NHL DRAFT: Avalanche take MacKinnon first
NEWARK, N.J. — Nathan MacKinnon and Sidney Crosby share a hometown.
Darnell Nurse can swap draft day stories with his uncle, Donovan McNabb.
And Martin Brodeur can share a team, and a ride, with his son.
The NHL draft was full of family and provincial ties Sunday, starting with the first overall pick.
The Avalanche won the draft lottery for the first time in team history and Joe Sakic, the man put in charge of Colorado’s rebuilding project, had made it clear that MacKinnon was going to be the top pick.
He wasn’t bluffing.
The Avalanche made the 17-year-old MacKinnon the first pick of the draft on Sunday at the Prudential Center. He was the first player drafted No. 1 overall out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League since the Pittsburgh Penguins selected Crosby in 2005.
MacKinnon and Crosby share more than that distinction — they’re both from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia.
“I love Sid. He’s my favorite player,” MacKinnon said. “I guess he’s still my favorite player. I don’t really know what to say now since I’m going to be in the same league as him. I don’t know if I should dislike him or not.”
MacKinnon, a 6-foot, 182-pound center, said it all with a laugh. But he’s serious about making the big club this season with Colorado.
MacKinnon is a solid two-way presence with strong hands and stick-handling and skating skills. He is considered a natural scorer and an excellent distributor. Sakic, a former Avalanche captain who is now the executive vice president of hockey operations, ended the guessing game in the final week when he said MacKinnon would be the pick.
“They said it in the media, but I didn’t really get my hopes up,” MacKinnon said. “I was definitely more nervous than I expected to be a couple of minutes before the draft.”
He played for the Halifax Mooseheads and led them to the Memorial Cup championship. MacKinnon, who turns 18 Sept. 1, was named tournament MVP after scoring 13 points.