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Avalanche True or False #5: Nate MacKinnon

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

On day 5 of our MHH staff retreat to Tenerife we took a guided bus tour of some of some of the island's national parks and scenic treasures, ending up at the 1000-year old Dragon Tree which is apparently a giant form of asparagus.

Mr Fish and I asked our guide Benacio if it would be okay to climb it, but he indicated we would be happier staying on the ground. We made due with a tasty picnic of lobster salad with pimiento and carmelized shallots washed down by Portuguese Ice Wine.

Back at the hotel we once again convened in the billiard room to discuss Nathan MacKinnon.

Statement #5:

True or False: Nathan MacKinnon MUST be moved to Center to reach his full potential and effectiveness for the Avalanche.

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False: Because we don't know yet.  Maybe he is better on the wing.  Maybe he's not.  He still has quite some ways to go defensively to figure out the game.  This doesn't need to be learned as a center, mostly because many teams use a defensive system that is first back, second back, third back.  At this point, the Avs have Duchene and Soderberg.  They don't need to rush MacK to center.  Others were, because who else was going to play it?  At this point, ease him in.

If he doesn't work at center, oh well.  Many wingers in the league were drafted at center and ended up being wingers.  Phil Kessel and Patrick Kane are two of the better examples.


True. Otherwise, you may have wasted a pick on Rantanen and the O'Reilly trade looks much worse in retrospect.  I can be convinced otherwise, but that's how I think we sit today.


Probably true. That's his natural position and he's been far more effective there than he has been as a winger. We could always see how he plays as a defenseman or goaltender though.

Ryan Murphy:


I've made this statement a number of times: no one is complaining that Patrick Kane stuck at right wing, and no one should worry if Nathan MacKinnon ends up there either. I'm not claiming they're similar players necessarily; it's an argument that a #1 overall pick can be valuable at a position other than center. If fewer defensive responsibilities allow him to be an unstoppable offensive force, then I won't waste a moment worrying about it.

Steven Page:


Nathan MacKinnon is just too damn talented. As long as he gets ice time, he's going to excel in this league. The question is what kind of player do you want him to be? I have no doubt that Nathan MacKinnon can be a strong centerman with a two-way aspect to his game. I also believe that at wing MacKinnon has the ability to completely take over games with no reservations offensively. We saw him do that against the Wild in the playoffs a year ago. Sure, if he stays on the wing he probably won't be able to show us how good he can be defensively or how dominate he can become in the face-off circle. On the other hand though, MacKinnon's strongest skills are on the offensive side and perhaps pushing him to the center position will inhibit his true off-the-leash offensive power.


True. Do it. Move him back to center. Keep him with Landeskog, my opinion, and let's make this change sooner than later.


False. Mack isn't being oppressed by Coach Roy. He's playing wing because the guys next to him at center, first Stastny then donut boy, have been better players. Add this to the need for his production and skill in the top 2 lines, not on the third, and we are where we are.

I have no doubt that Mack will eventually become the dominant player we all believe him to be. When that happens, when he begins to dictate play and be the driving force on his line he will in effect become the center and gradually we will see him be the guy that lines up at the faceoff dot to begin play. I see no need to arbitrarily name him 'center' before that happens.

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What do you say, dear reader? True or False?