Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Predicting the Unpredictable: Colorado Avalanche's 2013-2014 Forward Lineup

Rewind 10 years ago. That was the last time that the Avalanche could assemble a lineup with nine talented forwards. Swedish sensation Peter Forsberg, Avalanche great Joe Sakic, and a hodge-podge of various 70 point players constituted one of the scariest and most lethal offenses in the entire NHL. Sadly, the opposite is true in 2013. Only four forwards even warrant conversation for a spot in the top-six: Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, PA Parenteau and Paul Stastny.

Naturally, Ryan O’Reilly, Steve Downie, Nathan MacKinnon and Alex Tanguay will all be looked to as part of the Band-Aid that covers the other three voids in the top-six. That’s the first issue in the multi-pronged mistake that is the Colorado Avalanche’s roster makeup.

Besides that the Avs have four centers who will all be playing like top-six centers by 2014-2015, Colorado’s lineup at winger is putrid, and the depth at defense is nonexistent. These are the problems that make the game of lineup designer so challenging. But it must be done at some point, so it’s not impossible.

The first line will have to feature one or two of Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, and PA Parenteau. However, these three would not be great candidates to take up the entire first line because of the significant drop-off in talent.

The player with the best all-around game (with emphasis on shooting) needs to be on this top line to rack up the goals for Patrick Roy’s team. That is why newly re-signed Duchene will anchor that top line. On his right side will be the most competent scoring winger not named Gabriel. That man is PA Parenteau. Throw in recent sensation Jamie McGinn and the Avalanche has a potential filled top line. With playmaking coming from Parenteau and Duchene, McGinn should have no problem lighting the lamp 20-25 times.

Now it’s time to move to the second line with tons of talented forwards still available. Throw in Paul Stastny as the first line playmaking center capable of 50 assists. Flanking baby Stastny will be Gabriel Landeskog and Alex Tanguay.

On the third line (which will have an emphasis on checking and two-way game), Nathan MacKinnon will line up at center, making plays for Steve Downie at right wing and Ryan O’Reilly on the other side.

Finally, the fourth line comes up now. Of course, Patrick Bordeleau (a fan favorite) will find his way into the lineup during divisional matchups. John Mitchell, Mark Olver, and Cody McLeod will be the starting three for most games, however.

Well, the lineup has been set. In an ideal situation, the lines would look as such:

First Line: McGinn-Duchene-Parenteau

Second Line: Landeskog-Stastny-Tanguay

Third Line: O’Reilly-MacKinnon-Downie

Checking Line: McLeod-Mitchell-Olver

So goes the lineup for forwards. What do you think? Could the Avs possibly do any better? What would you recommend? Leave a comment with your thoughts. And thanks for reading!

Tags: Colorado Avalanche

  • tigervixxxen

    Thanks for the write up but a couple things I don’t agree with. First, you are selling MacKinnon short here. The only reason why he wouldn’t have a top 6 role is IF he isn’t ready for the minutes, he has more than enough talent to play on the top two lines, probably even the first line. Plus, he is not going to center a checking line even if it ends up as the “third line”. O’Reilly is also slated to play on Duchene’s wing per Roy and he is certainly talented enough for a top 6 role. Maybe this lineup isn’t going to work out like everyone hopes but I’d be hard pressed to find a more talented top 9 in the league.

    • Will Agathis

      Hey Tigervixxxen, thanks for commenting and reading. In response to the first part of your comment, I never agree that a team should immediately expect anything out of a top-5 pick. In most cases, these players are 18 or 19 years old, have never played against thick, hard hitting, hard shooting defensemen, and still have to learn the system and develop chemistry with their linemates. One of the beauties that make up this team is that six of their top-10 forwards have been playing with each other for two+ years and a lot of the players (Parenteau, Tanguay, Duchene, Landeskog, likely O’Reilly/Stastny, and MacKinnon) will be together for 3+ more years. Sadly, I could name you about 10 or so teams that have more talented top-9s, but if this team can remain in tact, they should have an electric offense by 2015.

      I know Roy wants O’Reilly on Duchene’s wing on the top line, but the overall lack of scoring will be disastrous. The first line on a solid offensively diverse team must be good for 80-90 goals per season. I think that Duchene and Parenteau are both good for 30 a piece next year (as well as 40-50 assists), meaning that 20-30 goals must come from another solid scoring winger. O’Reilly is not that type of player. Throw McGinn in there and spread out the playmaking talent.

      And I would say that top-9s better than Colorado: Boston, Buffalo, Carolina, Chicago, Detroit, Dallas, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Montreal, Islanders, Rangers, Flyers, Penguins, Senators, Vancouver, Washington, Winnipeg.

      I love getting into a friendly debate with a commenter, so please feel free to add more.

  • EternalBlue

    My only problem with that lineup is overloading the second line with two of the team’s best playmakers. Swap Downie for Tanguay and you give MacKinnon a valuable weapon, while maintaining some balance in the three scoring lines.

    • Will Agathis

      Thanks for commenting EternalBlue. l think that the third line is a good two-way line, with MacKinnon (who doesn’t fit in the line all that well). I see what you mean by saying that the 2nd line has two of the team’s great playmakers, but Tanguay’s on a massive decline if stats tell any story. If he’s not declining, he has had 29 goal seasons. There’s no lack of goals on that 2nd line or that third line. I think that your idea is better than mine, but mine still works. Hope that made sense and thanks for reading!

  • wayne

    Really?! I almost ttotally disagree, except for how awesome we…well the Avs were ten years ago, but ROR and Mckinnon are not bandaids, in fact ROR is a phenominal player! He may not be a Forsberg but he’s a very strong two way center. I love the Avalanche, win or lose but the only thing lacking is solid D. We are studded up front. We will see. I bet we have one of the highest gpg stats in the league this year. GAA may struggle, but I feel that Varlomov will be much stronger with the new goalie coach. All I can say is that the underrated boys from Denver will surprize the league…everyone but me. Roy, Sakic and the boys will do much better than expected.

    • Will Agathis

      I think this team has the potential to be better next year, maybe 7th or 8th seed good. This offense needs a serious 40 goal scorer and one less playmaker. I wouldn’t be totally against Colorado picking up an Andrej Meszaros or Nick Schultz at defense and stealing Thomas Vanek. This will likely be Stastny/ROR’s last year in Denver.

      ROR is a great player, but he would be a band-aid in the top six. He needs to improve a bit before he can be considered worthy of the second line.

      And there is no Forsberg on this team right now although MacKinnon has 50 goal potential. Thanks for reading and commenting Wayne!

      • wayne

        You’re welcome! I try to check out all things Avs! 7th Or 8th seed sounds right. I’m hoping for playoffs! Guess we will have to wait and see with Statsny and ROR. I personally would take ror. What I am pretty sure of is that Roy is gonna make a huge difference in our players. Hes got soooooo much passion, it’s gonna transcend throughout the entire bench. Duchene may have a 100+ point season, landeskog up there as well. ROR potentially 80+ same with PA, Mcginn could get around 60+ I have great faith with put guys up front. Do miss Forserg, dont miss his injuries though. Avs may break an offensive record with goals, but I’m an optimistic, a dreamer too, but I witnessed an Avs team stun the hockey world before (’96)

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