Assuming they make their respective teams, Nathan MacKinnon and Seth Jones will share a sheet of ice on Dec. 30 when Canada engages the United States in the IIHF World Junior Championship.
Ditto in mid-January, when they shall serve as opposing captains in the Canadian Hockey League’s annual Top Prospects Game.
The more they match up directly against one another in the next six months, the stronger the case can get for one or the other as the most valuable player eligible for the next NHL entry draft.
Outside of that debate—which is likely to pick up greater fervor as the 2012 NHL Lockout drags on and the seasons for all amateur leagues keep rolling—the best-available topic at this time for NHL fans is the 2013 draft class in general.
Much, though not all, of that class will surely see action at the WJC. The rest can be found somewhere in the Canadian major junior, U.S. top-tier junior or European elite circuits.
If all goes according to plan, these prospects will be assembling at Newark’s Prudential Center in another six-and-a-half months.
Shortly beforehand, we should have a better impression of who is the best fit for a given team, and therefore who makes sense in what slot based on the lottery.
For now, on the basis of assets and pure performances of late, here is a raw, reverse order of first-round candidates.