Have to start by saying we don’t completely know what’s going to happen with Mikko Rantanen‘s contract negotiations. A report from the Denver Post recently said they’re “not close”. Much like Winnipeg’s situation, this would be a major blow to Colorado’s top line that can be lethal at times.
The Avalanche still have one of the best centers in the NHL, Nathan MacKinnon. He’s taken off like a rocket the last two seasons, posting 97 and 99-point seasons. He came in second place in the Hart Trophy voting in 2017-18. They’re always going to be lethal as long as they have this guy quarterbacking the top line.
Gabriel Ladeskog comes in at left wing, and is a high-quality offensive weapon in his own right. He’s trying to build off his career-high season in points with 75. He’s a smart player that contributes heavily on the Colorado power play unit. He’s a former Calder Trophy winner and has lived up to that initial rookie season.
It gets dicey without Rantanen in the mix. Possibly Joonas Donskoi gets moved up to the top line until the Rantanen deal can get done? Donskoi is new to the Avalanche as he’s played his first four NHL seasons with San Jose, posting 30-plus point seasons in three of the four. Obviously without Rantanen, this line becomes a lot more manageable and ordinary for opposing defenses. They’re possibly the best line in the division with Rantanen firmly back in the lineup.