Avalanche looking at MacKinnon for 1st pick

Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

View results

The Colorado Avalanche own the top pick in the NHL draft and a whole lot of options.

Nathan MacKinnon and Seth Jones. Jonathan Drouin and Aleksander Barkov. They are the top candidates to go first Sunday at the Prudential Center.

Colorado won the draft lottery and has flirted with the idea of picking a puck-moving defenseman in Jones. But it appears the Avalanche are leaning toward choosing a forward, perhaps the 17-year-old MacKinnon.

MacKinnon, a 6-foot, 182-pound center, is a solid two-way presence with strong hands and stick-handling and skating skills. He is considered a natural scorer and a very good puck distributor.

Of course, Colorado could also decide to trade the pick to the Florida Panthers, who are slated to pick second, or to the Tampa Bay Lightning at No. 3, or even farther down to another club that is looking to make a splash and shoot to the top.

There is plenty of talent available, and this draft pool has already been touted as the best in a decade. This year’s prospects have been favorably compared to the last blockbuster draft in 2003.

Marc-Andre Fleury, Eric Staal, Jeff Carter and Mike Richards highlighted that first round 10 years ago. Patrice Bergeron and Shea Weber went in the second round, and future All-Stars and Stanley Cup champions dotted the list of a loaded draft.

Fast forward to now and there is a new group of prospects vying to become as well known and decorated as some of today’s stars.

MacKinnon, Jones, Drouin, and Barkov are likely to be taken in the top four.

Given the track record of defensemen at No. 1, the Avalanche could play it safe and nab an elite forward instead.

“As far as MacKinnon, I could tell you he’s a heck of a player. Jones is a heck of a player,” Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. “It’s the same thing with Drouin. They’re all premier players in the future for the NHL.”

Fair or not to Jones, teams are skittish about taking a defenseman first. The last defenseman selected No. 1 was Erik Johnson by St. Louis in 2006. Johnson, who now plays for Colorado, had only four points in 31 games this season and has never lived up to his top billing.

Only 12 defensemen have gone No. 1, and Denis Potvin (1973, New York Islanders) is the only one to make the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The Avalanche could make it 13 after winning the draft lottery for the first time.

Jones has deep roots with the Avalanche, dating to the early part of last decade when his father, former NBA forward Popeye Jones, struck up a friendship with Joe Sakic and Roy when they all played in Colorado.

Story Continues →

View Entire Story

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
Get Adobe Flash player