Drouin/MacKinnon

 

Which Halifax Moosehead will make a more immediate impact in the NHL? Drouin or MacKinnon?

 

Before major junior hockey started the 2012-2013 season, all eyes were on Portland Winterhawks blueliner Seth Jones and Halifax Mooseheads center Nathan MacKinnon in a race for the number one pick at the 2013 NHL Draft.

 

Fast forward to February and both Jones and MacKinnon have taken turns flip-flopping between 1st and 2nd in most experts rankings, including ISS, NHL Central Scouting and TSN. (Note that Russian left-winger Valery Nichuskin has snuck into the no. 2 spot behind Jones in ISS’s February top 30 ranking.)

 

When it comes to fantasy hockey drafts next season, MacKinnon won’t be a shoe-in as the first rookie off the board. A good case could be made that it should be his Halifax teammate, Jonathan Drouin.

 

I am currently doing an internship shooting Halifax Mooseheads games and interviews with John Moore, the play-by-play man for the team, for the website sportsandmoore.comThis has given me a chance to watch the majority of Drouin and MacKinnon’s home games and the CHL Top Prospects game as well as film interviews with various NHL experts and hear their thoughts on the two players.


Drouin makes a splash


Drouin burst onto the scene at this year’s World Junior tournament where he ended up playing on the top-line for a Canadian team that performed well below expectations. The Globe and Mail ran a story on the front page of its Jan. 2 sports section with a photo of Drouin and the headline “Jonathan Drouin has gone from under the radar to boy wonder.” He finished with 2 goals and 2 assists and +4 while Halifax teammate Nathan MacKinnon had 1 assist and was -1 while playing at the bottom of the lineup.

 

Head to head QMJHL statistics


It wouldn’t make sense to conclude which player is better based on one tournament, especially one where Drouin and MacKinnon were asked to play different roles for Canada.

 

A look at their stats as of Thursday, Feb. 21 shows Drouin (40 games played, 35 goals,  41 assists, 76 points) has posted a better points per game average and goals per game average than MacKinnon (41 games played, 28 goals, 41 assists, 69 points)

 

Goals/Games Payed

Points/Games Played

Jonathan Drouin

0.88

2.15

Nathan MacKinnon

0.68

1.68

 

While both players are exceptionally skilled and have wowed hockey fans and scouts all season long with highlight reel goals and moves, the quick hands of Jonathan Drouin have really stood out. Although he didn’t score on the play, Drouin undressed a Baie Comeau Drakkar defenseman with jaw-dropping stick work, a highlight that NHL scouts at the Halifax Metro Centre were talking about for days after.

 

 

Edmonton Oilers VP of Hockey Operations Craig MacTavish said “When you're assessing stick skill with him, he'd be off the chart in terms of ability to make plays and handle the puck and jaw-dropping displays of skills at time.”

 

Director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr, he said “(Drouin) plays the game with such accuracy and at such a high tempo, not too many players know what's happening until the puck is on their stick.”

 

 

Size and speed


Both Mooseheads are similar in size with MacKinnon measuring 5’11” and 179 pounds while Drouin is 5’11” and 176 pounds. Both players are strong skaters with the ability to separate from opponents leading to plenty of scoring opportunities.

 

When Kevin Devine, Buffalo Sabres director of amateur scouting, was in Halifax for the CHL top prospects game, he spoke highly of MacKinnon saying “He's the most explosive skater I've seen in a long time. His compete level is through the roof."

 

Tampa Bay Lightening general manager Steve Yzerman also commented on MacKinnon’s speed when interviewed at the top prospects game. “He's as good a skater as an 18 year-old as I've ever seen. He's a tremendous skater, really powerful. He has good skills and he looks like he competes hard. He's a tremendous prospect."

 

When they are both healthy, the two players have been on the same line along with Detroit Red Wing draft pick Martin Frk (drafted 2nd round, 49th overall, 2012). Both players see significant time on the powerplay and penalty kill. Drouin in particular has looked good on the penalty kill this season with multiple breakaways while a man down and has four shorthanded goals.

 

Success while teammate is injured


Both Drouin and MacKinnon have missed time because of injuries this season. Drouin missed 6 games in October after sustaining an upper body injury. MacKinnon has missed 5 games and is expected to miss more time while recovering from a MCL injury.

 

Both players have shown the ability to step their game up a notch when counted on more because of injuries. Drouin had a hat-trick that included a shorthanded goal versus the PEI Rocket on Feb. 12 when MacKinnon missed his first game because of the injury. MacKinnon scored a goal in all 6 games that Drouin missed including two games with 2 goals.

 

 

This table shows both players goals per game average and points per game average for the season as well as those stats for the games played without their teammate.

 

Reg. Season G/GP

Without teammate

Reg. Season PTS/GP

Without teammate

Drouin

0.88

1.20

2.15

2.80

MacKinnon

0.68

1.33

1.68

1.83


Fantasy Drafts


While most drafts are still months away, fantasy managers, especially those in keeper leagues, are already thinking ahead to the incoming rookie crop. Both MacKinnon and Drouin have been spoken of highly by scouts and seem to have both the skill set and size to be very good NHL players one day. Both players have proved that they can excel independent of each other’s presence in the lineup and both players can step up their game when needed.

 

Drouin is a more attractive fantasy prospect for next season because of his goal skilling ability and strong playmaking skills that compliment a good work ethic.

 

Five years down the road, don’t be surprised if both players are elite fantasy options.

 


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