Nathan MacKinnon had the stereotypical nightmare sophmore season last year.
Games missed due to injury. A drop in shooting percentage. Playing more behind the puck (as evidenced by his increase in PiMs over fewer games). 3 goal droughts of 10 games or longer. A power play so rank he wasn't even able to take advantage of that.
So what does it say about a player that his Sophomore Slump Season™ still results in 2 points/60 (5v5)?
Despite missing almost 20 games, MacKinnon still produced more high-danger scoring chances at even strength (58) than any Avs forward except Matt Duchene (86) and Gabe Landeskog (tied, 58). It's hard to say he got really unlucky as his PDO was right around 100, until you remember he's probably not a 7.3% shooter.
MacKinnon got less protected usage compared to the year prior, and he still improved his underying metrics, his rel Corsi in particular jumping from -.04% to +7.33%, on improvements to both the for and against areas. When we get nerdy and pull out dCorsi we see similar: a +70 increase in dCF impact, and an insane improvement of -117.56 dCA Impact despite his expected values both looking tougher. Translation: Harder situation, still massive improvements to his possession game. MacKinnon was actually 20th in the NHL in overall dCorsi Impact last season (+143.48, 11th forward) as a 19-year old going through a sophomore slump who missed 18 games.
So the points took a step back. MacK was frustrated, and talked about coming into the season a little bit over-confident and just expecting things to fall into place for him like they did his rookie year. The ability to help both himself and his team be in a better situation to score goals, though, that really developed in a positive direction.
What does it mean for 2015?
It wasn't surprising at all that MacKinnon would struggle last year, especially given the ugly steps backwards the team took as a whole. What is surprising is how much improvement he showed in both generating and suppressing shots. With possession stuff being the more reliable indicator from season to season, MacKinnon should enter his 20-year-old season with a real chance to explode onto the scene.
He's already done that, of course, he won a Calder and gave us amazeballs gifs and scored GWGs in the playoffs. That's why it's so impressive that he looks poised to do it again. The league already knows he's a great player. Barring any further injury, with him developing both on the ice and mentally, and given that Duchene's line regularly faces up against the strongest opposition, I think we can bet the House (ಠ_ಠ, Bob. ಠ_ಠ) on MacKinnon reminding us next season that he's an incredible one.