The Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club announced today that the team has signed forward Nathan MacKinnon to a three-year, entry-level contract.
"We are happy to have Nathan under contract and anxious to see him at training camp," said Avalanche Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Joe Sakic. "His presence will bring additional speed and talent to our team, as well as a lot of excitement to our fans."
MacKinnon, 17, was the first overall selection at the 2013 NHL Draft on June 30 in Newark, N.J. He is the first player to be selected No.1 overall by the Avalanche since the franchise moved to Denver in 1995. The Avalanche/Nordiques franchise had drafted first overall on three previous occasions: 1989 (Mats Sundin), 1990 (Owen Nolan) and 1991 (Eric Lindros).
"The signing of this first NHL contract represents for me another step towards becoming a professional hockey player," MacKinnon said. "I am excited and thrilled to have been drafted by the Avalanche, and I am already working very hard in order to be ready physically and mentally for training camp."
MacKinnon is coming off a championship season where he led the Halifax Mooseheads to their first-ever Quebec Major Junior Hockey League title and first-ever Memorial Cup championship. He was named MVP of the 2013 Memorial Cup after recording a tournament-high 13 points (7g/6a) in only four games, which included a hat trick and five points in the final game against Portland.
During the 2012-13 regular season, MacKinnon collected 75 points (32g/43a) in 44 contests for Halifax, averaging 1.70 points-per-game. He finished tied for fourth on the Mooseheads in scoring and had a +40 plus/minus rating en route to being named to the QMJHL Second All-Star Team. MacKinnon went on to tally 33 points (11g/22a) in 17 playoff games as the Mooseheads won the league championship. His 33 postseason points tied him for second in the QMJHL. He led Halifax in game-winning goals during the regular season (7-tied) and playoffs (4).
Nathan MacKinnon (center) with Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy (left) and executive vice president of hockey operations Joe Sakic (right) at the 2013 NHL Draft on June 30 in Newark, N.J.
MacKinnon represented Team Canada at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia. The 6-foot, 182-pound center appeared in all six of Canada’s games at the tournament, posting one assist.
As a rookie with Halifax in 2011-12, MacKinnon led the Mooseheads in goals (31), assists (47) and points (78) while appearing in 58 games. His 78 points finished second among QMJHL rookies. MacKinnon led Halifax in playoff scoring as well, registering 28 points (13g/15a) in 17 postseason contests. He was selected first overall by the Baie-Comeau Drakkar in the 2011 QMJHL Draft before his rights were traded to Halifax.
Born on Sept. 1, 1995 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, MacKinnon grew up in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, where he helped his bantam team win the Atlantic AAA Championship in 2008. He then went on to play for Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep school in Minnesota from 2009-11 before joining Halifax.
MacKinnon was only the third 17-year old to be taken first overall at the NHL Draft in the last 26 years (since 1988), joining Sidney Crosby in 2005 and Joe Thornton in 1997. He is the first Halifax Mooseheads player to ever be selected first overall and the first QMJHL player to do that since Crosby (Rimouski) in 2005
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)