Colorado Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen has been selected to participate in his first career NHL All-Star Game, the league announced today. Rantanen will join teammate Nathan MacKinnon on the Central Division roster for the 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Game, which will be held on Saturday, Jan. 26, at the SAP Center in San Jose, California (6 p.m. MT, NBC). The players will also compete in the SAP NHL All-Star Skills event the night before on Friday, Jan. 25 (7 p.m. MT, NBCSN).
This year marks the first time that two Avalanche players will participate in an NHL All-Star Game since 2010-11 (Matt Duchene, Paul Stastny). MacKinnon was voted by the fans as captain of the Central Division, the first Avalanche player to serve as an All-Star Game captain since Joe Sakic wore the 'C' for the Western Conference at the 2007 event in Dallas. MacKinnon is the first Colorado player to be selected to three straight All-Star Games since Rob Blake from 2001-02 to 2003-04.
Rantanen leads the Avalanche and ranks second in league scoring with 62 points (17g/45a) in 40 games. His 62 points are the most through 40 games in Avalanche history (since 1995-96) and with Colorado playing its 41st contest tonight, he has already broken the Avalanche record for the most points at the halfway point of a season (through 41 team games). He topped Peter Forsberg's mark of 60 points through 41 contests in 1995-96.
Colorado's first-round pick (10th overall) in the 2015 Draft, Rantanen also leads the club and ranks second in the league in assists. He shares the team lead with eight power-play goals, tied for fifth in the NHL, and ranks second among all players in even-strength scoring (9-32=41). He leads the NHL in road points (7-28=35) and third-period scoring (5-23=28).
The Nousiainen, Finland, native held at least a share of the NHL scoring lead for 66 consecutive days from Oct. 23 to Dec. 27. He was the outright leader for 60 of those 66 days, including 43 in a row before he was passed by Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov. Rantanen was only the second Avalanche player to lead the league in points at the NHL's Holiday Break, joining Forsberg (48 points) in 1997-98. His 59 points were the most by anyone at Christmas since Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby had 60 in 2010-11.
Rantanen was the first NHL player to the 30, 40 and 50-point marks this season and was beaten by Kucherov by just a few hours on Dec. 27 for the first to 60. The 22-year-old was the fastest player in Avalanche history to reach 60 points (38 team games), three contests quicker than Forsberg in 1995-96. In addition, he was the first Finnish-born player to reach 50 points in a season.
Video: COL@ANA: Rantanen wires home PPG for OT winner
Rantanen's highlights this season include being named the NHL's First Star of the Month for October after tying Sakic's 1996-97 Avalanche records for points (21) and assists (16) in that month. Rantanen tallied points in each of his first nine games, tying the Avalanche record for the longest point streak to start a season, and had assists in each of his first eight games, the second-longest streak to begin a season in franchise history. He compiled a career-high 14-game point streak from Nov. 18-Dec. 15, tied for the third longest in Avalanche history.
Rantanen and MacKinnon ranked 1-2 in league scoring for 31 consecutive days from Nov. 21 to Dec. 22. They were the fifth set of teammates since 1981-82 to be the first NHL players to hit 50 points in a season, joining Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby (2008-09), Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr (1995-96), Wayne Gretzky and Glenn Anderson (1985-86) and Gretzky and Jari Kurri (1983-84).
Now in his third full NHL season, Rantanen has accumulated 184 points (66g/118a) in 205 NHL contests. He is only the fourth player in Avalanche history to score 20 goals in each of his first two full NHL seasons, joining Duchene (2009-11), Stastny (2006-08) and Chris Drury (1998-00). With three more goals this year, Rantanen would join Drury (four seasons, 1998-2002) as the only Colorado players to score 20 or more in each of their first three campaigns.
Rantanen finished second on the Avalanche in scoring with 84 points (29g/55a) in 81 games last season, the most points by a Finnish-born player since Teemu Selanne (94 with Anaheim) and Olli Jokinen (91 with Florida) in 2006-07. Rantanen's 55 assists were the most by a Finnish-born player since 1998-99, when Selanne had 60 helpers for the Ducks. As a rookie in 2016-17, he led the Avalanche with 20 goals, tied for fifth among all first-year players.
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound right winger was the co-winner of the Dudley (Red) Garrett Memorial Award as the AHL's outstanding rookie with the San Antonio Rampage in 2015-16. That same year he captained his nation to the gold medal at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship in Helsinki. He also represented Finland at the 2015 World Junior Championship and has played for his country at three IIHF World Championships (2016-18).
The 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend will once again consist of a three-game tournament, played in a 3-on-3 format, featuring four teams - one for each NHL division. Each team will be made up of 11 players from the respective division: six forwards, three defensemen and two goaltenders.