Colorado Avalanche Center Nathan MacKinnon Proves Last Season Was No Fluke

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 16: Nathan MacKinnon #29 of the Colorado Avalanche skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on October 16, 2018 in New York City. The Rangers defeated the Avalanche 3-2 in the shootout. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

One the biggest storylines of last season was the emergence of Colorado Avalanche Center Nathan MacKinnon. The youngster broke out in a big way in his fifth NHL season, becoming the elite forward he was projected to be when he was drafted with the first overall pick in 2013. It didn’t come entirely out of the blue either, as he claimed the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie in his first year (2013-14). However, his 97-point campaign last season blew every other year out of the water; he previously averaged around 50 points per year, with a high of 63.

The Colorado Avalanche would have most definitely missed the post-season for a fifth consecutive season without MacKinnon’s explosion. They squeaked in with a victory in the 82nd (and final) game of the regular season, and MacKinnon led the team in every statistical category all year long. For Colorado, sustaining his level of stardom becomes necessary in the team’s success going forward.

Nathan MacKinnon Continues To Impress

Lucky for them, it appears MacKinnon is making elite performances the norm. So far in 2018-19, he’s picked up right where he left off last season.

Last year, MacKinnon scored 39 goals and recorded 58 assists. Previously, his highest goal total was 24, and assists 39, both in 2013-14. He posted 46 more points than he did one season earlier, going from 53 points to a whopping 97. Now, six games into 2018-19, MacKinnon sits well ahead of any pace he’s ever scored at in the past. That includes last year.

MacKinnon’s Scorching Hot Start

Every year, MacKinnon gets off to a fairly slow start. Even last year’s 97-point season didn’t really get going until game 11. He only had one goal and four assists through the first ten games. However, this year he already has seven goals and an assist, good for eight points in just six games. He has at least one goal in every game this season.

It took him 19 games to reach seven goals last year. This year, it only took six. Scoring in the team’s first six games set a new franchise record as well. No player in Avalanche history has ever scored in the six first games of the year consecutively. Now, MacKinnon has.

Currently, he’s on pace for 109 points. That would, once again, blow his previous high out of the water. That’s even more remarkable when considering the fact that he ranked fifth in the league last year. If you’re already in the top five, and you blow your own numbers out of the water, you’re probably guaranteed to finish first. The Hart Trophy is within striking distance if he keeps up his current pace.

MacKinnon Establishing Himself Among League’s Best

That said the bulk of his points currently come from goals (six of the seven points he has. Obviously, this six-to-one ratio of goals to assists is bound to balance out, but the point pace itself seems achievable. He finished last year with a 1.31 points-per-game pace and is clipping at a 1.33 points-per-game pace so far this year.

He can absolutely score 1.33 points-per-game all year. Remember, he didn’t get going until game 11 last season, but the 1.31 points-per-game pace includes his poor start. If you reduce the sample, he really scored 1.45 points-per-game after those first ten games.

So, he should set new point high’s thanks to his ability to start right on time this year. He might even get better.

MacKinnon Brings a Long, Bright Future to Colorado

If he kept his current goal pace up he’d finish with 96 goals. though possible this likely won’t happen, but it could very well be his first season north of the 50-goal plateau.

The combination of his high hockey IQ with his elite speed and shot creates a nightmare for opponents. This couldn’t be more obvious either, as every single night he finds a way to produce. He’s one of the most enjoyable players to watch in the entire NHL right now, and he shows no signs of slowing up.

Colorado may not have been on the radar of many this season. However, Mackinnon is able to transform any roster into a competitive team overnight. The Avs are young and getting better. With Nathan MacKinnon at the helm, there’s no limit to the success they can achieve. Expect this team to be an annual contender and playoff team.

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