Monday, November 7, 2011

The Next, Next One?

Keep an eye out for Nathan MacKinnon. The 16-year old forward from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia has been dubbed “the next Sidney Crosby.” Sure, people in the hockey world have said this before of other young players, but none have yet achieved even half of what Crosby has so far (John Tavares, anyone?). And while at 16, it’s impossible to tell whether MacKinnon will actually live up to this prestigious comparison, the current similarities are definitely there.

MacKinnon began his career playing minor hockey in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, (Sid Similarity #1) where he quickly made his mark, recording 200 points in 50 games. At the bantam level he played for the Cole Harbour Red Wings for two years, ending each season with 110 and 145 points respectively. From there, MacKinnon was enrolled at the prestigious hockey school, Shattuck-St. Mary’s (Sid Similarity #2). He averaged more than 2 points a game with Shattuck-St. Mary’s under-16 program, and though he was the second youngest player on the team, ranked second in scoring midway through the season.

Now playing for the Halifax Mooseheads in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, MacKinnon is favorited to be the number one selection for his draft year (Sid Similarity #3).

Now if MacKinnon’s past career’s similarities to Crosby’s aren’t enough to sway you in his favor, check out his stats for the QMJHL season to date: In 19 games played, MacKinnon has 10 goals and 20 assists for an overall 30 points. You have to admit, that’s pretty impressive.

And there’s one last thing that MacKinnon shares with his big-league counterpart: humility. Last year, MacKinnon told a Canadian newspaper “I know I’ll never be Sidney Crosby. I just want to play my own game and not his. I don’t like to compare myself to him too much, because you can’t. He’s too good.”

With another year left before he's eligible for the NHL Entry Draft, MacKinnon, who is known by his coaches and peers as the "undersized forward with the heart the size of an elephant," just needs to focus on improving his play and not let the Crosby comparisons get to his head.

Who knows, in time he may very well be The Next Next One.

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