Nathan MacKinnon‘s performance at the Mastercard Memorial Cup dropped a few jaws along the way.
It may have widened some eyes, too.
Considered primarily as the prospect slated to go after the Colorado Avalanche’s choice of Seth Jones first overall at the 2013 NHL Draft, the Halifax Mooseheads standout vaulted himself into the discussion after a seven goal, 13 point performance that earned him the Stafford Smythe Award as the tournament’s most valuable player.
“MacKinnon was a total stud at the 2013 Memorial Cup,” said Future Considerations scout Cody Nickolet, who attended the event. “He dominated stretches of each game he was in and was the only player in the entire event to continuously be able to elevate his play as the games and situations got bigger. It’s hard to say if a stretch like he had will elevate him to be the first overall pick in the draft, but teams have to love the fact that he proved he can elevate his game in big situations.”
MacKinnon saved his best for last, recording a hat-trick and adding a pair of assists in Halifax’s Memorial Cup clincher over the Portland Winterhawks.
That game also clinched MacKinnon as the biggest standout of the tournament, according to scout Zenon Herasymiuk.
“Every time he touched the puck he made an impact on the game whether it was a tricky pass to a teammate or creating a scoring chance with his incredible shot and lightning fast feet,” he said.
MacKinnon’s placement near the top of the draft class has never been questioned. Whether or not he is at the top now is.
And his performance on junior hockey’s grandest stage has ignited the debate.
“We knew he would be one of the most dynamic young talents in the world but I didn’t expect the compete level that he brought at the Memorial Cup,” Herasymiuk said. “Whether he was killing a penalty or working in the corners, he just wouldn’t be denied anything.
“MacKinnon was in a league of his own in the tournament.”
Which has launched another question of it’s own: Will the performance alone be enough to steal the rights to be called to the podium first on draft day?
It’s entirely possible not even the Avalanche have an answer just yet.
But MacKinnon’s certainly put himself in a position to open the debate.