Colorado Avalanche: Through the Years with Nathan MacKinnon Photos

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon has become the team’s superstar. He’s made the team his own.

The Colorado Avalanche drafted center Nathan MacKinnon with the first-overall draft selection in 2013. It was the one and only time the draft lottery worked in their favor. It’s not like they climbed so high, though — they finished second-to-last in the NHL during the 2012-13 season.

Interestingly, Joe Sakic at the time was leaning toward drafting Seth Jones. However, once Patrick Roy joined the organization, he started to tip Sakic’s hand. Roy’s Quebec Remparts had faced MacKinnon’s Halifax Mooseheads enough times that he knew what a special player the center was.

In the end, when Joe Sakic walked up to the podium in Newark, New Jersey, it was Nathan MacKinnon’s name that came out of his mouth.

No offense to Seth Jones, he’s a fantastic player. However, the team would be less than it is now if the Avalanche hadn’t drafted Nathan MacKinnon. (Look at his hulky self — he was just 17 at the time.

MacKinnon… was an awkward kid. His helmet didn’t fit his head straight. It still doesn’t, but you don’t notice it so much now.

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He may have been a little awkward off the ice, but on the ice he was a wizard. There was no question who would be the rookie of the year in 2014 — it was MacKinnon.

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Still a little awkward.

By the next season, we had high expectations for Nathan MacKinnon. We didn’t expect him to have a sophomore slump. And he didn’t — not exactly. He missed time with an injury and also saw his housemate, Max Talbot, get traded at the deadline. MacKinnon was living with Talbot in the manner of older players mentoring young ones.

 

He had a girlfriend anyway. A fancy one apparently — a rap star, I believe.

His helmet still didn’t fit straight, though:

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The next season… we started to wonder. It was MacKinnon’s third season. He played 72 games. But he recorded only 52 points. That’s not bad, but you expect better from a first-overall pick.

No one was saying “bust.” We just figured we had a good, not great, player.

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Hate on the man all you want, but the Avs player on the right, Matt Duchene, was top three in scoring almost every year he played for us. He was our star at the time.

The next season, the dreaded 48-point debacle, saw Nathan MacKinnon score just 16 goals in 82 games. He still recorded 53 points, and none of us were thinking “bust,” but we were becoming more convinced the Calder year was a fluke. We had a good, not great, player with our first-overall selection — the only one in team history.

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You can’t unsee the whole helmet thing.

Lol, “good, not great player.” He started off a little slow in the 2017-18 season, the Avs traded Duchene, and MacKinnon exploded. He had an historic November and then just set the NHL on fire. The Colorado Avalanche went from having the worst season in the salary cap era to making the playoffs.

He was a no-brainer for the All Star.

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Nathan MacKinnon should have won the Hart Trophy for team MVP that season. He recorded 39 goals and 58 assists for 97 points. He put the team on his back and dragged them into the playoffs.

But it was said quite openly that he would have won but for the sudden emergence of his linemate, Mikko Rantanen.

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Nathan MacKinnon deserves to win the Hart Trophy this season and he’s going to get it stolen again, and I’m never going to stop b*tching about it on the site.

Anyway, that was the birth of Nathan MacKinnon, NHL god. The next season, if you can believe it, he bettered his numbers. He recorded 99 points! He’d already crushed the 30-goal mark the previous season. That year he surpassed the 40-goal mark!

The Avalanche made it into the playoffs again! And Nathan MacKinnon made the Sharks cry in the second round!

 

By this point, everyone is acknowledging that the Colorado Avalanche is Nathan MacKinnon’s team. The Avs go how MacK goes.

Alas, the truncated season means that MacKinnon didn’t get a chance to better his number again this year. He was on pace to, though. He played 69 games and still recorded 93 points!

And this season, the Avalanche didn’t sneak into the playoffs at the last minute like they had the previous two. They were competing for Best in the West the entire year.

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He’s still a little awkward.

But he’s our superstar.

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Even the helmet seems to be fitting more straight.

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Drafting Nathan MacKinnon with the first-overall selection in 2013 changed the course of the team’s story. The Colorado Avalanche are where they are today — outright Stanley Cup contenders — because of the team the Avs were able to build around MacKinnon.

Next: How MacKinnon Can Be Tops in the NHL

Say it with me: MVP!! MVP!!!