Nathan MacKinnon on draft day: ‘it’s going to be cool’

Sunaya Sapurji
June 30, 2013

New York, N.Y. — When Nathan MacKinnon was asked to provide odds on whether his mother, Kathy, would cry at the NHL Entry Draft on Sunday, he didn't miss a beat.

"Oh, 100 percent," said the Halifax Mooseheads forward.

"It's going to be cool. I know my sister (Sarah) and my mom are going to cry in the stands. But they'll have to wipe away their tears pretty quick because I don't want anyone seeing that. But my dad, my sister and my mom are going to be proud of me -- I'm sure they already are, but it'll be fun to share that experience along with cousins and friends as well."

Prior to Sunday evening the star centre was reiterating that didn't really matter to him whether he went first or second overall, just as long as he was given an opportunity.

[Slideshow: Fast-rising prospects at 2013 NHL Draft]

As of this writing, the rumours were still swirling over whether the Colorado Avalanche -- who hold the top pick -- were working on a deal to swap their coveted selection. The Avalanche have said for the past week or so that they intend to take MacKinnon if they aren't able to make a deal.

"They're going to take you if they want you," said the 17-year-old of the possibility of going first. "I think every team is going to give you an opportunity, but obviously your mind can drift to where you are expected to go (in the draft), but at the same time I don't want to think too much about that stuff."

One has to imagine that MacKinnon's stock received a boost when the Colorado Avalanche hired former Quebec Remparts coach and GM, Patrick Roy, in May. The former NHL goaltending great was very familiar with MacKinnon's handiwork in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, particularly past year, when the Cole Harbour, N.S. helped the Mooseheads knock out the Remparts in the playoffs.

[Related: Barkov's draft dream gets assist from ex-NHLer]

The Avs' new assistant coach Andre Tourigny, was the head coach and GM of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. The Mooseheads knocked them out of the playoffs this year in the QMJHL semi-finals. In addition, Tourigny was an assistant coach with Team Canada at the world junior championship, on which MacKinnon played.

"It would be great to play for the Avs," said MacKinnon. "But I don't know what they're going to do? They might trade that pick. Regardless, of how high I go, I'd just love to have (an NHL) career one day."

For MacKinnon, the draft will mark the end of a stellar junior career which included winning the Memorial Cup and being named that tournament's MVP in May. One of the NHL GM's who has been following MacKinnon closely has been Florida's Dale Tallon who early on looked to have a lock on the centre when the NHL's Central Scouting Service had Portland Winterhawks defenceman Seth Jones ranked as the top draft-eligible prospect.

The Avs announcing publicly that they're flat out taking MacKinnon -- a move that has puzzled many veteran NHL scribes -- has no doubt thrown a wrench into Florida's plan. Do they take Jones? Do they take MacKinnon's offensive partner in Halifax, Jonathan Drouin? Or do they take the top European propect, Aleksander Barkov, who could be the most ready to step into the NHL?

"We're still talking about it," Tallon told reporters on Saturday. "Before I came here this morning, we were still having heavy discussions on it.

"We're very fortunate, we're going to get a good player. At whatever position and whoever it is, it's going to be someone that's really going to fit in with whatever we have coming as far as our prospects are concerned."