Is MacKinnon the next Crosby?

Projections show that Avs rookie will be among NHL's elite very soon

Updated: April 24, 2014, 2:41 PM ET
By Corey Pronman | ESPN Insider

Nathan MacKinnon Bruce Bennett/Getty ImagesColorado had high hopes for Nathan MacKinnon as the No. 1 pick, and he's been as good as advertised.

Nathan MacKinnon's fantastic performance early in the series versus the Minnesota Wild has understandably generated a lot of buzz for the first overall pick in the 2013 NHL draft. He is the odds-on favorite to win the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie, and he has put up seven points (one goal and six assists) in the three games against Minnesota while skating more than 20 minutes per game.

But let's dive a little bit deeper: Exactly how good is Nathan MacKinnon now, and how good will he be?

MacKinnon vs. other 18-year-olds

Some of the most useful applications of goals versus threshold -- or any type of wins above replacement stat in hockey -- are population-based studies, especially those over many seasons, since scoring in the NHL has varied wildly by era. These stats incorporate era adjustments that can shed light on how a player is actually doing relative to the league, which is the most important question.

The following chart is the NHL GVT of first overall picks at age 18. The age filter is important -- the jump in performance year-to-year among the youngest NHL players is drastic -- hence Taylor Hall, Patrick Kane, Nail Yakupov, Alex Ovechkin and others are omitted from this peer group.

Corey Pronman is ESPN's NHL Draft and Prospects analyst. He provides analysis on the top draft-eligible players, prospects drafted by NHL teams and all other relevant prospect information. He lives in New York.