There’s an article up at TSN about a prospect named Nathan MacKinnon, who recently went first overall in the QMJHL draft.  He’s the best QMJHL forward since Sidney Crosby, and the article goes out of the way to point out similarities between the two players, such as the facts that:

  • both attended Shattuck St. Mary’s preparatory school
  • both are from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia
  • both have a relationship with player agent Pat Brisson
  • both went first overall in the QMJHL draft

Can MacKinnon be the next Crosby?  To answer that question, I decided to look at both players’ offensive numbers at Shattuck St. Mary’s, and to compare them to some other forwards that are either successful NHL players or highly touted NHL prospects.

Even for a successful developmental school like Shattuck St. Mary’s, there aren’t that many players worth considering.  My list includes seven names, three of whom played at age 15 and the rest at age 16:

  • Sidney Crosby (age 15)
  • Emerson Etem (age 15)
  • Nathan MacKinnon (age 15)
  • Kyle Okposo (age 16)
  • Zach Parise (age 16)
  • Drew Stafford (age 16)
  • Jonathan Toews (age 16)

How do these players compare?

Player GP G A PTS PTS/GM Age
Sidney Crosby 57 72 90 162 2.84 15
Zach Parise 58 69 93 162 2.79 16
Nathan MacKinnon 32 39 46 85 2.50 15
Drew Stafford 45 35 53 88 1.96 16
Jonathan Toews 64 48 62 110 1.72 16
Kyle Okposo 65 47 45 92 1.42 16
Emerson Etem 58 13 15 28 0.48 15

MacKinnon’s obviously in pretty good company.  He outperforms everyone on the list, almost always at a younger age, except for Parise and Crosby.  Given that Parise was a year older (and the difference in performance at 16 vs. 15 is huge), I’d be inclined to put him ahead of Parise as well at this point.

Is he Sidney Crosby?  At this stage, I would suggest the answer to that question is no.  MacKinnon is a very, very good player, and already the favourite to go first overall in 2013, but it isn’t fair to compare him to the best forward the NHL has seen since pre-concussion Eric Lindros.  He’s certainly in the range, but at this point he’s a little bit behind and that’s an incredible level of expectation to put on a hockey player who isn’t even 16 yet.

This will be a comparison worth watching as MacKinnon makes the jump to the QMJHL.