It won’t matter if they’re ready or if it’s the right thing to do.

Both Nathan MacKinnon and Seth Jones will be in the NHL next season as 18-year-olds because that’s what happens pretty much every year now.

The last No. 1 pick in the entry draft not to immediately play in the NHL was Erik Johnson (2006), and whether it’s been goalies — Marc-Andre Fleury and Rick DiPietro — or position players, it’s otherwise been virtually automatic for these first overall selections to skip both extra time in junior hockey and minor pro seasoning.

Some could have used one or both. But the NHL culture is both conservative and unimaginative when it comes to many things, and this is one of them.

Given that MacKinnon and Jones are virtually in a dead heat for the honour of going first in the draft — Jones is ranked first by NHL Central Scouting — you essentially guarantee both played their last major junior game on Sunday at the 2013 Memorial Cup championship game.

What a way to go out.

MacKinnon, at least, got two years of major junior experience with the Halifax Mooseheads after being acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar back in July 2011. Jones was always viewed as a “one and done” player when he was acquired from Everett by the Portland Winterhawks.

Both have received all kinds of attention this season, but will have that ramped up another notch next season as NHL rookies even if they are, as expected, drafted to relatively lower-profile hockey markets in Colorado and Florida.

MacKinnon, as a forward, can at least hide a bit more than a defenceman can.

Jones will benefit from the cloud cover that comes in one of these markets, but as a defenceman, even casual fans will notice when he errs or is beaten on a play.

Sunday night wasn’t a one-game occasion quite like, say, back in 1979 when Magic Johnson led Michigan State over Larry Bird and Indiana State. Indeed, it’s unlikely that a rivalry between MacKinnon and Jones will carry over to the NHL a la Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, particularly since one is a forward and one’s a defenceman and it appears almost certain they will end up in different conferences.

Still, it has been interesting this season to watch MacKinnon lock horns with Jones in a variety of different scenarios.

First came the world junior championship in which MacKinnon played a peripheral role for Team Canada while Jones was given big minutes on the back end for the U.S.. The Americans went on to win the title, and it was probably no coincidence Jones moved to No. 1 in the world shortly thereafter, although scouts love to pretend one single event doesn’t alter their perceptions of teenage hockey players.