With the 51st NHL Draft rapidly approaching on June 30, there is some speculation as to who will be the number one draft pick. The top three North American Skaters available to be drafted, defenseman Seth Jones of the Portland Winterhawks, forward Nathan MacKinnon of the Halifax Mooseheads and left wing Jonathan Drouin also of the Mooseheads are all potential prospects for the Panthers in this year’s draft.
As the Panthers hold the number two draft spot, the second ranked skater MacKinnon could potentially have a new home in South Florida with Florida in the future. MacKinnon was the highest rated prospect and consensus for the No. 1 draft spot until Jones passed him at the mid-season rankings. While Jones held on at the final rankings, MacKinnon continues to be a steady offensive threat with his talent and leadership within Halifax, although the field stretches deep with talent this year.
MacKinnon’s junior playing career started in 2011 and has taken off ever since. During the 2012-2013 season he played 44 games and recorded 75 points with 32 goals and 43 assists.
MacKinnon has been consistently rising to the occasion at the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup this past week in Saskatoon, SK. During the Memorial Cup opener against the Winterhawks featuring MacKinnon and Jones in a head-to-head battle, MacKinnon came away with a hat trick, scoring at even strength, on the power play and while shorthanded while adding an assist as the Mooseheads cruised past the Winterhawks with a final score of 7-4.
The center netted his fourth goal of the tournament a night later but it wasn’t enough as the Memorial Cup favorite Mooseheads were upended 5-2 by the hosts, Saskatoon Blades.
Halifax, and MacKinnon, rebounded nicely in their last game of round robin play. In last night’s game, the Mooseheads earned at least a spot in the semifinal in the Memorial Cup with a compelling 9-2 win over the London Knights. MacKinnon helped secure the win with his dominant role on their top offensive line as he picked up three assists to push his tournament lead to eight points (4-4-8).
With Halifax being the No. 1-ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League this season, there are big hopes for the17-year old in both the tournament and the draft. The teams going to the championship game will be decided by the semifinal game on Monday May 24. MacKinnon hopes to continue winning at the Credit Union Centre through the tournament’s end on Wednesday May 26.
MacKinnon as well as the other draft prospects have been preparing for the NHL Scouting Combine, which takes place following the Memorial Cup finale as they descend on Toronto from May 27 to June 1. The NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau is expecting 101 players to be on site during the combine.
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