Mikko Rantanen made the Colorado Avalanche's opening night roster a little sooner than some anticipated, but he is really eager to get his first taste of the NHL.
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Only six 2015 NHL draft picks will start the season off on an opening night roster.
The first and second overall picks, Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, will play for the Edmonton Oilers and Buffalo Sabres, respectively, as expected. Fifth overall pick Noah Hanifin will play for the Carolina Hurricanes. Daniel Sprong, drafted 46th overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins, cracked the opening night roster, and 51st overall pick Brendan Guhle will start the season on the injured reserve list for the Sabres.
The sixth 2015 draft pick to make their clubs NHL roster is Mikko Rantanen, the Colorado Avalanche’s 10th overall pick.
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The 18-year-old forward beat out Dennis Everberg, who was injured in preseason and assigned to the AHL, and Curtis Glencross, who failed to make the Avalanche after signing a professional tryout contract.
Rantanen has been practicing with Carl Soderberg and Borna Rendulic for the last week, which will more than likely be the Avalanche’s third line for the opening game against the Minnesota Wild.
His roster spot came a little sooner than anticipated. He’s excited to play in his first NHL game, but recognizes he’s not locked into a spot on the team forever.
"My goal when I came here was to make the team,” Rantanen told Colorado Avalanche writer Samantha Poulos. “Now I made the team so of course I’m happy, but I have to remember that I have to work hard. I have to be good in every practice and every game if I’m going to play here.”
Last season with HC TPS in the SM-Liiga hockey league in Finland, Rantanen scored nine goals and 28 points in 56 games in the mens professional league as a 17-year-old. Now, he’s taking his game to the next level in the best league in the world just a year later. But Rantanen is just excited to play in front of the Avalanche fans.
“It’s a big game and I think the game will be sold out maybe, so I’m looking forward to that,” Rantanen said. “It has been my dream to play someday here, and now it’s coming tomorrow, so of course I’m excited.”