The Colorado Avalanche had a dismal season, but at least some of their star players are performing well at the IIHF Worlds.
Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon is not only playing well, he’s putting on a dominant performance.
So far in the preliminary round, MacKinnon leads the tournament in goals with five, and is tied for second in scoring with Tyson Barrie and Jeff Skinner at seven points.
MacKinnon is obviously surrounded by top end talent, and it’s paying off. That begs the question: what if Nathan MacKinnon was surrounded by that kind of talent on the Colorado Avalanche?
We’ve all been waiting for MacK’s breakout year since the end of his rookie season. He’s yet to top the point total he put up that year though, and we’ve expected so much more. However, if MacKinnon is surrounded by legitimate talent, he knows what to do with the puck.
He showcased his abilities at the World Cup with truly amazing plays, and three points in three games. He showcased his skills at last year’s IIHF World Championships with nine points in 10 games. And, he’s showcasing his talent once again this year.
There are two constants that shine through out of those circumstances above: MacK is not playing on the Avalanche, and he’s surrounded by superior players.
How Can Nathan MacKinnon Make International Success Translate to NHL?
A lot of the onus obviously falls on Nathan MacKinnon because he’s responsible for his own success. However, as this article from CBS Sports illustrates, Nathan MacKinnon is not far from having that breakout season we all dream about.
The article cites his dismal 6.4 percent shooting percentage from this past season as one of the reasons he didn’t see more success. Nathan MacKinnon currently has a shooting percentage of 41.7 percent at the IIHF Worlds. He’s also still taking a bunch of shots, with 12 shots tallied in three games.
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The point is, the kid knows how to shoot. It’s where he’s shooting from, and the set-ups he’s getting that are making the difference.
How often have we seen Nathan MacKinnon drive the play, and the get the lone shot on goal for the Avs on an offensive possession?
He’s always the one driving the play, and finding his shot, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, if he had some linemates that could get him the puck in scoring areas, his shooting percentage and subsequent point total would skyrocket.
Luckily, Mikko Rantanen looks to be a player who can bring that facet to MacK’s line.
The Future is Still Bright
The fact of the matter is that Nathan MacKinnon has the potential to be a superstar in the NHL. He just needs to be surrounded by the talent to do so.
First of all, MacK knows how to generate shots — only 15 players outshot him in the NHL this past season. Those 15 players averaged 69 points on the season.
Secondly, MacKinnon knows how to find his teammates and put the puck on their tape. He was tied for 20th this year in assist totals, on the worst offensive team in hockey.
Finally, he generates positive possession numbers, as he had a 52 percent Corsi-for percentage this season.
Nathan MacKinnon has the skills and talent necessary to take this league by storm, and that breakout season will eventually come if he’s surrounded by the talent that can play with him.
I’m trying to find bright spots right now because it just doesn’t seem possible for the Avs to get beat down any further. So, now it’s back up right? Even if it is a slow growth back up to the top?
Whatever happens, Nathan MacKinnon is surely the future of the Colorado Avalanche. He has the type of intangibles of a center that teams build around. Make no mistake, MacKinnon is without a doubt a No. 1 center, and I think we will see that come to fruition next season.
Consider this, if MacKinnon were to elevate his shooting percentage by just 4.4 percentage points — to 11 percent — and take the same amount of shots next season as he did this season, he would score 28 goals.
That would bring his point total up to 65 points with the same amount of assists. That’s a marked improvement, and a highly probably one as well. It’s even more probable for him to elevate that point total further with Mikko Rantanen likely to take the next step in his development.
The future is bright folks, don’t give up hope yet.