By Sean Hartnett
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WHO’S No. 1 — MACKINNON OR JONES?
The entire hockey world assumed this would be a ‘no-brainer’ once the Colorado Avalanche were awarded the first overall pick at the 2013 NHL Draft Lottery in late April.
Since Colorado has an obvious need for a franchise defenseman, everyone rushed to the conclusion that physically dominant blueline prospect Seth Jones was the obvious fit. Not so fast…
Colorado’s thought process has changed dramatically since new head coach Patrick Roy was installed and given a huge amount of say in the direction of the franchise.
Roy and general manager Joe Sakic have both hinted that the Avs couldn’t pass up selecting Memorial Cup MVP Nathan MacKinnon.
Have the Avalanche tipped their hand? Probably. MacKinnon has drawn comparisons to fellow Nova Scotia native centerman Sidney Crosby. The famed comparison isn’t that far off the mark. MacKinnon’s explosive skating ability has drawn rave reviews among scouts and his clutch play at the Memorial Cup has further enhanced his reputation as a gritty goal-getter.
MacKinnon identified the Avalanche as the team he wished to play for as a kid. Perhaps, he will now be the man to help lead Colorado into a new era.
“As a kid, I wanted to play for them,” MacKinnon said on Saturday’s media event in Weehawken, New Jersey. “They were my favorite team. I really liked Joe Sakic.”
Does he think the declarations that Roy and Sakic are ready to select him No. 1 overall are genuine?
“I believe them, for sure,” he stated. “But they could change their mind. They said as of today they would. It’s pretty cool. A lot could change in the next couple of days.”
PANTHERS JONESING FOR ‘POPEYE JUNIOR’
Whoever lands Seth Jones is landing a tremendous talent. That team could very well be the Florida Panthers at No. 2 overall. Jones starred for Team USA at the 2013 World Juniors and brings a rare assemblage of skills to the table. His complete game was on display as he helped the underdog United States earn the gold medal.
“We had an extremely competitive group of guys. I think it definitely showed when it came late in the tournament,” Jones said.