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 ET / 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.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 76 48 21 7 231 179 103
2 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
3 x - TBL 78 47 24 7 250 204 101
4 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
5 PIT 77 42 24 11 211 194 95
6 WSH 77 42 25 10 227 190 94
7 DET 76 40 23 13 221 208 93
8 BOS 77 39 25 13 204 198 91
9 OTT 76 38 26 12 220 204 88
10 FLA 77 35 27 15 192 210 85
11 PHI 77 31 29 17 202 220 79
12 CBJ 76 37 35 4 210 234 78
13 NJD 77 31 33 13 170 197 75
14 CAR 76 28 37 11 176 208 67
15 TOR 78 29 43 6 204 249 64
16 BUF 77 22 47 8 152 258 52

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 77 34 43 -2 77
R. Strome 76 16 32 20 48
K. Okposo 55 16 31 -11 47
F. Nielsen 76 14 28 8 42
B. Nelson 77 19 22 7 41
A. Lee 71 23 16 10 39
J. Bailey 65 15 23 3 38
J. Boychuk 67 8 25 9 33
N. Leddy 73 10 21 14 31
T. Hamonic 67 5 26 16 31
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 36 16 2 .913 2.42
M. Neuvirth 1 3 1 .881 2.94

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