The 2013 NHL Entry Draft is set for Sunday at Prudential Center and for the first time since 2009 a team other than the Edmonton Oilers holds the top selection.
In the months leading up to this year's draft, defenseman Seth Jones had been heralded by just about everybody as the clear choice at No. 1. However, it appears no one consulted the Colorado Avalanche about that because the current owners of the first overall pick are saying they won't pick Jones at No. 1.
Joe Sakic, Colorado's vice president of hockey operations, has been telling anyone who will listen how the Avs are targeting one of three forwards -- Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin and Aleksander Barkov -- at No. 1 and not Jones.
There are plenty of people who think Sakic and the Avalanche are bluffing about not picking Jones and that is certainly a possibility. Whether Colorado is serious about passing on Jones or not, this development has helped throw an interesting new wrinkle into this year's draft.
One thing is clear and that is Jones' status as the top defenseman in this draft. If he doesn't go No. 1 overall to Colorado don't expect Jones to spend too much time on the shelf.
Jones, the son of former NBA player Ronald "Popeye" Jones, is listed by NHL Central Scouting as 6-foot-4, 205 pounds and expects to be an all-around presence on the blue line at the NHL level. Scouts have compared his skill set to Chris Pronger, a former Hart and Norris Trophy winner.
If he does go first on Sunday, the African-American Jones will be the first black player selected with the No. 1 overall pick.
However, should the Avs go for a forward at No. 1, MacKinnon could be their play. At 6-feet, 182 pounds, MacKinnon boasts tremendous hands and the Halifax native is considered to be the best prospect out of Nova Scotia since Pittsburgh superstar Sidney Crosby, who was picked first overall in 2005.
Along with Jones and MacKinnon, Barkov and Drouin are also expected to be chosen among the top four. Obviously, Colorado's decision at No. 1 looms large as to where those players will actually land.
As usual, the most intriguing unknown heading into every draft is how actively teams will pursue or entertain trades. This is expected to be a deep draft, but that doesn't mean teams won't be clamoring to move up the board, especially if a club has a chance to wiggle its way into the top-four.
Although goaltender is quite possibly the most important position for an NHL team, the need to have a quality presence in net doesn't mean one should expect a run on backstops in the first round. Only two goalies were selected in the opening round last year and the first netminder wasn't picked until No. 19.
In fact, the last time more than two goaltenders were picked in the first round was in 2006, when Jonathan Bernier and Semyon Varlamov were among the four goalies picked in Round 1.
Due to schedule constraints brought upon by the lockout-shortened season, the entirety of this year's draft will also take place in one day. In normal years the event is spread out over two days with the first round having a day to itself before the league charges through Rounds 2-7 on the following day.
This is the first-round order, pending the outcome of the Stanley Cup Finals.
3. Tampa Bay
9. New Jersey
15. NY Islanders
16. Buffalo (from MIN)
19. Columbus (from NYR)
20. San Jose
22. Calgary (from STL)
27. Columbus (from LOS)
28. Calgary (from PIT)
29. Dallas (from BOS) or Chicago (loser of Stanley Cup Finals)
30. Dallas (from BOS) or Chicago (winner of Stanley Cup Finals)