Jared Bednar will not have to make changes right away as the Colorado Avalanche has won five straight games. Nathan MacKinnon is absent, so regular backup forward J.T. Compher, the Avs have turned to Logan O’Connor to play on their first line.
While the forward who was not drafted has done nothing wrong, it is evident that he does have limitations. Mikko Rantanen, who was promoted to center by the Avalanche, has taken over the duties. It has been an okay move, but nothing better. Even though they are not the best in league, the games against Anaheim Dallas and Nashville this week do bring something to the table.
So with all that in mind and a much more challenging schedule, should the Avalanche try to make a shift on the first-line by moving up?Alex Newhook
The youngster scored the winning goal in Monday’s win over Ottawa and has appeared relaxed and confident since his return from AHL. His moment to shine, at least in the short-term.
The Top Line Pros of Moving Newhook
Newhook’s move to the top-line is primarily to show him what’s to come. He won’t replace MacKinnon in the long term but will be a key piece in the top-six moving forward.
Rantanen could also move him as Newhook, who is an excellent center, would take away some of the pressure that Rantanen currently feels. Rantanen can then play his own game. During this current five-game win streak, Rantanen has accumulated eight points, an impressive haul, and one that shows the move to center duties hasn’t harmed him, on the face of it, at least.
However, of those eight points, four have come on the power play, something that has been rolling in MacKinnon’s absence, and something that is feeding Rantanen even more at the moment, due to no MacKinnon. Rantanen is now at even strength with one goal from his five previous games.
On the surface, Rantanen has moved to center with no issues at all, however, a deeper look shows that things haven’t been perfect, and power-play numbers have helped to cover that up. This isn’t a dig at Rantanen in any way but does show that at even strength, he’s not been as dominant as his overall numbers would suggest.
Newhook, who is now full of confidence after scoring the game-winning goal for the team, feels it’s the right time to let him go and allow Rantanen to produce at least as strong from the wing.
The Cons and Why You Should Keep Newhook With the Avalanche
There’s a side to this story. Newhook is in his first NHL full-season. He played just one game in the beginning of the season, after an average performance and a very poor preseason. sent down to AHLYou can find your form and confidence.
Newhook’s play since returning to the NHL has been much better, highlighted by his game-winner in the wild game against Ottawa. He seems to have found a spot where he can thrive and play well, without being pushed into too much. This has been the third line, which includes Tyson Jost, Nicolas Aube-Kubel and has contributed to depth scoring for the team.
Newhook’s potential and his long-term role in this Avalanche team are the reasons for all the buzz. With that in mind, why should a short-term goal be focused on here, which may put a long-term piece in a position he isn’t comfortable with, something that could affect his development. MacKinnon’s is Expected to play in DecemberOn the road, Newhook may move, but we only have a limited number of games.
What will the Avalanche Do?
The best guess is that the Avs will do nothing due to their winning streak unless something happens before MacKinnon’s return that forces their hand. This could be a bad play or another injury, or even a Newhook breakout.
If any of these happen, there may be a chance that the 20-year old makes a guest appearance on the top line. Many eyes will be focused on him if that happens. However, don’t be too disheartened if it doesn’t happen, because there is a long-term plan with Newhook, and we are only in the first chapter of his time with the Avalanche.
Craig Jones, a freelance NHL writer based in the UK, covers the Colorado Avalanche. Craig has been watching the NHL from afar and has written about the Avs almost every year for the past two decades. Follow Craig @craigjones29 on Twitter to get the UK perspective about the NHL, and everything Colorado.