- Craig Custance
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Last week, the Colorado Avalanche made it clear they weren't going to draft Seth Jones, the presumed choice, with the No. 1 overall pick. Now, according to new coach Patrick Roy, they have a clear order of preference among the top forwards.
If the draft was today, he said, they'd select Halifax center Nathan MacKinnon with the first pick.
"It would be tough for us not to take MacKinnon," Roy told ESPN The Magazine. "MacKinnon is ready to play tomorrow."
Roy didn't rule out trading the pick and said there's been plenty of interest from other teams since word spread that Colorado was open to a deal. Roy has a say in personnel with the Avalanche as the coach and vice president of hockey operations.
"We have received a lot of calls. [Avalanche executive] Joe [Sakic] has received some. I have received some," Roy said. "It's important for us to see, 'What can we do to make our team better?' We have to look at all options. We can't just close our eyes and say, 'Let's just take a player.'"
Roy said after MacKinnon, the organization likes Jonathan Drouin and then Alexander Barkov -- in that order. But right now, drafting MacKinnon and having him start the season as the Avalanche's third-line center is his preference.
"It would be great for MacKinnon to start there. Less pressure," Roy said. "It's the perfect fit for him."
Meanwhile, the Avs added to their coaching staff Monday, hiring Andre Tourigny as an assistant coach to Roy, while former defenseman Adam Foote is rejoining the team as a defense development consultant.
The Avalanche also announced on Monday that Craig Billington, the team's vice president of player development and minor league operations, has been named assistant general manager. Mario Duhamel is the team's new video coach.
Tourigny has spent the past 11 seasons as head coach and general manager of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Duhamel has been head coach of the Drummondville Voltigeurs in that league for four seasons.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.