After Nathan MacKinnon shattered Halifax Mooseheads playoff scoring records last month, it’s difficult to comprehend the possibility of him being even better next season.
But with the his off-season training hitting full swing, that’s exactly what the 16-year-old from Cole Harbour has in mind as he gets ready for his NHL draft year.
“Mainly, I produced offence off the rush last year and I still want to do that, but at the same time, I want to get better at making plays below the dots,” MacKinnon said. “That’s what I’m trying to work on, and get stronger, for next year.”
MacKinnon was announced Tuesday as one of three nominees for Sport Nova Scotia’s Ricoh male team athlete of the year award at a press conference at the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame.
He said he took a few weeks to unwind after a record-setting 13-goal, 28-point playoff run that brought the Mooseheads to within two wins of the QMJHL final. Since then, he’s trained daily at Saint Mary’s University in preparation for two off-season camps in Los Angeles next month.
One will be with well-known strength and fitness trainer Andy O’Brien and the other will be with his agent, Pat Brisson. Fellow 2013 NHL draft prospects Seth Jones and Max Domi will also attend the camps, MacKinnon said.
“It’s just fun,” said MacKinnon, who is ranked No. 1 for the 2013 draft by Red Line Report.
“You push yourself, but more than anything, it’s just to get ready for the season. It’s intense and it’s with a lot of great players.”
Although it was recently announced MacKinnon is ineligible to play in the Canada-Russia Challenge in August because of his underage status, he’s hoping to make the Canadian world under-18 team for the Ivan Hlinka memorial tournament in Slovakia and the Czech Republic from Aug. 13 to 18.
It would be his first experience in a Canadian jersey.
“That would be pretty cool to represent Canada internationally,” MacKinnon said. “A lot of people are out to get us. We’re the best hockey country in the world so it would definitely an exciting time and I’m looking forward to it.”