Colorado Avalanche Opening Night Roster Coming Into Focus


The Colorado Avalanche made 4 more roster moves this morning, sending Croatian winger Borna Rendulic, and skilled center Andrew Agazzino to the Lake Erie Monsters. They also designated Tomas Vincour and Ben Street as injured non-roster players, meaning once healthy they will also report to Lake Erie.

This leaves the Colorado Avalanche with 25 players on their main roster, including Patrick Bordeleau who will be placed on long-term injured reserve, and centers John Mitchell and Jesse Winchester who are battling migraines and a concussion, respectively. The youngster who impressed the Avalanche brass the most, and earned a chance to show what he can do, is Swede Dennis Everberg. Everberg is a 22 year old, signed to a two-year contract by the Avalanche this summer. He brings a physical presence to the ice, while showing an offensive touch with a goal in the Frozen Fury and in the burgundy/white game.

Reports out of Avalanche practice today are that the forward lines are as follows:

Tanguay – Duchene – Iginla

Landeskog – O’Reilly – MacKinnon

McGinn – Briere – Talbot

McCleod – Cliche – Everberg

Injuries: Winchester, Mitchell, Bordeleau

The top line reunites Iginla and Tanguay, who played together during their time with the Calgary Flames. Roy hadn’t tried this combination until the final preseason game against the Kings, but the duo seemed to find a spark they had been lacking when not playing together.

The second line creates an interesting dynamic as it stands. O’Reilly is one of the best defensive players in the NHL, and he is also a natural center. Pairing Factor with MacKinnon will afford the kid a bit of security as he transitions to a full-fledged NHL center. O’Reilly can take some of the defensive responsibilities, and d-zone faceoffs, allowing MacKinnon to make somewhat of a soft transition to the center-ice role. The O’Reilly security blanket will allow MacKinnon to gallop, attack, and create offense without the burden of responsibility a center would normally have.

These lines split up the O’Reilly and Duchene combo that was so successful last year, but also creates some chemistry and dynamics that can’t be tapped into if you leave those two together. I expect the top-six to be pretty fluid this season, but I really like this setup.

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Looking at the bottom two lines, you will notice Jamie McGinn is back in the fold. He skated at Avs practice today, and was a full participant. All indications are that he is ready to go for opening night, which is great news for the Avalanche. McGinn is a big forward, who also can be a streaky scorer. Briere gets to slide into the center ice position due to injuries, and having McGinn gives him someone to work with in the offensive zone. Talbot ideally should be a fourth liner, but he is a solid player on the defensive end, and gives the Avs a respectable third line.

The fourth line will be centered by Marc-Andre Cliche. Cliche is a guy I hate to rag on, because he seems like a good dude, and most of the players seemed to really enjoy his company on the ice during training camp. He is just so limited in what he can actually do on the ice. He offers nothing on the offensive half of the rink, and just seems to kill chemistry and creativity on his line. Mitchell and Winchester being banged up puts Cliche in the lineup, but if the Avs want to make a deep playoff run, Cliche is a huge liability. This team needs to get and stay healthy up the middle. Alternate captain, and recently extended Cody McLeod and rookie Dennis Everberg round out the fourth line.

The defense is looking something like this:

Johnson – Stuart

Barrie – Holden

Guenin – Hejda

Redmond – Wilson

These are the pairs I saw reported by Drew Spevak (@DrewSpevak) around noon today. The Johnson and Stuart combo is common knowledge at this point as the top pairing, and Barrie/Holden is a very intriguing pair who can add a lot of offensive potential. These bottom parings are a little bizarre though. I would hope that Guenin and Wilson are the extras, and perhaps Roy is just getting a look at different combos. However, Ryan Wilson has struggled this preseason, and Zach Redmond has looked fantastic. It doesn’t seem likely that Hejda would get scratched, and if he does play with Guenin on opening night, I’d be fairly disappointed.

The goaltenders are of course:

Semyon Varlamov

Reto Berra

It is probably a pretty safe bet this is how things will look on opening night in Minnesota on October 9th. Hockey is back folks!