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Rantanen on top line for first day of Avalanche training camp

Skates with MacKinnon, Landeskog; missed final 12 games before pause with shoulder injury

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / NHL.com Columnist

Mikko Rantanen reunited with Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog on the top line when the Colorado Avalanche opened training camp Monday.

The forward missed 28 games because of ankle and shoulder injuries before the NHL paused the season March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus, but he was fifth on Colorado with 41 points (19 goals, 22 assists) in 42 games.

"It's been a weird year," Rantanen said. "Two pretty major injuries and trying to get back. I was just going to come back before the season got paused, so kind of bad timing for that. But now I took time, the three, four months we had, just to get myself healthy, my shoulder. My shoulder feels good. Now everything's feeling good."

With Rantanen, MacKinnon and Landeskog, the Avalanche arguably could have the best line in the NHL. MacKinnon scored 93 points (35 goals, 58 assists) in 69 games before the pause, and Landeskog had 44 points (21 goals, 23 assists) in 54 games.

"Obviously, we've played a lot of games together," Rantanen said. "We have good chemistry. We know each other really well on the ice. So it's nice to be back together."

 

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Colorado (42-20-8, .657 points percentage) will play in the round-robin portion of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers in the Western Conference against the St. Louis Blues (42-19-10, .662), Vegas Golden Knights (39-24-8, .606) and Dallas Stars (37-24-8, .594) to determine seeding for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Western tournament, which also includes four best-of-5 series, will be played at Rogers Place in Edmonton beginning Aug. 1.

Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said he will continue evaluating line combinations before the playoffs begin.

"We're going to have some scrimmages in training camp," Bednar said. "We'll test some matchups both in the scrimmages and in exhibition and in the round-robin. Things may be pretty fluid in there, but we'll just see how they go. I want to explore some options so I know what some of the best-case scenarios are going into the playoffs."

Rantanen spent much of the pause at home in Finland. He missed the final 12 games with the shoulder injury after being out 16 games from Oct. 25-Nov. 29 with the ankle injury.

"Finland was closed from March to the first week of June, pretty much like here, so just working out and rehabbing my shoulder, make sure that I'm ready when we come back," Rantanen said.

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