By Terry Doyle
While their home rinks are thousands of kilometres apart, Seth Jones and Nathan MacKinnon are linked as the two top prospects for the 2013 NHL Draft.
The Portland Winterhawks defenceman will meet the Halifax Mooseheads forward as captains of the 2013 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, January 16 at the Halifax Metro Centre.
“Having the two front-runners for first overall selection for this year’s entry draft going head-to-head as captains of their respective teams adds uniqueness to the event,” said Dan Marr, Director of NHL Central Scouting.
This will not be the first meeting of the cross-country rivals. They first met at the 2011 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Manitoba. Team USA and Jones defeated MacKinnon’s Team Atlantic in a blowout, but both future NHL top prospects noticed the other.
“It was a pretty one-sided game, playing for Team Atlantic it’s always tough to play against USA,” said MacKinnon. “At the same time I realized quickly the type of player he was and it stuck out in my mind as a player that was going to be really good down the road.”
“I don’t remember too much (about the game) but I remember glimpses of Nathan,” explained Jones. “He was obviously a tough player for us to contain. I think we had a little bit more depth on our team at the time that kind of (dominated) the game a little bit.”
MacKinnon and Jones have since crossed paths at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship as members of Team Canada, and Team USA respectively. But through summer hockey the two have also become acquaintances off the ice, keeping in touch during the season. “We text every once in a while to see how the season is going,” added Jones.
“It’s not too difficult to see how the season is going for Nathan – every time you turn on the NHL Network or something like that he’s always on the front cover with a four or five point night. We keep in touch quite a bit.”
The friendship is expected to be put aside for the annual Top Prospects Game, with both looking to impress the NHL brass in attendance, and lead their team to victory.
“These are two highly skilled motivated and competitive prospects and they both play different positions, said Marr. “The skills, attributes and intangibles of both Seth and Nathan make them worthy captains for their teams and they’re both so highly competitive and unselfish in the way they utilize their assets that they’re always leaders by example.”
As for the two captains scouting each other –
Jones on MacKinnon: “He’s a great player and he’s hard to contain.”
MacKinnon on Jones: “With him being 6’4” and probably the best mobile defenceman as a skater I’ve seen, he’s definitely a tough guy to play against.”
The 2013 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game will feature 40 of the CHL’s top draft eligible prospects and can be seen live across Canada at 7:00 pm Eastern on Sportsnet and TVA Sports, and on the NHL Network in the United States.
For more information please visit www.homehardwaretopprospects.ca.