Halifax Mooseheads’ forward Nathan MacKinnon dominated the Memorial Cup championships, leaving many wondering if his will be the first name called in the upcoming NHL draft.
MacKinnon scored a hat trick in the Memorial Cup finals to lead the Mooseheads to a 6-4 victory. He was named the tournament’s most valuable player, raising his profile further. His timing couldn’t have been better, with an audience of NHL scouts closely watching.
Many people say MacKinnon is destined to follow in the footsteps of fellow Cole Harbour native Sidney Crosby. He’s hugely popular in his hometown. Someone is even selling his grade three spelling test online. (If it’s the real thing, MacKinnon wasn’t as successful in spelling as hockey. He scored 14 out of 20.)
The 17-year-old is ranked number two in the upcoming draft, but Tuesday, an independent scouting agency – International Scouting Services – placed him first, ahead of Seth Jones of the Portland Winterhawks.
"His performance since January, and when he came back off the injury and that has been simply dominating," said Dennis MacInnis, director of scouting for ISS.
"What we’ve seen lately, especially since the start of the playoffs and the Memorial Cup, I mean every game he was hungry, dominating, wanted to make a difference in every game - and he usually did."
ISS started the year with MacKinnon as number one, but switched to Jones during the winter.
The Colorado Avalanche will make that first pick. The team is in need of defence, which might veer them towards Seth Jones.
"Jones is a great player in his own right, had a very solid playoff, Memorial Cup run. He’s simply the best defenseman in this draft."
Colorado just named Patrick Roy as new head coach and vice president of hockey operations.
Nobody’s seen Nathan MacKinnon more in the last two years or so than Patrick Roy, so it’ll be an interesting conversation I’ll bet they’ll have, " said MacInnis. "To us, at this moment, the best player available is Nathan MacKinnon."
Roy himself was coy when he was asked at a news conference Tuesday who the team would pick.
"MacKinnon, I can tell you he's a heck of a player. And Jones is a heck of a player. And it's the same thing with Drouin, they're all premier players in the future for the NHL," said Roy. He said no matter who they choose, the top three teams will benefit from outstanding players.