It’s not often a 22-year-old is the elder statesmen on his line, but that’s exactly what Mikhail Grigorenko will be on Friday night.
Grigorenko’s the resident greybeard on Colorado’s “Kid Line,” one that features 21-year-old Nathan MacKinnon and, for the first time this season, 19-year-old Mikko Rantanen.
Rantanen, taken 10th overall by Colorado in 2015, will make his season debut tonight against Winnipeg, after missing time with an ankle injury and fulfilling a rehab stint in AHL San Antonio.
Needless to say, the Avs are glad to have him back.
Rantanen had a terrific ’15-16 campaign. He split AHL Rookie of the Year honors with Providence’s Frank Vatrano, and helped Finland capture gold at the World Juniors. Rantanen also became the second-youngest player (18 years old) to participate in an AHL All-Star Game and earned a late-season recall to Colorado, where he made his NHL debut and appeared in nine games.
At 6-foot-3, 212 pounds, Rantanen has the size and physique to be a real force alongside Grigorenko and MacKinnon.
And he’s hoping he can be a force at the NHL level for a long time.
“I want to do what I do best, bring my strengths to our team,” he said, per the Colorado Springs Gazette. “I want to do everything I can to stay here. I would like to stay here for a while.”
It’s fair to suggest head coach Jared Bednar made this move in the hopes of providing a spark. The Avs are 3-2-0 to start the year, but have lost two of three and haven’t played since last Saturday.
MacKinnon is tied for the team scoring lead with five points through five games, while Grigorenko sits tied for second in assists, with three.