Dec 20, 2014; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres defensemanAndre Benoit
(61) and Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) go after a loose puck during the first period at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Will Nathan MacKinnon start taking over centerman duties?
Nathan MacKinnon was drafted first-overall as a natural centerman. Yet he’s spent the majority of his two-year career on wing. That’s pretty natural. Center is something of a quarterbacking position with a lot of two-way play. MacKinnon has needed to grow into that role, especially when it comes to the defensive side of his game.
Faceoffs weren’t great either as he earned just a 47 faceoff win percentage last season.
That said, MacKinnon is no longer a teen, and he’s entering the third year of his career. He spent the majority of the last two summers training with one of the best centers in the NHL, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby.
MacKinnon spent a lot of time on Ryan O’Reilly’s wing last season, and, of course, O’Reilly is gone. Avalanche execs acquired Carl Soderberg for that position. However, it’s also no secret that Soderberg is supposed to be a temporary fix until MacKinnon is ready to take over those duties.
Ever since drafting Nathan MacKinnon, the Colorado Avalanche have made no bones that their expected one-two punch on center is MacKinnon and Duchene. Will this be the year MacKinnon steps more into that role? Or will Soderberg center that line for the majority of the season?