Nate the kid

Nathan MacKinnon, perhaps the future of pro hockey. Robert Delahanty for ESPN The Magazine

This article appears in the March 8 issue of ESPN The Magazine. If you're interested in reading more about NHL prodigies, then check out Insider's NHL Draft Blog.

Nathan MacKinnon is like a lot of
hockey-playing, 14-year-old Canadian kids, in that he idolizes Sidney Crosby. He has posters of Crosby on his bedroom walls. He has read and reread a biography of Crosby. He watches the Penguins
phenom on TV every chance he gets, and has managed to see him in person a couple of times. His mom even got Crosby to autograph the cover of a magazine, which he keeps under glass so it will stay in mint condition.

Nathan MacKinnon is a little less like a lot of hockey-playing, 14-year-old Canadian kids, in that his life has eerily tracked Sidney Crosby's. He was raised minutes away from the home where Crosby grew up, in the Halifax suburb of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. Eight years apart, they played at the same rinks, competed in the same tournaments, played ball hockey on the same sleet-pelted tennis courts, and skated on the same frozen ponds. And much as Crosby used to fire pucks into his basement dryer, Nathan shot at a beat-up net with plastic milk jugs hanging off the crossbar for top-shelf targets.