The Colorado Avalanche were one of the league’s surprise teams last season. They shocked the NHL world as rookie NHL head coach Patrick Roy manned the bench of a team that finished dead last in the Western Conference the year prior. They had bright spots on the roster such as Gabriel Landeskog, Paul Stastny, Ryan O’Reilly and others but they may not have had a more dynamic player than their first-overall pick of the 2013 NHL Draft, Nathan MacKinnon.
We’ve all seen the countless highlights from MacKinnon a season ago, but looking at this year how many of those electrifying highlights have you seen? Granted, the Avalanche have been polar opposites from last year’s team as they sit 11th in the Western Conference, but MacKinnon hasn’t been the same it seems.
The young forward is sidelined for the rest of 2014-15 after suffering a broken foot diagnosed on March 6, but it is still worth looking at what his campaign was like up to that point in time.
Last year’s Calder Trophy winner burst onto the scene as perhaps one of the fastest 18-year-old skaters to ever grace NHL ice. A year ago the young Canadian forward lit the lamp 24 times and added 39 helpers while playing in all 82 games . His 63 points stood as the fourth most by any Av, pushing them towards their Central Division regular season crown.
Fast forward to this season and, granted, the Avalanche as a team haven’t performed anywhere close to how they did 365 days ago, but MacKinnon had struggled to find the score sheet.
Through 64 games, MacKinnon has found the back of the net just 14 times, but perhaps the most glaring down fall is his assists number that sits at just 24. The now 19-year-old certainly isn’t having an ‘awful year’, but he is in the midst of a sophomore slump. MacKinnon sits seventh on the team with his 38 points on the year and is on pace for just 44.
If you told any teenager they were going to have a 44-point season in their second NHL campaign, 99.9% of them would take it and run. But MacKinnon’s down year may be in direct correlation to why his team is on the outside of the playoffs looking in.
MacKinnon also tallied 10 points in the seven playoff games he and the Avs played in a year ago as he continued to set the world aflame. He most likely won’t have that opportunity to repeat that performance however, and that’s not necessarily the injuries fault. The Avs sit seven points out of a wild card spot with 13 games left in their season.
Yes, this sophomore slump may just be a fluke and again, MacKinnon’s season hasn’t necessarily been bad, just not what we may have been expecting. Simply put, the NHL world was spoiled last year by both MacKinnon and his team who have drastically regressed.