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Breaking Down the Impressive 2013 NHL Draft Class: Part II

Though the incredible 2003 NHL draft class will likely never be matched, the 2013 NHL draft class is often compared to the event that was held a decade before.

The depth of the 2013 Draft may not match that of the 2003 Draft, but the first rounds match up very well. In the two years since Draft day, the 30 players selected in the first round of the 2013 NHL Draft have impressed and wowed, and now, several of them will likely be playing important roles on their respective teams.

Before delving deeper into round one, be sure to check out of our breakdown of the top five selections of the draft.

Sean Monahan – Calgary Flames

Sean Monahan is the second leading point scorer from the 2013 NHL Draft, having scored 53 goals and added 43 assists for a total of 96 points in 156 games. The youngster from Ontario played a big role in Calgary’s surprise playoff berth last season, and put together one of the best seasons the NHL has ever seen from a second year player.

As Adam Gretz of CBS Sports’ Eye On Hockey points out:

Over the past 20 NHL seasons there have only been 10 other players to record at least 30 goals and 30 assists in the same season before their age-21 season: Sidney Crosby (twice), Marian Gaborik (twice), Steven Stamkos (twice), Patrice Bergeron, Anze Kopitar, Ilya Kovalchuk, Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, Jonathan Toews and Jeff Skinner.

That is an impressive list. Six of those players have gone on to win the Stanley Cup (Crosby, Gaborik, Bergeron, Kopitar, Malkin and Toews), three have won Art Ross Trophies (Crosby, Malkin and Ovechkin) and four have won the NHL goal-scoring crown (Stamkos, Ovechkin, Kovalechuk and Crosby).

The “worst” player on it is Skinner, still only a 22-year-old winger who already has two 30-goal seasons on his résumé.

Monahan’s underlying numbers aren’t terrible, either. He was a positive possession player in 2014-2015, and his on ice shooting percentage at even strength is around league average. The 20-year-old may experience a drop in his power play production next season, but another 25-goal, 60-point season isn’t entirely out of the question.

If the Flames want to return to the postseason in 2015-16, Monahan needs to be just as good, if not better, than he’s been in his first two seasons.

Rasmus Ristolainen – Buffalo Sabres

It’s hard for any young defenseman to experience success while playing for a team that is intentionally trying to be terrible, so Ristolainen’s resume (when viewed in a vacuum) isn’t exactly impressive.

Taking into account the fact that Buffalo has been terrible, however, and the Finn’s value increases. Matthew Coller of WGR 550 in Buffalo makes a strong case that the young defenseman should be considered an “untouchable” prospect, and Buffalo’s dismal state of affairs on defense means that Ristolainen is going to have to play a large role on the Sabres’ blue line yet again.

Is the 20-year-old going to put up 40 points and lead his team to a playoff berth? Probably not. Will he continue to develop into a star while playing a significant role in his team’s limited success? Most likely.

Bo Horvat – Vancouver Canucks

It’s likely that Bo Horvat will never wow with his offensive production, but in 2014-2015, the young center showcased the two-way play that got him drafted ninth overall.

He started more of his shifts in the defensive zone than he did in the offensive zone, won 51.4 percent of his faceoffs and managed to put up 25 points in 68 games. By conventional standards, he had a great year, especially because his coach entrusted him to play on his team’s “shutdown” line, matching up against top competition without looking out of place.

By more advanced metrics, Horvat didn’t do so well. His -5.5 percent relative score adjusted shot attempts percentage shows that he was getting caved in at 5-on-5, and looking at his performance relative to his usage makes it even worse. In the regular season and playoffs combined, Horvat had a dCorsi rating of -8.26.

He’ll start the season on the Canucks’ roster, and may play a significant role on the team. His development over the course of the season is encouraging; here’s his 35-game rolling average for relative SAT-percentage.

If Horvat takes another step in his development, he’ll become an important member of the Canucks bottom six, especially if the Canucks make another playoff run.

Valeri Nichushkin – Dallas Stars

After a great rookie season that saw Nichushkin put up 34 points in 79 games, the young Russian only played eight games of his sophomore season before being sidelined with hip surgery. The potential to dominate games and put up high point totals is there, and it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see him reach 60 points in 2015-2016.

Unfortunately, seeing as Nichushskin missed most of the last season, all we have to go by in regards to his impact is speculation. The potential is there, and it’s likely the 20-year-old will play on either the team’s first or second line, meaning he’ll play an important role in the offensive production of the team.

If Nichushkin can give the team a slight boost, it just might be all they need to make the playoffs in 2015-2016.

Alexander Wennberg – Columbus Blue Jackets

Alexander Wennberg has flown under the radar as a high-end prospect, but at the age of 19, he was able to jump into a bottom-six role and flourish. While with the Blue Jackets in 2014-15, Wennberg scored four goals and added 16 assists for a total of 20 points in 68 games.

He was a break-even possession player, but his dCorsi rating of 3.53 shows that he was playing above his usage. If the young Swede is able to build on his strong possession play, averaging half a point per game in 2015-16 isn’t out of the question. That type of strong, offensive depth is exactly what teams need if they want to go far in the playoffs.

(data taken from war-on-ice.com)

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