Avalanche reassign 10th overall pick Mikko Rantanen to AHL

A 6’ 4” right winger from Finland, Rantanen has been playing in the Finnish Elite League, and with his size, strength and playmaking ability, looks ready for the NHL.

The Colorado Avalanche have reassigned Mikko Rantanen to the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage, the team announced Saturday.

The 19-year-old Finnish winger has played nine games this season with the Avalanche. A tenth would have burned a year off his entry-level deal.

According to The Denver Post, Rantanen will begin his NHL career next season.

“We’re not going to burn a year, first of all. He will start next year,” Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic told The Denver Post, identifying a potential expansion draft as a factor in the decision. “[Expansion rules] can change, it’s got to be negotiated, but in his first two years he would be treated like a junior player. From our understanding, but not 100 per cent, the first two years he won’t be exposed so you don’t have to protect them. So you can protect your other guys. If expansion (starts) in another year he would be a one-year pro not a two. If we have to protect him, that’s a guy we’ll protect. You only have so many players to protect.”

Rantanen was called up to the NHL on March 20 for his second stint with the big club. He also opened the 2015-16 season with the Avalanche. While he has yet to earn his first NHL point, he has found plenty of success in the AHL. The 2015 10th overall pick currently leads the Rampage with 21 goals and 52 points in 44 games.

Rantanen also served as Team Finland’s captain during this year’s world juniors, in which they won gold.