Avalanche have great debate with top pick

Aaron Vickers2013 Draft Center

Nathan MacKinnon has given the Colorado Avalanche a lot to debate over the next month.

The draft eligible forward was dominant in helping the Halifax Mooseheads go a 16-1 playoff record to earn their first President’s Cup as Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champions.

But he took it to another level in Saskatoon to capture the Mastercard Memorial Cup.

MacKinnon had seven goals and six assists in just four games at the tournament — the highest output since Christian Dube’s 13 points for the Hull Olympiques in 1997 — en route to being named Stafford Smythe Award recipient as the tournament’s most valuable player.

Six of MacKinnon’s seven goals came at the expense of Seth Jones‘ Portland Winterhawks. Jones is widely regarded as the top prospect for the 2013 NHL Draft, a pick owned by the Avalanche.

At the draft lottery in late April, Jones to Colorado looked automatic. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound rearguard grew up in Denver and the club desperately needs a bluechip blueliner on the point. Jones is all that and more.

But after relieving Joe Sacco in favor of Patrick Roy, Colorado’s design on Jones became less of a sure thing.

Roy, who guided the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts through their past eight seasons, has seen MacKinnon at every step of his evolution throughout his brief but impactful two-year major junior career in Halifax.

That, coupled with a standout performance that can only be described as one of the most clutch ever seen at the Memorial Cup may make the Avalanche second-guess their initial intentions on June 30th.

And make for an interesting debate when Colorado’s amateur scouts meet to decide the fate of the first overall pick on June 30th.