As it turned out, Joe Sakic and the Colorado Avalanche brain trust were not being coy.
Sakic, the team's executive vice president of hockey operations, had said the team would select dynamic center Nathan MacKinnon with the top pick in Sunday's NHL entry draft at Newark, N.J.
MacKinnon, who won't turn 18 until September, went No. 1 to the Avalanche. He grew up in Cole Harbor, Nova Scotia, the hometown of Penguins star Sidney Crosby.
Not much pressure there, of course.
"It's always been my dream as a kid to go No. 1," MacKinnon said in an interview with the Canadian cable network TSN.
Said Sakic: "Nathan has lived under the microscope for a long time and the pressure and he's always risen to that occasion .... He wants to be a difference maker and he is a difference maker."
One of the early surprises of the first round was the destination of defenseman Seth Jones, who had been projected as the No. 1 choice in some quarters but was taken by the Nashville Predators at No. 4.
Florida took Aleksander Barkov with the second selection and Tampa Bay opted for Jonathan Drouin at No. 3.
Jones is the son of former NBA player Popeye Jones, an assistant coach on the staff of the Brooklyn Nets.
Seth Jones immediately said that he was going to try to make those teams "regret" not taking him.
Nashville General Manager David Poile was thrilled, in his low-key manner. "We had him No. 1 all year long," Poile said on TSN. "I’m extremely happy. This works out great for us. Another building block. You coundn’t ask for a better situation."
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