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Mikko Rantanen is having a special season

It’s time for some Moose appreciation.

Montreal Canadiens v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

Lost in all the injury woes is what could be a special year for a very special player. The man in question is Mikko Rantanen, who is singlehandedly keeping the Colorado Avalanche afloat until they get more reinforcements off the injured list. He’s certain to be an all-star this season and could possibly be the only representative from Colorado.

Rantanen, who is affectionately nicknamed “The Moose” because of his 6-foot-4 size and beast-mode-type quality, has been an elite player in the NHL for several seasons now but could approach career numbers in this 2022-23 campaign. Already at 25 goals through 36 games, Rantanen is likely to smash his career high of 36 as he is on pace for 57 goals. What is also astounding is that 21 of those tallies have come at even strength. This production is also not due to riding on a shooting percentage binge, either. While 19 percent is generally high it is not vastly out of line with the 16% Rantanen has averaged over his career.

What makes Rantanen’s play even more remarkable is the burden he’s had to carry with so many top players out of the lineup, especially among the forwards. His time has ballooned and is drawing the focus of the opposition yet still continues to produce. Rantanen has scored just under a quarter of the team’s goals, which leads the league. Hopefully, this heavy usage doesn’t lead to injury problems down the road.

The manner in which those 25 goals have been scored is worthy of the highlight reels as Rantanen has done it all for the Avalanche scoring to secure the victory in various ways including in the shootout, overtime, power play, and even strength. The most impressive may be this hat trick, which was his second on the season, as he scored each of the team’s goals in a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues.

Despite all the accolades Rantanen still lives under the shadow of the superstars on the Avalanche, all the fantastic impact players from the 2015 draft class, and other Finnish players who garner more spotlight. But it doesn’t take long for anyone looking to notice how bright of a star Rantanen is and at 26 years of age he is only going to add more to his resume.