When the Colorado Avalanche selected center Nathan MacKinnon first overall in the 2013 NHL Draft they knew the 18-year-old was going to be good, however, they never expected him to contribute and succeed so quickly. MacKinnon, who is the first player from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey league taken with the top pick since Sidney Crosby in 2005 has taken the NHL by storm in his rookie season, and he along with coach Patrick Roy have taken the Avalanche from the cellar to the top of the Western Conference and turned them into a perennial Stanley Cup contender in just one short season.
In the regular season, MacKinnon lead all rookies in goals (24), and has led the league in assists (39), points (63), and is tied in game-winning goals with five. If that’s not impressive enough, Mackinnon’s 13-game point streak from January 25th to March 6th broke Wayne Gretzky’s record of 12 for the longest run by an 18-year-old in NHL history. MacKinnon has also led the Avalanche to 100 points in a season for the first time since 2003-04 and the team is playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2010. It is safe to say that MacKinnon is a lock to win the Calder Trophy, the award given to the NHL’s Rookie of the Year, and with the award would be the first number one overall draft pick to win it since the Blackhawk’s Patrick Kane in 2007-08.
MacKinnon’s phenomenal rookie season has also carried over into the playoffs where he currently leads all players with 10 points (2 goals and 8 assists) through five games and the Avalanche currently lead the Minnesota Wild in their best-of-seven first round series.
Although Nathan MacKinnon has not exactly flown under the radar in his first NHL season, his incredible performance thus far cannot be emphasized enough when you stop to consider his age and the fact that he’s playing in the toughest playoffs in all of sports. More incredible, is how unlikely it is for a player of his age and caliber to not only play, but also contribute at the highest level and on the biggest stage. MacKinnon and the Avalanche are must watch television at the moment and are the trendy pick by many to lift Lord Stanley’s Cup come June. It is safe to say that the future is bright for hockey in the city of Denver, and Nathan MacKinnon is the biggest reason why. Just remember, you were warned.