Frozen Pool Forensics: Nathan MacKinnon

by Cam Robinson on December 4, 2015

Why Nathan MacKinnon's emergence is for real this time.

Nathan MacKinnon has arrived. That other kid from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, has joined forces with Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog to create a highly productive line that is shredding the league up on a consistent basis these days. The trio is desperately trying to keep Colorado in the hunt for a playoff spot, and the stocky, speedy MacKinnon is the ace-in-the-hole for a franchise that has witnessed so much success in the past, but has stumbled as of late.

The 2013 first-overall pick teased the hockey world after a tremendous second half of the 2013-14 season – his rookie campaign – finishing up with 24 goals and 63 points in 82 games to go along with a plus-20 rating. That season, the Colorado squad defied the Corsi Gods and sprinted into the playoffs. The advanced stat pundits suggested a regression would affect the club, and they were right. Unfortunately for MacKinnon owners, he regressed right along with it. The sophomore slump was real and apparent. MacKinnon stumbled through injury and frustration, totalling only 14 goals and 38 points through a 64 game season. The Avalanche failed to make the post season and questions swirled around the team and around MacKinnon’s ability to be an elite point producer. Well, no one is questioning MacKinnon today.

Looking at his Player Profile, we can see that through 25 games this season, the 20-year-old center has produced 10 goals and 24 points to go along with a plus-seven rating. His 89 shots-on-goal (3.7 per game) are the highest average of his young career; pacing him towards the 300 mark. He is starting a healthy 58.5 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone – almost five percent more than his previous career high; his shooting percentage is up to 11.2 percent and he is seeing 3:09 of power-play time per contest. All of these numbers are adding up to one conclusion: Nate MacKinnon is staking his claim to a spot amongst the league leaders for fantasy production.

Taking a look at Dobber’s Line Combinations Tool, we can see that since the ‘Super Line’ has come together, the Avs are rolling out one of the most dominant lines in hockey.

Frequency

Strength

Line Combination

33.27%

EV

DUCHENE,MATT – LANDESKOG,GABRIEL – MACKINNON,NATHAN

20.04%

EV

LANDESKOG,GABRIEL – MACKINNON,NATHAN – TANGUAY,ALEX

13.54%

EV

IGINLA,JAROME – MACKINNON,NATHAN – TANGUAY,ALEX

7.1%

EV

DUCHENE,MATT – GRIGORENKO,MIKHAIL – MACKINNON,NATHAN

3.52%

EV

LANDESKOG,GABRIEL – MACKINNON,NATHAN – SKILLE,JACK

2.85%

EV

DUCHENE,MATT – MACKINNON,NATHAN – TANGUAY,ALEX

1.64%

EV

COMEAU,BLAKE – LANDESKOG,GABRIEL – MACKINNON,NATHAN

Total Points for Nathan Mackinnon : 24

Str

On Ice Line Combination

Points

%Total
Points

EV

IGINLA,JAROME – MACKINNON,NATHAN – TANGUAY,ALEX

5

20.83%

EV

LANDESKOG,GABRIEL – MACKINNON,NATHAN – TANGUAY,ALEX

3

12.5%

EV

DUCHENE,MATT – GRIGORENKO,MIKHAIL – MACKINNON,NATHAN

3

12.5%

EV

DUCHENE,MATT – LANDESKOG,GABRIEL – MACKINNON,NATHAN

2

8.33%

PP

DUCHENE,MATT – IGINLA,JAROME – LANDESKOG,GABRIEL – MACKINNON,NATHAN

2

8.33%

PP

IGINLA,JAROME – LANDESKOG,GABRIEL – MACKINNON,NATHAN – TANGUAY,ALEX

2

8.33%

EV

IGINLA,JAROME – LANDESKOG,GABRIEL – MACKINNON,NATHAN

1

4.17%

PP

IGINLA,JAROME – MACKINNON,NATHAN – SODERBERG,CARL – TANGUAY,ALEX

1

4.17%

EV

DUCHENE,MATT – MACKINNON,NATHAN – TANGUAY,ALEX

1

4.17%

EV

GRIGORENKO,MIKHAIL – MACKINNON,NATHAN – TANGUAY,ALEX

1

4.17%

PP

DUCHENE,MATT – LANDESKOG,GABRIEL – MACKINNON,NATHAN

1

4.17%

PP

IGINLA,JAROME – MACKINNON,NATHAN

1

4.17%

PP

DUCHENE,MATT – GRIGORENKO,MIKHAIL – IGINLA,JAROME – MACKINNON,NATHAN

1

4.17%

The three amigos have combined to produce 46 points through 14 November games. A torrid pace that is unlikely to be sustained. However, having the young pivot be compared to another former first overall pick, makes the likelihood that much better.

Before MacKinnon ever took to the ice for his first NHL game, scouts were already comparing him to Tampa Bay Lightning captain, Steven Stamkos. The two both possess incredible speed and a deadly shot. It’s yet to be seen if Mackinnon has the exceptional vision that Stamkos has displayed over his six seasons in the league, but take a look at this Player Comparison Tool that pits MacKinnon and Stamkos against one another. The results this season have been illuminating.

MacKinnon is playing over 20 minutes per contest, he has recorded eight points with the man advantage, and while his five-on-five shooting percentage is slightly high at 12.5 percent, its not astronomical – he produced at close to a 10 percent rate during his rookie season. This is a player who is set to reach restricted free agency at the end of this year and you can expect a Tarasenko-like contract to be coming his way if he continues performing as he has through the first third of the season.

Fantasy owners should absolutely get excited with the production they have seen thus far, and even more excited about what may come during that all-important fourth season next year – typically the point when a player busts out in a big way. MacKinnon has all the earmarks of a player destined to battle within the top ten in points, year after year.

Projected point-per-game outlook for the remaining schedule: 0.85 – 0.95

Thanks for reading, and feel free to follow me on twitter @CrazyJoeDavola3