06/26/2013 08:15 EDT | Updated 08/26/2013 05:12 EDT

Hope mounts that MacKinnon might go No.1 in NHL draft

With the NHL draft just days away some hockey experts are speculating that Halifax Moosehead Memorial Cup champion Nathan MacKinnon may be the No.1 draft pick.

Many people say MacKinnon is destined to follow in the footsteps of fellow Cole Harbour native Sidney Crosby.

Among 2013 draft prospects on, MacKinnon is ranked second to Memorial Cup rival Seth Jones of the Portland Winterhawks. Halifax Moosehead Jonathan Drouin is ranked third.

This week, Colorado Avalanche Coach Patrick Roy told ESPN that the team would be taking MacKinnon, if the team keeps their No. 1 selection instead of trading it.

“It would be tough for us not to take MacKinnon,” Roy told ESPN The Magazine.“MacKinnon is ready to play tomorrow.”

Roy said that after MacKinnon, the organization is leaning towards choosing Drouin and then Finnish player Alexander Barkov — in that order. But Roy said, drafting MacKinnon as the team’s third-line centre is his preference.

During an appearance on Denver television Monday, Joe Sakic, Colorado’s director of operations, echoed Roy’s statement saying that if the draft happened right now, MacKinnon would “probably” be the pick.

Colorado, which finished 29th in the 30-team league this season, won the NHL draft lottery last April.

Roy and Sakic are not the first to speculate the MacKinnon could go first.

MacKinnon has also finished first on TSN’s final Top 75 2013 NHL Draft Rankings.

Rick Pracey, Colorado's amateur scouting director, said last April that MacKinnon and Drouin are both very much in the picture to be selected first overall.

"This is not a slam-dunk decision by any means," he said. "Our philosophy has always been best player available."

Last month, independent scouting agency International Scouting Services placed MacKinnon first, ahead of Jones.

ISS started the year with MacKinnon as number one, but switched to Jones during the winter.

The NHL draft starts Sunday night at the Prudential Centre in Newark, N.J.