Top prospects take a break in the Big Apple
The four top North American skaters took a break in NYC, catching a Yankees game and visiting the Empire State Building.
NEW YORK -- After months of playing, practicing, training and interviewing, the top prospects for the 2013 NHL Draft have descended on New York for a few days of fun before the big event Sunday at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN).
Seth Jones, Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin and Darnell Nurse, NHL Central Scouting's top four North American skaters for this year's draft, saw some of the sights of New York on Thursday, including a tour of Yankee Stadium, tickets to the Yankees-Rangers game and then a trip to the top of the Empire State Building.
"I've never been to New York City," Jones said. "It's a new experience for me here. Seeing all the people, the constant traffic, taxis everywhere. It's just like the movies."
The players took pictures of the view from the observation deck on the 86th floor, then posed for pictures for media and a throng of fans who strained to see the next generation of NHL stars.
It's the first of a series of events leading up to the draft for the top players, including a luncheon and more media interviews Friday, and a clinic Saturday at the AmeriHealth Pavilion in Newark for local youth hockey players.
"This is an unbelievable experience," Nurse said. "It's something we all dream about as kids. … This is the fun part, all the media stuff.
"It really sunk in today, even just coming up in the elevator. I'm in New York now and I get to share this all with my family."
Nurse said he had been to New York only once before, but a draft in the area is nothing new for his family. His uncle, Donovan McNabb, was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles with the No. 2 pick in the 1999 NFL draft, which was held at Radio City Music Hall.
"His biggest advice was just to enjoy it all," Nurse said. "You only get to go through this once. This is the fun part, before all the work starts. Enjoy every moment that you have."
Drouin also said he's trying to enjoy his time in New York.
"I got in town [Wednesday] night and obviously being here, this is a high point," he said. "There's a lot of stuff going on. It's great to be here -- it's New York and New Jersey. There's a lot of fun stuff to do."
That includes poking a little fun at Nurse, who apparently missed the meeting about attire for the day. Jones, MacKinnon and Drouin arrived in matching white 2013 NHL Draft golf shirts, while Nurse was wearing a gray shirt.
"Darnell just came in," Drouin said. "I think he had school or something. There's a few little chirps going on."
In his defense, Nurse said he got to New York only a few hours before the players went to the Rangers-Yankees game. At least he got one of the navy Yankee hats the other three prospects were wearing.
"I got in about an hour ago," he said. "They all got the matching attire. I got the hat, though. That's good enough for me."
The good-natured chirps come with going through this process with friends. MacKinnon and Drouin are teammates with the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and have played in Hockey Canada events with Nurse, a defenseman with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League. MacKinnon and Jones, a defenseman with the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League, have been roommates at the same summer hockey camp since they were 15 years old, and the foursome attended Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final in Boston last week.
"These are great guys," Nurse said. "And when you're able to share in a moment with guys like this, it makes it even more special. It's fun."
MacKinnon echoed those sentiments: "It's very nice. Along with [Drouin] … we went through this all year. Seth, I've been his roommate the past few summers. It's pretty cool we get to share this moment with each other."
They'll be part of another big moment Sunday.
"I'm very excited to get this thing going," MacKinnon said. "It's been a long road here, a lot of speculation. I thought about this day my whole life. It's right around the corner and it's a lot of fun."
Follow Adam Kimelman on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Author: Adam Kimelman | NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor