Colorado Avalanche take Nathan MacKinnon first overall in NHL draft
The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, June 30, 2013 4:04PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, July 1, 2013 1:21PM EDT
NEWARK, N.J. -- The Colorado Avalanche have taken centre Nathan MacKinnon with the first pick of the 2013 NHL draft.
The Avs, who won the draft lottery over the Florida Panthers, were true to their word Sunday at the Prudential Center. They had said they would pick MacKinnon over defenceman Seth Jones.
Jones, ranked No. 1 among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, surprised many by slipping down and going fourth to the Nashville Predators.
The Florida Panthers opted to take Finnish centre Aleksander Barkov second and the Tampa Bay Lightning selected winger Jonathan Drouin third.
The Carolina Hurricanes took Swedish centre Elias Lindholm with the fifth selection.
The Avs said they liked Jones, who took up hockey as a kid in Colorado while his father, Popeye Jones, was playing for the NBA's Denver Nuggets, but wanted to draft a forward.
The six-foot, 182-pound MacKinnon, who does not turn 18 until Sept. 1, led the Mooseheads to the Memorial Cup.
He topped the tournament in scoring with 13 points (seven goals and six assists), including a hat trick in the championship game, and was chosen tournament MVP.
The native of Coal Harbour, N.S., scored 32 goals and added 43 assists in 44 regular season games.
"What makes Nathan stand out is that he has a real quickness with his read and react: his hockey sense, how he sees the ice and his vision," said Dan Marr, director of NHL Central Scouting. "That is something special in a player. He is continuing to physically mature, but already he's got a lot of grit in his game and he is a competitive player."