Jun 30, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; Number one overall draft pick Nathan MacKinnon (middle) , number two overall pick Aleksander Barkov (right) and number three overall pick Jonathan Drouin (left) pose for photos during the 2013 NHL Draft at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Avalanche Ahead -- Breakouts and Disappointments Part 4

With the 2013/14 season rapidly approaching – 27 days!!!! – it’s time to look towards the upcoming season with an eye on expectations.

Every year, every team has its breakout players; the guys who rise to prominence either as a rookie, totally out of nowhere, or as an established player making a big jump. Each team also has its share of disappointments (some more than others). Over the next several days, we’ll look at three of each for the Avalanche for 2013/14 and just why their name is mentioned.

Unfortunately, where there is good there is bad and it’s time for the disappointments for the 2013/14 season.

Our first “disappointment”’ may not be disappointing in a general sense but he’ll no doubt have some unrealistic expectations due to his lofty draft status as the first overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft; Nathan MacKinnon will let some folks down.

And that’s what people do. They assign unfair, unrealistic expectations to those with lofty draft statuses and are flabberghasted when those rookies don’t post first seasons like those of Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. Sure, those guys were also top picks but they were and are generational talents; once-in-a-lifetime talents that just happened to come along at the same time. So no matter how many people out there try to be level-headed, there will be ten times the amount who expect the world of MacKinnon RIGHT NOW.

So what’s “disappointing” when we’re discussing MacKinnon? The fair expectations right now are that he’ll start – not necessarily stay – on the third line, he’ll grab some power play time, and he’ll have some spectacular moments on his way to something along the lines of mid-teens in goals and 40-50 points.

To me, the more and more I read about MacKinnon, past first overall picks, and quotes from those in the Avalanche blogosphere, it seems to me that MacKinnon is going to be broken in lightly.

What do I mean by that? I mean that he’ll start on the third line, sure, but his minutes and when he sees the ice will be carefully watched and monitored. He’s going to be limited – coddled – to a degree and that’s fine; it’s not saying anything about him other than “management really wants this guy to succeed so they’re going to coddle him along.”

The key here, the key to making sure MacKinnon doesn’t have a “disappointing” season, is to nip those expectations in the bud. Temper those expectations, enjoy the exciting moments, and prepare for a lot of sheltering. It’s the right thing to do and you’ll all be happy for it as soon as next season.

Besides, if you, as an Avs fan, are disappointed by MacKinnon at any point this season, just remember that the team wants to protect him. And that he’s always capable of this:

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Tags: Colorado Avalanche Disappointments Nathan MacKinnon NHL

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