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Dazzling plays show why MacKinnon is a top prospect

by Adam Kimelman

Halifax Mooseheads center Nathan MacKinnon is regarded as the potential top pick of the 2013 NHL Draft for his incredible offensive skills. The 6-foot, 182-pound center led all first-year players in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season with 47 assists, was second with 78 points and tied for third with 31 goals.

He's gotten off to a sensational start this season, with nine goals -- third in the League -- and 15 points in eight games.

His most recent goal might be his most spectacular. In a game Wednesday against the Moncton Wildcats, Halifax led 4-1 and after already scoring one power-play goal, he got another chance when Halifax went on the power play early in the third period.

MacKinnon took a pass at the Moncton blue line and carried the puck into the offensive zone. As Moncton defenseman Cameron McDonald stepped up to defend, MacKinnon slid the puck between McDonald's skates and went around the bewildered blueliner.

The puck rolled on net, where Moncton goalie Alex Dubeau tried to swat it into the corner. He whiffed on the attempt, however, and as the puck bounced off Dubeau's pads, MacKinnon controlled it and shot it under Dubeau.

That goal came one game after MacKinnon put on another show in an 11-2 rout of two-time defending league champion Saint John Sea Dogs. The 17-year-old forward had a hat trick, but the prettiest goal was his second.

Picking up the puck in his zone, he rocketed up the ice, leaving Sea Dogs defenseman Olivier Leblanc spinning in circles in a futile effort to catch up. He carried the puck on net on his backhand, dragged it through the crease, then flipped it to his forehand and scored up high on goalie Sebastien Auger.

And just for fun, check out this beauty MacKinnon scored to open a shootout in an eventual 3-2 win against the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles on Sept. 29.

Thanks in part to MacKinnon's efforts, the Mooseheads have won five straight, and at 7-1-0 are tied with the Quebec Remparts for the top spot in the league with 14 points.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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