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Nathan MacKinnon, a 17-year-old Canadian center, was taken by the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday with the first pick in the National Hockey League entry draft.
MacKinnon, who grew up playing youth hockey in the small Nova Scotia hometown of Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby, scored 32 goals in 44 games for the Halifax Mooseheads, who won Canada’s junior crown, the Memorial Cup.
“It’s amazing how things worked out in my career,” MacKinnon said. “It’s unbelieveable that I’m a member of the Colorado Avalanche. I’m ready for training camp.”
MacKinnon becomes the first top pick for the Colorado franchise since it selected Eric Lindors in 1991 when the team was based in Quebec City.
“Nathan has lived under the microscope for a long time. Whatever challenges he’s faced, he’s risen to them,” said Avalanche executive vice president of hockey operations Joe Sakic. “He’s the most explosive player in this draft.”
Florida selected center Aleksandr Barkov second overall. Barkov, who holds Russian and Finnish citizenship, scored 27 goals for Tampere of Finland’s top league.
Tampa Bay drafted left winger Jonathan Drouin, a teammate of MacKinnon, third overall. He scored 41 goals in 49 games a season ago.
Defenseman Seth Jones, the son of former NBA player Ron “Popeye” Jones, was taken fourth by the Nashville Predators. He helped the United States win the title at this year’s world junior championships.
“It feels great,” Jones said. “I’m lucky to be here and to hear my name called. I’m going to do whatever I can to help Nashville win. I’ve been training on and off the ice, so I think I’m ready to help the team.”
Elias Lindholm, an 18-year-old forward from Brynas of the Swedish League, was taken by Carolina with the fifth pick.