Apr 1, 2014, 2:16 PM EST
You’re a playoff-bound team that just lost your leading scorer (and No. 1 center) for the remainder of the regular season. What do you do?
Promote the 18-year-old. Obviously.
That’s what the Colorado Avalanche are doing tonight in Columbus — rookie Nathan MacKinnon will man the middle of the club’s top line between Jamie McGinn and Ryan O’Reilly, replacing the injured Matt Duchene.
“I’m comfortable at center,” MacKinnon said, per NHL.com. “I’m comfortable at wing as well. Down the road I might end up back at wing. We’ll see how it goes [Tuesday]. Hopefully we can create some early chemistry and play pretty well.”
MacKinnon played center in junior, but has spent the majority of this season at right wing and acquitted himself well, leading all first-year players in goals (23), assists (33) and points (51).
It’ll be interesting to see how MacKinnon, the first overall pick at the ’13 NHL Entry Draft, fares in the faceoff circle. Colorado isn’t a great faceoff team to begin with (49.4 percent, 18th in the league) and Duchene was one of the club’s most active guys on the draw, taking 1058 this year (winning 50.3 percent).
MacKinnon has been somewhat active — he’s fifth on the team, with 393 faceoffs taken — but is operating at just a 43.5 percent clip.
As for the rest of Colorado’s line juggling, Paul Stastny will center Gabriel Landeskog and John Mitchell, who jumps up from the third to second line. That’ll give the Avs a look of MacKinnon-Stastny-Marc-Andre Cliche-Brad Malone down the middle, though O’Reilly has played center extensively in the past and could move there without much issue.
- Video: Team Foligno survives shootout, wins Skills Competition 3
- Video: Weber wins hardest shot with 108.5 mph blast 11
- Video: Lightning’s Drouin wins fastest skater 7
- WATCH LIVE: NHL All-Star Skills Competition 2
- Will the Youngstars even have a chance? (Updated) 12
- Unique World Cup format allows ‘more of the very best players’ to participate 11
- NHL unveils 2016 Winter Classic, Stadium Series games 18
- Players have fun, show off personalities in water-fueled All-Star Fantasy Draft 9
- Video: ‘Coachable’ Kessel goes from last pick to 2nd overall 5
- Video: Team Foligno takes Ryan Johansen first overall in All-Star Fantasy Draft 1
- Columnist: Flyers ‘orchestrated’ fight night versus Pens during meal at ‘a local steakhouse’ (130)
- Flyers’ Rinaldo: ‘I changed the whole game, man’ (112)
- Video: Rinaldo tossed for boarding Letang (79)
- Metro sensational: Rangers continue dominance of division, Pens (61)
- Report: Flyers’ Rinaldo waives right to an in-person hearing (61)