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2013 NHL Mock Draft: Columbus Blue Jackets Complete First Round
By Sam Ingro
The 2013 NHL draft marks the first prospect class of the Jarmo Kekalainen era, the new general manager of the Columbus Blue Jackets. The team came close to being a Cinderella success story in 2013, falling just short of the playoffs after an incredible second half of the season. With newly-crowned Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky in the net, and the addition of All-Star forward Marion Gaborik, the Jackets went on a tear to end the season. Had the Minnesota Wild not owned more non-shootout wins, the story might not have ended prematurely for Columbus.
In an effort to get the team over that hill, the Jackets will turn their eyes to the 2013 NHL draft. After the early struggles of the Blue Jackets, Rangers and Kings, many fans were already dreaming of Columbus having three Top 10 draft picks this season, due to trades with New York and Los Angeles, it didn’t last long. All three teams caught fire in the second half of the season, and the dreams of Nathan MacKinnon, Seth Jones and Jonathan Drouin were put to rest. Fortunately for Columbus, this may be one of the deepest drafts in the past few years. So who will Kekalainen and the Jackets be eyeing up on June 30th?
No. 14 – Bo Horvat, Center, London Knights
Horvat has been called the most complete player in the 2013 NHL class. While not a master of any one skill, he is very proficient in almost all other areas. As a reliable two-way player, Horvat helped lead the London Knights into the Memorial Cup, falling just short of the ultimate prize. Last season, he racked up 61 points, 33 goals and 28 assists and was practically shut-down on the defensive side of the ice. While right now the Jackets are fairly deep at center, the talent of Horvat would be far too much to pass on. There is no harm in preparing for the future, especially while the team is still trying to lock up restricted free agent, Artem Anisimov.
No. 19 – Valentin Zykov, Left Wing, Baie-Comeau Drakkar
A Russian right-winger, Zykov exploded on the scene in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League after very little offensive production overseas. He smashed through for 40 goals and 35 assists, taking the league by surprise, and launching himself into the first round of the NHL draft this year. Zykov is very physical and limits turnovers by using his size and strength to keep the puck safe. He has a good shot, above average puck skills and truly breaks the mold of the Russian sniper incapable of playing defensive hockey. Zykov could come in from day one and be an instant upgrade over the likes of Blake Comeau, but will likely stay in the juniors another year developing his skill.
No. 27 – Ryan Hartman, Right Wing, Plymouth Whalers
Hartman has a high motor that never stops. A hard worker on both ends of the ice, he brings versatility that allows him to play multiple positions. In 56 games last year with Plymouth, Hartman grabbed 60 total points, 23 goals and 37 assists. Hartman compares favorably to the Colorado Avalanche’s Ryan O’Reilly, in the way that he is capable of both scoring and setting up the play. While not an explosive athlete, Hartman does everything solidly. He can be trusted in all aspects of the game and would be an excellent complement to a star center in the NHL.
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