Nathan MacKinnon named NHL First Star of the Week for third time this season

Mar 2, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) celebrates his goal in the first period against the Minnesota Wild at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Nathan MacKinnon, 22 years old, is having the best season of his young career. For the third time this season, MacKinnon has been named the NHL’s first star of the week, finishing with a ridiculous 11 points (five goals, six assists) in four games where the Avalanche owned a 3-0-1 record.

MacKinnon has been the hottest player in the league, hands-down, since returning from his eight-game absence due to an upper-body injury, and his efforts have helped to keep the Avalanche in the playoff race. Currently, he’s fifth in the league in scoring with 77 points; the most by an Avalanche player since Paul Stastny had 79 in the 2009-10 season. GM Joe Sakic holds the team record with 120 points and was the most recent Avalanche player to hit 100 points which he did during the 2006-07 season. With 17 games remaining, MacKinnon should surpass Stastny’s numbers, and if he manages to stay hot, he could even challenge Sakic’s franchise record.

What the young star means to this Colorado team is obvious; the team’s overall play is vastly improved when MacKinnon is healthy and producing. Over the season he is averaging 1.35 points a game, the most in the NHL, and has 22 multi-point games — two of which are five-point games, tied for the most in the league. Besides racking up the points MacKinnon has found a way to score when it matters most, netting 10 game-winning goals, good for second in the league. He has managed to lead a team that a year ago was one of the worst of all-time to a complete turn-around in just a year. At the end of the season, if the Avalanche find themselves in the playoffs, there will be a strong argument for MacKinnon to win the Hart Trophy (MVP) at the end of the season.