Avalanche's Bednar: Rantanen compares favorably with Matthews, Laine

Ron Chenoy / USA Today Sports

Rookie forward Mikko Rantanen is emerging as one of the lone bright spots for the Colorado Avalanche this season.

With the team well on its way to a last-place finish in the overall standings, and with questions surrounding the long-term futures of Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog in Denver, head coach Jared Bednar said both management and the coaching staff are very confident in Rantanen's ability to be a meaningful contributor moving forward.

In fact, from Bednar's point of view, Rantanen compares favorably to top rookies Patrik Laine and Auston Matthews, despite trailing in actual goals and points.

"The big stat that comes out when I see (other rookie forwards) is he's playing 18-plus minutes a night, which I think is number one out of all those guys like Laine and even Matthews," Bednar said Tuesday on the team's website. "(He's) maybe not sheltered as much as those guys have been on other teams that are maybe a little bit deeper than our team is this year. So he's been thrown right into the fire and done a nice job."

Rantanen does lead all rookie forwards in average ice time with 18:05 per night, ahead of Laine (18:04) and Matthews (17:49). But in 60 games, he's scored only 14 goals and added 16 assists for a total of 30 points, well behind Laine (59) and Matthews (55). That, for Bednar, is more a result of Colorado's issues than a reflection on Rantanen's individual skills.

Bednar added: "A lot of the things that he's doing I would say are on par. We're not as productive an offensive team as some that those other guys are playing on so his number might not be as high, but he handles (more) minutes than those guys do and does a real nice job for us."

The 20-year-old was drafted 10th overall in 2015, and, along with Nathan MacKinnon and this year's high pick, appears set to be a significant building block for an Avalanche team in need of serious retooling.

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Avalanche's Bednar: Rantanen compares favorably with Matthews, Laine
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