All week long, the Colorado Avalanche kept everybody guessing as to who they’d pick first overall at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
On Sunday, the guessing was over.
Colorado selected Nathan MacKinnon with the No. 1 pick, making the Halifax forward the first overall selection from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League since Sidney Crosby in 2005.
MacKinnon, 17, dominated the Quebec league last season before leading Halifax to its first-ever Memorial Cup this year.
The high-scoring center notched 13 points in four games, scored a hat-trick in the final against WHL Portland, and was selected as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player and named to the All-Star Team.
As mentioned, the pick was a bit of crapshoot heading into Sunday. Colorado had sent a number of mixed signals about their plans for the pick, as new head coach Patrick Roy and president Joe Sakic seemed to be throwing up smokescreens.
They publicly cooled on the idea of taking Seth Jones — the Portland defenseman ranked No. 1 by NHL Central Scouting — and also opened up the possibility of trading the pick.
But in the end, MacKinnon proved too special to pass up.
In addition to the Crosby connection from the QMJHL, MacKinnon is also from the same town as Crosby — Coal Harbour, Nova Scotia — and has drawn many comparisons to No. 87 in terms of playing style and scoring ability.
Roy was quite familiar with MacKinnon’s scoring exploits from their time together in Quebec. The new Avs bench boss had previous been behind the bench of the Quebec Remparts, who were knocked out of the 2011-12 QMHJL playoffs by MacKinnon and the Mooseheads.