Colorado Avalanche Forward Depth Is A Myth


The Colorado Avalanche made some changes to their offense over the past year, including free agent signings, trades and prospects that were called up to the NHL. Just this offseason, the club added Carl Soderberg, Mikko Rantanen, Mikhail Grigorenko and Andreas Martinsen. Joey Hishon, Freddie Hamilton, Dennis Everberg and Borna Rendulic joined the NHL team for parts of last season.

That has led to more and more people arguing that the Avalanche now have a very deep forward group. There was even a comment stating that they are one of the deepest teams offensively in the entire NHL. That is, unfortunately, exorbitantly exaggerated.

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As of today, the Colorado Avalanche’s roster features eight forwards that are without a doubt NHL-caliber. That is captain Gabriel Landeskog, as well as fellow forwards Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon, Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay, Carl Soderberg, Blake Comeau and John Mitchell. What we are looking at behind that is a bunch of question marks and anything but proven depth.

Assistant captain Cody McLeod is on the bubble. His offensive skills are not NHL-level, but he is solid defensively and fills a leadership role with the Avs. He is the only player that drops the gloves regularly and can be counted as a decent NHL forward overall, although he would not be an important piece on a team with actual depth — for example Central Division rival St. Louis.

Marc-Andre Cliche played the entire 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons as the Avalanche’s fourth-line center and even spent several games operating on the third line. He is in fact lucky that Colorado’s depth is that bad, as he would likely not find another three teams that would give him regular NHL minutes. Cliche is a career AHL forward and yet, he is not completely ruled out as a part of the Colorado Avalanche’s bottom six in the upcoming season.

Jesse Winchester is another solid depth forward. Unfortunately, he missed the entire past season due to post-concussion syndrome and is still a big question mark for 2014-15. Would he give the team depth? Yes. But we don’t know if he will be healthy and get back to the form he was in before he came to Colorado.

Most of them carry question marks, including the question if they are talented enough to be full-time NHL players.

Behind that, it is all young faces and NHL rookies, more than a couple from Europe. Joey Hishon, Freddie Hamilton, Borna Rendulic, Dennis Everberg, Andreas Martinsen, Mikhail Grigorenko and Mikko Rantanen. Lots of players fighting for the last few spots in the Colorado Avalanche’s lineup — and that’s what forward depth is, right? Not exactly.

None of the above players have played a full season in the NHL. Most of them carry question marks, including the question if they are talented enough to be full-time NHL players. Hishon and Hamilton were members of the roster late last season and while they have shown promising ability, they are still unproven.

Everberg came from Sweden’s second-tier league, Rendulic was a decent forward in Finland. Both of them have shown promising skill, but who knows if they will be able to keep that up? They still have a lot to prove. Furthermore, Everberg is coming off shoulder surgery and will have to bounce back from that.

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Martinsen should probably be left out of the conversation completely, but I wanted to put him in the conversation anyway. He will be a part of the San Antonio Rampage for all of the 2015-16 season and may see some NHL time either late in the upcoming season or in the one after — if he extends his contract in 2016.

Grigorenko and Rantanen are likely the two players with the highest potential. However, Grigorenko reportedly has some character issues and he has not played a full NHL season yet. If he can turn it around, he may become a top-six forward one day, but he isn’t right now. Rantanen seems to be the exact opposite of Grigorenko character-wise, while having even more potential. However, he is also unproven and it remains to be seen if he is ready for a big role in the NHL in 2015-16.

There is a lot of potential in the system, but very little proven NHL talent.

As a conclusion, there are many players in the Colorado Avalanche’s system that want to play in the NHL, but only few are definitely ready. The addition of Comeau was important, especially after letting Jamie McGinn go. There is a lot of potential in the system, but very little proven NHL talent.

To compare, the Chicago Blackhawks — Stanley Cup Champions 2015 and Avalanche division rival — had real forward depth last season. Their bottom six in the Stanley Cup Final included Antoine Vermette, Kris Versteeg, Andrew Shaw, Marcus Kruger and Teuvo Teravainen — behind a top six of Toews, Kane, Sharp, Hossa, Saad, Richards. The St. Louis Blues, also a Central Division rival, had a bottom six featuring ex-Avalanche Paul Stastny, Dimitrj Jaskin, Patrik Berglund and Steve Ott. That’s forward depth.

What do you think about the Colorado Avalanche’s current depth? Let us know in the comments!

Next: 5 Forwards Who Could Make The Avs

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