Ever since the Pittsburgh Penguins were able to snag Sidney Crosby in 2005, all 30 NHL clubs have been on the lookout for the next big thing. While it is hard to truly pinpoint the next great star, Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche seems to fit that mold nicely. As he prepares for his age 18 season fresh off being the #1 overall pick in the most recent NHL Draft, just how good can he be?
Despite being an 18-year old that isn’t physically imposing by any means (6’0”, 182 pounds), he stood out like a man amongst boys last season in the QMJHL. He had 75 points in 54 games, showcasing his ability as a future player capable of carrying an offense.
Currently, his best attributes include his overall skating ability, and his hockey IQ. Since he is never going to be a huge, physically imposing player, the skill set he currently has is essential for his success, of course being surrounded by some better players once he suits up for the Avalanche will help him succeed as well.
The Avalanche need all the help they can get to turn the ship around, so expect the team to give him plenty of time from the very beginning. He will probably be in the mix as a top six guy capable of having some nice games. However, like most 18 year olds, he will have some struggles.
Before you go out and pick him up in your fantasy hockey draft for this upcoming season, remember that the Avalanche are still a team that needs work before they truly contend. MacKinnon is a nice foundation piece that will allow them to grow into this new era. He might have some decent outings once in a while, but only fantasy hockey keeper leagues should consider him super early.