It’s starting to look more and more like Nathan MacKinnon will be headed to the Colorado Avalanche with the No. 1 overall pick at Sunday’s NHL draft.
On Monday, Avalanche executive vice-president of hockey operations Joe Sakic told Denver’s CBS affiliate that if the draft was held that day, the team would select the Halifax Mooseheads centre.
“I think if we had to do it today, right now, he would probably be the guy, yes,” Sakic said, before adding: ”But we still have some time.”
New Avalanche coach Patrick Roy told ESPN.com the same day: “It would be tough for us not to take MacKinnon. MacKinnon is ready to play tomorrow.”
When asked about the prospect of playing for Roy, who saw plenty of MacKinnon as coach of the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts, MacKinnon told The Gazette’s Brenda Branswell: “It would be fun.
“Anywhere you go, you just want to have a career one day,” MacKinnon added.
MacKinnon attended last year’s NHL draft in Pittsburgh with his agent, Pat Brisson, to get a taste of what looms ahead.
“Definitely a cool experience,” he told Branswell. “And definitely thankful that I got to see it happening before and it kind of prepared me for it this year.”
Meanwhile, NHL.com’s three draft experts, Adam Kimelman, Mike G. Morreale and Steven Hoffner, have made their final mock drafts and all three have MacKinnon going to the Avalanche. Here’s who they have the Canadiens selecting with the No. 25 pick:
Kimelman: Alexander Wennberg, C, Djurgarden, Sweden: “Skilled and smart from playing against men the past two seasons. He had 14 goals, 32 points in 46 games this season.”
Morreale: Chris Bigras, D, Owen Sound: “The 6-0.5, 211-pound two-way defenseman is an extremely hard worker and team leader. He had eight goals, 30 assists and a plus-35 rating in 68 regular-season games. He consistently makes the smart play with quick outlet passes.”
Hoffner: Valentin Zykov, LW, Baie-Comeau: “Habs scouts will know all about Zykov’s 40 goals in the QMJHL this season.”
TSN’s Bob McKenzie also has Zykov slotted at No. 25, writing: “A determined, competitive player who combines a goal scoring intensity with very good skills. He has excellent hands and is able to handle the puck in traffic and get his shot off accurately. Very good offensive instincts and he gets to the dangerous scoring areas at the right times and is hungry to score. Has very good awareness and can make plays which makes him a multi-faceted threat and difficult to keep in check. He is strong along the boards and in traffic and hard to contain.”
Scott Cruickshank, who did a mock draft for Postmedia News, has the Canadiens selecting Prince Albert defenceman Josh Morrissey, writing: “D Josh Morrissey is not big – six feet, 186 pounds – but he’s got grit … Plus, Calgary kid owns plenty of skill … 47 points for WHL Prince Albert.”
(Photo by Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)