NHL Draft 2013: Breaking Down What Nathan McKinnon Can Offer an NHL Team

Nicholas GossCorrespondent IDecember 4, 2012

Photo Credit: QMJHL.ca
Photo Credit: QMJHL.ca

Nathan MacKinnon is the most exciting player to watch in the QMJHL this season and is performing at a very high level for the Halifax Mooseheads.

He has scored 22 goals with 25 assists in 27 games, and was also ranked No. 1 among all draft-eligible prospects in the QMJHL by Central Scouting last month.

While MacKinnon proves to NHL scouts and general managers that he's the right player for whichever team holds the top selection in the 2013 NHL Draft, hockey fans are having a lot of fun watching his talents continue to improve each night.

Let's examine what MacKinnon can offer an NHL team.


Goal Scoring

MacKinnon is not a pure goal scorer, but finding the back of the net is certainly a strength of his game. Here are his goal totals from his ongoing career with Halifax.

Year GP G
2011-12 58 31
2012-13 27 22

As you can see in the video below, MacKinnon has great hands, effective moves and is not afraid to attack defenseman in the offensive zone.

One impressive part of MacKinnon's game is his patience with the puck. He doesn't rush anything, and trusts that he has the talent to beat goaltenders in one-on-one scenarios.

MacKinnon has displayed this kind of patience throughout his junior career in normal game situations, and also in penalty shot/shootout scenarios.

The accuracy and power displayed in his wrist shot is quite remarkable and will allow him to score a ton of goals at the next level.

MacKinnon has the speed to break away from opposing defensemen and the skill needed to beat quality goaltenders. He isn't afraid to shoot the puck and there's no lack of confidence in his game.

The Mooseheads center probably won't be a 50-goal scorer at the NHL level like Sidney Crosby and Steven Stamkos, but he will score 30-plus goals for many years because he aggressively looks for his offense.

MacKinnon probably could become a pure goal scorer if he wanted to, but since his play-making skills are so impressive, it's important that he plays like an all-around center.



The 16-year-old forward is a gifted passer, and his assist totals with Halifax certainly back that up. He racked up 47 assists in 58 games last year and has 25 assists in 27 games this season.

MacKinnon is able to handle the puck very well in traffic and has the control and vision needed to make plays at high speed, which is a rare talent. He also has the ability to make quick decisions and deliver accurate passes to teammates.

Being able to pick out the right pass and execute it with great timing and precision is a sign of a top-tier playmaker.

There's no question that MacKinnon has the potential to be among the NHL leaders in assists many times during his career.

He will be a player that every goal-scoring winger would love to play alongside.


Competitiveness, Desire to Win

MacKinnon's offensive talents have overshadowed the amount of grit and competitiveness in his game right now, and as he gets older, these talents will continue to improve.

The will to win is an important aspect of any NHL player's game. MacKinnon also brings a physical aspect to the ice and won't back down to tougher, more physically imposing players.

He is certainly capable of delivering huge hits, like the one seen in the video below.

MacKinnon has no problem giving a strong effort defensively and never looks uninterested or lazy.

There's a certain energy and passion to this kid, and that's definitely something teams want from players with the potential to be franchise stars in the NHL.

As a big, physical and offensively-skilled center, MacKinnon will be likely be the No. 1 ranked prospect going into the 2013 NHL Draft unless his current level of play surprisingly gets worse.

Primary photo of MacKinnon from QMJHL.ca