Now that the 2012 NHL Draft is officially in the books, it's time to start learning a whole new set of names for the upcoming 2013 NHL Draft. I released an early Players to Watch list last year, and that seemed to work fairly well. It ended up pretty close to the NHL's first Central Scouting lists. A lot can change in a year's time though, especially given how much weight performance in a player's draft year is taken into account. This list is really more of a starting point than an end point.
It's also worth worth pointing out that I limit this list to only players that I've seen,which is a little bit more of an extensive list this year than some years, but by no means complete. I split things up like the NHL Central Scouting early watch lists with 'A' 'B' and 'C' prospects. 'A' would be a top three round prospect. 'B' is pretty likely to be drafted somewhere, and 'C' is maybe a late round pick.
The complete list, including a few notes on the 'A' prospects is after the jump.
Nathan MacKinnon, F, Halifax(QMJHL)- I haven't seen much of MacKinnon since he left Minnesota for the QMJHL, but I've seen enough to know he's a special talent.
Seth Jones, D, Portland Winterhawks(WHL)- The simplest way to put it is that athletes like Jones don't often end up playing hockey. The things he can do at his size are incredible.
Ian McCoshen, D, Waterloo(USHL)- I've been a huge fan of McCoshen for a long time, and felt he's flown under the radar a bit as a top prospect.
Taylor Cammarata, F, Waterloo(USHL)- He'll likely be a controversial player in this draft. I think when he's put under the microscope in his draft year, there will be a lot that scouts don't like, especially when it comes to handling physical play, but at the end of the day, you can't ignore his hockey sense and the way he puts up points.
Steve Santini, D, NTDP- It's pretty rare to find 6'3" 200+ lbs. defensemen that can move the puck like him.
Hudson Fasching, F, NTDP-Good size and extremely athletic. He showed flashes last year, but didn't quite take off to that next level. There's loads of potential here though.
JT Compher, F, NTDP-Called up to the U18s late last year and didn't look out of place at all.
Adam Erne, F, Quebec(QMJHL)- Really strong kid. Rare combination that can outskate and outmuscle people.
Ryan Hartman, F, Plymouth(OHL)- I'm still skeptical of a 5'10" power forward, but he had a nice year with the NTDP, and it's looking pretty likely he'll go this high in the draft.
Luke Johnson, F, Lincoln(USHL)- Great skater. He'll have to prove he can score to hold onto this spot though.
Brett Pesce, D, University of New Hampshire- He'll be one of the youngest kids in college hockey next season, and has some filling out to do, but has great feet for a defenseman, and a lot of upside.
Gage Ausmus, D, NTDP-I felt like Ausmus took a huge step forward after playing against the NTDP's competition last year.
As a bonus, I thought I'd throw in a couple really high-end guys from the World U-17 Challenge this past winter.
Darnell Nurse, D, Sault Ste. Marie(OHL)- Big, solid defensive defenseman that made Canada's U18 team this past year. Hard to find a report about this kid that doesn't compare him to Chris Pronger.
Curtis Lazar, F, Edmonton(WHL)- Maybe not the high-end scoring ability of some players, but very tough and gritty two-way player.
Sergei Tolchinsky, F, Russia-He's downright tiny, but he put on a show at the U17s with some absolutely crazy skill. I have no clue where he stands with the KHL, but he'd be a fun player to watch.
Robert Hagg,D Modo(Sweden)- A big, reliable defenseman that logged a ton of ice time for the Swedish team.