with their goaltending situation? Fucale could be a great long-range plan but Philadelphia also has needs along the blueline, where age and injuries have caught up to them. This one could go either way.

Pick: Rasmus Ristolainen


Primary need: offensive skill up front
Options: Domi; Wennberg; Horvat

The Coyotes have issues if goaltender Mike Smith doesn't re-sign but that isn't likely to prompt them to take Fucale here. Instead, they'll look to find a forward who can help (preferably soon) their pedestrian offense.

Pick: Bo Horvat


Primary needs: winger, center
Options: Burakovsky; Adam Erne, Quebec (QMJHL); Shinkaruk

The Jets need more offense, especially at the center position. Mark Scheifele should help a lot here but Alexander Burmistrov's future is in doubt. A player who could play both wing and center would be ideal here.

Pick: Hunter Shinkaruk


Primary need: playmaker
Options: Domi; Burakovsky; Artturi Lehkonen, KalPa (SM-Liiga)

The first of three potential first rounders for the Blue Jackets, they're expected to focus on offense for at least two of their picks. New GM Jarmo Kekalainen has had great success drafting Europeans, so that bears monitoring.

Pick: Andre Burakovsky


Primary needs: goaltender, defenseman
Options: Fucale; Pulock; Zadorov

The Islanders appear set up front for years to come but have major questions in goal (for both the short and long term). They also could use a future power-play QB or size, physicality and defensive acumen from the back end.

Pick: Nikita Zadorov

16. BUFFALO SABRES (from Minnesota Wild)

Primary needs: power-play QB, winger
Options: Pulock; Mirco Mueller, Everett (WHL); Josh Morrissey, Prince Albert (WHL)

After taking Nichushkin with their first pick in Round 1, the Sabres will probably look at Pulock if he's still available here. If he isn't, or if they take him earlier, Buffalo may go after a winger such as Adam Erne here.

Pick: Ryan Pulock


Primary needs: power forward, defenseman
Options: Erne; Anthony Mantha, Val-d'Or (QMJHL); Kerby Rychel, Windsor (OHL)

The Senators won't likely need the player they choose in Round 1 here for at least a couple of years, so they may be able to afford to gamble on more of a project type with bigger upside than most. Mantha is that type.

Pick: Anthony Mantha


Primary need: size
Options: Zadorov; Samuel Morin, Rimouski (QMJHL); Rychel

Few teams (if any) ignore team needs on draft day more than Detroit, who almost always take the most skilled player available (every pick, every round). That may change here, as they do need to get bigger and stronger.

Pick: Samuel Morin

19. COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (from New York Rangers)

Primary need: playmaker
Options: Burakovsky; Lehkonen; Marko Dano, Slovan Bratislava (KHL)

The second of three picks for the Blue Jackets, there's a good chance they will trade up or down either with this pick or the next. The Jackets should continue to stockpile talented forwards because that is what they need.

Pick: Artturi Lehkonen


Primary needs: forwards, leadership
Options: Erne; Rychel; Ryan Hartman, Plymouth (OHL)

The Sharks are getting a little long in the tooth with their core, so they need more help there. They have more long-range needs up front. They may look towards getting a winger to complement top prospect Tomas Hertl.

Pick: Adam Erne


Primary needs: center, winger
Options: Rychel; Mantha; Valentin Zykov, Baie-Comeau (QMJHL)

The Maple Leafs have secured their goaltending situation, so the focus will now shift towards the center position. Toronto also has needs on the wing down the road, so they may opt to go in that direction with the 21st pick.

Pick: Kerby Rychel

22. CALGARY FLAMES (from St. Louis Blues)

Primary need: center
Options: Frederik Gauthier, Rimouski (QMJHL); Zykov; Hartman

The Flames have three first rounders this year and the focus will likely be on offense. That said, they have needs everywhere so the 22nd pick may simply be a case of taking the best player available (on their draft board).

Pick: Ryan Hartman


Primary need: center
Options: Jacob De La Rose, Leksand (Swedish Allsvenskan); Gauthier; J.T. Compher, USNTDP (USHL)

The Capitals have a decision to make regarding pending unrestricted free agent center Mike Ribeiro. Even if he stays in Washington, the club could use more long-range depth down the middle, so a center is likely here.

Pick: Frederik Gauthier


Primary need: center
Options: De La Rose; Compher; Nicolas Petan, Portland (WHL)

The Canucks need a center to complement Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler, and they've been searching for a while for the perfect third-line pivot. They're not likely to land that player here. They'll take the best player.

Pick: Josh Morrissey


Primary needs: size, winger
Options: Mantha; Zykov; Hartman

The Habs may need a little luck in the draft to land the player they need. They could really use the size of a Mantha or Morin but would probably settle for the raw talent of Zykov or aggressive upside of Hartman/Rychel.

Pick: Valentin Zykov


Primary need:winger
Options: Rychel; Gauthier; Michael McCarron, USNTDP (USHL)

The Ducks are still looking for a steady second-line center (and No. 3 heir apparent for Saku Koivu) but they have internal options already. So they could look to the wings instead. Anaheim likes to draft out of the USNTDP.

Pick: Michael McCarron

27. COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (from Los Angeles Kings)

Primary need: playmaker
Options: Lehkonen; Dano; Madison Bowey, Kelowna (WHL)

This is probably a pick that is going to be dealt by Columbus, likely to move down in order to accumulate more picks later on. If they choose to select a third first rounder this year, they'll certainly look at the best player left.

Pick: Madison Bowey

28. CALGARY FLAMES (from Pittsburgh Penguins)

Primary need: center
Options: Gauthier; Zykov; Petan

The Flames are in the same boat as Columbus but have more long-term needs. Therefore, they may decide to draft for the third time in Round 1. Keep an eye on defensemen Ian McCoshen and Robert Hagg here.

Pick: Robert Hagg

29. DALLAS STARS (from Boston Bruins)

Primary need: offense
Options: Dano; Petan; Nick Sorensen, Quebec (QMJHL)
The Stars will look for offense and skill under new GM Jim Nill, so they may go completely off the board here if there's somebody they really like. Dano and Petan have a lot of playmaking ability, so they might be the pick.

Pick: Nicolas Petan


Primary need: center
Options: Petan; De La Rose; Compher

The Stanley Cup champs can go in pretty much any direction here. They have the luxury of being patient with this pick. Their current need is for a second-line center. Perhaps Illinois native Compher has long-range appeal.

Pick: J.T. Compher

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