Mikko Rantanen is probably one of the most polarizing features of rookie camp this year because Colorado Avalanche fans have rarely — if ever — seen him in action, and are anxiously awaiting the outcome regarding whether or not he makes the roster.
Mikko Rantanen was the 10th overall pick of the Colorado Avalanche during this summer’s NHL Draft. He is touted as a skilled power forward, who can play all the positions, but would most likely play the wing for the Avalanche as they have an abundance of centers. Here’s the full draft profile that Janik Beichler of MHS gave before the Avalanche even picked him.
Rantanen has been playing pro hockey since the age of 16, but not many rookies — outside the top 5 or so in the draft — make the NHL right out of the gate. Furthermore, Rantanen does not have much experience on the North American ice surface, so he may need one year of development down San Antonio way.
Mikko Rantanen would be hard pressed to make the lineup this season as Patrick Roy would have to find overwhelming evidence that he is ready to play impactful minutes. However, through the two days of camp so far, Rantanen seems to be putting on a pretty good show, and he is certainly garnering attention for it:
However, it’s really no surprise that Mikko Rantanen is coming through with such an impressive appearance at his first rookie camp, because he has been pretty clear about making the roster since he was drafted. Here’s what he had to say during an interview with Eurolanche shortly after being drafted:
"My goal is to train as hard as possible during the summer, because the NHL’s a tough league. It’s the best league in the world but my goal is to prove that I can play in the NHL and I’m ready to fight for my spot in the Avalanche’s lineup. You have to work really hard to get there and I’m ready and willing to do that."
Nonetheless, he still has a lot to work on going into preseason; in fact, earlier this summer I released an article on some of the steps he might consider taking if he is indeed serious about making this year’s roster, and he followed up my analysis with confirming his need to improve his acceleration, here’s an interview from BSNDenver.com:
Regardless, Rantanen put in some quality effort this summer, flying back and forth from Finland several times in order to make the necessary events that the Avalanche hosted for their players.
Sure, some of these camps didn’t showcase his ability, or at least that was not the pivotal focus of some of the events; nonetheless, Mikko Rantanen showed a commitment to the team by ensuring that he was present for the events.
This year’s Colorado Avalanche roster — especially where Rantanen will be looking to make it — is like the Bellagio vault — it’s going to be tough to crack, but a skilled and confident individual could certainly find himself rich with opportunity if he takes the chance.
If Rantanen is to gain a spot on the Avalanche, it will be in a similar situation to that of Nathan MacKinnon during his rookie year. It will mean that he is ready for the top six; yet, will probably start on the third line for acclimation purposes. I remember that first game for Nathan MacKinnon, and particularly that behind-the-back pass to McGinn from behind the goal line for his first NHL point.
Just because I brought it up:
Unfortunately for Rantanen, Colorado Avalanche coaching staff have a bevy of offensive talent on this year’s roster, and are likely to lean toward keeping Rantanen in the AHL in order to further develop his talents. Sure, a third line of John Mitchell – Mikhail Grigorenko – Mikko Rantanen has a lot of potential, but it’s only potential because those players are unproven except for Mitchell.
Mikko Rantanen is having a great camp so far, and there’s a long journey ahead of him if he hopes to make the roster this year, but he’s on the right path as of now, or as BSN’s AJ Haefele said:
"Rookie Camp is just the first test in Rantanen’s quest to make the NHL this season, and right now he is flat out acing it."
It will certainly be fun and interesting to keep an eye on Rantanen’s progress during this camp and preseason, while also seeing how long he can hold on to a roster spot before a decision is made on either his demotion back to the pros, or his promotion to the NHL.
Nonetheless, it’s rather unlikely that Rantanen will make the roster before the season, unless players like Grigorenko and Soderberg prove unworthy of their roles (i.e. Soderberg shows an inability to play in the top six, and Grigs just flat out busts again).
Grigorenko is this year’s dark-horse; he could be underwhelming, overwhelming, or just serviceable. Personally, I think it will be a breakout year for Grigs so we won’t need Rantanen until next year. Furthermore, Soderberg will find a spot in the lineup where he can produce, and he will be a good asset to the team this year.
Thus, the best move for Mikko Rantanen is for him to be relegated to the AHL for some more development. Of course he may surprise and make the roster, impacting the team in a big way, but it will be better for his development if he is kept in the AHL at least to start the year. Here, he could even become one of the first call-ups for the Avalanche, especially if he adjusts to the smaller ice surface quickly and efficiently.
What do you think, AvsNation? Is Mikko Rantanen showing enough during rookie camp to earn a roster spot on this years team? Or is it better if he is kept in the AHL this season, at least to start? Let us know in the comments!
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