22-Year-Old Center – Colorado Avalanche
Nathan MacKinnon Contract Information:
Signed a seven-year, $44.1 million contract extension with the Avalanche in July of 2016.
MacKinnon was named as a finalist for the Hart Memorial Trophy on Friday, NHL.com reports.
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Nathan MacKinnon: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
MacKinnon may very well have hit 60 points for the second time in his early career, but a MCL sprain cut his season short and left him at 21 tallies and 31 assists to go along with 245 shots on goal. Colorado had seen enough from the 2013-14 Calder Trophy winner to deem him worth retaining for the long haul, as he was signed to a seven-year contract worth $44.1 million in the offseason. The 20-year-old has his best hockey ahead of him and he could blossom into one of the most potent power-play attackers in the NHL (seven goals and nine helpers this past campaign). The first overall pick of 2013 is licking his chops for the upcoming year next to Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog, and the Avs offense is not to be overlooked. It wouldn’t be surprising to see MacKinnon flirt with 60-plus again. The extension – and rising draft stock – is warranted and could reward owners who pounce.
MacKinnon had a season to forget in 2014-15, managing just 14 goals and 38 points in 64 games. Call it the dreaded sophomore slump or whatever fits your fancy, but MacKinnon just couldn’t find consistency last year, going through frequent scoring slumps and flat-out disappearing some nights. We wouldn’t be too worried, however, as MacKinnon was still scoring at a more than half-point-per-game clip as a 19-year-old. In fact, he looked on track to dig himself out of last season's rut after tallying five goals in his final five games, before suffering a season-ending foot injury in March. Now back to 100 percent in advance of 2015-16, the youngster is locked into a top-six role in Colorado and will continue to see plenty of power-play time to aid his bounce-back effort. The former Calder Trophy winner has just 146 career NHL games under his belt, so it's likely we're still a few years away from even seeing his peak. Have him on your radar, as the memory of last season's disappointing numbers will likely reduce his draft stock in the minds of less savvy fantasy owners and create a nice buy-low window.
The "Other Kid from Cole Harbour" dazzled in 2013-14, breaking camp with the Avs as an 18-year-old and leading all rookies in goals (24), assists (39), points (63), power-play goals (eight), game-winning goals (five) and shots-on-goal (241). It comes as no surprise, then, that he took home the Calder Trophy by a landslide over Tampa Bay's Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson. MacKinnon also skated to a terrific plus-20 rating, which is particularly impressive considering he often lined up against the opposition's top defenders in the ultra-competitive Central Division. In addition to the exclamation mark that was the Calder Trophy on an already special season, MacK broke Wayne Gretzky's record for the longest consecutive point streak by an 18-year-old with a 13-game, 18-point run in February and March. A natural center, the 2013 No. 1 overall pick spent much of the season on the wing, but that could change come October. Veteran star center Paul Stastny (who racked up 60 points of his own last year) signed a four-year deal with the Blues, leaving a void at the pivot for someone like MacKinnon or Ryan O'Reilly to move back to the middle. With that being said, there's no doubt MacKinnon will have a permanent home in Colorado's top-six, but where and with whom he'll line up with remains unclear, especially with power forward Jarome Iginla entering the mix. Nonetheless, with a strong supporting cast around him, there’s no reason to believe MacKinnon will succumb to the dreaded sophomore slump. Flirting with 70 points is a definite possibility for the teenager.
MacKinnon looks like a sexy draft pick, but his fantasy effectiveness this season will be tied to how quickly his ability adjusts to the NHL level. The lightning-fast center can both score and set up his teammates as he showed last season with the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL ... to the tune of 32 goals and 43 assists in only 44 games. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft will center Jamie McGinn and Steve Downie on the Avalanche's third line, a place where he can be eased into potential stardom.