Nathan MacKinnon and the Mooseheads are off to a phenomenal start, and look very much like a threat to win the league. Here's the latest on the young sniper.
You may recall that a few weeks ago I introduced you to a new series of posts I'm putting together for this season, focusing on Halifax Mooseheads center Nathan MacKinnon. The hope of course, is that by next June when the 2013 NHL Entry Draft takes place, the Jackets will have landed the young phenom and you'll have a season's worth of updates to look back on.
I attended last night's home game against the expansion Sherbrooke Phoenix (who, by the way, have one of the best logo/sweater combos in hockey) and was treated to another solid showing by MacKinnon. He scored a pair of goals and added a helper in what ended as a 4-3 victory for the Moose. He displayed his sublime hands on many occasions, including at one point bouncing the puck off his stick blade a few times in mid-air while fending off a Sherbrooker defender. That sort of "cuteness" won't fly in the pros, but it provides endless entertainment at the junior level. His ability to snipe is one thing, but I paid close attention to his playmaking last night. His vision is superb, finding teammates all over the ice, in varying degrees of traffic. He was guilty of forcing the issue on a pair of occasions however, attempting to feed teammates when the best course of action would be to carry the puck or pass to a different teammate.
Current Stat Line:
At present he sits fifth in league point scoring, and is second in goals. He is on-pace to crack the 120 point plateau, but will likely miss some time around Christmas as he will likely be a member of Team Canada at the World Junior Championship.
Current Draft Rankings:
NHL Central Scouting: Listed as an "A" skater in their preliminary rankings.
International Scouting Service (ISS): 1st (October Rankings)
Future Considerations: 1st (October Rankings)
CHL Subway Super Series - 5, 7 November, 2012 (QMJHL Portion)
World Junior Championship - 26 December, 2012 -> 6 January, 2013
CHL Top Prospects Game - Halifax, 16 January, 2013
Mooseheads Team Update
The Mooseheads are off to a terrific start. They sit atop the QMJHL standings with a record of 11-1-0-0, and are in the midst of a nine-game winning streak. The Moose are currently sitting third in the CHL team rankings, which are published weekly. I'm sure they'll move up at least a spot by next week.
Fellow first round NHL hopeful Jonathan Drouin has missed the past few games due to an injury, but may return for the Mooseheads' next game. The Moose haven't missed a beat without the young sniper, with Stefan Fournier, Luca Ciampini and Matt Boudreau leading the offense up front. On the back end, overager and Sharks prospect Konrad Abeltshauser leads the way offensively while co-captain Trey Lewis and defense partner Steve Gillard play the shutdown role.
There's something not quite right in identifying blemishes with a team that is playing so well, but there are two that come to mind- the first is the fact that Darcy Ashley has yet to score a goal (although he does have ten helpers). It's certainly not for a lack of effort- the pint-sized forward just doesn't quit. Once he pots that first one, he'll score them in bunches. The second issue has to do with Czech forward Martin Frk. A Detroit second rounder this past June, Marty has dealt with injuries, illness and undisciplined play during his tenure as a Moosehead. This season, he has already been suspended twice, and in last night's game he only played a few minutes before retiring to the dressing room as he "didn't feel well". For the Mooseheads to truly go the distance in the playoffs they'll need Frk to be at his best, which is using his lethal wrister and toeing-not crossing-the line physically.
Stay tuned for another update in the coming weeks.