The speculation is over, and it turns out that the Colorado Avalanche were telling the truth after all. The Avalanche selected Halifax Moosehead center, and Memorial Cup MVP, Nathan MacKinnon with the first-overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
What Does Nathan MacKinnon Bring?
In Nathan MacKinnon the Avalanche are getting an explosive offensive player whose motor just never stops. He has a nose for the net and can work his way into scoring position and has the hands to finish off a scoring play given the opportunity. He also brings his best in big games, having hat tricks in the Ivan Hlinka tournament final and the Memorial Cup Final to win championships for his teams. He’s a player who rises to the big occasions and will not shrink under the big lights of the NHL.
MacKinnon is also another young prospect who grew up wishing to play for the Colorado Avalanche. He joins fellow top players Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog in Denver. Yes, the team he dreamed of playing for had the likes of Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg constantly competing for Stanley Cups, but I’m sure that he felt pretty good about being drafted by Joe Sakic.
How Does This Affect The Colorado Avalanche?
This certainly increases the log jam the Avalanche currently have at the center position. It is good for Colorado to finally have a center that has a right-handed shot, but now we simply have no idea where he is going to play.
Will MacKinnon stay at center? If he does, which line will he center? If he does stay at center, then which center will the Avalanche move? Will the Avalanche move one of those centers or convert one of those guys to a wing? Or does MacKinnon get moved to a wing and then which line will he play on? So many questions.
To me, the thing that makes the most sense for the Avalanche to do is to keep Nathan MacKinnon at the center position and move Paul Stastny to wing. Stastny played left wing early in his career so that transition would likely be the least painful one. Duchene has already shown that he is at his best when he is playing center, and Ryan O’Reilly is a valuable two-way center that shouldn’t be taken out of his comfort zone.
The Avalanche defense is still a huge question mark moving forward, so the Avalanche had better be right about this pick.
I’m a Denver native who has been a fan of the Avalanche since they came to town and a fan of the game before that. I started writing my own blog a couple years ago before moving to Bleacher Report and becoming a Featured Columnist there. You can also find me the Burgundy Brigade Podcast