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Avalanche True or False #3: Mikko Rantanen

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Day 3 of our MHH staff retreat in the Canary Islands saw us take advantage of our spa's flotilla of catamarans for the afternoon. Oklahoma isn't known as a sailing hotbed, but SteveHouse handled the sail & rudder adroitly right off the bat. None of us could keep up! Afterwards we retired once again to the billiard room for some cold drinks and conversation about Avs first round pick Mikko Rantanen.

Statement #3:

True or False: Burning a year of Mikko Rantanen's Entry Level Contract to play in the NHL this season is a foolish use of assets.

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ProfessorOak:

I don't know if foolish is the right word to use, but I'm going to go with true.
As we can see with the most recent Stanley Cup Champion, the Hawks, having young players on ELCs (or cheap contracts) is super important to winning a championship.  You get young, cheap talent.  Kruger was on a very cheap bridge deal, Teravainen was on his ELC and Saad was on his ELC.
In my opinion, the Avs' window of making the playoffs is just opening, and after two more years, it will be their ideal window to win a championship.  If the Avs keep Rants up this year, that gives them one year of ELC Rants in my ideal range to win a championship.  If they let him simmer for a year, then they get two years of ELC Rants.
That being said, if he blows it out of the water at camp, and is ready to start producing at a steady pace, I'd keep him up.  Another important thing in the NHL is depth, and the Avs are deeper with Rants than without, but only if he is actually ready.  He probably isn't though, so a year in the AHL to adjust to the North American game wouldn't hurt.

Ryan Murphy:

False.

The best thing the Colorado can do for Rantanen is to put him on a development path and not stash him away on a Finnish professional team who has to prioritize winning. On the Avs, the 18-year old can get immediate on-the-job training and learn first-hand from a handful of players who succeeded as 18 and 19-year olds in the NHL. If his place is in San Antonio to start the year (and I believe it will be), he will be put in a position to grow his game above all else. The contract is merely an afterthought if Rantanen can develop into an important contributor. No way he goes back to Finland.

SteveHouse:

For our next trick, SH will think out loud on the page.

For it to be a waste to burn Rantanen's first ELC year, the Avalanche must miss the playoffs, which is still quite possible. I'm not sure that's enough though. Because if he has clearly outgrown his league at home, and he isn't going to learn anything from the AHL, his development will stall out if he doesn't play in the NHL. You have to be challenged or you aren't going to learn anything or grow. But I don't know if he's ready for the NHL and neither do you.

The absolute worst thing that could happen (and is realistic) is that he gets Grigorenko'd: the Avalanche start the season with Rantanen on the roster out of camp, he doesn't produce anything, he looks out of place, and after the ELC year is already toast, send him to the AHL or even back overseas to continue development.

So okay I don't think anybody can call this one honestly, mainly because we as fans don't know whether he is NHL ready or not. If he is, and he helps the team make the playoffs, sure, do it. If he isn't, or it's close and you're sticking him onto a losing roster, then it's been a waste. But as a black-and-white, is it definitely foolish to burn a year no matter what, no, I'll call false on that.

Mike@MHH:

True.  They aren't there yet.  Where does he fit? He needs to be a top 6 guy.  In my mind, he replaces Tangs NEXT YEAR and that is an appropriate time to start burning ELC days.  Usual caveats with this one:  If he makes the team in a top 6 role this season or injuries necessitate it, then by all means, but just lugging him around North America this year for bottom 6 minutes and the occasional PP doesn't do the team any good from an asset standpoint.

misterfish1:

True, but still not as foolish as the Brad Stuart contract extension last year.

Steven Page:

False.

Maybe I'm basing my answer off of the Avs' recent trend of having a straight from the draft to Calder finalist every other year, but I think Rantanen can and will make the Avs roster. Will he be a top six guy right away? No, but he may transition into one before the year is over. I think recent trends have shown that skilled forwards like Rantanen can flourish heading straight into the NHL and staying there. Confidence and stability are good for them. Just look at the development difference between a guy like MacKinnon and Jonathon Drouin. On draft day, the two were widely considered to be close in skill and potential. MacKinnon got the boost to pro while Drouin did not and now two years later MacKinnon is on the verge of becoming an elite player while Drouin is still fighting for a roster spot. If a forward can play with the guys, let him play.

earl06:

True. From a straight up asset management perspective the difference between having him still on the ELC vs a new contract 3 years from now could be substantial. Sure, there's a small chance he comes in to camp ready to take a top-6 spot from away from a vet but even then the staff can't count on that being consistent throughout the year. It would be a big gamble to place him on the NHL roster thinking he would produce all year (plus playoffs!).

Asset management aside, if he goes to the AHL and dominates then does the same at World Juniors the Avs are going to have a big decision especially if there's a hole at the top of the NHL lineup in early January and they're looking good for a playoff spot. The only way I want to see Mikko on the Avs this year is if circumstances and his play force them to put him out there long term. Which is the way it should be.

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