It’s taken a while - and a Hart Trophy nomination - but it seems like Nathan MacKinnon is finally getting the recognition he deserves. This morning, The Athletic released their list of the top-100 players in the NHL under the age of 25.
Coming in at number three was none other than the driving force of the Avalanche: Nathan MacKinnon. The 23-year old superstar jumped ten spots since the last time this list was published, and is finally up where he should be.
While MacKinnon’s rank is perfect, he is joined by three other Avs players who are positioned much more questionably.
Let’s take a look at where the Avalanche players fall on the list:
3. Nathan MacKinnon - C
Previous rank: 13
From Pronman: “Last year in this article I wrote about MacKinnon, “I do believe in his ability and think it’s a matter of time before he has a season that ranks him at the top of the league.” A broken clock is right twice! MacKinnon became everything those who watched him at 16 and 17 years of age envisioned he would be. He’s one of the best speedsters in the world, for my money the second best skater in the league behind McDavid. He has a ton of skill, he’s very smart, he competes well and, for the first time in four years, he finished his scoring chances at an above-average level, leading to an MVP caliber season.”
Surrounded by: 2. Auston Matthews; 4. Jack Eichel
Analysis: Pronman nailed this one. No. 3 is absolutely the right spot for MacKinnon. He is a bonafide superstar that finally had the breakthrough we were all waiting for last season. Now he is proving it wasn’t a fluke. MacKinnon has been on fire to start the season. He sits second in the league in goals and has registered a point in all nine Avalanche games this season.
16. Mikko Rantanen - RW
Previous rank: 60
From Pronman: “I’ve been a mild skeptic of Rantanen for the past few years, but it’s hard to continue to be so after the season he just had, where he was one of the more dominant offensive players in the league. Few big men have his combination of puck skills, vision and finishing ability. He’s gotten a bit quicker from his younger days, and even if that will likely never be an area of strength, he’s good enough to be a legit top line forward in the NHL.”
Surrounded by: 15. Filip Forsberg; 17. Brock Boeser
Analysis: This seems a little low. Not drastically, but there are a few guys (Mitch Marner, Nico Hischier, Leon Draisaitl) that Rantanen should definitely be ranked higher than. Maybe it’s the “he’s carried by MacKinnon” factor, but I feel like Rantanen still doesn’t get the credit he deserves. He is currently tied for the league lead in points and is well on his way to forcing the rest of the hockey world to acknowledge how good he is.
67. Tyson Jost, C, Colorado
Previous rank: Not eligible
From Pronman: “Jost is an interesting player. I don’t know if he’s ever going to be a true top-end offensive producer, but he’s still quite skilled and smart, has pace to his game, and I think as he develops he’s going to round into a reliable two-way center. He’s starting the season on Colorado’s top power play unit and does have offense in his game. I’m very curious to see what level he can reach this upcoming season.”
Surrounded by: 66. Josh Morrissey; 67. Jesse Puljujarvi
Analysis: This one surprised me. Pronman must be ranking based on potential here because I wouldn’t expect most people who have watched the start of Tyson Jost’s career to be overly impressed by it. He’s played well this season and is showing the growth you want to see after a and rookie campaign, but he’s still not nearly the player most expected him to be at this point. Jost has a lot of skill and the potential is there, but at a certain point he’s going to have to convert that into becoming the legitimate secondary threat the Avalanche need.
80. Samuel Girard - D
Previous rank: Not eligible
From Pronman: “Girard was one of my favorite players to watch in junior hockey when he was in the Q because of how dynamic a skater and puck-mover he is. His first NHL season I thought went well, at his size he needs to be perfect defensively and still needs work there, but the offense is legit and he can move the puck well above NHL average. He doesn’t have a big shot but his vision is exceptional and I think Girard finds a way to become a top offensive player for the Avs soon.”
Surrounded by: 79. Jakub Vrana; 81. Anthony Beauvillier
Analysis: This is the weird one. I’m not sure how anyone could watch the Avalanche over the past two seasons and think that Sam Girard should be behind Tyson Jost on any list. Samuel Girard has already turned into a legitimate top-pairing defender that can play big minutes and lines up against the oppositions best line - and he’s only 20-years old. Simply put he’s one of the best skating defenders in the NHL, and is going to have a major impact on any success the Avalanche have over the next decade. This ranking is criminally low and I suspect we will see Girard skyrocket up the list next year.
Honorable Mentions: J.T. Compher, Alex Kerfoot
Give the entire list a look, it’s a pretty good read. If nothing else, it gives us a grasp on how outsiders might compare the Avs youngsters to others around the league.
What do you think about this list and where the Avalanche players are ranked?