The NHL Draft is set to commence at 3 PM EST. The Colorado Avalanche are on the clock and all signs point to them selecting Nathan MacKinnon of the Halifax Mooseheads with the first overall pick.
This draft is considered to be relatively deep and there is a lot of debate over who the Avalanche should select with the first pick. A month ago smart money had Colorado taking Portland Winterhawks’ Defenseman Seth Jones first, with MacKinnon going second to Florida, and Jonathan Drouin, going third to Tampa Bay.
Scouts have said all along that any of those three could go first overall.
Of the three top prospects, Jones has the most unique backstory.
He is the son of former NBAer Popeye Jones and grew up in Denver idolizing Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy when they were with the Avalanche. The story goes that Popeye was walking around the Pepsi Center one day and saw Sakic. He told the Avalanche Captain that his kids loved hockey and asked Super Joe for some advice. Sakic knew Popeye’s kids would grow to be big, so he told them to learn how to power skate. Now, a decade later, the 6’4 Jones is a top prospect thanks to his blend of size and skating ability.
MacKinnon’s story is eerily similar to that of Sidney Crosby. He grew up in the same Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia minor hockey system that Crosby did. When MacKinnon was old enough, he enrolled at the legendary Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Fairbault, Minnesota. Shattuck-St. Mary’s is the same high school that Crosby honed his skills at before returning to Canada to play for Rimouski Oceanic in the QMJHL. While MacKinnon will most likely not be the dominant star that Sid the Kid is, his work ethic and ability to score big goals make him a one of the can’t miss prospects in 2013.
Drouin also played for the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL and played on the same line as MacKinnon as they captured Halifax’s first ever Memorial Cup. Drouin is a prolific scorer and is absolutely silky in the offensive zone. He has drawn comparisons to Pavel Datsyuk and Martin St. Louis as a diminutive scorer who’s creativity and savvy make him a threat at all times.
There are other prospects with impressive bloodlines in the draft. Max Domi, son of former NHL Enforcer Tie Domi figures to be a top-20 pick. Darnell Nurse, who is the nephew of former NFL QB Donovan McNabb is expected to go in the top-10.
All seven rounds of the draft will take place in one day at The Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. Usually a weekend event, the NHL’s condensed schedule forced some changes in the calendar. Also keep in mind that the NHL Draft is the only draft in the four major sports that every team is in the same building. Thus, rumors fly.
Said one NHL team exec on the draft floor: “I bet you we see 10 trades today at least.”
— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) June 30, 2013
A number of big names are rumored to be on the trading block today. Bobby Ryan, Tyler Seguin, and pretty much every goaltender have been talked about as potential trade candidates.
The hockey media is notorious for rumor mongering and likely it won’t be as crazy as fans are hoping. Keep in mind though that the lockout and new CBA kind of threw things into a state of flux and a lot of times need to maneuver to get under the cap.
It will take a crazy package to land a Seguin or Ryan, but a lot of other names could end up being moved. Teams like Edmonton, the New York Islanders, and Philadelphia Flyers have been actively shopping for a big name player so keep your eyes on those three teams as we get closer to the draft.