Colorado Avalanche Lineup: Roster Outlook Part 6


The Colorado Avalanche lineup needs to improve; there is no doubt about that. However, it is not always that easy. We analyzed every position over the past weeks, taking an in-depth look at who is there, who should come and who needs to go. I could go on to recap all that talk again, before we get to the lineup — but who would want that?

Without wasting time, we will get right to it. Barring any major moves, this is what the Colorado Avalanche lineup will look like next season.

Colorado Avalanche lineup 2015-16

Gabriel Landeskog — Ryan O’Reilly — Nathan MacKinnon
Alex Tanguay — Matt Duchene — Jarome Iginla
Jamie McGinn — John Mitchell — Joey Hishon
Cody McLeod — Jesse Winchester — Jordan Caron
Patrick Bordeleau — Freddie Hamilton — Borna Rendulic / Dennis Everberg

Jan Hejda — Erik Johnson
Brad Stuart — Tyson Barrie
Nick Holden — Zach Redmond
Duncan Siemens — Nate Guenin

Semyon Varlamov
Reto Berra
Calvin Pickard

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As we can see, the Colorado Avalanche lineup for the 2015-16 season does not really change if nothing happens this off-season. How can the team get past their division rivals from Nashville, Chicago, Minnesota and Winnipeg then? A big question that does not have an easy answer to it — if there is one at all.

On offense, we have the same top-six as last season. The top-line with Ryan O’Reilly (who is hopefully staying), Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon could be one of the better lines in the NHL. Behind that, we still have the aging veterans Alex Tanguay and Jarome Iginla, centered by Matt Duchene. Another really solid line, despite the advanced age of our wingers.

The bottom-six can be, but is not necessarily a problem. Whether it is one or not depends on a series of factors. One is injuries, with Dennis Everberg out at least until October and Jesse Winchester still recovering from his concussion. Jame McGinn has also missed a good chunk of the past season, but can be expected to be one of the key-players in the bottom-six, along with John Mitchell.

Joey Hishon, Freddie Hamilton and Jordan Caron have yet to prove that they can be full-time NHL players.

Joey Hishon, Freddie Hamilton and Jordan Caron are all wild cards. They have shown talent, but have yet to prove that they can be full-time NHL players. Patrick Bordeleau, Borna Rendulic and of course Andreas Martinsen, the new acquisition from Norway, will try to get as much time in the Colorado Avalanche lineup, but have to expect to spend more time with the AHL’s Rampage in San Antonio.

On defense, we have the exact same problem as last year, except for the fact that there are finally some players that give hope for the future. Jan Hejda will likely return for another season with the Avalanche and remain Erik Johnson’s partner. Behind that, the group of No. 7 defensemen, that get regular ice-time because there is nobody else available, can be expected to stick around for the most part as well.

Sep 22, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Anaheim Ducks left wing Brad Winchester (55) shoots and scores past Colorado Avalanche goalie Calvin Pickard (31) as defenseman Chris Bigras (57) in the first period at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Duncan Siemens, the Avalanche’s 11th overall draft pick in 2011, got to finally make his Avalanche debut late in the season. Furthermore, Chris Bigras will join the pros next season, after a career-year in the OHL. Vancouver Giant (WHL) Mason Geertsen completes the current group of defense-hopefuls, after signing a pro contract with the Avalanche.

The goalie-group can also be expected to stay the same. Semyon Varlamov is the clear-cut No. 1 in net, with Swiss Reto Berra backing him up. Berra looked rather shaky in many games last season, but showed occasional NHL ability. If the Avalanche really refrain from making big signings in the off-season, Berra could also be sent down to San Antonio, despite having a one-way contract, with Calvin Pickard filling in the void.

Lots of analysis for basically the exact same roster as last season. But worry not, it will get interesting now. What should the Colorado Avalanche lineup really look like on opening night? Here we go.

“Dream” Colorado Avalanche lineup 2015-16

Gabriel Landeskog — Ryan O’Reilly — Nathan MacKinnon
Alex Tanguay — Matt Duchene — Jarome Iginla
Jamie McGinn — Carl Soderberg / Shawn Matthias — Joey Hishon
Cody McLeod — John Mitchell — Jesse Winchester
Jordan Caron — Freddie Hamilton — Borna Rendulic / Dennis Everberg

Andrej Sekera — Erik Johnson
Jan Hejda — Tyson Barrie
Duncan Siemens — Zach Redmond
Chris Bigras — Nate Guenin

Semyon Varlamov
Calvin Pickard
Sami Aittokallio

Whether you want to call it a “dream lineup” or not is your own decision. But regarding the fact that the Colorado Avalanche is desperate for improvements, but not really in the situation to get big ones, I would go as far as to call it that. So what has changed compared to the first Colorado Avalanche lineup?

On offense, we have a new No. 3 center — acquired in free-agency — named either Carl Soderberg or Shawn Matthias. I would personally prefer the Boston Bruins’ Soderberg, but the Vancouver Canucks’ Shawn Matthias would be just as much of an improvement for the bottom-six. John Mitchell, who has spent a significant amount of time even on the first or second line over the past seasons, is demoted to the fourth line. That way, the Avalanche suddenly have a fairly deep lineup, as opposed to just two good lines.

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The biggest move, however, follows on defense. Los Angeles King Andrej Sekera is signed as Erik Johnson’s partner. A very important move that makes the defense much better in an instant and allows Jan Hejda to slide down into the second pairing. Duncan Siemens can hopefully complete the defensive lineup, but if not, Chris Bigras is ready to go.

Furthermore, it was possible to get rid of Nick Holden and Brad Stuart. Don’t get me wrong, they are nice guys. However, they are simply too expensive for what they bring to the table. Another player that we could get rid of is goalie Reto Berra, who is either traded or returns to Europe. That leaves us with Varlamov, Pickard and Aittokallio in net, and Spencer Martin waiting to prove himself in the AHL.

If any of this really happens, who knows. Maybe we will just see the first version of our Colorado Avalanche lineup on opening night. But one thing is certain: the roster needs improvements. If being a general manager in the NHL was easy, we would probably all be there already. But it is not and we can only trust our legends Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy.

Hopefully you enjoyed our roster outlook series! What would you do to improve for next season? Let us know in the comment section!

Next: Avs Roster Outlook Part 1: Goalies

Next: Avs Roster Outlook Part 2: Defense

Next: Avs Roster Outlook Part 3: Left Wings

Next: Avs Roster Outlook Part 4: Centers

Next: Avs Roster Outlook Part 5: Right Wings