“I don’t think it was as good a season as everybody’s saying it was,” MacKinnon said. “Obviously I had to learn some stuff. There were a few bumps in the road. …
“I expect more out of me. I feel like I can really take the next step this season. I had a year of growth, but now I need to prove that I can be a dominant player in the league more than last year.”
And the Avs will need MacKinnon to show improvement — just as they will with their other young stars, like Matt Duchene, Ryan O’Reilly, Gabriel Landeskog, and Tyson Barrie.
Remember that there are those in the analytical community that are predicting Colorado will take a step back this season. They argue that the Avs will badly miss Paul Stastny, and that goalie Semyon Varlamov is unlikely to replicate his numbers from 2013-14.
But even if what they say turns out to be true, that effect could be offset by the Avs’ youngsters continuing to develop.
“I felt like I really improved this off-season,” said MacKinnon, who trained extensively with Sidney Crosby this summer. “I feel great. I think I’m going to make the next step this season.”