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!