The 2013 NHL Draft is certainly the most intriguing draft that we've covered for DBD since 2009; while every year we hear about how great that particular draft class could be, this year it seems as if the hype is entirely justified. Usually, there are only two or three players per draft class considered to be truly unique -- this draft could feature at least 10 such players in the first round, and that's before we even consider the level of talent that extends all the way through the second and third rounds.
There is a general consensus that there are three tiers of players in the first round, however, and this could directly tie into the strategies used by teams in what could be a busy day of trades. As talent falls or becomes unexpectedly available, there's guaranteed to be teams that are looking to move up or move down in order to get the best value possible with their picks.
Here is how I've broken down the top two tiers of players, based on my own draft board.
1. Nathan MacKinnon
2. Jonathan Drouin
3. Seth Jones
4. Aleksander Barkov
5. Valery Nichushkin
6. Elias Lindholm
7. Rasmus Ristolainen
8. Sean Monahan
9. Hunter Shinkaruk
10. Darnell Nurse
11. Max Domi
12. Ryan Pulock
Here is what sets this draft apart from what we've covered over the past four years; usually, the level of players mentioned above would generally be set into a single tier of five or six players and then the rest of the first round would fall in line. This year, the "second tier" of players still holds incredible talent and really isn't as far behind the top four players as we've seen in the past.
After the top 12 or so players, there is another level that doesn't drop until No. 24 or No. 25. Here's how I've broken down this third tier of players according to my own draft board:
13. Bo Horvat
14. Andre Burakowsky
15. Adam Erne
16. Nikita Zadarov
17. Robert Hagg
18. Valentin Zykov
19. Arturri Lehkonen
20. Jacob De La Rose
21. J.T. Compher
22. Mirco Mueller
23. Anthony Mantha
24. Pavel Buchnevich
So, now we have three tiers of players in the first round, but the further we get into the draft the more interchangeable these players will be on each individual team's draft board. In fact, there's a solid guarantee that while most general managers agree there is a distinct "drop" after the first 12 or so picks, who those top 12 are is going to differ depending on which team is doing the ranking.
This is where the intrigue over trade scenarios begins. Not every team assigns the exact same value to each player in this draft; while some teams may seriously covet Nichushkin, not every team is going to consider him to be worthy of the No. 5 overall pick.
Which brings us to the possibilities of moving up -- or down -- in the first round and how this applies to the Dallas Stars.
At No. 10, the Dallas Stars will almost certainly have a very talented and elite-level player available to them no matter what happens in front of them. Yet the possibility of grabbing a sure-fire, blue-chip level prospect -- especially offensively -- is an enticing option and for a team that is starving for elite young talent this draft could go a long ways toward making the Stars a contending franchise sooner than later.
There's a lot of talk about whether the Stars should attempt to move up to nab Seth Jones, or Aleksander Barkov at No. 4. Unfortunately, it seems that moving into the top four is going to be nearly impossible and if it were at all possible the price would not nearly be worth the player that the team would be receiving.
Reports have circulated that the Calgary Flames offered up all three of their first-round picks for the top overall spot and were quickly turned down. As the draft nears and teams become more and more desperate to tap into the considerable talent that rest at the top of the first round, the prices being offered will certainly go up. As it stands, though, the players that will go in the top four certainly appear to be more valuable than the possibility of gaining three first round picks as well as NHL ready prospects or any other asset teams are willing to throw in to spice up the pot.
The Nashville Predators, who will likely select the most talent forward in franchise history when they pick up Barkov at No. 4, are not giving up that spot unless a Herschel Walker trade comes along. While there may be some teams willing to make such a trade, the Dallas Stars are not in position to give up such a high price.
Once we drop down from that top tier, however, the price to move up should drop substantially.
The Carolina Hurricanes, reportedly, are more than willing to deal the No. 5 pick shoudl the right price come along. Elliotte Friedman has a good take on the situation.
That brings us to Carolina, which have the No. 5 spot. Other execs believe Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford is ready to deal (he was unavailable for comment). The bar is raised for Carolina. There is no more Southeast Division and, under re-alignment, the Tar Heel State is dealing with four teams that made the playoffs this season as well as the 2012 Stanley Cup finalist, the vastly improved Columbus Blue Jackets and the cash-rich Philadelphia Flyers.
It is no secret that the Hurricanes were disappointed by their lockout-shortened season. They expected to be better than 19-25-4. There will be a very good player available in the No. 5 spot, but would a Top 4 defenceman with experience and term remaining be better for Carolina?
If you have one and a first-round pick, there is a belief you can get to that spot. Edmonton, selecting seventh overall, had discussions with the Hurricanes, but it sounds like those talks cooled.
Now this is an intriguing scenario. The Dallas Stars may not be willing or able to sell the farm to get a player like Barkov -- even if some may feel it would be worth it -- but they certainly have the assets available to make an aggressive trade to move up as high as No. 5 in this draft.
Determining the cost of moving up in the draft, especially in the NHL, is a tough endeavor. It's rare for teams to trade up in the first round with the specific goal of drafting a particular player. Here are the trades of the past five years that have involved teams looking to actually move up in the first round of the draft:
2012 - Buffalo Sabres trade No. 21 and No. 42 to Calgary Flames for No. 14 overall (Zemgus Girgensons)
2011 - Maple Leafs trade No. 30, No. 39 to Anaheim Ducks for No. 22 overall
2010 - Kings trade No. 19, No. 59 to Panthers for No. 15 overall (Derek Forbort)
2009 - Blues trade David Rundblad to Senators for No. 16 overall (Vladimir Tarasenko)
2008 - Maple Leafs trade No. 7, No. 68 and No. 37 (2009) to Islanders for No. 5 overall (Luke Schenn)
2008 - Predators trade No. 9, No 40 to Islanders for No. 7 overall (Colin Wilson)
The first thing that stands out about this list is that only two trades in the past five years have actually involved teams attempting to move up within the top ten of the draft -- and only then did teams move up two spots. In the past five years, no team has actively attempted to move into the top five of the draft -- those trades have generally involved much larger tentpole pieces (such as the Phil Kessel trade).
What is clear, however, is that the price to actually move up in the draft is not as historically pricey as one would expect. The Dallas Stars have an extra first-round pick and two second-round picks in this draft; based on recent history, one could surmise that a combination of these four picks should be enough to grab that No. 5 spot in the draft -- all the way from No. 10.
Now, such a jump in this draft is still very significant and the talent that is available is going to skew what teams are going to want to give up their pick. The Hurricanes could be more than willing to drop down for the right price, but they're going to want something significant in return that could actually help their team in the immediate future. Draft picks alone won't help.
There's no doubting the Stars now have a wealth of defensemen in the system and suddenly the team has valuable assets to trade. Would Trevor Daley and the No. 10 pick be enough? What about throwing in a second round pick as well? What about a defensive prospect and a combination of picks?
The problem is that jumping five spots within the top ten is much, much more costly than jumping up a few spots within the top 20 or so. Would such a cost be worth the player the Stars would take at No. 5? Would that price be worth having their pick of all that remain after the top four players are off the board?
That's the biggest question in this exercise and one that is impossible to answer. It's entirely possible that their draft board does not reflect the value that it would cost to move up that high; while we may think Nichushkin is worth such a price, perhaps Jim Nill and company feel the best value lies a bit later in the draft.
The determination of whether such a trade actually happens likely relies entirely on how the first round shakes out. If Elias Lindholm is still available at No. 7 overall, the Dallas Stars should absolute inquire about what Edmonton would take for that pick. Lindholm is the sort of player that can help define a franchise for the next ten years and giving up a few second round draft picks as well as an NHL defenseman would be more than worthwhile for Dallas.
The same scenario could also work out at the end of the first round, where the Stars will have a No. 29 or No. 30 pick but are going to be outside that third tier of players. There's going to be good value there if the Stars stay put (Nicolas Petan comes to mind) but there is going to be a very real desire to possibly jump up five or so spots and get one of the top talents that will almost assuredly drop a bit through the first round.
There's also the possibility of trading down, that the players the Stars coveted (Monahan, Shinkaruk, etc) are gone and those they still want (Domi, Horvat, etc ) would still be available just a few picks later.
What this all boils down to is that moving up in this draft might not be as costly as one would think, but it will certainly take a considerable offer to get a team like the Hurricanes to give up on No. 5 overall to drop back five spots. The best scenario lies in the Stars moving to No. 7 or No. 8, completely depending on which player is still available at that spot.