Much more depth has been added to the Colorado Avalanche lineup and boy has it been noticeable. Coach Patrick Roy has seemingly already decided on the lineup, at least we have a good idea of pairings that will most likely stick together this year.
We have seen a pattern in that Roy has decided on not necessarily complete lines as of yet, but duo’s to base his forward lines off of.
These duo’s include Gabe Landeskog with fellow Swede Carl Soderberg, Matt Duchene and Jarome Iginla, and Nathan MacKinnon with Mikhail Grigorenko.
That leaves Mikko Rantanen, Alex Tanguay, and Blake Comeau as the players Roy would most likely move around with more freedom.
This is all based on camp and pre-season thus far, so things can and most likely will change. Though now at least we have a much better idea of what the opening night lineup will look like, and it’s not too shabby.
One new addition making Colorado’s team much deeper than last years is 18 year old Mikko Rantanen.
Rantanen, Colorado’s 10th pick in the 2015 draft, does not look out-of-place whatsoever. He thinks the game extremely well and works hard on both sides of the puck. Excellent vision and hockey IQ will keep him with the Avs all year in my eyes.
He just needs more time to get comfortable on North American ice, as he does that, his season should only get better as it goes along. With Rantanen making this team most likely, the Avalanche can now roll three legit scoring lines. That’s the kind of depth Avalanche fans of late have been waiting for.
Analyzing the New Avalanche
- Landeskog – Soderberg – Rantanen
- Comeau – Duchene – Iginla
- Grigorenko – MacKinnon – Tanguay
- McLeod – Mitchell – Everberg/Skille(PTO)
Possible Healthy Scratches – Rendulic, Glencross(PTO)
Probable First Call Ups – Martinsen, Hishon, Hamilton
- Beauchemin – Johnson
- Zadorov – Barrie
- Stuart – Gormley
Possible Healthy Scratches – Holden, Guenin
Probable First Call Ups – Siemens, Bigras, Noreau, Redmond
- Semyon Varlamov
- Reto Berra
Definite first call up – Calvin Pickard
The Pleasant Surprises
Nikita Zadorov – Zadorov has arguably been Colorado’s best player throughout camp and pre-season. He is a monster, can skate, shoot, hit, everything. The Avalanche have not had a defensive prospect this good in quite some time, probably since Adam Foote.
Brandon Gormley – With this new added depth to the organization, there was plenty of battles going on at camp, resulting in some pleasant surprises. Gormley has been a very nice addition and has stood out at his first Avalanche camp.
Gormley will need to keep pushing and impressing though to secure a spot in the last pairing on defense. He is battling Nate Guenin and Nick Holden for the third defensive pairing alongside Brad Stuart.
Andreas Martinsen – Acquired this summer as a free agent, Martinsen was playing his hockey in Europe for Düsseldorfer EG in the DEL. He would have turned some heads during his international play with Norway. He is a very large man, at 6’4″ and 220 lbs, making him a perfect fit for Roy who has made it a point to bring in bigger players to the team. Martins will need some time getting used to the North American rink down in San Antonio, but look for him to see some NHL action this year as well.
Blake Comeau – Signed as a free agent, Comeau has stood out from day one of training camp. Avalanche fans will soon love him as he is similar to John Mitchell in that he can be moved around the lineup to play in multiple roles if needed. Comeau also has decent speed and a nice heavy shot.
Jack Skille – Skille has come in on a PTO(professional try out) and shown that he belongs. He can serve as a very valuable player, also similar to Comeau and Mitchell in the way he can be moved up and down the lineup. Skills also possesses a nice shot and can skate down the wing in a hurry. I would be shocked if he doesn’t earn himself a contract with the team.
Something to Prove
With the Avalanche’s new-found depth, they are poised for a much better year overall. This is a much improved team and playoffs are very much in the plans, even if most of the “experts” say otherwise. The Avalanche are coming in with a chip on their shoulder ready to show that their central division winning season was no fluke.
Sakic and Roy have built a very solid foundation and core so that they can continue improving, and consistently feature in the post-season where they belong.
No doubt, this new depth will help, but Colorado’s stars, both the kids and veterans, must be on top of their games for things to fall into place as expected this year.
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