|Nathan MacKinnon and Seth Jones are expected to be top picks in the upcoming Draft. (Courtesy: Christopher Mast)
With 20 days left until the 2013 NHL Entry Draft in New Jersey, NHL.com draft experts have unveiled their latest Mock Drafts and are in agreement on who the Panthers will pick at No. 2.
Despite debate by national media about who goes No. 1 to Colorado, the trio of Adam Kimelman, Mike G. Morreale and Steve Hoffner all have the Avalanche taking the Central Scouting's No. 1 ranked North American Skater, Portland Winterhawks defenseman Seth Jones. They each follow that up with the No. 2 ranked Central Scouting North American Skater Nathan MacKinnon to the Cats.
After Panthers GM Dale Tallon said he was looking for a player that could contribute right away at the recently completed NHL Combine in Toronto, the NHL.com trio believe that the Halifax Mooseheads center can be the player that can step into the Panthers lineup and form a dynamic duo with Calder finalist Jonathan Huberdeau.
"Dominated the Memorial Cup and proved he can step up at a bigger stage," wrote Hoffner. "A highly competitive star who will be a nice complement to Jonathan Huberdeau in Florida."
Adam Kimelman Mock | Steven Hoffner Mock | Mike G Morreale Mock
"The Panthers want someone who can step right into the lineup," wrote Kimelman in his mock draft. "And this high-end scorer looks ready to do just that."
Setting MacKinnon apart from players like Jonathan Drouin and Aleksander Barkov who went three and four in some order to Tampa Bay and Nashville respectively was MacKinnon's season, most particular his Memorial Cup run in which he posted a mind-boggling 13 points, including seven goals in four games as he led Halifax to the championship.
"The most valuable player of the Memorial Cup appears NHL-ready, possessing a spectacular combination of speed and toughness," wrote Morreale. "MacKinnon had 32 goals and 75 points in 44 regular-season games, and seven goals and 13 points in four Memorial Cup games."