Avalanche recall Mikko Rantanen, as injuries begin to mount up

Avalanche recall Mikko Rantanen
October 18, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Colorado Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen (96) moves the puck against the Los Angeles Kings during the first period at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

In a tight race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, the Colorado Avalanche picked up another two points on Friday, defeating the Calgary Flames 4-3 in a shootout.  As big as the win may be, it may have come at great cost.

For the second straight game, the Avalanche lost a top-six forward to a knee injury. A game after leading scorer Matt Duchene went down, Nathan MacKinnon joined him on the shelf. While Matt Duchene is considered day-to-day, we do not yet know the extent of MacKinnon’s injury.

In lieu of Duchene’s injury, the Avalanche opted to play with seven defensemen and only 11 forwards against the Flames. That will not be the case should MacKinnon be forced to miss any time.

On Saturday, the Avalanche announced that they had recalled highly-touted rookie Mikko Rantanen from the AHL”s San Antonio Rampage. The 19-year-old Finn currently leads the Rampage in scoring with 21 goals and 52 points in 44 games, ranking fourth in the entire AHL (first among rookies). He also picked up a gold medal at this year’s World Junior Championships, serving as the captain for Finland.

Selected 10th overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Rantanen opened the season with the Avalanche, going scoreless in six games.  He can still play three additional games for the Avalanche in the regular season without burning a year off of his entry-level contract.

A natural winger, Rantanen did spend some time at center while playing for TPS in his native Finland. Another option up the middle is to slide Mikhail Grigorenko back to center (his natural position).

The team’s forward group will receive some replenishment when they take on the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday, as captain Gabriel Landeskog is set to return from his three-game suspension.

The team also suffered a loss on the blueline on Friday, as newly-acquired defenseman Eric Gelinas injured his elbow. Head coach Patrick Roy said after the contest that he expects him to be out “for awhile.”

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