MacKinnon in midst of career year for Avalanche

MacKinnon an MVP favorite

Nathan MacKinnon

If you’re looking to handicap the race for the NHL Hart Trophy, the smart money says Nathan MacKinnon is the one to bet on.

Indeed, in its 24-year-old center, the Colorado Avalanche have a player having an MVP-caliber season on a team that is a lock for a playoff berth.

As of early January, the Nova Scotia native had 62 points and 25 goals through 41 games, good enough for third and fourth in the league in those respective categories. He also carried the team when Cale Makar, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog were injured at different times, and he’s on pace to shatter his career-best mark of 99 points from 2018-19.

But perhaps most importantly, he’s the type of player who makes his teammates better. He’s an unpredictable presence on the ice, one that opposing teams will try to shut down offensively, which opens up opportunity for the other two front line players in his shift.

“Those other players are really excited to go out on the ice with him,” Colorado head coach Jared Bednar explained in a recent interview, “because they know he can help make them better and that they can be difference-makers in the game right then and there on that particular shift. … Other teams don’t know what’s coming.”

MacKinnon and the Avalanche can be seen in action Saturday, Feb. 15, on NBC, when they face off against the Los Angeles Kings at Falcon Stadium on the grounds of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., as part of the 2020 NHL Stadium Series of outdoor games.

Full name: Nathan Raymond MacKinnon

Birth date: Sept. 1, 1995

Birthplace: Halifax, Nova Scotia

Height/weight: 6 feet/205 pounds

Teams: Colorado Avalanche (2013-present)

Draft: Selected in the first round (first overall) by the Avalanche in 2013

Position: Center

No.: 29

Honors and achievements: Four-time NHL All-Star (2017-2020); 2014 Calder Memorial Trophy (for the league’s top rookie); NHL All-Rookie Team (2014); gold medal representing Canada at the 2015 World Championships; silver at the ’17 World Championships

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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