Mikko Rantanen: Reaction to His Contract Signing


The Colorado Avalanche signed right wing Mikko Rantanen to a three-year entry level contract — that’s kind of old news by now.

As Rick Sadowski of NHL.com points, out, Rantanen made a strong impression at the Avalanche prospect development camp. He’s big, he’s strong and he’s a good skater. Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy said of the team’s selecting him:

"“We were pretty happy to see him there. He’s exactly what we were looking for, size, and a player that has good skating ability.”"

At the conclusion of the season coach Roy stated he wanted the Avalanche to get bigger, especially down the center. Well, the Avs accomplished that with their trades and free agent signings while quietly getting bigger on wing as well — at 6-foot-4, 211 pounds Rantanen is one of the biggest wingers on the team, second only to enforcer Patrick Bordeleau and a smidge bigger than Dennis Everberg. He’s pert near defenseman Erik Johnson‘s size.

The Avalanche had Rantanen targeted from the get-go. Coach Roy stated Colorado had considered trading up in order to get him, but decided to gamble that he’d still be available at the #10 pick. Avalanche GM Joe Sakic says they couldn’t get up to the podium fast enough to make their selection of Rantanen.

My Observations of Mikko Rantanen

I was one of quite a few people who went to the Avalanche’s prospect development camp, and one of the reasons I wanted to go was to see Mikko Rantanen. Of course I want to say he’s big — he is. However, he spent a lot of time skating with defensive prospect Mason Geertsen, who’s the same size, so Rantanen’s size looked normal until he skated next to one of the other prospects or a trainer.

I also noticed his skating ability — no question he’s strong on his skates. Here is a video I took on the first day of camp of Rantanen skating:

Here’s one of Rantanen in a shooting drill:

Watching his interviews, I find a few things interesting about him. For one, while it’s clear he’s still a teen, having played with the men’s elite league in Finland has clearly conveyed maturity on him. He’s poised and well-spoken. For instance, he said of transitioning to the smaller ice rinks:

"“I actually enjoy playing on a small rink. The World Juniors was my second time playing on small rinks. I enjoy that more. Things happen quicker and faster, so it’s good. Small rink or big rink, you can play hockey if you are good.”"

And Rantanen is good.

(I also noticed that’s he’s going to give captain Gabriel Landeskog competition for blond hair flow and Erik Johnson competition for deepest voice on the team. That’s a lot for an 18 year old.)

In summary, just because Rantanen signed that entry-level contract doesn’t mean he’s going to make the team out of the gate. If there’s one thing Roy and Sakic have, it’s patience for letting their young prospects develop. Ask Duncan Siemans, Chris Bigras, Conner Bleackley and Joey Hishon how much patience Roy and Sakic can have for development.

If Rantanen does make the team, he’d love to play with first-line center Matt Duchene. Of course he would — who wouldn’t? However, he’s more likely to play on the third or fourth lines. He’d do well to start slow and get his NHL legs.

So, while some people were a little surprised at how quickly the Colorado Avalanche offered Rantanen a professional contract, I’m not. Sakic and Roy knew exactly what they wanted, they acquired it, and he seems to be panning out in the initial stages. It makes sense they’d lock Mikko Rantanen down right away with an entry-level contract, especially since they’re comfortable sending him down San Antonio way or even back to Finland for a year to continue developing.

Next: Sakic and Roy Explain Avs Hockey

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