Was there a better player in the NHL at 5v5 than Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon in 2022-23?
The evidence is starting to pile up and the answer is becoming clearer by the day – no, there was not.
Who created the most and best scoring opportunities in 2022-23 at 5v5 by shooting and passing the puck?
Using AllThreeZones tracked shot data weighed by variables like shot and pre-shot pass type, here are the top 40: pic.twitter.com/OJ2sDW7PGS
— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) July 30, 2023
But really, none of this should come as much of a surprise. We all saw it with our own eyes. When I wrote his season review back in May, I went over just how dominant he was at even strength last year. I even wrote about how he rivaled Connor McDavid with his incredible second half, and let me tell you, that did not please Edmonton Oilers fans.
It isn’t an argument that MacKinnon is just as good as McDavid, who I think is the best player in the league, but in the second half, the Avalanche star came close to matching his level of play.
As we’ve discussed before, MacKinnon led the league in 5v5 points last season, and did so while playing 11 games less than the person who finished in second place, Erik Karlsson. His 3.28 points-per-60 at 5v5 was also the best in the league, with Jeff Skinner (yes, Jeff Skinner) coming in second at 3.13.
So yes, MacKinnon was dominant at 5v5 last year, more dominant than any other NHL player. Perhaps what’s most impressive is that he did it in multiple ways, and a lot of the time, did it playing on a separate line than Mikko Rantanen. He was just as dangerous shooting the puck as he was dishing it to his teammates.
I’d ask if this is the year MacKinnon finally breaks through and wins the Hart Trophy, but I know he really doesn’t care about that. All he cares about is winning. He just wants another Stanley Cup.
If he has another dominant season like last year, the Avalanche will have as good a chance as any team in the West to take another run at the Stanley Cup.