New Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said he can't wait to see Nathan MacKinnon, the top pick of the 2013 NHL Draft, skating for his team. But Monday in Denver, at MacKinnon's introductory press conference, he preached patience with his newest star.
"We're going to have to be patient at the start, give him a chance to adapt," Roy said as MacKinnon was introduced to the local media. "I'm not going to compare junior [hockey] to the NHL. Just give him time to feel good."
Shortly after MacKinnon was drafted by Colorado on Sunday, Roy penciled the 17-year-old into a third-line center spot between Jamie McGinn and Steve Downie. Roy said he expects his top two lines to be centered by Paul Stastny and Matt Duchene, with Ryan O'Reilly shifting to left wing from his usual center position.
Regardless of where MacKinnon plays, the Avalanche are thrilled to add the talented forward to the roster.
"He's a great competitor, he's a winner," Roy said. "People are going to be very surprised by his speed, especially his starts. He has that NHL skating ability, no doubt in my mind."
Roy certainly knows MacKinnon well from coaching against him the past two seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. MacKinnon starred for the Halifax Mooseheads while Roy coached the Quebec Remparts.
With Duchene manning one of the top two center spots, Roy said he expects to use his young, speedy forwards to his advantage. That core could make the Avalanche a difficult matchup for the next several seasons.
"We believe [MacKinnon is NHL] ready. He'll step in and already be one of the fastest skaters in the game. We're excited to have him," Colorado executive vice president of hockey operations Joe Sakic said. "We can't wait to see him out there. We know our fans are going to be very excited when they see him play. Him on one line and Matt Duchene on another line, they both love pushing the play and coming with speed."
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