Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado Avalanche's Nathan MacKinnon facing even more pressure

The Colorado Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon is already on his way to winning the Calder Trophy for top rookie in the NHL this season. With a recent turn of events, the youngster will be under the spotlight even more.

News broke on Monday morning that Colorado star Matt Duchene could be out up to four weeks with a knee injury. The Avs are already missing P.A. Parenteau which has left the front line thin. The loss of Duchene creates a pretty big void with a team streaking towards the playoffs.

The Avs have to find a way to recover. This season is too special to have it ruined by injuries.

In steps MacKinnon to take over at center. According to Drew Spavek who covers the Avs for 102.3 FM in Denver, MacKinnon will play in the middle on one line. Ryan O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn will be on the line with him.

Head coach Patrick Roy has been been a fan of moving MacKinnon back to center. The coach could have put John Mitchell at the center spot but has decided to go with the rookie instead. Roy has shown trust in MacKinnon from the start of the season and he has never disappointed his coach.

MacKinnon, who was drafted No. 1 overall, has scored 56 points this season with 23 goals. He has been stellar playing with fellow young star Gabe Landeskog. There was a lot of debate before the NHL draft about who the Avs should take with the top pick — either MacKinnon or defenseman Seth Jones who grew up in Denver. Colorado make the right choice in MacKinnon.

But now he is facing a whole new set of hurdles. His team has lost probably their best player in Duchene and MacKinnon will be expected to play even better than he has already.

Fans seem to forget that MacKinnon won’t be 19 until September because he plays with such poise. Now he may need to forgot how young he is so he can help lead the Avs in the playoffs.

The youngster has yet to let the Avs or the fans down so he will probably have no problem with this. MacKinnon seems pretty fresh and not ready to hit the rookie wall. That is good news as he will be counted on even more now.

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisSchmaedeke


Tags: Colorado Avalanche Matt Duchene Nathan MacKinnon

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