Nathan MacKinnon called linemate Jonathan Drouin the most skilled player in the 2013 draft. Drouin called MacKinnon the most explosive skater whose complete game and compete level will allow the Halifax Mooseheads centre to transition into the NHL next season.

That should be for Colorado, which owns the first overall selection Sunday in Newark, N.J. It could be for someone with a shuffle of the selection order — the Avalanche were initially sold on defenceman Seth Jones and wouldn’t rule out trading the pick — but the consensus on a sweltering Friday at a water-side news conference was that MacKinnon was ready to take the professional plunge. Avalanche coach Patrick Roy, a former QMJHL bench boss, said it would be tough not to take MacKinnon and slot him as a third-line centre.

“I’m pretty confident I can play next year in the NHL and have a good impact,” said MacKinnon. “I want to be more than just ready to play. I don’t want to hang on and not help the team win. I’m not looking for 26 minutes a night, but I’ll earn what I get and like to think I’m a good all-round player.

“I’m a very competitive guy and always want to be the best I can be and have a love of the game. I skated the last two summers with Sidney Crosby and it seems like he’s a machine out there. He never gets tired. And it’s not just a natural skill, he worked at it and that’s the exciting part.”

What really sets MacKinnon apart is his ability to perform under pressure. While others succumb to great expectation on the greatest of stages, MacKinnon delivers. The most valuable player in the 2013 Memorial Cup had seven goals and 13 points in the tournament — including a hat trick and five points in the 6-4 final victory over the Portland Winterhawks — and in 34 career QMJHL playoff games, the 17-year-old Halifax native had 24 goals and 61 points. Too many NHL teams see great regular-season players disappear in the playoffs. This guy shows up.