ColoradoAvalanche.com will look at some of the top draft-eligible prospects in the week leading up to the 2013 NHL Draft. The top three North American skaters and the top two European skaters according to NHL Central Scouting's final rankings will be profiled. Next up is the No. 2 ranked North American skater, Nathan MacKinnon of the Halifax Mooseheads.
Touted by many league scouts as one of the most complete players in this year's draft class, Halifax Mooseheads center Nathan MacKinnon looks to be a force in the league for years to come.
With speed and skill that has often been compared to fellow Halifax native Sidney Crosby, MacKinnon possesses explosive skating abilities and elite passing vision on the ice that has helped him cement his spot as one of the top forwards in the draft.
"He is an exceptionally powerful skater and a natural goal scorer," said NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr of MacKinnon. "He plays with determination and he is highly competitive with his style of play. He is one of those players that is capable of being a difference maker in the game."
MacKinnon was ranked as the No. 2 North American skater in the NHL Central Scouting's final rankings for the 2013 draft. However, he was ranked as the top prospect in the International Scouting Services' final list, which came out a few weeks after the NHL's.
MacKinnon, who turns 18 years old on Sept. 1, is one of the youngest players available in this year’s draft, but that didn’t stop him from making a big impact on his championship-bound Halifax team in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Memorial Cup.
He recorded 75 points (32g/43a) during his 2012-13 campaign and despite playing in 14 fewer games, ended the year only three points shy of his impressive QMJHL 2011-12 season in which he set the mark for the most assists by a rookie player (47). MacKinnon had a nine-game goal streak this season (14 goals) – which was the longest in the QMJHL – and had two 13-game point streaks that spanned from Oct. 2-Nov. 5 (24 points, 14g/10a) and from Jan. 12-Mar. 17 (23 points, 10g/13a).
Things got even better for the dynamic center in the playoffs.
On his way to the QMJHL championship with the Mooseheads, MacKinnon finished tied for second in the league playoffs with 33 points (11g/22a) – with only teammate Jonathan Drouin (35 points, 12g/23a) having more.
In the Canadian Hockey League Memorial Cup, MacKinnon and Halifax went on to defeat the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League, 6-4, for the championship title. He earned the Stafford Smythe Trophy as the tournament's most valuable player, and his three goals and two assists in the championship game secured him the Ed Chynoweth Award for the most points in the Memorial Cup with 13 (7g/6a).
His performance at the Memorial Cup didn’t go unnoticed by fellow top draft prospect and defenseman Seth Jones of the Portland Winterhawks.
“He left a great impression,” Jones said in an interview with the Toronto Star about MacKinnon. “Every time we played him, a hat trick each game. It doesn’t get any better than that. Five points in the final, one of the greatest performances in the final. He’s a tough player to contain.”
For The Love Of Sports – Not Just Hockey
Most NHL caliber players develop a love for the sport at an early age, with many taking skating lessons and developing their skills before they have even entered elementary school. In an interview with CBC Sports, his mother said that MacKinnon’s love for other sports such as canoe racing, basketball, soccer and tennis – not just hockey – started at a young age, too.
"He walked early, and always had a stick or [baseball] bat or golf club or hockey stick the minute he could walk," said Kathy Mackinnon. “I knew there was no question he’d play sports. We just didn’t know what sport it would be.”
Highlights From His 2012-13 Season
- CHL Memorial Cup champion
- CHL Memorial Cup Ed Chynoweth Award (Most Points)
- CHL Memorial Cup Stafford Smythe Trophy (Tournament MVP)
- Named to the CHL Top Prospects Game
- Gold medal with Canada at Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament (U-18 Junior World Cup)
- QMJHL champion
- QMJHL Second Team All-Star
Did You Know?
- Halifax secured its first Memorial Cup championship this season, marking the QMJHL’s first Memorial Cup in a Western Hockey League city (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan).
- MacKinnon and fellow top prospect Seth Jones are actually friends off the ice. The two players were roommates during summer hockey camps as they climbed the junior ranks, and they have been close ever since.
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