Duncan Siemens didn’t have a bad preseason, he had no preseason. The 22-year-old defender was a victim of Colorado’s second round of roster cuts, before he played a single preseason game. Siemens was a healthy scratch for both of Colorado’s preseason games so far. The former first-round draft pick will now report to training camp in San Antonio ahead of the AHL season.
Siemens, who was once a highly touted defensive prospect now stands on shaky ground within the organization. He’s dropped considerably in the depth chart. Players like Chris Bigras and Brandon Gormley, who have both had great training camps by all accounts, are pushing Siemens out of the team. Siemens hasn’t been able to set himself apart from some of Colorado’s younger prospects. This is starting to get concerning, and the front office need to find a solution to the problem.
It was always likely that Siemens would start the season in the AHL, but to be sent down so early, with no game time starts to raise a few alarms. It’s possible that sending him down now give him a more stable situation, and prepares him better for the season down in Texas. But in terms of his development, Siemens hasn’t been playing against any NHL level competition. Even if it’s soft competition during the preseason, it’s still a good chance for him to become accustomed to the NHL game. In Bigras’ first training camp he was given a good look in camp, and there was much speculation that he would make the team. Siemens, now in his 5th season in the Avalanche organization, heads back to the minors without much of a look with the pros.
Finding a role
Siemens’ biggest issue might be finding a role on this Colorado team. He’s more of a stay at home defender, trying to make it on a team that values aggressive, offensive defensemen. Acquiring Gormley a few weeks ago suggest that Siemens might not have a place in this organization’s future. Gormley, who has a good chance of being on the 23-man-roster come October 8, is a puck mover. Colorado’s defensive deficiencies recently have been in part due to their inability to move the puck up ice quickly to their star forwards. If Siemens can’t develop that aspect of his game, he’ll have a hard time displacing the likes of Gormley and Bigras.
Of course, the elephant in the room is that Siemens might just not be the player that Colorado thought they were drafting. In two season’s with the Lake Erie Monsters Seimens’ numbers were less than impressive. He did have to deal with injuries, but with just over 100 games played he registered 1 goal and 9 assists. It’s clear that Head Coach Patrick Roy doesn’t feel like Siemens is the defenseman of the future in Denver. If Siemens isn’t going to make it in Denver it might be time to start looking for a trade.
Change of scenery
Much like with Stephan Elliott, the best thing for Siemens and Colorado at this point might be a change of scenery. Colorado have spent this summer building depth on the back-end. Siemens has been a casualty of Colorado’s blue line rejuvenation. He’s fallen down the pecking order considerably, and seems unlikely to rise anytime soon. Trading Siemens might be the best situation for everyone. The player would get a fresh start elsewhere, and for the team a new asset could be acquired that better suits the organization’s needs.
The problem is Colorado’s front office hasn’t handled this very well. This preseason is another one for Siemens without any playing time. If the team is going to consider trading Siemens, then they are significantly hurting his value by sticking him down in the AHL so quickly.
It’s impossible to know if Colorado’s handling of Siemens has stunted his growth or if this is just the player that he’s always going to turn into. One thing is for certain though, and that is that Siemen’s development has stalled in Denver. The Avalanche need to find a way to revitalize his career, but that means more playing time with the big club. He can’t be expected to make strides as an NHL defenseman playing only in the minors. With Colorado’s new-found depth for the bottom pairing, it’s hard to justify giving him significant time in the NHL.
A trade seems like the most logical end for Siemens and the Avalanche. That will all depend on finding a suitable trading partner. Until that time, Siemens will continue plugging away in the AHL, hoping he can get his career moving forward.