DENVER (CBS4) – Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy didn’t hesitate when they made a 17-year-old the top pick in the NHL draft. Not only will Nathan MacKinnon play for the Colorado Avalanche, he’s expected to produce.
MacKinnon erased any doubt about who should be the top pick in the draft with his remarkable performance in the Memorial Cup. He had seven goals and 13 points in just four games.
Before the Memorial Cup, most thought the Avs would pick Seth Jones, a young man who learned the sport in Denver when his father, Popeye Jones, played basketball for the Nuggets. But last Monday night on CBS4 Sakic didn’t pull any punches and said he was leaning toward MacKinnon — and Sakic proved to be true to his word.
MacKinnon told CBS4’s Gary Miller that he didn’t know for sure that Sakic would call his name with the first pick.
“I heard what they had said in the paper, so obviously I had a hunch that they were interested in me,” MacKinnon said. “But you never know, it’s such a tight race. There’s definitely three other players who could have been number one … I’m pretty happy that they called my name.”
The Avs took the young man who when he was 7 years old said he hoped to someday play for the Avs. Ten years later his dream came true.
Roy knows MacKinnon very well because he had to coach against him in junior hockey.
“He’s obviously a very competitive, fiery coach. I think that the best kind of coach; a coach that keeps his players in line and really controls the locker room and is a leader of the team,” MacKinnon said.
MacKinnon is from Pittsburgh Penguins star Sydney Crosby’s hometown of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia in Canada, and many find a lot of similarities between the two, which can be a tough comparison for a teenager who hasn’t even played in an NHL game.
“That comparison wouldn’t have ever been made if I was from even an hour away. It’s obviously flattering but I’m used to it now,” MacKinnon said. “I’ve heard that I’m the next new Crosby for all my life and obviously it’s going to get brought up a little bit more since I went first.”
He said there were plenty of other players who went first who are very talented who aren’t compared to Crosby because they aren’t from the same town.
“I think he’s the best in the world right now; obviously tough shoes to fill, but I’m just excited to be part of the Colorado Avalanche.”