After an NHL season to forget, Nathan MacKinnon suits up for Team Canada

Cole Harbour's Nathan MacKinnon would rather be playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but that doesn't mean he's not excited about suiting up for Canada at the world hockey championships.

MacKinnon assisted on Canada's first goal in a 4-1 pre-tournament win over Switzerland on Tuesday in Geneva.

"A lot of the guys over here already know each other from playing in past tournaments," said MacKinnon. "We've gotten to know each other pretty quickly here and we've done a lot of team bonding. It's been a lot of fun."

A lot of fun wouldn't be the words to describe MacKinnon's season with the Colorado Avalanche. The 21-year-old forward admits his fourth year in the NHL was a frustrating one. His team finished dead last in the league standings, a whopping 21 points behind the second worst team, the Vancouver Canucks.

"Obviously, it was a tough year and we'd all rather be playing in the playoffs, but at the same time it's fun to come over here and meet new guys and represent your country."

Injuries and a championship

MacKinnon was pegged for stardom after he was selected first overall in the 2013 NHL entry draft.

His rookie season with Colorado was a good one as he scored 63 points and led his team into the playoffs. He won the Calder trophy as the league's top rookie. But over the next three years MacKinnon's point production tailed off and he was often injured.

MacKinnon, who led the Halifax Mooseheads to their only Memorial Cup title in 2013 when he recorded three goals and two assists in the championship game against Portland, has played in the world championships before.

In 2015, he was a key part of the Canadian team that won all 10 games they played as they cruised to the gold medal.

It was in that tournament MacKinnon skated alongside his Cole Harbour hockey idol Sidney Crosby for the first time.

Trailer Park Boys

This year, MacKinnon's season started off on a high note when he played for team North America at the World Cup of Hockey. MacKinnon was one of the top players on the team comprised of North American players under the age of 24.

Team Canada will play its first game of the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship on Friday against the Czech Republic. The world championships are being played in the cities of Paris and Cologne, Germany.

Three of MacKinnon's Colorado teammates, goaltender Calvin Pickard, forward Matt Duchene and defenceman Tyson Barrie, will also be playing for Canada.

Off the ice, MacKinnon has added to his acting resume. He made a cameo appearance in a recent episode of Trailer Park Boys.

"Those guys are awesome," said MacKinnon. "They're all from Nova Scotia, so we've got the connection there, it was a lot of fun."

MacKinnon has also made appearances in episodes of Mr. D and, along with Crosby, has appeared in commercials for Tim Hortons.