Speed, skill, power. If you're an NHL team looking for an instant impact and potential franchise player, those characteristics top the list - and Nathan MacKinnon has all three.
He's unanimously considered to be the most explosive offensive player in this year's deep draft class and MacKinnon stands a very good chance to be a difference maker at the NHL level right out of the chute. MacKinnon has ideal NHL size, is a powerful skater and can finish plays in the blink of an eye.
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Simply put: he's the total package that teams look for in high-end draft picks.
There's virtually no way MacKinnon slides out of the top three of this NHL Draft, so either the Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers or Tampa Bay Lightning will be feeling pretty good about themselves walking off the stage with MacKinnon in tow. Obviously, we don't know what kind of trades will take place at the draft so another team could jump into the fray, but let's assume for now that these teams remain where they are.
As part of a dynamic 1-2 punch with the Halifax Mooseheads, MacKinnon and teammate Jonathan Drouin (also a projected top-three pick in this draft) completely re-energized the Mooseheads franchise and brought an exciting, offensive style of hockey every single night.
The Mooseheads won the Memorial Cup over the Portland Winterhawks last month, capping quite a year for MacKinnon with the draft approaching.
MacKinnon finished second in NHL Central Scouting's midterm rankings for North American skaters behind Portland defenseman Seth Jones, and that's also where he finished in the final pre-draft rankings. In two seasons with the Mooseheads, MacKinnon racked up 63 goals and 153 points in 102 games, and he led Halifax with seven game-winning goals in 2012-13.
Did we mention he hails from the same hometown (Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia) as some guy named Sidney Crosby?
Here's a brief scouting report on MacKinnon from Dan Marr, NHL Director of Central Scouting:
“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. 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.”