It was nine years ago this month that the Mooseheads made the most important trade in franchise history by sending a bundle of players and draft picks to Baie-Comeau for the rights to Cole Harbour’s Nathan MacKinnon. The rest is history and MacKinnon is now up for the National Hockey League’s highest individual honour after being announced as one-of-three finalists for the Hart Trophy as league’s most valuable player.
The NHL made the nominations official today when MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche got the nod along with Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers and Artemi Panarin of the New York Rangers. The player known simply as “Nate” around Halifax, is gearing up for the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs after leading the Avalanche in scoring with 93 points in 69 games during the Covid-19 shortened season. His point total ranked fifth in the NHL and was 43 more points than his next-closest teammate.
Mooseheads Assistant Coach Jon Greenwood has witnessed MacKinnon develop from a PeeWee star with the Cole Harbour Wings into one of the world’s elite players.
“It makes me extremely proud to see him receive the recognition he deserves,” Greenwood said.
“There’s no question in my mind that it is only a matter of time before he wins a Hart Trophy. He’s such a talented and driven athlete and has established himself as a bona fide top three player in the world.”
Greenwood said MacKinnon’s desire to continually improve all aspects of his game is something that helps set him apart from the crowd.
“I’ve never been around a more competitive athlete. When you couple that with world-class skill it’s a scary combination. He’s never satisfied and continues to push himself to improve every year.”
Although it seems like yesterday that he was hoisting the Memorial Cup in a Mooseheads uniform, MacKinnon has now played in the National Hockey League for seven seasons after being drafted first overall by the Avalanche in 2013. He has scored a total of 495 career points with 190 goals and 305 assists.
Mooseheads General Manager Cam Russell also spoke proudly when discussing the latest accolades for his former player.
“I’m very excited and happy for him as he has definitely earned this. It doesn’t surprise me given his extreme excellence and consistency over the past few years. Nate’s world-class skill and desire to win make him the elite player that he is today.”
The soon-to-be 25 year-old MacKinnon is also nominated for the Ted Lindsay Award as outstanding player voted by the NHLPA and the Lady Bing Trophy which is given to the player who best combines sportsmanship, gentlemanly conduct and ability. The award winners will be announced during the Conference Finals.