Exclusive: Interview with Mikko RantanenEurolanche Fan Club talked with Mikko Rantanen, who won the AHL Rookie of the Year award and played first nine games for the Avalanche last season.
Can you explain us what are you doing these days?
I had rested for couple of weeks after the end of the season like everybody. Now, I have practices. I am working hard every day and can’t wait the next season. The practice sessions vary every day. I have 11-12 sessions per week.
What do you think about the past season, when you got a chance to play in just nine games for the Avalanche?
It was great to be in the NHL. My goal was to start the season with the NHL team. I was happy I could make it. But it was also good to be in the AHL, where I could play more minutes, like 20 minutes per game or at PKs and PPS. It has made me a better player and developed me a lot. When I came to the NHL in March, I was better player than at the start of the season. It was easier to be there. I am just hungry for the next season.
How you look on your AHL experience?
It was fun to learn the North American hockey style. Of course the overall result was bad for our team as we didn‘t make the play-offs. When I came there, the team was already on a top place of their division, but then tough times came. But I learned a lot and I got privilege to play with great linemates. I want to thank to them for everything.
Was there a mentor who advised you?
Mark Clark. And those guys who had played many years in North America. They know how it is working there. It was a great help for a rookie, when I came there. I want to thank to all of my teammates, trainers and the coaching staff.
What do you think is the biggest difference between European and AHL hockey?
The rink size of course. In AHL, the small rink makes game little bit quicker and more physical. In Europe, you have more time in the offensive zone, in North America you have to make decision really fast.
What part of your game you have improved since past season?
I think I have got better at practices. I am powerful as well. Now, I am trying to work on explosiveness in my legs. I will start to skate in August and work on that. I am good in making plays and in hockey sense too.
You also played at the World Championship in Russia. How do you remember on that?
It was great experience for me to be selected by my national team. It was really nice to be there. We went to the finals undefeated. The end wasn’t so nice, but overall I am proud how we played.
Is your goal to be the NHL full-time player for the next season?
Yes. That’s why I am working hard every day. I want to be ready to play there. I think the Avs staff expects the same from me.
Are there any players you would like to play with on the same line?
It will be coach’s decision of course. I don’t want to say one or two names, because there are many great players.
Do you think the Avalanche hockey will improve in the next season?
Yeah, of course. Everybody in Colorado wants to improve from the last season, because we didn’t make the playoffs. It was a big disappointment for the team. We want to make the playoffs next season. It is the first goal for us. And also to keep a consistence, not be like a roller coaster, up and down.
David Puchovsky, Slovakia, email@example.com
27/07/2016 - 17:00