2013 Draft Prospect Profile #1: Nathan MacKinnon

Our first 2013 prospect profile is on Nathan MacKinnon of the Halifax Mooseheads.

Nathan MacKinnon

Position: Center
Team: Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Age: 17
Date of Birth: September 1st, 1995
Place of Birth: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Ht: 6'0" Wt: 182lbs
Shoots: Right

2012-2013 Regular Season Stats:

32 43
75 +40 45

2012-2013 Playoff Stats:

17 11 22
33 +17 12

As a Mooseheads season ticket holder, I've had the pleasure of watching "Nate" play live, on a regular basis. He's a multi-tool player bringing offense, defensive responsibility, faceoff prowess and a willingness to do whatever it takes to help his team win.

He's the offensive leader and star of the Halifax Mooseheads, the champions of the QMJHL. With the exception of games missed due to participating in the 2013 World Juniors, and a late-season injury, MacKinnon has been a consistent offensive threat for the Moose, while playing a strong two-way game.

For a vast majority of the season, he played on a line with fellow 2013 draft-eligible Jonathan Drouin and Detroit prospect Martin Frk. (No vowels, please) The trio were simply dominant all season, but in situations where they were not together, such as when MacKinnon was double-shifted on the fourth line, Nate was still an impactful offensive force. He has the ability to create offense off the rush, using his excellent speed to convert turnovers into goals. He has a hard and accurate wrister, and his hands aren't bad either. Drouin is the guy with the magic mitts on the Mooseheads, but MacKinnon is the more complete player.

As of this writing, the Mooseheads are participating in the 2013 Memorial Cup, a four-team tournament featuring the winners of the QMJHL, OHL, WHL, and a rotating CHL host team. This year the Saskatoon Blades have host duties, with the Mooseheads representing the Q, the London Knights (with CBJ prospect Josh Anderson) representing the OHL, and the Seth Jones-led Portland Winterhawks there as WHL champs. In their tournament opener, the Mooseheads defeated Jones and the Winterhawks 7-4 thanks to a hat-trick by MacKinnon.

MacKinnon is going to give the NHL team that drafts him a dependable offensive player, who plays a responsible two-way game. He'll go through, rather than around defenders to get to the goal, and once there he's a sure bet to tickle the twine.

Scouting Reports:

A superstar in the making since an early age, MacKinnon provides a very complete combination of speed and skill. He is an amazing skater with fantastic puckhandling. MacKinnon has the ability to make quick plays and score flashy goals, but isn't shy about battling for the puck in front of the net either. He is surprisingly physical and owns a great shot to go along with quick hands.
- Matias Strozyk, Elite ProspectsMacKinnon is a simply fantastic prospect who has all the tools a GM would want in a high draft choice. His body and skills are advanced, relative to the fact he is a tad over two weeks away from being bumped to the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. MacKinnon is an elite skater, and possibly a generational one, easily the best in this draft class. He has an unbelievable first few steps, and he generates a ridiculous amount of power from his legs. When he gets in full flight, it is very hard to stop him (in fact, I once saw an opposing QMJHL player try to tackle him). One NHL source told me that MacKinnon will draw a lot of penalties because of his agility and speed. His puck skills are high end, as well as his offensive vision. MacKinnon is not simply a north-south kind of player; he has a ton of offensive creativity, including the ability to dangle defensemen laterally, or make quick, precise feeds. MacKinnon measures at six feet tall, 182 pounds, but has an unusual amount of power to his game. An NHL executive told me that his level of talent is matched by his work ethic. MacKinnon will power through checks, grind out board battles, and land big hits. He projects as a forward with defensive value. He generates a lot of shots, and he has quality finishing ability. In short, there are almost no weaknesses in MacKinnon's game, and he possesses a lot of skills that are in the upper tier. He projects as an elite NHL forward.

- Hockey Prospectus
He'll be regarded as the top offensive prospect all season long and for good reason. The 6-foot, 182-pound center offers a dynamic blend of speed and skill that are unrivaled among draft-eligible players, and he plays in every game situation.

- NHL.com

Why he'd be a good fit in Columbus:

Depth and talent at center has always been an issue for the Jackets, but things are certainly looking brighter with Ryan Johansen, Artem Anisimov, Brandon Dubinsky and Boone Jenner in the organization. A talent like MacKinnon would give Columbus a highly-skilled pivot who is the total package- offense, physicality when required, faceoff ability and hockey smarts.

Dubi won't be setting scoring records. You can say the same for Boone- these guys are defensive types who can chip in with occasional offense. Arty showed flashes of an offensive breakout this past season, but was slowed by injury. The jury is still out on Johansen, but the talent is there. Adding a player of MacKinnon's ilk would help take the pressure off of Johansen and Anisimov down the road, and may even render Johansen tradeable.

Of course the Jackets don't pick until 14th overall, and MacKinnon will be long gone by then. That said, they do have three first-round picks in their back pocket, and if they feel moving up to grab him is worth the price, they can package their picks and move up to the top-three. I think it's fair to say that Seth Jones to Colorado first overall is a done-deal, so if Florida (picking second) or Tampa Bay (picking third) are willing to deal, the Jackets may pull it off. Remember the team the Jackets swapped picks with to get Rick Nash in 2002?

Yep, the Panthers. Doesn't lightning strike twice?

MacKinnon in Action:

It's not game action, but John Moore (local guy who does fantastic work covering the Mooseheads and provides radio play-by-play) rides with MacKinnon and Drouin on the way to practice- check out Parts 1 and 2 below:

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