Nathan MacKinnon coming to Mooseheads in blockbuster deal

The Halifax Mooseheads have landed homegrown hockey star Nathan MacKinnon.

Multiple sources have told Metro the Mooseheads will acquire the 15-year-old Cole Harbour centre from the Baie-Comeau Drakkar in a blockbuster trade that will send reigning team MVP Carl Gelinas, 18-year-old centre Francis Turbide and three first-round draft picks in the other direction.

Although the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's next trade period doesn't open until Aug. 1, the deal is expected to be announced on Wednesday at a press conference in Baie-Comeau, Que.

Neither Mooseheads general manager Cam Russell nor majority owner Bobby Smith were willing to confirm the trade after news broke on RDS late Monday.

"The Drakkar are having a press conference on Wednesday and we will have a statement at that time," Smith said.

Drakkar GM Steve Ahern could not be reached for comment.

MacKinnon, considered the QMJHL's best prospect since Sidney Crosby, was taken first overall in last month's draft even though he had not committed to play in Baie-Comeau and had publicly discussed going the U.S. college route instead.

Gelinas, a 19-year-old winger, is coming off a terrific season that saw him post 26 goals and 28 assists for 54 points in 68 games. Turbide was a favourite of the Mooseheads' 2010-11 coaching staff who had seven goals and eight assists in a checking role.

As for the draft picks, the Mooseheads stocked up on those on Monday by dealing prospect Adam Erne to the Quebec Remparts in exchange for first-round picks in 2013 and 2014 and a second-round pick in 2012.

It was a big return for Erne, who the Mooseheads drafted in the second round, 22nd overall, last month.

The deal left the Mooseheads with five first-round picks and four second-rounders over the next three years, giving them plenty of breathing room in MacKinnon negotiations.

Erne, a five-foot-11, 198-pound winger, played last season with the Indiana Ice of the United States Hockey League and wasn't interested in reporting to the Mooseheads. But sources say the Remparts will have more luck luring him away from the U.S. college route.

The Mooseheads considered Erne every bit as talented as Jonathan Drouin, who they took second overall in the same draft.

"Obviously he's a hell of a player," Smith said of Erne. "I said to (Remparts GM) Patrick (Roy), 'I wouldn't give you Drouin for a second and two firsts, so you're getting a good deal.'"

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