If this Colorado team gets into the playoffs, is Nathan MacKinnon a shoe-in for the Hart?
How could he not be. Or at least be someone that is in EXTREMELY high consideration. If we think about what MacKinnon has done for this Colorado team, it is hard to not give credit where credit is due.
After Colorado posting a 22-56-4 record of 48 points one of the worst records in the NHL over the last 17 years. The last team to have a worse record were the Atlanta Thrashers in 1999-2000, they recorded 39 points in 82 games. Mind you this was the Thrashers first year as a franchise. The Thrashers never were able to turn it around from that season as they quickly merged to be the Winnipeg Jets. A season so bad, made a team vanished. Now the last time to do that not in their first year as a franchise were the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1997-1998, posting a 17-55-10 record with 41 points. Keep in mind this was the Lightning’s sixth year in the NHL.
Well, fast forward a year and the Avalanche are now ranked 15th in the NHL with a 42-29-9 with 93 points, battling for a wild card spot. All while dealing with starting goaltender Semyon Varlamov missing 32 games, Eric Johnson missing 20 games, Tyson Barrie missing 16 games and Nathan McKinnon himself missing 10-games. Let’s also remember how terrible of a locker room/team the Avalanche were when Matt Duchene was around and MacKinnon had to deal with that for 14 games this season. Plus all of last season. To turn it around that quickly and take this team by storm to lead them into a playoff spot is unreal.
(Look what this guy dealt with this year, for a short time, but still)
Also, the Avalanche did not start out being a top-15 team, they only picked up their play around the month of mid-January. They were only 18-15-5 until they went on their 8-game win streak, which propelled them to 26-15-5. Then to begin the month of March at 33-23-7(if my math is correct, not a numbers guy) and the rest is history. A new found Colorado team and playoff team after one of the worst years in NHL history.
MacKinnon not only has 94 points in 72 games but has done it with a line up consisting of Tyson Jost(20), Mikko Rantanen(21), J.T. Compher(22), Gabriel Borque(27, career total points of 89 points in 309 games), Matt Nieto(25, career total of 105 points in 336 games), are we getting the pattern here. Guys next to MacKinnon either lack experience or have not had a storied career at all.
MacKinnon has been one of the least talked about Hart trophy finalists I feel like because well it is Colorado and they are not really a threat. Sure, they are not as good as New Jersey, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay or Philadelphia but, the only reason this team is above .500 and within a playoff spot is because of MacKinnon. If you truly believe other wise you my friend are biased. The only player within MacKinnon for points on Colorado is Rantanen(82) a 12 point difference but after Rantanen the next player is Landeskog with 59. Therefore a 35-point difference. The only team with that scenario is the Devils, with Hall and Hischier being a 42 point difference. Mind you, Hischier is also a rookie, did we expect a 70 point season from him? No.
The facts are there, the data is there, the Avalanche clinch a playoff spot tonight, this should not be too hard for those to decide. Credit to Taylor Hall for his career year and unbelievable season but this guy has some better pieces slated next to him, Travis Zajac, Brian Boyle, Patrick Maroon(for short but still), Michael Grabner(yes, I know), Kyle Palmieri, Jesper Brett(you Devils tooted this guys horn so don’t even), Brian Gibbons(same here, don’t even say you didn’t).
(Enjoy (: )