(Reuters) - The Colorado Avalanche opted for goal-scoring over defense, taking Canadian Nathan MacKinnon ahead of top ranked Seth Jones with the number one overall pick at the National Hockey League draft in Newark, New Jersey on Sunday.
The Avalanche, who ranked near the bottom of the league in scoring last season, could not resist taking the 17-year-old MacKinnon, who hails from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia the same home town as Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby.
A powerful skater, MacKinnon does not turn 18 until September but possesses the offensive skill that will allow him to make the immediate jump to the NHL.
With the number two overall pick the Florida Panthers also passed on Jones, a big gifted defenseman, in favor of offense taking Finland’s Aleksander Barkov.
The trend towards offensive players continued with the Tampa Bay Lightning grabbing Jonathan Drouin, a dynamic playmaker who played alongside MacKinnon on the same junior team the Halifax Mooseheads.
Jones, the son of former-NBA journeyman Ronald ‘Popeye’ Jones, finally heard his name called when the Nashville Predators used the fourth overall pick to take the 6-foot-4, 205-pound blueliner.
Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto, editing by Gene Cherry