The Colorado Avalanche expected big things out of forward Mikko Rantanen when they selected him 10th overall in 2015 NHL Entry Draft. They still may very well be coming, but that doesn’t mean they will be coming this year. Before he is given a key role on the club, he must first earn the trust of its coaching staff.

“I guess I don’t trust Mikko yet, and that makes me, sometimes, nervous,” said head coach Patrick Roy.

The Avalanche bench boss has a right to be rattled with the rookie Rantanen on the ice.  Called up out of necessity after injuries to Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon, he is minus-2 in the two contests he has played during this stint with the Avs.

In Thursday’s 4-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, it was Rantanen who turned over the puck in the defensive zone, then lost track of his defensive responsibilities, allowing the Broad Street Bullies to tie the game up in the third, stealing the momentum for good.

Despite great success at the AHL level, Rantanen has struggled to keep up with the NHL game. He is scoreless in eight games for the Avalanche, with a minus-7 rating.

“Mikko’s young,” explained Roy. “I’m sure eventually he’ll earn my confidence.”

It isn’t surprising the 19-year-old is going through growing pains. This is, afterall, the Finn’s first season in North America.  Unfortunately, the Avalanche simply do not have time for him to work through them right now. Desperately trying to get back into the playoff picture, the Avalanche need to play desperate hockey … playoff hockey. Ice time needs to go to the guys Roy knows can elevate their game to that level.

“It’s not about how much ice time I’m gonna give to the guys,” said Roy. “It’s about having the guys that I think should be on the ice at that moment, and who I’m trusting and have confidence in.”

As of now, Rantanen is not amongst that group. The talent is there, but the trust is not. He will have one more game to prove his mettle against Minnesota on Saturday. That will mark his ninth for the Avalanche. If he plays in a 10th, he will burn a year off of his entry-level deal.

If he wants to remain with the Avalanche, it would behoove him to make the most out of the little time he has left.