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Tracking the Storm

Draft Profile: Nathan MacKinnon

Monday, 06.24.2013 / 9:00 AM / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Draft Profile: Nathan MacKinnon
Each weekday leading up to the 2013 NHL Draft on June 30, CarolinaHurricanes.com will profile one player we believe might be available for Carolina’s fifth pick. Previous Profiles: Elias Lindholm | Seth Jones | Jonathan Drouin | Max Domi | Aleksander Barkov | Related Links: 2013 NHL Draft Preview | Hurricanes Draft History




He’s only 17 years old, but Nathan MacKinnon is already highly-touted, so much so that he could upend Seth Jones as the first overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft.

Michael Smith
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MacKinnon is a native of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, the same hometown as Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby. Projected as a top-three selection on draft day, MacKinnon has drawn inevitable comparisons to Crosby for years.

The pressure of living up to that hope aside, he might have the elite skill set to do just that.

MacKinnon’s defining ability is arguably his skating, and his exceptional speed makes him difficult to defend.

“Speed kills, and he has it in spades,” said Tony MacDonald, the Hurricanes’ director of amateur scouting. “He’s one of the most explosive skaters to come into the NHL in many years. In his first three steps, he gets out of the blocks quicker than anyone we’ve seen in years and years.”

The right-shooting center has a myriad of offensive creativity and a convincing capacity to finish. Measuring in at six feet and 182 pounds, MacKinnon packs more physicality than might be expected from a player his size.

NATHAN MACKINNON
CENTER
HOMETOWN: COLE HARBOUR, NOVA SCOTIA
HEIGHT: 6-0
WEIGHT: 182
BIRTHDAY: SEPT. 1, 1995 (AGE 17)

“He’s a great player on the forecheck with the puck because he gets on top of people so quickly,” MacDonald said. “He’s a very strong guy. He’s not a huge player, but he’s strong. He’s very quick and very smart.”

MacKinnon skated as a rookie in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League as a 16-year-old. He was better than a point-per-game producer, tallying 31 goals and 47 assists (78 points) in 58 games. His 47 assists led all QMJHL rookies, and he finished second behind Mikhail Grigorenko (selected 12th overall in the 2012 NHL Draft) in rookie of the year voting. In 17 ensuing playoff games, MacKinnon posted 13 goals and 15 assists (28 points), as Halifax fell to Rimouski in the QMJHL seminfinals.

In 2012-13, MacKinnon skated in just 44 regular-season games, as he was sidelined for 14 games in February and March with a knee injury. Despite the setback, he still recorded 32 goals and 43 assists (75 points), one of those goals coming on his first shift in his first game back from injury.

MacKinnon represented Team Canada at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship in Russia, but it was his 2013 postseason performance that drew widespread attention. As Halifax cruised to the QMJHL championship, winning 16 of 17 games, MacKinnon posted 33 points (11g, 22a). He then led the Mooseheads to their first Memorial Cup title, pacing the tournament in scoring with 13 points (7g, 6a) in just four games, including a hat-trick in the championship game. He was named the tournament’s MVP.

Just a day older than fellow draft prospect Aleksander Barkov, MacKinnon met the age requirements for this year’s draft class by just a couple of weeks. He enters next weekend as the NHL’s Central Scouting Service’s second-ranked North American skater.

Similar to Jones and Barkov, it’s hard to see MacKinnon dropping out of the top three selections. He’s an elite offensive talent with a skill set that makes prospective teams salivate.

“He’s an explosive and dynamic player who is fun to watch,” MacDonald said. “With that exceptional speed, you’re always looking for that if you can add it in your lineup.”



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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 64 41 18 5 172 142 87
2 NYR 63 39 17 7 197 155 85
3 NYI 65 41 21 3 207 182 85
4 TBL 65 39 20 6 213 171 84
5 DET 62 36 15 11 182 160 83
6 PIT 63 36 18 9 182 158 81
7 WSH 65 35 20 10 193 162 80
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 64 28 23 13 156 181 69
10 OTT 62 28 23 11 176 167 67
11 PHI 64 27 25 12 170 186 66
12 NJD 64 27 27 10 144 165 64
13 TOR 64 26 33 5 173 195 57
14 CBJ 63 26 33 4 163 201 56
15 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
16 BUF 64 19 40 5 123 215 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 62 12 28 -18 40
E. Staal 57 18 20 -12 38
E. Lindholm 61 11 16 -18 27
J. Skinner 57 16 10 -17 26
N. Gerbe 58 7 16 -10 23
R. Nash 59 7 15 -10 22
V. Rask 60 8 12 -16 20
J. McClement 62 6 13 3 19
J. Staal 26 4 12 -4 16
A. Nestrasil 34 4 11 4 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 17 20 4 .911 2.43
A. Khudobin 7 11 3 .905 2.61