The Colorado Avalanche have done a splendid job of keeping Nathan MacKinnon away from troublesome matchups so far this season. Coach Patrick Roy has kept the outstanding young forward away from the tougher competition that the NHL has to offer while allowing the No. 1 overall draft pick to acclimate to the league.
With top-six forward Alex Tanguay out for an unknown amount of time following an injury, Colorado will bump MacKinnon up a line to play alongside Paul Stastny and Gabriel Landeskog according to Adrian Dater of the Denver Post . The rookie will play right wing in this setup and will see a hefty increase in both his minute totals and responsibility.
MacKinnon has played an average of 13:59 per game so far this season. Tanguay had been averaging more than 17 minutes. This points to a serious increase in ice time for MacKinnon while Tanguay heals up.
This will be a great measuring stick to see where the rookie is in his development. It’s one thing to pull out cute moves and slick passes against bottom-six forwards throughout the NHL, but MacKinnon will be put to task against some outstanding players as a member of the top-six group in Colorado.
The Avalanche also suddenly have a bit of a target on their backs as one of the best teams in the NHL. They are 12-1 and will need to see some strong advancement from their top pick from last season to maintain their scorching pace.