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MacKinnon's father excited for draft, proud of son

by Mike G. Morreale

WEEHAWKEN, N.J. -- It's been quite the weekend for the family of Nathan MacKinnon as they follow the potential first pick of the 2013 NHL Draft through the metropolitan area in the days leading up draft day Sunday at Prudential Center in Newark (3 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN).

During the top prospects media luncheon, MacKinnon was joined by his mother and father, Kathy and Graham, and his older sister, Sarah.

"It's very exciting," Graham MacKinnon told "It's almost like we're on vacation and we're here for someone else's draft. Then you look over and it's your son. You see his name and we're very excited and happy for him."

He certainly should be. Nathan closed out a memorable second season with the Halifax Mooseheads with 32 goals, 75 points and a plus-40 rating in 44 regular-season games, and his nine-game goal-scoring streak from Oct. 6-27 was the longest of any player in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 2012-13. In 17 QMJHL playoffs games, he had 11 goals and 33 points to help lead his team to the league title. He then won the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy as the most valuable player in the Memorial Cup after totaling seven goals and 13 points in four games to lead Halifax to the championship.

"It was a lot of hard work but he had a lot of fun along the way," Graham MacKinnon said.

Graham MacKinnon was asked if he expects to hear his son's name called first by the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday.

"Until they call your name, you just have to enjoy the process and think about every team," he said. "You just need to enjoy the moment."

Nathan agreed with his father.

"I don't want to dwell on being the top pick," he said. "I'm a competitive guy and it would be a huge accomplishment and a great honor, but nothing is set in stone. My expectations aren't too high."

Nathan talked about the great relationship he and Portland Winterhawks defenseman Seth Jones have maintained throughout the entire process. Jones is No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top draft-eligible North American skaters.

"We're two buddies and we've discussed the first and second pick of the draft," MacKinnon said. "We're both competitive by nature and want to go first, but just being in the same company as Seth is a huge compliment.

"I've enjoyed my time in New York and New Jersey in getting ready for the draft and it was fun walking through Times Square with Seth and not having anyone recognize us. That's humbling, for sure."

Graham MacKinnon said it has been great watching the friendship between Nathan and Seth during this process.

"They met a couple of years ago in Los Angeles and they've become really close and enjoy each other's company," he said. "They're all playing the same sport, but there's room for all of them."

Graham was reminded that Seth's father, Ronald "Popeye" Jones, is a former professional basketball player, while Richard Nurse, father of another top draft-eligible defenseman, Darnell Nurse, was a wide receiver in the Canadian Football League player. And the father of top-rated European skater Aleksander Barkov, Alexander Barkov, played professional hockey throughout Europe.

So what about Graham?

"I'm a farmer and I work the hardest," he said with a grin.


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