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Expectations for the top 2013 draft prospects

by Mike G. Morreale /
The scouts at Central Scouting had an interesting discussion on Monday morning regarding expectations of certain underage players in the season leading up to their draft year.

  Nathan MacKinnon, Halifax Mooseheads
Halifax forward Nathan MacKinnon, for instance, is regarded as a top five pick for the 2013 Draft. MacKinnon, who centered 2012 draft eligible wing Martin Frk most of the season, finished the regular season with 31 goals, 78 points and a plus-11 rating this season for the Mooseheads.  

Needless to say, expectations for the 16-year-old, 5-foot-11, 179-pounder will be through the roof in 2012-13. Add to that the fact MacKinnon is from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, the home to Sidney Crosby. He also played at Shattuck-St. Mary's, where Crosby spent some of his early years.

"It really isn't fair to put those expectations on Nathan," Central Scouting's B.J. MacDonald told "It's a tough label to carry. You're comparing him to Crosby, who has been the premier player in the NHL in the last number of years and probably the foreseeable future. That's tough.

"I think eventually, as it progresses, he'll end up developing his own style and his own character and if he's as good a player as everyone is projecting he is, he'll carve out his own little niche."

When he turned 14, MacKinnon left home for prep school at Shattuck in Minnesota. Last spring, he was selected first overall in the QMJHL draft, just as Crosby had been eight years earlier.

"He's a really good skater, is solid on his skates and has really good playmaking ability … excellent hands," Central's Chris Edwards said. "We need to temper those comparisons to Crosby, though. Just because he comes from Cole Harbour and went to Shattuck, everyone seems to automatically compare him to Crosby. That's ridiculous, and it's not his fault the media hype gets shoved on him. The experts come out and start making comparisons … who he's going to be. Bottom line is he's a heck of a player and we'll wait and see what he's going to be next season."

One other player who should be high on the draft lists of many scouts next season is defenseman Seth Jones of the U.S. Under-18 National Team Development Program. In 45 games with the USNTDP this season, Jones scored 5 goals and 23 points.

"If there's a defenseman better than him next season, I'm looking forward to seeing him," Edwards told "He's a solid, big guy, who handles the puck very well. He's also very smart."

NHL Central Scouting Director Dan Marr feels that while the aforementioned players are top notch, they will be challenged for top honors on the 2013 draft board all season.

"Nathan and Seth are two players who have received significant viewings and evaluations and they're well known in the media and by hockey fans," Marr told "There are other players that'll come into the mix really quick. There's no runaway leader here. At the top end, there are quite a few players who are going to be in the mix here. I think 2013 is shaping up to be a good year."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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