Heading into the 2013 NHL Draft, most pundits believed the first overall pick came down to a choice between two future superstars: Seth Jones and Nathan MacKinnon. And, when the Colorado Avalanche won the draft lottery and the right to make this choice, many believed they would take hometown product Seth Jones. After all, Erik Johnson was their number one defenceman -- proof that they needed a number one defenceman.
Instead, perhaps frightened away from picking a defenceman first overall because of Erik Johnson, or perhaps after examining the career trajectories of Victor Hedman and John Tavares since they were the big choice of the 2009 draft, or maybe after watching MacKinnon lead the Mooseheads to a Memorial Cup win over Jones' Portland Winterhawks, the Avalanche opted for MacKinnon instead.
Jones subsequently tumbled to number four, where the Nashville Predators gleefully snapped him up, and this fall, both players made their respective clubs -- along with seven of the first ten picks, evidence that this draft was indeed as deep as many believed.
Now, on the first Friday of the season, Jones and the Predators are in Colorado to visit the team that passed him up and the player that got the best of him twice in two months.
It is on. Fight! Fight! Fight Fight!
MacKinnon is amped. Ready to strike, to defend his and the Avalanche's honour.
"I haven't really thought about it like that, like I'm playing against him or anything," MacKinnon told the Denver Post. "I'm just thinking about us trying to win the game and that's about it."
Well then. Perhaps Jones will give this showdown a little more fire. Does he hate Nathan MacKinnon? Will he destroy him tonight? Is he out for blood?
"I was texting him a little bit a couple of days ago," he said. "He's excited to start the season as well. It should be fun. He's a good player and it will be fun playing against him."
Ugh. The good news: both are already NHL-ready when it comes to giving interesting responses. Thanks guys.
I digress. For the first time since the Memorial Cup and the draft, it's Seth Jones versus Nathan MacKinnon, and the stakes are arguably higher this time. This game will determine, once and for all, whether or not the Avalanche made a mistake.
Okay, maybe not. Admittedly, these guys are both 18, and they have but one NHL game under their belt each. It's not exactly a showcase of who they'll become.
Furthermore, the first week of the NHL season doesn't really mean all that much. Between the slow starts, the quick starts, and the upsets, it's wise not to read too much into the early returns.
But we can't discount these results entirely, otherwise Week 1 becomes the preseason. I think subconsciously we know that, which is why fans are so prone to overreacting after these early contests. That in mind, a strong game from either MacKinnon or Jones is going to give this debate some serious fuel. Lord knows we're not going to get it in these guys' quotes.