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Stanley Cup Final

Colorado Avalanche take centre Nathan MacKinnon first overall in NHL draft

Sunday, 06.30.2013 / 3:15 PM / News

The Canadian Press

NEWARK, N.J. - The Colorado Avalanche have taken centre Nathan MacKinnon with the first pick of the 2013 NHL draft.

The Avs, who won the draft lottery over the Florida Panthers, were true to their word Sunday at the Prudential Center. They had said they would pick MacKinnon over defenceman Seth Jones.

Jones, ranked No. 1 among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, has ties to Colorado. He took up hockey as a kid there while his father, Popeye Jones, was playing for the NBA's Denver Nuggets.

Colorado said it liked Jones, but wanted to draft a forward.

The six-foot, 182-pound MacKinnon, who does not turn 18 until Sept. 1, led the Mooseheads to the Memorial Cup.

He topped the tournament in scoring with 13 points (seven goals and six assists), including a hat trick in the championship game, and was chosen tournament MVP.

The native of Coal Harbour, N.S., scored 32 goals and added 43 assists in 44 regular season games.

"What makes Nathan stand out is that he has a real quickness with his read and react: his hockey sense, how he sees the ice and his vision," said Dan Marr, director of NHL Central Scouting. "That is something special in a player. He is continuing to physically mature, but already he’s got a lot of grit in his game and he is a competitive player."

I've been getting frustrated lately, and the only thing keeping me sane was the team winning and other people stepping up and scoring. Then you just kind of let it go and realize you can end the series with one shot, that frustration goes away for a brief moment, and that's what happened.

— Montreal forward Max Pacioretty after scoring the OT winner in Game 4 -- his first career playoff goal -- to eliminate the Lightning and send the Canadiens into the second round