To the surprise of most, 18-year-old Mikko Rantanen made the Avalanche’s final 23-man roster, for now. Since arriving in Colorado, the 10th overall pick in the 2015 NHL draft has performed well, creating a groundswell of support for the Finnish product. But most hockey experts still think Rantanen is a year or two away from actually contributing at the NHL level. He’ll have nine games to prove those people wrong.

Don’t get fooled into thinking Rantanen’s presence on the opening night roster is a sign he’ll be with the club all season. His early season stint with the Avalanche is nothing more than trial by fire. Rantanen signed a three-year early-level deal with that Avs. That deal doesn’t fully kick in until he plays 10 games in the NHL. That means he, as much as anyone on the Avs roster, has a tremendous amount of pressure get off to a good start.

Rantanen, like the rest of the Avs offense, was relatively quiet in the preseason. He only tallied 2 points (one goal, one assist) but he plays a position of need. Patrick Roy is short on top-end right wingers, so the hope is that Rantanen’s development is ahead of schedule and he can log heavy minutes with the 1st or 2nd lines. That’s a lot of hope to put on an 18-year-old.

The progression of Rantanen will be an interesting storyline to watch early in the season. But, don’t be shocked if it’s only an early season storyline. If Colorado’s newest high-profile prospect isn’t simply spectacular through Oct. 29, he’ll be in San Antonio all season. Rantanen has to give Roy and Joe Sakic a reason to start his free-agency clock. And that reason would have to overwhelm Colorado’s brain trust, given their reluctance to hand big money to young forwards.

Don’t be surprised if Colorado’s first nine games are their only with Rantanen in an Avs sweater.