MacKinnon or Jones at No. 1 in 2013?

Updated: December 14, 2011, 4:29 PM ET
By Grant Sonier

What seems like a lifetime away is already a discussion. Who will go No. 1 overall in the 2013 NHL draft?

Yes, 2013. Although we're getting ahead of ourselves slightly, it's hard not to notice two very bright stars on the horizon.

Whenever the search starts for the next generation of talent, we have a tendency to compare potential stars to our current superstars. In the NHL, the question was always, "Who's the next Wayne Gretzky?" At least it was until Sidney Crosby entered the league. Now, the 2013 draft offers a player already affixed with the label of Crosby's heir: Nathan MacKinnon. But he's not alone at the top of the draft.

MacKinnon's early competition for the No. 1 pick is a big D from outside the Big D -- Dallas, Texas. Because he's an African-American whose father played in the NBA, it's easy to think you know why defenseman Seth Jones stands out. But for NHL scouts, there are far more intriguing qualities in the son of Popeye Jones than his heritage, lineage and birthplace in the Lone Star State. At 17, Jones is already a standout as an underager playing with the U.S. national team development program and has a real shot to make the American under-20 roster for the world junior championships. I've seen Jones play on a number of occasions, and after my most recent viewing, there is no doubt in my mind that he could step onto NHL ice today and contribute to a team.

So the debate begins: Which of these 2013 talents is the No. 1 pick? Let's break down their games and a few NHL drafting tendencies to find out.