Avs keep expectations in check regarding MacKinnon

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There’s no doubt that Nathan MacKinnon will face some scrutiny next season. It comes with being the No. 1 pick of any draft.

Still, the Colorado Avalanche present a relatively cozy situation for a player who won’t turn 18 until Sept. 1.

New head coach Patrick Roy announced that MacKinnon will probably begin the 2013-14 season as a third-line center with Steve Downie and Tyler McGinn. That represents a nice compromise between keeping his workload reasonable and giving him an opportunity to succeed (both Downie and McGinn boast some genuine talent, plus they’re entering contract years).

There’s plenty of talent to go around if Colorado opts to move him higher in the lineup or jumble the combinations, too.

He’s also joining a roster full of guys who can relate to his situation, as Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog aren’t far removed from rookie campaigns themselves.

Earlier this month, Duchene told the Metro News that MacKinnon’s success is likely a matter of when, not if.

“There’s no question he’ll be a superstar, the timeline has yet to be determined,” Duchene said. “But he’s still a little raw, like any 17-year-old would be.”

Roy raved about his speed and emphasized that MacKinnon merely needs to “have fun” during his first season in the NHL, so the organization seems willing to allow their potential star of the future to mature.

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