MacKinnon will captain Team Cherry at Wednesday's CHL Top Prospects Game (Ghyslain Bergeron, The Canadian Press)
Jonathan Drouin, Nathan MacKinnon and Seth Jones are trying to betray no effect from burning the candle at both ends of the world, and a continent.
The question of how much is too much hockey for a teenage talent whose body is still developing seldom creeps in on the sport's native logic. So if the Canadian Hockey League schedules its mid-season showcase, the CHL/NHL Top Prospects, just 11 days after the end of a world junior championship in far-flung Ufa, Russia, the marquee players will declare themselves good to go. After all, they are trying to show they can stand up to an 82-game NHL schedule, possibly as soon next season.
"My legs are maybe not still where they're supposed to be — that's part of going to Russia," says Drouin, who will be on a line with Team Cherry captain MacKinnon of the host Halifax Mooseheads on Wednesday, with Jones looming on the opposing blueline as captain of Team Orr. "You got to deal with that. That's what I'm trying to do, same with Nate. We're still a little tired, but that's part of that. That's what the NHL guys do. It was a great opportunity to go to Russia."
"They do that in the NHL every day and they get used to it and that's what I'm trying to do here."
Five players lacing up on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT, Rogers Sportsnet, BTN livechat) also participated in the world junior. Along with Drouin and MacKinnon, Team Cherry defenceman Mirco Mueller helped Switzerland reach the medal round. Jones and the Plymouth Whalers' Ryan Hartman helped Team USA win the gold.
At least Drouin and MacKinnon are playing in their home arena. Jones has crossed North America twice since getting back to Russia. The rangy defenceman fit in two games with the Portland Winterhawks before going from one coast to the other.
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