Top pick MacKinnon eager to lead Avs turnaround

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 1, 2013 at 6:50 pm •  Published: July 1, 2013
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Like Toews, MacKinnon prides himself on being solid on both ends of the ice. That's why Colorado was so drawn to the youngster, picking him over defenseman Seth Jones, who slid to No. 4 and was picked by Nashville.

"(MacKinnon) wants to be a difference maker, and he is," said Joe Sakic, the executive vice president of hockey operations who's in charge of the Avalanche's restoration project. "I don't believe (pressure) is going to affect him one bit. He's lived under pressure his whole minor hockey and junior career. He's a hockey player — he doesn't worry about pressure.

"He can't wait to get on the ice and play to the best of his ability."

He can't wait to get back on the ice, period, especially now that the draft is over.

The last time MacKinnon picked up his stick was when he led the Halifax Mooseheads to their first-ever Memorial Cup last month. He had quite a tournament, too, recording 13 points on his way to being named the MVP.

Asked if that performance at all swayed the Avalanche to use the top pick on him, Sakic said: "Anybody that watched him play there realized, on the biggest stage, he was by far the best player.

"He was always rated right up there," Sakic added. "We did our homework. We had our internal meetings and that's the guy we all felt is a can't-miss kid, a guy that's a perfect fit for our organization."

MacKinnon certainly doesn't rattle. Not on the ice or in the presence of two Hall of Famers. He posed for pictures standing between Roy and Sakic, hardly even intimidated by the moment.

"That," he said, "was so cool."

Now, it's back home to work on his game. In a few months, he will be back in the Mile High City for training camp.

Just where he's going to live as a rookie remains undecided. MacKinnon might reside with an Avalanche player to begin his career, the same way Duchene once shared a roof with Adam Foote's family. But that hasn't been worked out yet.

"This is the way I envisioned things all my life — to play as an 18-year-old," MacKinnon said. "Pretty cool to hear that they have confidence in me, that I can make the jump and contribute. It's a big role as an 18-year-old. I have a lot to learn. I know that."

NOTES: The Avalanche drafted seven players on Sunday, including five defensemen. ... Roy wants to play Ryan O'Reilly, Duchene and P.A. Parenteau on one line, along with Landeskog, Paul Stastny and newly acquired Alex Tanguay on another.

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