The Florida Panthers will have a difficult decision to make with the second pick in this year’s NHL Draft. If Seth Jones goes number one like most expect him to, Florida will have a choice between Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin, the consensus next best players available and also teammates on the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Ultimately, I think the Panthers will go with Nathan MacKinnon.
The NHL’s Central Scouting ranks centerman MacKinnon ahead of left winger Drouin but Drouin outscored his teammate by 30 points while only playing in five more games. The 5’11″, 17 year old MacKinnon finished the season with 75 points on 32 goals and 43 assists while playing in 44 games. the 5’11″ 18 year old Drouin finished the year with 105 points on 41 goals and 65 assists while playing in 49 games. Drouin was also named the QMJHL’s regular season and playoffs MVP and as if that was not enough, he was named the Canadian Hockey League’s player of the year.
If you only look at what Drouin and MacKinnon accomplished this season in junior hockey, it would appear that Drouin is the better player. The apparent reasoning for ranking MacKinnon above Drouin is that while Drouin may be the more complete player now, MacKinnon has a higher ceiling. Here is Central Scouting’s David Gregory on MacKinnon: “Nate MacKinnon is a right-handed centerman that can play in any area of the ice, with the way he thinks the game, there would seem to be a huge ceiling for this kid and what he can become.”
MacKinnon and Drouin will inevitably be linked together their entire career and their respective careers will be compared and contrasted ad nauseam. For the purpose of this mock draft let’s consider what drafting MacKinnon will do for the the Panthers’ future. MacKinnon may be the most talented offensive player in the draft and he will join a core of already ridiculously talented Panthers forwards. He will join Calder Trophy finalist Jonathan Huberdeau potentially forming one of the most dynamic duo’s in the league. Throw in the Panthers’ other top forward prospects like Nick Bjugstad, Quinton Howden, Drew Shore, and Rocco Grimaldi and the result is a lot of Panther fans foaming at the mouth in anticipation of their eventual and inevitable world dominance.
Tomorrow: The FanSided Mock Draft continues with the Tampa Bay Lightning and the number three pick.