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Draft weekend a whirlwind for prospects

Projected top picks gather in New York City in advance of Sunday's NHL Draft

Saturday, 06.29.2013 / 2:38 PM / 2013 Islanders Draft Central
By Travis Betts
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Draft weekend a whirlwind for prospects
Projected top picks gather in New York City in advance of Sunday\'s NHL Draft
Central Scouting's top-ranked North American goaltender Zachary Fucale answers media questions Friday (Photo: New York Islanders)

With less than 24 hours remaining before the 2013 NHL Draft kicks off Sunday at Newark’s Prudential Center, endless questions remain surrounding which players from this year’s draft class will rise to the top at the next level.

Several of the top prospects have been on tour around the New York metro area for the last few days. The players viewed New York from atop the Empire State Building Thursday, and met with media from all over North America on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River Friday, with the Manhattan skyline as the day’s backdrop.

It’s all part of the whirlwind experience that will culminate with Sunday’s draft. Halifax Mooseheads forward Nathan MacKinnon, ranked second among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, says the week's events have brought camaraderie to the players, many of whom have competed against each other in junior leagues.

“Now that we’re done playing against each other, it’s just about enjoying the moment and not thinking too far ahead,” MacKinnon said. “As a kid you focus on the moment of playing in the NHL one day. But it’s finally getting real. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time now and it’s pretty cool that this moment has finally arrived.”

No player knows for sure where he will be selected Sunday. Ottawa 67’s forward Sean Monahan is one of the top prospects coming out of the Ontario Hockey League, and while he’s had multiple conversations with several clubs over the last few weeks, he has no idea whose jersey he will pull on Sunday.

“Wherever I go, I guess that’s the team that wants me," said Monahan, Central Scouting’s fifth-ranked North American skater. "So I’m just looking forward to being drafted by a team that wants me, and I’ll do whatever I can to help make that team better.”

Halifax’s Zachary Fucale was the only goaltender at Friday’s meet-and-greet, and while his impressive 45-5-3 record last season has him high on some draft boards, where he goes will probably be determined by which team is in the most need of an up-and-coming netminder.

“I wish I knew where I was going,” a laughing Fucale said. “There’s some nerves. There’s some curiousity in there too. I want to know what’s going to happen. But no one can really. So I have to wait for Sunday, and whatever happens, happens.”

However the draft shakes out, one thing is for sure: none of the players who take the stage will ever forget that life-changing moment. Most, like Fucale, are just trying to soak in the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“I’m just riding the wave right now," Fucale said. "Things are going pretty fast, and it’s hard for me to realize exactly what’s going on. I’m for sure excited to be a part of this whole thing. You don’t live it 25 times, so I’m excited for Sunday. I’m going to be happy, I’m pretty sure, no matter what happens.”

The Islanders have the 15th pick in the first round of the draft. Tickets are still available to the Draft Party at Nassau Coliseum. Click here for tickets.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 63 41 17 5 171 139 87
2 NYI 65 41 21 3 207 182 85
3 NYR 62 39 17 6 196 153 84
4 TBL 65 39 20 6 213 171 84
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 65 35 20 10 193 162 80
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 64 28 23 13 156 181 69
10 PHI 64 27 25 12 170 186 66
11 OTT 61 27 23 11 173 166 65
12 NJD 64 27 27 10 144 165 64
13 TOR 64 26 33 5 173 195 57
14 CBJ 63 26 33 4 163 201 56
15 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
16 BUF 64 19 40 5 123 215 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 65 30 35 4 65
K. Okposo 46 14 30 -2 44
R. Strome 65 14 28 23 42
B. Nelson 65 17 20 7 37
F. Nielsen 65 11 25 13 36
A. Lee 59 21 13 13 34
J. Bailey 53 13 19 11 32
J. Boychuk 55 7 23 14 30
N. Leddy 65 8 18 16 26
T. Hamonic 55 4 21 16 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 33 13 1 .911 2.47
C. Johnson 8 8 1 .889 3.08

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