Colorado Avalanche May Have to Move Forward without Nathan MacKinnon UPDATED

The Colorado Avalanche may have to move forward for a while without Nathan MacKinnon, and that doesn’t bode well for the season.

Colorado Avalanche fans, have you seen that Rasmus Dahlin? He is a goal-scoring machine of a defenseman. He could well be a franchise-making player.

And if the Avalanche’s emerging superstar Nathan MacKinnon is out for any length of time, Dahlin may well end up in burgundy and blue.

The Colorado Avalanche played in Rogers Arena yesterday against the Vancouver Canucks. Midway through the second period, MacKinnon went in for a hit on Canucks defenceman Alexander Edler and was himself hit:

MacKinnon’s helmet popped off, but that wasn’t the important aspect of the play. He skated quickly off the ice, and was in obvious pain while talking to trainer Matthew Sokolowski on the bench:


He went to the locker room. And he did not return. There were a lot of reports to tell us that Nathan MacKinnon was not returning for the remainder of the game, but this is the one that sums up how all of us were feeling:


The Colorado Avalanche went on to lose in overtime. They are also out of the playoffs for right now.

Side note: Watch how captain Gabriel Landeskog steps in front of MacKinnon to shield him from the cameras. It’s very deliberate that that’s what he’s doing.

There’s no news as of yet what’s wrong with MacKinnon. He was very clearly clutching his shoulder. Avs insider Adrian Dater started speculating on Twitter about the nature of the injury, even throwing broken collar bone or concussion out there. MacKinnon’s helmet did pop off, but it didn’t look like much of a hit on his head. As far as broken collar bone, MacKinnon continued to scramble with the puck after the hit. I don’t think even a hockey player continues to fight in the dirty areas with a broken collar bone.

Other than that? No telling what the injury could be. Center Ryan O’Reilly missed several games after injuring his shoulder in a group hug gone awry.

In the post-game presser, coach Jared Bednar wouldn’t commit to how badly MacKinnon was injured. He wouldn’t state how long MacKinnon might be out, mentioning both day-to-day and weeks.

Avalanche commentator Mark Rycroft posited it might be an A.C. ligament injury which is a few days. He didn’t think it was as serious as a dislocated shoulder, which takes weeks. Again, MacKinnon finished his shift in the dirty area, and that doesn’t sound like dislocated shoulder territory.

According to AJ Haefele of BS Avalanche, MacKinnon flew to Edmonton with the Avalanche. That is good news. If the injury seemed serious — broken collar bone, dislocated shoulder — he’d have flown to Denver. It’s been further reported that, while he won’t play in Edmonton, he’s day-to-day.

There’s no reason to sugar coat the situation. Losing Nathan MacKinnon this season is every bit as disastrous as losing Erik Johnson last season was. Maybe more so.

We all know deep down that the Colorado Avalanche were riding MacKinnon’s coattails into the playoffs. They’re having such a huge turnaround year because he’s been having a lights-out season.

The way Colorado tried to fill in the gap — with rookie Alexander Kerfoot — tells you just how deep this team is not. He did very well, and defenseman Tyson Barrie lavished him with praise. But this is not a situation that takes a team to the playoffs in the tough Central Division.

No, really, the Avs won’t fall all the way to the bottom again. But if the Philadelphia Flyers can get 88 points and win the second draft pick last season, Colorado can not tank and still win the Rasmus Dahlin Sweepstakes.