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The Colorado Avalanche have an up-and-coming superstar in forward Nathan MacKinnon. MacKinnon has spent the majority of his two-year career playing wing, but he’s a natural center.
Every Sunday during the off season we’re going to take a look at different Colorado Avalanche players and the contributions they made to the team. This week let’s look at the Avalanche’s young star, Nathan MacKinnon.
Nathan MacKinnon Statistics
We all know Nathan MacKinnon’s statistics were better in the 2013-14 season. After all, he went on to win the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year.
However, MacKinnon still put up reasonable numbers for a 19-year-old last year, especially considering he wasn’t being protected as much. He earned 14 goals and 24 assists for 38 points. He also missed 18 games, mostly with a broken foot at the end of the season.
It’s not like he wasn’t trying. MacKinnon actually finished third on the team for shots on goal with 192, behind only center Matt Duchene (207) and left wing Gabriel Landeskog (214). Not bad considering both of those players played all 82 games.
MacKinnon also earned his first NHL hat trick:
Like I said, MacKinnon wasn’t as protected last season. He spent an average 17 minutes of ice time per game. (By comparison, Duchene and Landeskog had ~18.56.)
Again considering his youth, MacKinnon was pretty good on his turnover ratio — +7. He’s not known for being a physical player, but he still laid 43 hits on opponents and blocked 41 shots. (Of course, we kind of wish he’d stop since that’s probably what broke his foot.)
The one area MacKinnon could use a little work on is faceoffs — only 47% last season.
Nathan MacKinnon’s statistics from Sporting Charts:
Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon’s statistics from the 2014-15 season. Photo from Sporting Charts.
Nathan MacKinnon Role
Nathan MacKinnon is slated to ultimately be a top-two center along with Matt Duchene. That has been the plan since the Colorado Avalanche drafted him. That’s part of the reason Paul Stastny left and part of the reason the Avs refused to overpay Ryan O’Reilly.
MacKinnon is known for his speed and his scoring ability. He’s also been working on his physical game. I wouldn’t go so far as to say he has the makings of a power forward. He did, however, get in his first NHL fight last season:
MacKinnon has also been working on his defensive game. Again, I wouldn’t call him a two-way forward, but he’s not a liability to his team defensively.
Nathan MacKinnon’s Future
The Colorado Avalanche acquired center Carl Soderberg over the summer. His role is to work that second centering position until MacKinnon can take over. It may take another full season, or we may see MacKinnon taking over his natural position more and more throughout the year.
MacKinnon has a pretty good role model for the job — Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby. MacK spent the majority of the summer palling around with his fellow Cole Harbour native. Considering Crosby’s renowned game preparation, it’s safe to say the two didn’t just make donut commercials and visit sick kids.
Nathan MacKinnon may not be slated to be quite the superstar Crosby is, but he’s certain to rival Matt Duchene, don’t you think?
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