A knee injury to center Nathan MacKinnon has forced the Colorado Avalanche to call in a replacement.
The Avalanche announced the recall of 2015 first-round NHL draft pick Mikko Rantanen from the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage on Saturday. Rantanen would take MacKinnon’s spot in the lineup should he not be able to play Sunday against the Edmonton Oilers.
The Avs have yet to provide an update on MacKinnon’s status after he left Friday’s 4-3 shootout win in Calgary with three minutes remaining in the third period. However, Rantanen’s callup wouldn’t indicate much optimism.
Any lengthy loss of MacKinnon would be terrible news for the Colorado, which enters action Saturday with a three-point lead over the Minnesota Wild for the Western Conference’ s second wild card spot. MacKinnon is second on the team with 52 points and leading scorer Matt Duchene already missed Friday’s contest with a knee ailment of his own. Avs coach Patrick Roy said Friday that Duchene, who has 56 points, is day-to-day.
Roy also announced after Friday’s game that defenseman Eric Gelinas is out indefinitely with an elbow injury.
Rantanen played six games for Colorado in October. He registered a minus-5 rating while failing to register a point. The Avs selected Rantanen 10th overall last June and would burn the first year of his entry-level deal if he plays in four more NHL games. The 19-year-old won a gold medal at the World Junior Championship with Finland in January and has 21 goals and 52 points in 44 games with the Rampage.
Whether or not MacKinnon and Duchene suit up Sunday, the Avalanche will get one regular back in the lineup. Captain Gabriel Landeskog is eligible to return from the three-game suspension he was issued for cross-checking Anaheim Ducks defenseman Simon Despres.