AVALANCHE

Nathan MacKinnon voted as the second best center in the NHL

Feb 22, 2024, 10:43 AM

Colorado Avalanche superstar Nathan MacKinnon might win his first Hart Trophy this season as the NHL’s MVP.

But that doesn’t mean some league executives and fellow players think he’s the best center in the sport.

ESPN released another one of their positional rankings on Thursday, and MacKinnon checked in at No. 2 in the NHL, behind Oilers star Connor McDavid at No. 1. Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar earned the top spot last week at his position.

For MacKinnon it’s an improvement from the 2023 list, when he was ranked No. 3 in the league. He was on 19 of the 20 ballots cast in this survey, and received four first-place votes from fellow players. Six executives had him at No. 2 in the league while the other four had him at No. 3. Someone leaving MacKinnon off their top-10 is a joke, and hopefully an honest mistake.

Overall, MacKinnon received 170 points, trailing McDavid with 194 but comfortably ahead of Toronto’s Auston Matthews who came in third with 140 points.

“There are stretches when the Avalanche star is as unstoppable as, well, an avalanche. It’s when MacKinnon is stringing together weeks of consecutive points like it’s second nature. Take his recent home points streak: 27 straight games in Denver with a point, scoring 22 goals and 34 assists during that stretch,” ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski wrote in the piece.

Overall, MacKinnon has 33 goals and 59 assists in 57 games this season. He’s second in the NHL in points with 92, trailing only Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov who has 94. McDavid is third with 85 points.

Passing McDavid as the “best” center in the league is going to be a tall task, simply because of the reputation he’s built up. It’s well deserved, but MacKinnon and the Avs did sweep McDavid in the Oilers in the Western Conference Final on their way to the Stanley Cup in 2022.

Still, a Hart Trophy would help MacKinnon’s case. And that honor feels like it’s fully in reach.

To see the full rankings, click here.

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