Nathan MacKinnon was picked 1st overall by the Colorado Avalanche in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. He posted 78 and 75 points for the Halifax Mooseheads in the QMHJL, but showed a lot of potential and upside. Picked in front of names like Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Drouin, Seth Jones, and Sean Monahan; MacKinnon had been rumoured to be a superstar for years now. How could he not? His rookie season he put up 63 points, and showed elite levels of offensive flash. He then struggled to find the net as much in his next 3 years, but MacKinnon finally looks like the superstar the Avs have been waiting for.
MacKinnon leads the Avs in goals(18), assists(34), and points(52). There really isn’t anyone on the team even close to him. Sitting at 2nd is MacKinnon’s line mate, Mikko Rantanen, at 41 points. MacKinnon dominates at primary points too, with 44/52 of his points being goals or first assists. This blows anyone on his team away again, and is one of the best 1P ratios in the league. It’s not that he is an elite PP specialist either. MacKinnon is far and away the best 5v5 point producer as well. He leads in all categories in goals, assists, points, and primary points. He even doubles the next guy on the team in all categories but points. On top of this all he is shooting 13%. Now this is still 4.7% higher than career average, but in terms of average NHL superstars it’s not that crazy. Obviously expect MacKinnon to regress in terms of shooting percentage a little, but don’t expect a massive drop.
We have looked at MacKinnon’s basic stats, but what about the advanced stats? MacKinnon is 2nd on the team in shot attempts, and is sitting at a 50.9CF% 5v5 right now. The only person better you may ask? His line mate Mikko Rantanen. Now roughly 51% is good, but not mind blowing. However, when you factor in that the Avs are a mediocre shot share team at best, sitting at just 48% (24th place) this becomes much more reasonable. His xGF% pace for the year is at 60%(All situations) which is very good. MacKinnon is proving that he can be a force at 5v5, and on special teams. There also seems to be no real reason why this should come to a sudden halt. His numbers may drop a tad, but most numbers say this isn’t unsustainable.
If just relative to a “fine” Avs team isn’t enough, lets look at compared to the rest of the league. This is where MacKinnon really shines. He has been more valuable to his team then almost anyone else in the league. MacKinnon ranks 2nd in 5v5 primary points with 25, just 4 behind Kucherov. As well as 2nd in primary points in all spreads of the league, again just behind Kucherov. 85% of MacKinnon’s points have been goals or first assists this year. Not only is that the best in the league, it is something that only true superstars can really do. This helps to show just how great MacKinnon has been at driving the play and being the one creating the chances for the Avs this year.
Maybe the most fascinating stat about all of MacKinnon’s production this year, is that he has done it in much less icetime than Kucherov. Kucherov is pretty much the only guy ahead of MacKinnon when it comes to most categories. However, where he isn’t is in P1/60. Now this is Primary Points Per 60 Minutes. MacKinnon is first in the entire league with 3.32 P1/60. This is absolutely amazing, and just crazy production from a player. If you look at just P/60 he becomes 2nd again, behind… You guessed it. Now this is again all situations, when adjusted to just 5v5 MacKinnon is 3rd in P1/60, and 6th in P/60. That is superstar level of production, something Avalanche fans have been looking forward to for years.
Now looking at all these stats, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone that MacKinnon’s name has been thrown out there for an early Hart Trophy candidate. Greg Wyshynski of ESPN had MacKinnon as his favourite, in the midpoint ESPN NHL Awards. Personally, I agree with Greg, and not sure how there is much of an argument against it. The Avs sit 3 games out of a playoff spot, with 3 games in hand. The Central is maybe the hardest division in hockey, but the Avs are still doing much better than anyone would have expected them too. A huge reason has been because of MacKinnon. Leading his team in almost every category, MacKinnon has almost single handedly dragged these guys into playoff contention again. Without him the Avs are nowhere near the place they currently are now.
If they make it or not is another topic to debate, but one thing is for sure; No one in Colorado is complaining about this season after what they went through last year. MacKinnon is already at his point totals from the past 2 years, with half a season yet to go. Keeping up this pace the Avs may just see playoffs after all. If not, this year won’t be for waste, as the Colorado Avalanche finally know they have a true superstar in Nathan MacKinnon.