Nathan MacKinnon, to this point, has been more than the Colorado Avalanche could ever have dreamed of when they made him the first overall selection in the 2013 NHL draft.
MacKinnon sits in third place on the Avalanche roster in points (51 points: 22G, 29A), following only Matt Duchene (58 points: 20G, 38A) and Gabe Landeskog (52 points: 19G, 33A).
As impressive as that may be, MacKinnon accomplished something truly memorable tonight. MacKinnon can now say that he has broken a record that was set by “The Great One”: Wayne Gretzky.
With his assist in overtime to give the Avalanche a 3-2 win over Detroit, MacKinnon passed Gretzky for the longest consecutive games point streak for an 18-year-old in NHL history (13 games). MacKinnon still trails his current teammate and line mate Paul Stastny, however, for the longest point streak ever by a rookie. Stastny had a 20-game point streak in his rookie season in 2007.
Nathan MacKinnon has meant so much to this Avalanche roster. He does a little bit of everything. He has the speed to run any defenseman out of the stadium at any time, but he also plays with an edge. He has had to live with having people from opposing teams take runs at him, trying to hit him hard enough that he doesn’t get up. But he gets up, goes right after them and hits them right back.
The one thing that makes MacKinnon so great at this point is his vision of the ice. There are some passes that he has made this year that would be difficult for 10 year veterans to make. One that springs to mind happened on the opening night of the season, in a game where the Anaheim Ducks marched into the Pepsi Center and left with their heads down after a 6-1 beatdown that began the Patrick Roy era behind the bench for Colorado. In that game, MacKinnon had a pair of assists, both on Jamie McGinn goals, that were absolute beauties. He was special right from the very start.
Many people are now of the belief that MacKinnon has essentially locked up the Calder Trophy award for being the best rookie in the NHL. That award won’t be handed out until after the playoffs have concluded, but what a change of pace from draft day for Colorado Avalanche critics.
There were many people, myself included, that believed that the Avalanche should draft for need, which would have been former Portland Winterhawks defenseman Seth Jones. Jones, aside from playing the position that was needed most in Colorado, had ties to Colorado himself as he grew up in the Denver area for part of his childhood. It seemed like a match on almost every single level. It would be a storybook ending for Jones.
However, Avs’ management decided that they were going to use the pick that they had to pick the best player available, and that player, in their estimation, was Nathan MacKinnon. To this point in his career, it would be very hard to argue against that point. MacKinnon will be a sticking point on this Avalanche roster for years to come, and will see if he can catch his line mate Paul Stastny’s rookie record for consecutive games with a point over the next couple weeks, with the next chance to extend his streak comes March 8th against the St. Louis Blues.