Kukla's Korner Hockey

Kukla's Korner Hockey

Praising Nathan MacKinnon as the 'Avalanche's most important player'

08/14/2015 at 12:22pm EDT

ESPN's Katie Strang suggests that Nathan MacKinnon is the Colorado Avalanche's "Most Important Player":

The Halifax, Nova Scotia, native had a bit of a sophomore slump last season, though he was sidelined for significant time with a foot injury and played only 64 games for the Avs, finishing with 14 goals and 28 points. Part of that dip in production was indicative of the team’s struggles as a whole, as the Avs regressed and missed the playoffs. And let’s not forget that MacKinnon was plagued by an unsightly 6.33 percent shooting percentage, which seems like a fluke more than anything. The good news is he was still creating chances, finishing fifth overall in shots per 60 minutes (11.01) among those who played more than 200 minutes, according to hockeyanalysis.com.

With Mackinnon set to enter training camp healthy, his production will be essential this season, especially given the departure of two-way center Ryan O'Reilly. Though MacKinnon has played primarily on the wing since joining the Avs, center is his natural position, so he could provide flexibility for Colorado depending on how things shake out with the rest of their lineup.

Matt Duchene figures to slot in as the No. 1 center, with the Avs hopeful that newcomers Carl Soderberg and Mikhail Grigorenko can fill important roles down the middle as well. The Avs already know they can count on last season’s leading scorer, veteran winger Jarome Iginla, for production (he had 29 goals and 59 points) and for Gabriel Landeskog to be a key contributor.

Continued

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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