I've been putting the final touches on these over the last few weeks after being able to watch a couple hundred Western Hockey League games in the 2012-13 season, filing reports along the way. Overall, I feel that it's a very good WHL crop for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, with some high end talent at the top, very talented depth picks and something to offer at every position.
So, below are my full rankings. I am doing them in one big post this year rather than breaking it down into parts. Included in my top 25 rankings is a description of the player, an NHL style comparison, top end NHL potential and a prediction of where they will be picked in the draft. The pick prediction isn't necessarily where I would rank them, merely a guess as to how NHL teams might value them. As for the NHL player comparisons, they are merely used to give the reader an understanding of how the player looks on the ice. They are in no way meant to say that I expect the WHL player to have an NHL career similar to their comparable. As mentioned in past blogs, I have seen each of these players atleast 2-3 times this season, with most of them having 5+ viewings. Feel free to post questions about certain players both here or on my Twitter account, which you can find in the top right hand corner of this page.
So with that all being said, here are my final rankings:
#1 - Seth Jones - Portland Winterhawks - RD - 6'4 - 206 -
Bar none, the top player from the WHL for the 2013 NHL Draft. He's got great size, is an amazing skater for his size and shows great potential in all three zones. He makes a great first pass, excels in finding the open man in almost any situation, has a rocket of a slapshot and has professional athlete bloodlines. For me, the thing that also separates him from the pack is his poise. He's extremely calm with the puck, never gets exposed by a forecheck and is a guy you can trust with the puck in every situation. To go along with his poise with the puck in the defensive zone, he shows a strong ability to walk the offensive blueline with the puck and also shows the ability to get shots on net through traffic. He might not be a consistent 40+ point defenseman at the NHL level, but he has the potential to at least hit that number a few times while being a constant shutdown presence defensively. On the defensive side of the puck, he does need a bit of work. He's got a great stick and good footwork, but as with most draft-eligible players, he could use some work on his positioning defensively and commitment to protecting the front of his net on a consistent basis. He has the hockey sense to eventually be a standout in this area of his game, it just might take some time to get there. I have him ranked 1st overall from the WHL and 1st overall for the entire draft. I last had him ranked 2nd overall back in October of 2012, but my view of him was really elevated once I had the chance to see him live. Jones is a true franchise defender who has been NHL-ready for months now.
NHL Style Comparable: Alex Pietrangelo
Top End Potential: Number One Defenceman, First Unit PP, First Unit PK, NHL All-Star
Pick Prediction: 1st Overall
#2 - Hunter Shinkaruk - Medicine Hat Tigers - LW - 5'11 - 175 -
Shinkaruk has arguably the highest offensive potential of any draft eligible player from the WHL in 2013. He is equally as talented as a goal scorer and playmaker. His shot is well above average while his vision is near the top of this draft as well. He can score off the rush and off the cycle and doesn't hesitate to go to the dirty areas of the ice. I consider him only as a slightly above average skater, with good top end speed and agility, just has a bit of an odd stride. He works hard all over the ice and can't be knocked for taking shifts off. He has a good stick and seems to win many battles against bigger and stronger competition. Interviews well and seems like a character kid who is on another level in regards to his future goals and his drive to succeed as a pro. He will still need to get bigger, stronger and faster to be a true top line player at the NHL level, with his style of game comparing to a guy like Jeff Skinner or a Zach Parise. I like him as a top 12 selection in the 2013 NHL Draft, but I wouldn't be shocked if some teams liked him in their top 5 or 6.
NHL Style Comparable: Jeff Skinner
Top End Potential: First Line Scorer, First PP Unit
Pick Prediction: 8th-10th Overall
#3 - Ryan Pulock - Brandon Wheat Kings - RD - 6'1 - 211 -
Pulock is a defenceman that does a bit of everything for Brandon. His skating has improved immensely over the past 18 months, he passes the puck well, has the hardest shot of anyone in the draft, throws some massive hits and plays both key minutes on the top PP and PK units. His leadership qualities are through the roof, serving as the Wheat Kings captain this year and being famous for being a character kid. Wouldn't be shocked if some teams like him as a top 6-7 player for the draft, although I think he's just in the tier below that. He's definitely right in that mix of players who could go in the top 10, so it will be interesting to see how much his "character" can bump him up in the draft. Could be one of those guys that plays one more year of junior and then makes the jump to the NHL.
NHL Style Comparable: A Right-Handed Jason Garrison
Top End Potential: Top 3 D, First Unit PP, Second Unit PK
Pick Prediction: 12th-15th overall
#4 - Curtis Lazar - Edmonton Oil Kings - CR - 6'0 - 198 -
Lazar is a good two way centre from the Oil Kings. He is a very good skater with excellent top-end speed and the ability to both change direction and separate from defenders. I still think he gets underrated offensively as he has a very quick, heavy and accurate wrist shot, while also having good playmaking skills. He can both pass and shoot at top speed and also isn't afraid to take a hit to make a play. Competes hard and will thrive in a top 9 forward role, making him valuable not just as a top 6 player. He has good hockey sense and leadership skills and I would have to imagine some teams still like him as a top 10-15 player.
NHL Style Comparable: Mike Fisher
Top End Potential: Above Average Top 6 Forward, First Unit PP, Second Unit PK
Pick Prediction: 15th-20th overall
#5 - Josh Morrissey - Prince Albert Raiders - LD - 6'0 - 185 -
Morrissey is a smooth-skating two way defender for Prince Albert. He possesses a good outlet pass, stretch pass and a very strong shot. He likes to rush the puck and push the pace, with the smarts to not cost his team defensively. Has played top pairing minutes since he first entered the league as a 16 year old. Still can improve defensively and will need to add strength to his frame in order to continue to improve his defensive game. Doesn't back down physically and can get in other players faces. He has a nice edge to his game although it's an area that I would still consider inconsistent. I rank him in the 15-20 range, just a step below Lazar, but the two have been neck and neck for me all season.
NHL Style Comparable: Keith Yandle
Top End Potential: Top 3 D, First Unit PP, Second Unit PK
Pick Prediction: 15th-20th overall
#6 - Dillon Heatherington - Swift Current Broncos - LD - 6'4 - 196 -
Heatherington is a big body and a great skater. He is very mobile and has excellent footwork. He's hardly ever out of position defensively and while I would definitely consider him to be a defensive defender, he makes a good outlet pass and has a good shot. He's got very good stick work and loves to play physical. To go along with his skating and physical play, his decisions with the puck are excellent and has great poise against the forecheck. I don't think he'll ever have a ton of offensive potential, but his passing is above average in this prospect class. He opened some eyes after having a very solid Under-18 for Team Canada, althought I've been beating the drum for him all season. I've gone on record saying I think his best possible upside is a top pairing defender at the NHL level. I like him a lot more than most people do and would rank him in the 25th overall range, even though I don't think he'll be selected in the first round.
NHL Style Comparable: Marc Staal
Top End Potential: Top Pairing Shutdown D, First Unit PK
Pick Prediction: 45th overall
#7 - Nic Petan - Portland Winterhawks - CL - 5'9 - 166 -
Petan is a slick skater, is very shifty and can carry the puck at top speed. Size doesn't seem to hold him back as he's amazingly slippery, knows when to hold on to the puck and when to pass or shoot it and has a great compete level. He has great instincts around the net, has a good shot and passing ability. Hockey sense is through the roof, he's always in the correct position both with and without the puck and that hockey sense is the biggest reason why I think he can succeed at the NHL level. I like him in the 25-30 range overall and think that he's probably top 5-10 in this draft in regards to pure offensive upside.
NHL Style Comparable: Jaden Schwartz
Top End Potential: Top 6 Scorer, First Unit PP
Pick Prediction: 27th-33rd overall
#8 - Shea Theodore - Seattle Thunderbirds - LD - 6'2 - 175 -
It pains me to rank him as a second rounder, that's how much I think of this kid. Has good size, is an extremely good skater, has great offensive instincts and has a bomb of a shot. He loves to rush the puck and has the ability to start the rush with a nice pass. Isn't very physical and doesn't have great defensive ability, but his extremely high offensive potential should outweigh those concerns. Had the chance to speak to him during the season and has a good head on his shoulders. I rank him in the 30-33 range but am sure some teams might put him inside their top 15 or 20. I could see him having a massive offensive year next year once the Thunderbirds add former 1st overall pick Matt Barzal to the mid.
NHL Style Comparable: Jack Johnson
Top End Potential: Top 3 D, First Unit PP
Pick Prediction: 25th overall
#9 - Morgan Klimchuk - Regina Pats - LW - 5'11 - 180 -
Klimchuk is an offensive forward who possesses arguably the best skating stride and speed from the WHL for the 2013 NHL Draft. Extremely fast and agile on his skates, allowing him to beat defenders wide off the rush. He has an absolute fantastic wrist shot. It's accurate and hard with a quick release and it's deadly enough that he can score with it from anywhere inside the top of the circles. Has a great compete level and good hockey sense in all three zones. He had the chance to play top-line minutes at the Under-18's recently alongside Connor McDavid and Sam Reinhart and didn't look out of place. I fully expect a number of teams to like him in the top 30 and he could definitely be picked in that range.
NHL Style Comparable: Mason Raymond
Top End Potential: Top 6 Scorer, First Unit PP, Potential PK Player
Pick Prediction: 35-40th overall
#10 - Mirco Mueller - Everett Silvertips - LD - 6'4 - 185 -
Mueller is a minute-muncher that plays in every situation for the Silvertips. Is a pretty good skater, passes it well and has a good shot. The Swiss-born player is pretty raw and a work in progress on the defensive end, but he logs a ton of minutes for the Tips. I know some people like him much more than I do, but I only have one live viewing under my belt so I may be selling him short (despite a half-dozen online/TV viewings of him). I expect him to be a top 25 selection even though I rank him around 35th overall.
NHL Style Comparable: Niklas Hjalmarsson
Top End Potential: Top 3 D, Second Unit PP, First Unit PK
Pick Prediction: 20-25th overall
#11 - Eric Comrie - Tri-City Americans - G - 6'1 - 170 -
Comrie is a dynamic and athletic goaltender for the Americans. Plays his angles well and has solid rebound control. Would like to see him play a bit "bigger" as he has a very crouched stance. Have him down a few spots in my final rankings simply because of mid-season hip surgery. Didn't sound like a major procedure and it's a common one for goalies, so he should come back better than ever, but it's still worth noting. Early in the year I had him as a late 1st round pick, now I would pencil him in around the 40-50th overall range.
NHL Style Comparable: Semyon Varlamov
Top End Potential: Above Average NHL Starter
Pick Prediction: 45-50th overall
#12 - Madison Bowey - Kelowna Rockets - RD - 6'1 - 194 -
Bowey is a big, strong skating two-way defenceman from the D factory in Kelowna. Makes a good outlet pass, skates well for his size and has a very hard shot. I still see him as being pretty raw, but he's athletic and has a ton of skills to mold. Would like to see some solid improvement in his hockey sense, but he's another one of those kids I didn't have a chance to see live this year. I know that many people like him more than I do and that there would be some NHL teams that rank him as a top 25 player. For now, I have him in the 45th overall range on my own board.
NHL Style Comparable: Brent Burns
Top End Potential: Top 4 D, First Unit PP, Second Unit PK
Pick Prediction: 20-35th overall
#13 - Oliver Bjorkstrand - Portland Winterhawks - RW - 5'11 - 164 -
Bjorkstrand is a smooth skating offensive dynamo for the Winterhawks. Has great offensive instincts and is both a good playmaker and shooter. Physical play was an issue for him from time to time this year, but he works hard and can play physical when he needs to. He's good along the boards, but will definitely need to continue to get bigger and stronger. I'm sure some teams like him as a potential 1st rounder, but I have him ranked in the second half of the second round. Wouldn't be surprised if he fell into the early 3rd round, either.
NHL Style Comparable: Patric Hornqvist
Top End Potential: Top 6 Scorer, Second Unit PP
Pick Prediction: 55th overall
#14 - Tristan Jarry - Edmonton Oil Kings - G - 6'2 - 181 -
Jarry is a big, positionally-sound goalie for the Oil Kings. Plays to his strengths and uses his angles well. Has good rebound control, takes away the bottom of the net, challenges shooters and seems to have a great mental strength to his game. Was the WHL leader in both GAA and save % in the regular season and I fully expect him to be selected before the 3rd round begins. Some teams might have slept on Laurent Brossoit in the 2011 NHL Draft and that won't happen again with Jarry. He'll have the chance to grab full reigns of the Oil Kings goaltending duties next season with Brossoit going on to the AHL.
NHL Style Comparable: Henrik Lundqvist
Top End Potential: Mid-Level NHL Starter
Pick Prediction: 50th overall
#15 - Eric Roy - Brandon Wheat Kings - LD - 6'3 - 190 -
Roy is a big and mobile two-way defenceman for Brandon. Has all the necessary tools to be a legit NHL player. Has a big shot, can pass, skates pretty well for his size and loves to play physical. Battled consistency on a game to game basis, based on my viewings of him over the past three seasons. Has the skill to almost always be the best player on the ice. As long as he maintains a strong work ethic, he could truly be a gem of a pick in the 2nd or 3rd round. Plays first PP and on the PK and was most often paired with Ryan Pulock. I rank him as a pick in the 61-65 range, but definitely has higher potential then some of the guys I have ranked ahead of him.
NHL Style Comparable: Dion Phaneuf
Top End Potential: Top 4 D, Second Unit PP
Pick Prediction: 60th overall
#16 - Patrik Bartosak - Red Deer Rebels - G - 6'1 - 188 -
Bartosak is an intriguing character. I thought he was well on his way to being drafted in 2012 before a mid-season injury sidelined him for the rest of the year. He's got good size, plays even bigger and never quits on a play. He's got a very good glove and is fairly athletic. His rebound control isn't great and he sometimes over commits on plays, but with proper instruction he could be a very good pro prospect. I think I probably rank him higher than he'll get drafted, ranking him in the 3rd round.
NHL Style Comparable: JS Giguere
Top End Potential: Mid-Level NHL Starter
Pick Prediction: Mid-5th round
#17 - Greg Chase - Calgary Hitmen - CR - 6'0 - 195 -
Chase is a hard working forward for the Hitmen. Is the nephew of former NHL tough guy Kelly Chase. Skates well with good speed and plays an effective agitators role. Has some offensive tools to work with including nice puck handling ability and a good shot and release. I'm not sure how high his offensive ceiling will be, but he does enough other things to make him intriguing. There are surely teams who like him more than I do. Either way, he's a solid prospect and a guy who could come off the board in the top 75.
NHL Style Comparable: Troy Brouwer
Top End Potential: Top 9 Forward, Second Unit PP, Second Unit PK
Pick Prediction: 75th overall
#18 - Mason Geertsen - Vancouver Giants - LD - 6'4 - 203 -
Geertsen is a big defender with good reach for the Giants. Makes an ok first pass and is an average skater, but has shown good improvement over the last 18 months. Has a good stick, blocks shots and picks his spots well physically. He really seemed to blossom with increased ice time after getting dealt from Edmonton to Vancouver early in the WHL season. He projects to be a good depth NHL defenceman and one that I expect to be picked in either the 3rd or 4th round.
NHL Style Comparable: Mark Stuart
Top End Potential: Top 4 D, Second Unit PK
Pick Prediction: Mid-3rd round
#19 - Myles Bell - Kelowna Rockets - LW/RD - 6'0 - 210 -
Bell continues to be on my NHL Draft radar. I had him ranked as a 1st rounder for the 2011 NHL Draft before some unfortunate circumstances came to be. This year was a different one for him as he converted from a top pairing D to a first line winger. The transition was astounding as he ended up posting 93 points. He's a good skater and obviously has some nice instincts offensively. Has a great shot, both wrister and slapshot and is clearly versatile, too. I still think an NHL team could use him in their system and am interested to see what happens with him in his final year of draft eligibility.
NHL Style Comparable: Jason Pominville
Top End Potential: Top 9 Forward or Top 4 D
Pick Prediction: 5th Round
#20 - Spenser Jensen - Medicine Hat Tigers - RD - 6'3 - 193 -
Jensen is a big, rangy defenceman for the Tigers. Takes care of his own end first with good positioning and a good wingspan. Relies mostly on his stickwork as he doesn't play overly physical and could definitely add strength to his frame, but doesn't back down. Is a good skater for his size and can start the rush with good plays on the outlet. A good amount of future potential for a guy that could be taken in the back half of the draft. He could take a while to get to the NHL, but he's definitely worth picking in 2013.
NHL Style Comparable: Jeff Petry
Top End Potential: Top 4 D, Second Unit PK
Pick Prediction: 4th Round
#21 - Brendan Burke - Portland Winterhawks - G - 6'3 - 174 -
Burke is a big goalie for Portland and is the son of former NHL starter Sean Burke. Plays a similar style to his dad, uses his size well and doesn't play an overly athletic style. He relies mostly on his positioning in the net. I like his potential, but he could definitely be considered more of a project than some of the other WHL goalies in this draft. Either way I think he might go higher than some people expect and could go in the 4th or 5th round somewhere. Next year should be an interesting one in the Portland crease as Mac Carruth will graduate to pro hockey.
NHL Style Comparable: Carey Price
Top End Potential: Average NHL Starter
Pick Prediction: Late 5th Round
#22 - Kayle Doetzel - Red Deer Rebels - RD - 6'3 - 191 -
Doetzel is a shutdown defender for the Red Deer Rebels. He skates well, loves to play a physical game and blocks shots. I don't necessarily see a ton of offensive ability but he takes no prisoners defensively. I see him as having good potential as a future bottom pairing NHL defenceman. I rate him as a 4th round pick in the 100th overall range.
NHL Style Comparable: Adam McQuaid
Top End Potential: Top 5 D, Second Unit PK
Pick Prediction: Mid 4th Round
#23 - Jamal Watson - Lethbridge Hurricanes - RW - 6'0 - 176 -
Watson is an athletic and speedy winger for the Hurricanes. His wheels are among the fastest of any WHL player, not just draft-eligibles, and he has a good offensive skillset. He has a good amount of grit to his game, even if it's a bit inconsistent, and has a defensive conscience. Would have liked to see more consistency in his game throughout the season as he had some real standout viewings and then didn't show much in other games. Has pretty good hands and can both pass the puck and shoot it. I rate him as a solid 4th round pick, but I think he'll get picked a bit later than that.
NHL Style Comparable: Matt Frattin
Top End Potential: Top 9 Forward
Pick Prediction: 6th Round
#24 - Connor Rankin - Tri-City Americans - CL - 6'0 - 195 -
Rankin is a speedy two-way forward for the Americans. He's got great skating ability and nice offensive tools including a very good shot. He improved his consistency this season and also rounded out the defensive side of his game. He plays a big leadership role on a young Americans team, too. He has some definite value in the back half of the 2013 NHL Draft and I am interested to see where NHL teams rank him, considering he was a fairly "big name" prospect over the last 18-24 months.
NHL Style Comparable: Matt Cullen
Top End Potential: Top 9 Forward
Pick Prediction: 4th Round
#25 - Jackson Houck - Vancouver Giants - RW - 6'0 - 184 -
Houck is an energy forward for the Giants. He's quick, plays aggressively all over the ice and has a good shot. His best asset is that he never takes a shift off, knows his role and fills it to a tee. Put up a good year offensively, but he will need to continue to work hard on that part of his game if he wants to carve out a top 6 pro career. Has some value towards the back half of the middle of the 2013 draft.
NHL Style Comparable: Jannick Hansen
Top End Potential: Bottom 6 Forward
Pick Prediction: 5th Round
#26 - Cody Corbett - Edmonton Oil Kings - LD - Corbett is a good two way defenceman for Edmonton and a guy I rated 20th overall from the WHL for the 2012 NHL Draft. He's a good skater, has a great shot and has all the tools to be an above average pro defenceman. Offensive decision making really improved this season, with increased confidence and minutes going hand in hand with that. I would have to think a team likes him enough to at least make him a late-round selection, especially after the Oil Kings went on a deep run again.
#27 - JC Lipon - Kamloops Blazers - RW - 6'0 - 181 - Lipon is an offensive forward for the Blazers. Is a smooth skater and has some great offensive tools and instincts. Lit the league up in the first half of the year, tailing off in the second half, finishing 11th in WHL scoring. Has a good amount of grit to his game and he has some value going forward defensively. Could see him going around the start of the 5th round.
#28 - Matt Needham - Kamloops Blazers - CL - 5'10 - 187 - Needham is a speedy energy player for the Blazers. Has a solid offensive skillset and very good speed. Works hard and could fill many different roles going forward as a pro. Had high expectations for him but his play never really elevated to the level I expected this season. Still a potential draftable player.
#29 - Jaimen Yakubowski - Lethbridge Hurricanes - LW - 5'10 - 202 - Jaimen Yakubowski is an overage forward for the 2013 NHL Draft, first being eligible last season. He's only an ok skater, with a good powerful stride but not the quickest feet. Has a great motor, hits hard and often and has a great shot and tools around the net. Had a breakout year and I think he has some value for a late round pick.
#30 - Austin Lotz - Everett Silvertips - G - 6'0 - 185 - Lotz is an extremely athletic, and slightly undersized, goalie for the Silvertips. He has a ton of speed and is a dynamic goalie to watch, relying on his athletic ability to keep pucks out of the net. His style can sometimes let him down as doesn't play the position in a typical fashion. If he could refine his positioning and rebound control he could be a steal in the back part of the draft.
#31 - Marc McNulty - Prince George Cougars - LD - 6'6 - 189 - McNulty is a huge and rangy defender for the Cougars. Skates ok for his size, plays physical and uses his reach to his advantage. Has some work to do on his ability to handle and pass the puck, but teams will definitely be interested in him based on his size alone. I'm sure there are some teams that like him much more than where I have him ranked.
#32 - Jayden Hart - Prince Albert Raiders - CR - 6'1 - 188 - Hart is a big rangy center for the Raiders. He's got a good powerful skating stride to go with a nice set of offensive tools and instincts. Has good hockey sense and has the ability to play in a defensive role, as well as the ability to line up as both a winger and center. Work ethic is an area of inconsistency, from what I've seen. I pencil him in as a mid-6th round pick but won't be shocked at all if he comes off the board earlier than that.
#33 - Jesse Lees - Kelowna Rockets - RD - 6'0 - 180 - Lees is a solid two way defenceman for the Rockets. Skates well, moves the puck well and is good at both ends of the ice. Isn't the most physical defender in the world and relies on smarts, and good stick/body positioning defensively. I know some in the industry like him more than I do as I have him ranked in the 6th round.
#34 - Mackenzie Skapski - Kootenay Ice - G - 6'3 - 182 - Skapski is a big, well-structured goalie for the Ice. I had him at about this same spot in my rankings for the 2012 NHL Draft. He's got great size, uses it to his advantage with good positioning. This was his first full year as a starter and he was a monster in the second half of the season, guiding the Ice to the playoffs. Have to imagine teams show some interest after passing up on him last year, now that he's got a more complete resume.
#35 - Tyler King - Spokane Chiefs - LD - 6'0 - 190 - King doesn't get a ton of publicity, but he's a solid defenceman and prospect for Spokane. Is a slightly above average skater, but it's an area he could still improve on. He's got a good stick and handles his own end of the ice very well. Won't blow you away offensively, but is competent in starting the rush and won't try and over handle the biscuit in his own zone. Could see some teams liking him as a late pick.
#36 - Alex Forsberg - Prince George Cougars - CL - 5'11 - 184 - Forsberg only spent part of the year with the Cougars, choosing not to return to the team following the Christmas break. He spent the rest of the year in the SJHL. He's a very good offensive player, with impressive vision and a good shot. Compete can be questioned from time to time and gets knocked off the puck frequently. I still am a firm believer in his offensive potential as a prospect and would be fairly shocked if he went undrafted.
#37 - Tim McGauley - Brandon Wheat Kings - CL - 6'0 - 177 - McGauley is a two way forward for Brandon. Really grew on me as the year went on. Very smart positionally, always in the right spots on the ice. Skating can still improve, and it should as he gets bigger and stronger. Has really improved his willingness to take the puck to the net. Shot can still use some work but he's a good prospect in the mold of a Matt Stajan-type of player. Teams should be happy to have him in the 7th round.
#38 - Roberts Lipsbergs - Seattle Thunderbirds - 5'11 - 195 - Lipsbergs is a rookie offensive forward for Seattle. He's a good skater, he's agile and has the ability to handle the puck at top speed. He's shifty and dynamic and has a good shot. Would like to see more compete from him, with consistency also being an area of concern I have with his game. Has some good value late if teams are looking for some offensive potential in the back part of the draft.
#39 - Curtis Valk - Medicine Hat Tigers - CL - 5'8 - 162 - Valk is an extremely undersized but amazingly dynamic forward for the Tigers. Has very impressive hands and goes to the dirty areas despite his size. Had 46 goals and outscored linemate Hunter Shinkaruk. Size is obviously the big knock, even though he doesn't play like a small guy. Has a good work ethic and is good defensively. This is his 3rd time eligible and I could see a team grabbing him in the back half of the draft.
#40 - Colby Cave - Swift Current Broncos - CL/LW - 6'0 - 188 - Cave is a prospect in a powerforward role for the Broncos. Skating improved throughout the year, but could still get better. He hits hard and has a heavy shot. Got better as the year went on for the Broncos. Physical play tended to be somewhat inconsistent but with some improvement he could be a tough kid to slow down. Loves to hang around the net. Definitely deserves a look late in the draft.
#41 - Jon Martin - Kootenay Ice - CR - 6'2 - 201 - Martin is a big and rugged forward for the Ice. Likes to throw his weight around and play an agitators role. Provided muscle and size on the Ice top 6 all season. Skating can still improve. Seems to play with his head on a swivel and is very aware of his positioning. Might go undrafted, but I like him as a darkhorse to have some future pro potential.
#42 - Macoy Erkamps - Lethbridge Hurricanes - RD - 5'11 - 193 - Erkamps is a primarily offensive defenceman for the Hurricanes. He's not the biggest guy, but moves the puck well with great outlet passes and the ability to quarterback a powerplay. Has a decent edge to his game, but will ultimately need to get bigger, stronger and quicker in order to fill a two-way role at the pro level. I had higher hopes for him entering the season, but he didn't quite deliver as much as I would have hoped.
#43 - Chance Braid - Prince Albert Raiders - LW - 6'0 - 192 - Braid was one of the most improved players I saw from last year to this season. Has good size, skates well and loves to get involved all over the ice. Still has room for growth offensively, but has a ton of versatility as I've seen him line up in all three forward positions throughout the year. Could draw interest from scouts late and if not, he'll be a good candidate for a rookie camp invite or to be picked as an overage player next year.
#44 - Tyrell Goulbourne - Kelowna Rockets - CL - 5'11 - 195 - Goulbourne is a physical force for the Rockets. He's not the biggest guy, but he hits very hard, plays a rugged game and is one of the leagues more dangerous scrappers. Improved his puck handling ability this season and saw a solid increase in his offensive production because of it. Could draw interest late in the draft as he also had a good postseason for Kelowna.
Just Missing The Cut In 2013
Brady Brassart - Solid player for the Hitmen. Does a little bit of everything. I'm sure some teams rank him as a draftable player, even though it's his third time through the draft.
Zane Jones - Big body who showed great improvement this year for Calgary. Goes to the net, hits hard and scores.
Jaedon Descheneau - Small and dynamic forward for the Ice. Really wanted to rank him, but it's hard to fit guys of his stature into the rankings. Should light up the league next year, playing alongside Sam Reinhart again.
Ayrton Nikkel - Physical defender for Everett. Fights and skates well. Could see some teams really liking his game.
Beau McCue - Big forward for Tri-City. Has some good goal scoring touch, but skating is holding him back a bit.
Reid Gow - Offensive defender for Spokane who had a shot at being drafted last year. Great skater and puck mover.
Mack Shields - Big backup goalie for the Hitmen. Uses his size well and is fairly mobile. Consistency is an area to work on. Like him to be drafted next year as an overager.
Eetu Laurikainen - Typical Finnish goalie. Extremely athletic and doesn't quit on a puck, great glove. Wouldn't be shocked if he was picked.
Axel Blomqvist - Massive Swedish forward for Lethbridge. Skating is an area of concern. Doesn't play as big as his 6'5 frame would suggest. Could see some teams liking his raw skillset, but I don't have him inside my top 7 rounds.
Connor Honey - Seattle forward who's got great instincts around the net. Not sure where he stands value-wise in relation to the draft, but he's a solid player.
Kyle Burroughs - Slightly undersized puck mover who had a great close to the season. Could have value as a 2014 pick, but I don't rank him as a top 7 round guy in 2013. I know some scouting organizations consider him as a "sleeper".
Cain Franson - Offensive forward for Vancouver was on my radar last year and improved his goal totals despite being on a struggling club. Even if he doesn't get drafted, I think he has a pro career ahead of him in some form.
Pavlo Padakin - Hitmen forward from the Ukraine has great compete, underrated skill and very good defensive instincts. Probably one of the best defensive forwards the WHL has to offer for the NHL draft.
Kohl Bauml - Very small forward for Everett. Works his tail off and gets dirty, just wish he was 5'11 instead of 5'8.
Malte Stromwall - Good two-way forward for Tri-City with good speed and skill. A point per game player. Left the WHL for Europe after signing a pro contract after the season.
Others To Watch
Brandon Baddock - Big body for the Edmonton Oil Kings. Raw tools and will likely get more serious consideration in the future as an overage draftable player.
Edgars Kulda - Good versatile player for the Oil Kings. Continued to climb up in their lineup all season, filling many different roles. Was very good in the playoffs for Edmonton.
Ashton Sautner - Pretty solid two-way defender for Edmonton. Really improved his play with and without the puck this year, but remains a darkhorse to be drafted in 2013.
Tyler Lewington - Rugged defender for Medicine Hat. Plays a shutdown and agitator role.
Brandon Potomak - Speed to burn for this Warriors forward. Likes to agitate and has room to round out his offensive skillset. Should be a top 9 winger with lots of special teams minutes in Moose Jaw next year.
Sawyer Lange - Underrated two-way defenceman for Prince Albert. Another guy that does many things well, but doesn't wow you in any one particular area. Could eventually carve out a role as a future pro with hard work and development.
Brett Stovin - An offensive guy that blossomed as a defensive role player this season for Saskatoon. Works hard and will need to continue to add strength. Will likely need to be a scorer for the Blades next season due to roster turnover.
Andrew Johnson - Speedy and gritty member of the Thunderbirds. Can fill a number of different roles, but didn't expand his offensive contributions this season like many out there thought he might be capable of.
Jay Merkley - Merkley is a somewhat undersized forward with good hands from the Broncos. Many people had high expectations for him coming into his draft year, many of which didn't come to fruition. Needs to "want" to be a difference-maker every night.
Brian Williams - Williams is a small, but extremely dynamic offensive forward for the Tri-City Americans. Size is the only concern with him, he's a hell of a player and some teams might consider picking him.
Brandon Magee - Magee is a small offensive forward for the Royals. Has a ton of heart and has a great motor. Had him ranked 39th on this list for the 2012 NHL Draft.
Austin Carroll - Carroll is a big bodied forward for the Royals. Listed him as an honourable mention in 2012, and maintains that status now. Could be a pro player in the future, still.
Dylan Wruck - Extremely small, but extremely dynamic. Could go undrafted again, but will definitely draw pro interest looking into the future. I know some teams in Sweden have already shown minor interest in him.
Carter Hansen - Moose Jaw forward who never quite elevated his game after being impressive as a 16 year old. Needs a big summer, but could have value in the 2014 draft in his second time around.
Levi Bews - Had a good bounce-back season for the Swift Current Broncos. Does a lot of things well, can hit, score and skates pretty well. Had him listed as an honourable mention last season on this list.
Not Enough Views To Comfortably Gauge
Chase Souto - Kamloops Blazers
Cole Ully - Kamloops Blazers
Parker Bowles - Tri-City Americans
Austin Adam - Everett Silvertips
Ben Betker - Everett Silvertips
Aspen Sterzer - Kamloops Blazers
Mitch Wheaton - Kelowna Rockets
Adam Henry - Lethbridge Hurricanes
Ty Stanton - Medicine Hat Tigers
Chase Witala - Prince George Cougars
Zach Pochiro - Prince George Cougars
Taylor Green - Seattle Thunderbirds
Jerret Smith - Seattle Thunderbirds
Jared Hauf - Seattle Thunderbirds
Keegan Kanzig - Victoria Royals
Dalton Sward - Vancouver Giants