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Breaking down the top 10 draft picks

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

As with every year, let's take a break from the team-by-team off-season analysis this week to look at the NHL draft. Touted by most experts as the best crop of young hockey players in any draft of the past decade, more than a few of them will make their way into your fantasy league. Here is my take on how the top 10 drafted players will fare, in terms of "likely potential" (in his prime), "upside", "wait time" and "certainty."

1. Nathan MacKinnon, C, Colorado Avalanche

No shocker here. MacKinnon was a top fantasy own before and he's a top fantasy own now. What team he goes to doesn't make a whole lot of difference.

Likely potential: First-line forward, 75 points

Upside: Superstar forward, 100 points

Wait time: zero seasons

Certainty: 99%

2. Aleksander Barkov, C, Florida Panthers

Here was the shocker. Although the entire crop of players in the first round was better than in most drafts, to me there was a top 3 that shuffled around and Barkov slotted in at No. 4. When he went second overall, his fantasy stock shot through the roof. The gang in your fantasy league spent the past few weeks discussing who they would draft first - Jonathan Drouin, MacKinnon or Seth Jones. Today, the name "Barkov" is suddenly a name mentioned as a possible No. 2 pick in your draft.

Likely potential: First-line center with two-way conscience, 70 points

Upside: Superstar forward, 85 points

Wait time: one year at the most

Certainty: 99%

3. Jonathan Drouin, LW, Tampa Bay Lightning

As predicted in most mock drafts, Drouin was selected by the Lightning where he will man the wing alongside Steven Stamkos. This may not happen right away, but looking at things 400 games from now - you know these two will play together for 300 of those. Drouin will get his share of points even without Stamkos, but together this duo could rip up the league. One of the best fits for Drouin.

Likely potential: First-line winger, 75 points

Upside: Superstar forward, 95 points

Wait time: one year at the most

Certainty: 95%

4. Seth Jones, D, Nashville Predators

Don't get me wrong, I'm a big Seth Jones fan. But from a fantasy standpoint, the way things went down couldn't have gone any worse for the value of Jones. First, he dropped in the draft. And say what you want about a fantasy owner's knowledge of a player's value, a second overall pick is more coveted than a fourth overall pick. Explain it away as psychology. Whatever. But it's a fact.

Secondly, it's Nashville. And while I acknowledge that Shea Weber is one of the best fantasy owns for defensemen in the league, the fact is Weber is a 55-point player in Nashville. Maybe he'll get 60. Do you think on Philadelphia or Detroit or virtually anywhere else that he couldn’t get 65 or even 70? Well now Jones has that same ceiling.

Likely potential: Elite two-way defenseman, 55 points

Upside: Elite two-way defenseman, 60 points (more in another organization or if the Barry Trotz era ever ends)

Wait time: zero seasons

Certainty: 99%

5. Elias Lindholm, C, Carolina Hurricanes

An excellent defensive forward with underrated offensive upside, Lindholm is versatile enough to play the wing or at center. Since the Hurricanes have two other players who play both wing and center (Jordan Staal and Jeff Skinner), there are a lot of options as to what they can do here. Lindholm will play another season in Europe and a year from now the makeup of the Hurricanes could be completely different.

Likely potential: Top-line two-way center who plays the third line for a couple of seasons, but eventually gets into the top six, 65 points

Upside: High-end first-line center, 70-plus points

Wait time: one to two seasons

Certainty: 95%

6. Sean Monahan, C, Calgary

A fantastic fit for Monahan, with a pick that was projected as such in my recently released Fantasy Prospects Report. The Flames have needed a No. 1 center since as far back as I can remember and although my memory is deteriorating, I can still remember pretty far back. The Flames could very well rush him into the lineup right away, but they would be wise to give him one year to fill out his 6-foot-2 frame.

Likely potential: First-line forward, 65-plus points

Upside: Star forward, 80 points

Wait time: one season

Certainty: 95%

7. Darnell Nurse, D, Edmonton

Another correct call in most mock drafts, including the aforementioned one in my FPR, Nurse is a huge, intimidating rearguard with plenty of smarts. His combination of size and skill is a rarity. But just remember how long it took Chris Pronger or Shea Weber to get going. Nurse is a sure thing who will get 30 points in his early years, but you may be looking at five or six years before you start seeing the 50-plus points.

Likely potential: star defenseman, 50-plus points

Upside: All-star defenseman, 60-plus points, 120-plus PIM, 150 hits

Wait time: one season

Certainty: 95%

8. Rasmus Ristolainen, D, Buffalo

A hard-hitting stay-at-home defenseman, Ristolainen is a great fit here. The Sabres have enough puck-movers and although Ristolainen is no slouch in that department, he'll be used in a defensive role. Much like with Tyler Myers, Ristolainen's upside will go untapped for a while as he gives the team what they need most - defense. In five years, who knows what the situation will be, but early on the Sabres have the likes of Christian Ehrhoff and company.

Likely potential: Jay Bouwmeester-type, 35-plus points

Upside: Star two-way defenseman, 45 points

Wait time: one season

Certainty: 90%

9. Bo Horvat, C, Vancouver

Correctly picked by writer Brendan Ross in my FPR as the dark horse most likely to rise in the draft, there is a lot riding on the shoulders of Horvat, since the Canucks gave up goaltender Cory Schneider to get him. But the thing is, he embraces that stuff. A two-way leader who has drawn comparisons to Ryan Kesler, Gabriel Landeskog and even Jonathan Toews, Horvat is the real deal. His upside, much like Kesler's was, is quite underrated.

Likely potential: second-line center, 65 points

Upside: first-line center, 75 points

Wait time: one season

Certainty: 95%

10. Valeri Nichushkin, LW, Dallas

Is Dallas GM Jim Nill so savvy that he was able to predict Nichushkin would fall into his lap at 10? After all, he acquired and signed Russian veteran Sergei Gonchar weeks ago. So while I would have normally pegged Nichushkin's risk of fleeing to the Kontinental League within the next three years at 25 percent, in this situation I would peg it at 10 percent. And don't say it can't happen, we were all so sure of Alexander Radulov and Nikita Filatov. To me, Nichushkin is in the conversation as the most talented offensive forward in this draft and only the KHL factor kept him out of the top 5. Well, that KHL risk has been reduced thanks to the Dallas selection.

Likely potential: First-line forward 65-plus points

Upside: Superstar, 90 points

Wait time: One year

Certainty: 90%

Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section. Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.

Want more fantasy insider information or to contact The Dobber? Check out dobberhockey.com or follow him on Twitter at @DobberHockey.

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