Being on the East Side, in Toronto, I don’t watch a lot of Nathan MacKinnon, but I do check in on his games as much as I can. And just like running into that little cousin you see every few years, each time I catch a glimpse of the Avs’ 2013 first overall pick I can’t help but think to myself: this kid is quickly becoming an adult, or in hockey terms – he’s becoming an effective pro.
Right from the get-go, I was impressed by the physical maturity of number 29 on the Colorado Avalanche. Rarely does an 18-year-old enter the NHL with a grown man’s build and sturdy stance. MacKinnon is a tank. But earlier in the season, his flashes of excellence were randomly on display, albeit, equally as impressive as they are now. Yet, now, or at least last night against the New York Islanders – a defensively loose team – Nate The Great was dynamic every time his skates touched ice. MacKinnon scored the Avs only goal in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Isles.
Five goals in seven days is what Nathan MacKinnon’s been up to this past week. The native of Sidney Crosby’s own Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, is quickly establishing himself as one of the most promising junior eligible NHL players I’ve seen in a few years. Actually, he reminds me of Steven Stamkos (not in style of play, but in pure scoring ability), who similarly launched his career with an unproductive first half, then followed it up with a second semester befit of a 1st overall pick. By his sophomore season, Stamkos was a 50-goal scoring Rocket Richard winner, an honour he shared with MacKinnon’s townsmen Sid The Kid. Is MacKinnon that close to tearing up the NHL on a regular basis? Not sure, but if you tell me “yes, yes he is,” you’ll get no arguments here.
Speed and skill are a lethal combination in hockey, and in that regard, the Colorado Avalanche are laughing at your team. Last night, while I watched MacKinnon inspire awe as only generational talents can do, I couldn’t help but shake my head at the serious, serious, speed and skill combo that define Matt Duchene’s game.
MacKinnon and Duchene? Wow. And that’s to say nothing of Gabriel Landeskog, an elite young talent in his own right.
Safe to say the Avs are set for the next ten years. Those lucky son of a… This is the same organization that won two Stanley Cups led by superstars Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg up front. Until they win new Cups it’s naive to label the Avs’ next generation comparable to the greats of yesteryear. But, boy I like their chances.