In 2020-21, Nathan MacKinnon put together another impressive season and once again proved his status as a top center in the league.
MacKinnon finished his eighth NHL campaign second on the Colorado Avalanche and eighth in the league with 65 points (20 goals, 45 assists) in 48 games. His performance this season helped him be named a finalist for the Hart Trophy, awarded "to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team," for the second straight year and the third time in the last four seasons after finishing runner-up for the honor in both 2017-18 and 2019-20.
The forward finished third in the NHL with 36 away points (nine goals, 27 assists) and was among the league leaders in shots on goal (third, 206), power-play points (third, 25), assists (fifth, 45), points (eighth, 65) and power-play assists (tied for 10th, 17). MacKinnon led the Avalanche in points for most of the season before missing four of the final five games due to a lower-body injury.
His 1.35 points-per-game average ranked fourth among all skaters and matched his career high that he set in 2019-20. The 25-year-old's 0.94 assists per game was also the highest by an Avalanche player since Peter Forsberg averaged 1.03 helpers an outing in 2002-03.
MacKinnon had a career-high, 15-game point streak from March 27-April 28, the longest run in the NHL this past season and the longest by an Avalanche player since Paul Stastny's 20-game streak in 2006-07. MacKinnon also had a 17-game road point streak from Feb. 16-May 3, the second-longest such run in franchise history behind Peter Stastny's 23-game stretch for Quebec in 1983-84.
Video: COL@ARI: MacKinnon scores 200th NHL goal late in 2nd
The campaign also saw a few milestones for the Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, native as he scored his 200th goal and recorded his 500th point in the league.
He tallied for the 200th time on March 23 at the Arizona Coyotes, becoming the eighth player in franchise history and fifth in Avalanche history to reach 200 goals. At 25 years, 203 days, he became the fifth youngest active player to reach 200 behind Steven Stamkos (25.039), Sidney Crosby (23.112), Alex Ovechkin (23.141) and John Tavares (25.174).
MacKinnon hit the 500-point mark early in the season on Jan. 19 at the Los Angeles Kings and became the seventh player in franchise history and fourth in Avalanche history to reach the half-century milestone. He was also the first player from the 2013 NHL Draft to hit 500 points.
On Feb. 20, MacKinnon competed in his third outdoor contest when he skated in the Lake Tahoe event against the Vegas Golden Knights, and he tied the NHL outdoor game record with three points (one goal, two assists) in the Avs' 3-2 win.
Video: VGK@COL: MacKinnon blazes past defenders and scores
It was his second career multi-point effort in an outdoor contest after having a goal and one assist in the 2016 Stadium Series at Coors Field against the Detroit Red Wings. Only two other players have as many multi-point performances in games contested outdoors: Tomas Tatar and Henrik Zetterberg (two each).
MacKinnon was named the West Division's Star of the Month in April after he factored on more than half of Colorado's goals in the month (21 of 40), topping all players in the division with 21 points (nine goals, 12 assists) in 13 games. MacKinnon's 21 points set a franchise record for April, besting Joe Sakic's 17 for Quebec in April 1995. It marked the fourth time in his career that MacKinnon has been named one of the Stars of the Month (first in November 2017, second in November 2018 and 2019).
Video: ARI@COL: MacKinnon extends point streak to 10 games
In the postseason, MacKinnon continued to produce over a point a contest and led Colorado with 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) in 10 games.
He played in his 50th playoff outing on in Game 6 against the Vegas Golden Knights and had two assists to bring his postseason career total to 69 points (28 goals, 41 assists), tied for the fifth-most by a player in their first 50 career playoff games, trailing only Wayne Gretzky (104), Mario Lemieux (101), Jari Kurri (71) and Sakic (70). MacKinnon's 1.38 points-per-game average in the postseason is the highest among active players and the fourth highest in league history (minimum 25 games played).
Looking ahead to next year, MacKinnon and the Avs are motivated to build on their successes from this past season with the same goal of bringing another Stanley Cup championship to Denver.