The Avalanche will have their franchise player back in the lineup tonight against Toronto as the team announced (Twitter link) that they’ve activated center Nathan MacKinnon off injured reserve. To make room for MacKinnon on the roster, winger Charles Hudon has been assigned to AHL Colorado.
MacKinnon suffered an upper-body injury earlier this month which was expected to keep him out for four weeks so he’s right on schedule. The 27-year-old was off to another strong start before the injury as he had 34 points in 23 games; even though he has missed 11 games, he’s still tied for second on the Avs in scoring. More importantly, he gives Colorado their top center back, allowing them to push J.T. Compher off the top line and balance out their forwards a bit better; Compher had been logging nearly 24 minutes a night in MacKinnon’s absence.
Colorado enters play tonight sitting fourth in the Central Division and is tied with Calgary for a Wild Card spot in the West. That has largely been due to an extremely long injury list that still has them without two top-six wingers in Gabriel Landeskog and Valeri Nichushkin and two key defenders in Bowen Byram and Josh Manson, among others. Their push to put themselves in a much more favorable playoff position will be a lot easier with MacKinnon, their star center and the player who will have the richest contract in NHL history next season, returning to the lineup.
As for Hudon, he was recalled back on Tuesday on his third emergency loan of the season. The 28-year-old has played in nine games with the Avalanche this season, logging just shy of 11 minutes a night while being held off the scoresheet. He has 18 points in 22 contests with the Eagles and should be a recall option should another injury up front arise with the big club.