The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Mile High Hockey community. Eleven writers and 480 readers ranked players under the age of 25 as of September 1, 2019 in the Colorado Avalanche organization. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production against future projection to rank each player. Now, we’ll count down each of the 25 players ranked.
After a breakout season in 2017-18, Mikko Rantanen looked like he had reached the potential the Colorado Avalanche saw in him when he was drafted 10th overall back in 2015. He was a bonafide star and along with Nathan MacKinnon, he was a part of the most lethal duo in the NHL. Avs fans couldn’t expect much more.
But they got it.
Despite missing eight games at the end of the 2018-19 season, Rantanen set career highs in goals (31) and assists (56). He finished 12th in the league in points per game and opened the eyes of fans in other markets who are starting to figure out that the Avs are more than just Nathan MacKinnon & Co.
While Rantanen does benefit from his time on the top line with MacKinnon, he proved last season that when needed, he can drive the offense on his own line. Coach Jared Bednar moves Rantanen to a line with Carl Soderberg for parts of last season and Mikko looked like a totally different player. He was driving possession, making plays and being the catalyst for a second line the way MacKinnon is on the first.
When you see plays like this, it's hard to question why Mikko Rantanen is your League leader in points. pic.twitter.com/IM4gbaN9pK— NHL (@NHL) November 12, 2018
With a two all star seasons behind him, there are no longer worries about whether or not Rantanen can sustain his high level of play. The only worry now becomes getting him to training camp in time. Rantanen is one of a number of restricted free agents that still don’t have a contract as we enter September.
There are been a lot of talk this summer that others are waiting on Mich Marner to set an inflated market with everyone else reaping the benefit. As training camp gets closer, some of the other RFAs - Mikko included - will need to move on and worry about their own contract status.
By all accounts, Rantanen is seeking a long-term deal in excess of $10m a year for the next six seasons. That is a little rich for the Avalanche who would likely be hoping to get Mikko at an AAV closer to $9m.
Even though we are into the last week of August, it’s not time to panic...yet.
Hey @Avalanche! This guy looks quite happy in Hamar, and we promise to take good care of him! Just take your time, we've got jersey number 96 available... #GoAvsGo #2hockey #storhamargutta pic.twitter.com/1PuLma75iq— Storhamar Hockey (@StorhamarHockey) August 26, 2019
While most of his teammates are already in Denver skating in non-team sanctioned practices, Mikko is staying in shape by training with his old mentors in Norway. It’s not ideal, but he’s on the ice and should be ready to hop on a plane the second a new deal is consummated.
Both player and team would like yo get a deal done before the start of training camp, so that leaves a window of about two weeks to get something done. Whether he’s there for the start of camp or not, there is little to suggest the star winger will miss any of the regular season.
For large portions of last season, Rantanen led the NHL in scoring. It’s hard to ask any more of the 22-year-old. That said, there are many onlookers around the league who think he could get even better. With the way the Avalanche revamped their middle-six this summer, other teams are going to need to worry about multiple threatening lines. That could lead to even more time and space for guys like Rantanen and MacKinnon - and that’s a scary thought.
He’d be the best player on a number of teams around the NHL - in Denver he’s one hell of a second fiddle. For Mikko Rantanen the sky is the limit so we have every reason to believe he could set a career high in points for the third season in a row. At the very least he will be a key part of one of the most exciting offensive groups in the league.
Let’s just get him signed first.