What makes both these young players so unique, is the similarities between their junior careers and two former first overall draft picks; John Tavares and Sidney Crosby.
Connor McDavid- Erie Otters (OHL)
What's so special about McDavid? The fact that he is only the third player to be granted "exceptional status" by hockey Canada allowing him to play in the OHL at the age of 15. The Otters took him first overall in the OHL draft in April and are excited to see how his rookie season will unfold. It will be a bit of an adjustment for the 15 year-old who will now face opponents as much as 5 years older than him. It was a "no brainer" for hockey Canada to allow McDavid an early pass into the OHL after he racked up 72 points in just 33 games playing for the Toronto Marlboros in the GTHL and being named the GTHL player of the year, all while being a year younger than his teammates.
McDavid is a speedy 5 foot 11 centre who has amazing creativity with the puck and is fully committed to playing in both ends. 9 games into his rookie season he's racked up 9 points in just 7 games (4 goals and 5 assists) and is leading his team in points. Not bad for the 15 year-old phenom. The most remarkable thing is McDavid won't be draft eligible until 2015 a full 3 seasons away, which will give him enough time to make a name for himself with team Canada playing in the world juniors.
It will be interesting to watch McDavid grow and develop in the OHL the next 4 years. There's a lot of pressure riding on the 15 year-old it will interesting to see how he handles it all, especially being in Pennsylvania away from his family and friends in Toronto.
Nathan MacKinnon- Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
From a prospect who won't be draft eligible until 2015 to a player who has a strong possibility of going first overall in 2013, Nathan MacKinnon. By now most hockey fans have heard of MacKinnon, or at least his eerily similar path as Sidney Crosby. Both hail from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, both are elite centremen, both attended Shattuck-Saint Mary's hockey prep school, both were drafted 1st overall in the QMJHL and perhaps the strangest similarity of them all; The season before Crosby was drafted was lost because of an NHL lockout.
Much like Crosby if the NHL does indeed suffer a full season lockout, every NHL team will have shot at drafting MacKinnon. In his first season with the MooseHeads he racked up an outstanding 78 points in just 58 games and is off to a solid start again this season with 13 points in 7 games. Mackinnon's goal for this season is simple, win the Memorial Cup;
"We want to win the Memorial Cup next year, that's our goal!" ~ Nathan MacKinnon
MacKinnon has the ability to put an entire team on his back and skate them to victory. Even after getting cut from the U-18 junior team last season, he answered back on the ice with a 5 goal performance against the QMJHL's top team. MacKinnon will be on top of every teams wish list and is one of the tops prospects for next years draft. Even if there is no hockey this season, next years draft will be something to look forward too. Will the kid from Cole Harbour get drafted first overall like another Cole Harbour native?
Although the present seems bleak the future looks bright for the NHL and their prospects. The next wave of superstars is almost ready to make it's mark and it will likely be lead by the next, next one Nathan MacKinnon. Make sure you check out these two while they are still with their junior teams and watch them shine.