The Colorado Avalanche selected Mikko Rantanen with their #10 draft selection in 2015, a selection that was so lucky for Colorado.
The Colorado Avalanche finished the 2014-15 season 39-31-12 and 90 points, which put them 11th in the Central Division and #21 in the NHL. That record earned them the #10 selection in the 2015 NHL Draft.
It was disappointing to get to draft so high. They chose mid-20s the previous season because of their strong record. And now they’d be choosing 10th overall just 12 months later.
Well, as we well know, they used that selection to pick Mikko Rantanen. And, boy, were we lucky to get him. It was a stacked draft, and excellent players went before him — it was the Conor McDavid draft. Here’s the full top-10:
- Connor McDavid (Edmonton)
- Jack Eichel (Buffalo)
- Dylan Strome (Arizona)
- Mitch Marner (Toronto)
- Noah Hanifin (Carolina)
- Pavel Zacha (New Jersey)
- Ivan Provorov (Philadelphia)
- Zach Werenski (Columbus)
- Timo Meier (San Jose)
- Mikko Rantanen (Colorado)
Like I said, that was a pretty stacked draft class. However, when you look at some of the names that went before Rantanen, well, you’ve got to wonder what their scouts were thinking. Not a one of them is a liability, but they’re not to their teams what Rantanen is to the Avalanche.
Mikko Rantanen has become our power house. He’s the best-paid player on the team and probably second only to Nathan MacKinnon for pure scorer.
Rantanen wasn’t a sleeper pick. He’d been playing in the men’s elite league in his home country of Finland — so with the best players in his country. He had 28 points (9 goals, 19 assists) in 56 games and a 17-year-old playing in that elite men’s league. Liiga.
Teams knew what they’d be getting with Rantanen. Indeed, the Colorado Avalanche were so worried they wouldn’t get them that they considered trading up. They wanted him as a part of their franchise that badly.
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Rantanen certainly hasn’t disappointed. He spent his first professional season in the AHL to learn the North American game. In 52 games with the San Antonio Rampage, Rantanen earned an impressive 24 goals and 36 assists for 60 points. On the smaller surface that bedevils so many Europeans.
Unsurprisingly, Rantanen started the season with the NHL team the next year and stayed up the whole time. He recorded his first 20-goal season and earned a total of 38 points. That feat is more impressive when you remember that was the dismal 2016-17 48-Point Debacle.
Even Nathan MacKinnon scored just 16 goals and earned only 53 points that season.
The next year, Rantanen exploded on the scene. He scored 29 goals and earned a total of 84 points. That was the season it was said quite openly that he cost MacKinnon the Hart Trophy because it was thought Nate just had too much help to be team MVP.
He even improved the following season. He recorded 87 points — 31 goals and 56 assists. He got his first All Star nod, too.
Last summer, of course, was the summer of the Contract Dispute. His new contract was up in the air all of the offseason and preseason. He finally got it signed right before the season began. He even made opening night.
That’s the contract, of course, that made him the highest-paid player on the team. Unfortunately, he didn’t follow that up with his career season. But, also unfortunately, a lot of the problem was injury. He played just 42 of the team’s 70 games, and was on injured reserve when the season was put on pause.
Still, his production was respectable — 19 goals and 22 assists for 41 points.
Rantanen’s contract with the Colorado Avalanche goes for five more seasons. He’s just 23, and I don’t see why the Avs would want to get rid of him anyway.
Outside of McDavid, I wouldn’t trade Rantanen for a player ahead of him on the draft list. he’s perfect for the Avalanche.