By all accounts, the grating effects of an 82-game season should have taken a toll on Colorado Avalanche rookie Nathan MacKinnon by now, running the 18-year-old ragged or at least temporarily dimming the bright spots of his game.

But the novelty of playing in the NHL has yet to diminish for the first overall pick in the 2013 draft, as the dynamic young center still marvels at what a world of difference he has experienced since making the jump from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He barely blinks about the travel, the bumps and bruises, or the mental toll of an Olympic-year grind.

After two years playing in the "Q" he's still just happy to have a hot meal after every game.

"It's easier than junior. You don't have 12-hour bus trips. No cold mashed potatoes or dried chicken," MacKinnon told ESPN.com. "They treat us really amazing in the NHL. It's a much busier schedule, more demanding, but you have every opportunity to take care of yourself."

MacKinnon has proved himself more than capable of handling what can be a daunting transition for any player, even one that has drawn comparisons to Sidney Crosby -- not just because they hail from the same town in Nova Scotia, but because MacKinnon's prolific scoring potential also portends a promising future.