Avalanche at a Glance
This is the first edition of “Avalanche at a Glance”, a weekly column dedicated to anything and everything Colorado Avalanche related. My partner in action throughout will be Mr.Kevin Goff. We’ll choose two hot-topics for the week to discuss them, and perhaps we’ll sprinkle in some guests as we move forward also.
Don’t forget to check out our “Favorite Moments” section at the end of every column for some cool video of the past week.
Very much looking forward to starting this up Kevin, so let’s get to it.
Let’s Get Started! What About Duncan!?
KEVIN GOFF: Excited to begin this column with you Sebastian! I want to start off our first discussion about something that has been bugging me for a while, Colorado’s refusal to give Duncan Siemens a shot. By this point we all know that the Avalanche selected Duncan Siemens with the 11th overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, with the pick acquired from the St. Louis Blues in the Erik Johnson trade. I don’t know about you, but I loved the selection. At the time the Avalanche were a group of small defenders that could skate really well, but that were consistently physically dominated in their own end. Duncan Siemens seemed like the perfect medicine as a big, physical, mean defenseman that could still skate and make good decisions with the puck.
Fast forward to today and Siemens is still stuck in the AHL. He’s played 100+ games and was just passed over for a call-up by both Nikita Zadorov and Chris Bigras. Now I get Zad being called, and I don’t necessarily have a problem with Bigras being called up, but it just seemed like Roy and company were going against their nature in going with the kid who was younger and less experienced. Now Bigras has played well since being called up, absolutely no doubts about it, and Siemens has had to deal with injury issues, it just seems like he’s been banished from the Avalanche future for little other reason than not having been drafted by Patrick Roy. Maybe that’s a bit harsh, maybe not, but it seems to me that the Avalanche need to either use him or trade him if they know that he isn’t part of their future. Your thoughts?
SEBASTIAN HEDLEY-NOBLE: This is a sore spot when discussing the Avs defensive prospects for sure. Duncan Siemens, while still has plenty of potential at the age of 22, is just suffering from being the 3rd best out of the three(Bigras, Zadorov, Siemens). Siemens, through 38 games with the Rampage this season, has only 3 points, and is a -6. Compare that to Bigras(19 points in 37 games) and Zadorov(20 points in 30 games) both of whom are younger and have more skill and potential than Siemens right now. So it’s pretty easy to see why they were called up ahead of him. They are all left-handed as well, something to keep in mind.
That being said, I have not given up on Siemens at all. I still believe he can make this Avalanche team in the future, though he will have to compete against two top-tier prospects in Bigras and Zadorov to get there. I don’t think it has anything to do with which GM drafted him, if he’s good enough to play, he will most certainly play. Coach Roy at the moment however, has his defense pretty much set, barring any trades. With the recent sending down of Nikita Zadorov, it consists of Erik Johnson, Francois Beauchemin, Nick Holden, Tyson Barrie, Chris Bigras, and Zach Redmond(Nate Guenin being the 7th).
So keep Siemens down in the AHL a while longer and let him gain more experience. Defenders do tend to take longer with their development. Perhaps the Avalanche feel more comfortable with Bigras and Zadorov moving forward and are contemplating making a trade. Though with a talent like Siemens, I’d wait a bit longer and possibly give him another look in the NHL before even thinking of moving him, unless an offer comes around which you cannot refuse of course.
The Ryan O’Reilly Saga
SEBASTIAN HEDLEY-NOBLE: Let’s talk about a very hot topic in the drama of Ryan O’Reilly, and get it out-of-the-way once and for all, please. We’re not going to get into why he was traded, because if you don’t know the answer to that by now, you probably never will. Instead let’s discuss the insistence of so many “experts” and fans who seem to think the trade has been won, by Buffalo, ALREADY.
Colorado traded O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn for Nikita Zadorov, Mikhail Grigorenko, J.T. Compher, and the 31st overall draft pick, which was then traded for two 2nd round picks(one that year and one in this years draft) plus a 6th rounder in 2017. The trade may look bad now because the players the Avalanche got in return are STILL DEVELOPING, while O’Reilly and McGinn are finished products. These kids are no doubt going to be great additions to the club, and the rest of the hockey world will wake up and realize the Avs could easily win this trade big time in the long run.
Avalanche fans must be patient too, we acquired kids, and like 95% of young hockey players, they need some time to develop into full-time NHL professionals. J.T. Compher might end up being the biggest steal of them all, it’s just way too early to declare an outright winner to this trade, end of story. Kevin I know you’re in the same boat as me when it comes to this topic so take it away sir!
J.T. Compher was named Michigan captain, so that says it all right there, he plays a tenacious 200-foot game and someone who is going to be with our club as well. – Joe Sakic
KEVIN GOFF: Thanks for providing a space for me to vent my frustration Sebastian! That is THE part of this trade that makes me the most crazy! People declaring an outright win when the trade hasn’t come close to being fully materialized. This goes well beyond fans and includes writers in local papers who continue to imply that the Avalanche had made a mistake in trading O’Reilly simply because players acquired in return weren’t in the lineup scoring goals every single night.
I’ll deal with the latter portion first. I’m fairly certain that most rational people could agree that the impact of this trade was going to be essentially what has happened. In the short-term, Buffalo would have the better side of things but, in the long-term, the Avalanche stand to be in a much better position. O’Reilly and McGinn are known NHL entities and you knew they would be able to step into the Buffalo line-up and make a difference, as they have. We also knew that Zadorov and Grigorenko are both still incredibly young with some pretty amazing potential; some of which would likely take years to come out. Patrick Roy just said it in a press conference before the game against Buffalo on Wednesday night that the trade wasn’t made for today, it was made for tomorrow. Zadorov is a 20-year-old defenseman with size, outstanding skating ability, a cannon for a shot along with his huge physical game. What he lacks, for now, is maturity, which will only be gained with time.
Add in prospect J.T. Compher, who is having an outstanding season with Michigan, and the one draft pick that Joe Sakic turned into three draft picks, and there will be no actual way to gauge who “won” this trade until about five years down the road.
At the end of every edition, Kevin and I will pick out our favorite moments of the past week or so, and post them for your enjoyment as well! It could be an awesome goal, pass, or hit. It can be a great interview/press conference, or something completely ridiculous, as long as it’s Avalanche related, anything goes in this section.
Emotions Run a Mile High
For my first pick in the first week of Avalanche at a Glance, I’m picking a doozy. In a game that meant Colorado would keep its place in the final wild card spot, the Avalanche and St.Louis Blues played a thriller at Pepsi Center. With less than a minute until the final buzzer, Tyson Barrie, Matt Duchene, and Nathan MacKinnon combined for a crucial, beautiful goal. The Avalanche would then travel to Dallas to finish off the back-to-back chaos.
Kevin picks a gem for his first one, though these are two separate moments, I’ll let it slide. They came in the second of the latest back-to-back games, against yet another Central Division opponent, the Dallas Stars. Colorado managed to get maximum points that night with the help of Semyon Varlamov and two short-handed goals from compatriots Carl Soderberg and Gabe Landeskog. This latest win also saw the Avs jump ahead of the Minnesota Wild for the first wild card position.
We hope you enjoyed the first edition of “Avalanche at a Glance”, we’ll be updating and upgrading as we move forward.
Next up for the Avs, the San Jose Sharks, yet another huge game for their playoff push.
You can follow Kevin and I on Twitter – @BrgBrigadeKevin – @SebastianHNoble
Sebastian Noble is currently in his third year with The Hockey Writers covering the Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers. Liverpool, England, and of course Colorado Avalanche & Florida Panthers supporter. You can follow him on Twitter @SebastianHNoble