Im­per­fect sci­ence

De­ci­sions at top of 2013 draft still af­fect­ing NHL

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

A look at the top of the 2013 NHL Draft a few years later.

The se­cond-guess­ing came im­me­di­ately af­ter the Colorado Avalanche picked cen­tre Nathan MacKin­non first and the Florida Pan­thers se­lected cen­tre Alek­sander Barkov se­cond in the 2013 draft. Blue-chip de­fence­man Seth Jones was con­sid­ered the top prospect by many scouts, and winger Jonathan Drouin was com­ing off a 100point sea­son in ju­niors.

Less than three years later, those de­ci­sions are still re­ver­ber­at­ing around the NHL.

MacKin­non is in line for a big con­tract like the $35.4 mil­lion, six-year deal Barkov signed with the Pan­thers on Tues­day. The Nashville Preda­tors traded Jones ear­lier this month. And Drouin? He was sus­pended by the Tampa Bay Light­ning af­ter fail­ing to show up for a mi­nor-league game and he has de­manded a trade from the de­fend­ing East­ern Con­fer­ence cham­pion.

“The draft, as we all know, is an im­per­fect process, sci­ence what­ever you want to call it,” Light­ning gen­eral man­ager Steve Yz­er­man said. “Let’s see how this plays out.”

So far, things have played out well for the Avalanche and Pan­thers with MacKin­non and Barkov. MacKin­non won the Calder Tro­phy as rookie of the year in 2013-14 as Colorado made the play­offs, and his 140 ca­reer points are the most in the tal­ented draft class that also in­cluded Cal­gary Flames cen­tre Sean Mon­a­han and Carolina Hur­ri­canes cen­tre Elias Lind­holm.

MacKin­non has turned into the kind of player Avalanche ex­ec­u­tives Joe Sa­kic and Pa­trick Roy ex­pected. He said in Novem­ber that he’d like a long-term con­tract – and the Avalanche have shown a ten­dency to lock up their cor­ner­stone play­ers with those kinds of deals.

So have the Pan­thers, who are bet­ting the 20-year-old Barkov keeps im­prov­ing. Barkov will count $5.9 mil­lion against their salary cap through 2022.

“When you put a com­mit­ment like this on a young man like this, there are only a few peo­ple that can han­dle this, and Sasha’s un­be­liev­able on and off the ice,” gen­eral man­ager Dale Tal­lon said. “I’ve never seen a young man at his age be so com­mit­ted on and off the ice.”

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