Panthers sign Gilroy, Matsumoto to one-year deals
Monday, 07.08.2013 / 1:20 PM
The months and weeks have turned into days and hours until the start of the 2013 NHL Draft, which will be held Sundayat Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. (3 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN).
How will the first round turn out? NHL.com's draft experts -- Adam Kimelman, Mike G. Morreale and Steven Hoffner -- make their final guesses at which players the teams might take.
The trio remains in agreement on its top two selections from their previous mock draft -- however, the order of players selected has changed.
With Colorado Avalanche executive vice president of hockey operations Joe Sakic saying this week Nathan MacKinnon would be their choice "if we had to do it today, right now," the consensus was the Avalanche would be good on their word and take MacKinnon, the star center from the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, with the top pick.
NHL.com's threesome also agrees that Portland Winterhawks defenseman Seth Jones would go No. 2 to the Florida Panthers. The 6-foot-3.5, 205-pound blueliner is No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters.
After the top spots, opinions begin to differ. Two of the experts see MacKinnon's teammate, left wing Jonathan Drouin, going to the Tampa Bay Lightning with the third pick, while a third sees Finnish center Aleksander Barkov being the Lightning's choice, with Drouin going fourth to the Nashville Predators.
The final draft order includes two teams with three picks each, in what many experts believe is the deepest, most talented draft since 2003. The Calgary Flames own the sixth pick, the No. 22 pick (from the St. Louis Blues in the Jay Bouwmeester trade) and the 28th pick (from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Jarome Iginla deal).
The Columbus Blue Jackets also have three picks, No. 14, No. 19 (from the New York Rangers in the Rick Nash trade) and No. 27 (from the Los Angeles Kings in the Jeff Carter deal).
The Buffalo Sabres and Dallas Stars are the other teams with multiple picks; the Sabres have their pick at No. 8 and the Minnesota Wild's at No. 16 (from the Jason Pominville deal), and the Stars own their pick at No. 10 and the Boston Bruins' at No. 29 (from the Jaromir Jagr trade).
So which expert knows best? Take a look at the three mock drafts and weigh in with your opinion.