Colorado Avalanche: 5 Players Who Must Step Up for Mikko Rantanen

DENVER, COLORADO - OCTOBER 03: Mikko Rantanen #96 of the Colorado Avalanche talks with Cale Makar #8 during the game against the Calgary Flames at Pepsi Center on October 03, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)
DENVER, COLORADO - OCTOBER 03: Mikko Rantanen #96 of the Colorado Avalanche talks with Cale Makar #8 during the game against the Calgary Flames at Pepsi Center on October 03, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images) /

With Mikko Rantanen out for at least a few weeks with a lower-body injury, some players will have to step up their game to compensate.

Well, the Colorado Avalanche have the news we’ve been waiting for. Star winger Mikko Rantanen has a lower body injury he suffered in the opening minute of period two in St. Louis, and may I say how much I hate the Blues?

I know it was just a freak injury, but I don’t need much reason to hate a Central Division rival.

In any case, Rantanen is going to be “week to week” with a lower body injury. Jared Bednar said the following about the timeline:

"“I can tell you I don’t think it is going to be a four to six week injury, we are hoping he is going to be back significantly sooner than that.”"

We can all release a collective sigh of relief because even four to six weeks is better than some people were speculating about. According to the same presser, Bednar even thinks Rantanen will soon be doing off-ice work.

Anyway, whether he’s out one week or six, the Colorado Avalanche are going to have at least a few games without one of their best players. Every team has to find ways to win. Luckily, the Avs are now deep enough that they have the players who can step up.

Gabriel Landeskog

The most obvious player to step up for our star winger is our other star winger who also just happens to be the captain — Gabriel Landeskog. He’s been up and down all season, but he’s going to have to be trending up to make up for Rantanen’s absence.

What’s more, because Landeskog is the captain, the other players will be looking to him to lead the way in losing a star player. He’ll be needed in the locker room, especially right at first as the players learn to not adjust their expectations.

Because the expectation is still not to just make the playoffs but to win home ice advantage.

Nathan MacKinnon

In the same vein, our superstar center will have to lead the way on the ice. There was never any question that Nathan MacKinnon is our best player — Rantanen is just a very close second.

MacKinnon has been notorious, by his own admission, for getting a slow start to the season. November is often when he gets into his stride, and November is just around the corner. If he wants to get into his groove a little sooner, so the Avs don’t lose their momentum, that’s fine, too.

Come on, Nate, the expectation is for you to hit 100 points this season. He’s already off to a good start with 12 points in nine games.

Andre Burakovsky

One of the candidates to take Rantanen’s spot on the top line is newly-acquired winger Andre Burakovsky. He spent most of the preseason on the top line while Mikko held out for his payday.

So far, the former Washington Capital has been what the Colorado Avalanche have long wished for — a reclamation project that just needed a new home to shine. He already has eight points in nine games. He’s actually third on the team for points.

He also stepped in for Rantanen on the first power play unit.

Joonas Donskoi

The other top candidate for the top line is also a newly-acquired winger, Joonas Donskoi. For part of the preseason he also saw some time on the top line in Mikko’s absence.

Joonas Donskoi is another version of a reclamation project needing a change of scenery. Colorado signed him in the summer after he’d spent four seasons in San Jose. So far he’s gone from being a guaranteed third liner to a candidate for the top line.

When Joe Sakic acquired these wingers in the offseason, he was probably thinking the Colorado Avalanche would be without Rantanen for a little while. He probably just didn’t reckon on the reason.

Cale Makar

More from Mile High Sticking

It may seem a little weird to put a defenseman on a list of “replacements” for our injured forward. However, Colorado has long operated on the formula of having an offensive defenseman. It went from being Sandis Ozolinsh to Rob Blake to John-Michael Liles to Tyson Barrie.

And now it’s Cale Makar. He’s expected to be the latest in that line. It’s a lot of pressure for a rookie. I’m not saying he has to reach 50 points and win the Calder Trophy this season. However, in case you’re wondering, he’s #4 on the team for scoring with eight points in nine games.

He doesn’t have his first regular-season goal yet. How about Friday against Vegas?

Honorable Mention: Peter Forsberg

Wouldn’t it be great if one of the best forwards to skate in burgundy and blue could return to help the team?

Ok, Peter Forsberg can’t swoop in and replace Mikko Rantanen on the top line. However, he can offer his continued support on Instagram:

We need a little encouragement in these trying times.