2013 NHL Draft: Get to know Nathan MacKinnon

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It seems to become clearer by the day. The Colorado Avalanche are taking a forward with the first pick in Sunday's NHL Draft, and that forward is almost certainly Halifax Mooseheads center Nathan MacKinnon.

The draft’s top forward has been hyped since he was just 15 years old, coming out of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. He shares the same hometown as Sidney Crosby and many other similarities, which has brought about multiple comparisons over the years, perhaps unfairly.

MacKinnon however is very much his own player. One of the best skaters available in 2013, he has a laundry list of accomplishments from his draft-eligible season including a Canadian Hockey League Memorial Cup title.

MacKinnon had five points in the Memorial Cup final, out-dueling former consensus No. 1 pick Seth Jones head-to-head, and was named most valuable player of the tournament. That showing turned the tide of MacKinnon’s draft buzz, and it certainly was enough to win over the Avalanche brass.

Barring a trade, it’s hard to believe anyone but MacKinnon will be the No. 1 overall pick at this point.

The Nathan MacKinnon File

Position: Center
Height: 6-0 Weight: 182
Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia
44 GP, 32-43—75, 45 PIM
CBS: 3; CSS: 2; ISS: 1, HP: 2, TSN: 1

  • Helped lead the Halifax Mooseheads to a 58-6-1 record en route to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League regular-season and postseason championships.
  • Finished fourth in the QMJHL with 1.70 points-per-game.
  • Totaled a tournament-best seven goals and 13 points over four games at the Memorial Cup to earn MVP honors.
  • Finished second behind Mikhail Grigorenko for QMJHL Rookie of the Year honors in 2011-12 after posting 78 points.
  • Before joining Halifax, played for the vaunted Shattuck-St. Mary’s program in Faribault, Minn. SSM has produced such alumni as Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Zach Parise and Jack Johnson.
  • Led Canada to the title at the 2012 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Under-18 Tournament with six goals, including a hat trick in the championship game.
  • One of just two 1995-born players named to Team Canada for the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia.
  • Peters' Scouting Report: He’s an explosive talent. There’s no two ways around it. MacKinnon very well could be the No. 1 pick, but I still like Jones and MacKinnon's Halifax teammate, Jonathan Drouin, just enough better to put them ahead. It is very, very close, though. What MacKinnon did at the Memorial Cup was him showing his best. That’s what everyone hoped to see, and he delivered. He is perhaps the draft’s best skater, has a nose for the net and some grit to his elite offensive game. MacKinnon is a special player and will make whichever team he goes to instantly better.
  • Highlight: A look at MacKinnon's combination of explosive speed and skill as he goes end to end for a pretty goal early this season for Halifax.

* Rankings key: CBS = Eye on Hockey Big Board, CSS = NHL Central Scouting Services, ISS = International Scouting Services, HP = Hockey Prospectus, TSN = Bob McKenzie's final draft rankings.

CBS Sports Writer

Chris Peters has been a hockey writer for CBS Sports since 2012. Prior to that, he wrote for numerous outlets and edited the United States of Hockey blog, covering the sport at all levels. Peters also... Full Bio

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