Colorado Avalanche: The Biggest Questions Going Into Training Camp


The Colorado Avalanche have made some big splashes this offseason already, and they are probably done making any big moves unless something too good to be true shows itself.

So, in light of the acquisitions made by the Avalanche, along with the Ryan O’Reilly trade, what are the biggest stories going into this year’s training camp? Who will surprise the coaching staff and fans while earning a roster spot? Who will likely lose the roster spot they had last year? How will the new acquisitions pan out? And – ultimately – what can Avalanche fans expect from their team next year? I’ll do my best to answer those questions; however, there are still many uncertainties surrounding this roster, and only training camp will shore them up.

Colorado Avalanche Acquisitions

With the three acquisitions of Blake Comeau, Francois Beauchemin, and Carl Soderberg the Avalanche were able to add some great pieces to their lineup at relatively cheap cap hits. Comeau will replace Jamie McGinn‘s production on a third line, and hopefully Soderberg will be able to provide some good minutes in similar form to what O’Reilly provided for the Colorado Avalanche last year.

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As I’ve said in a previous post prior to free agency, the Avalanche are set on their top 6, but could shuffle players around in order to create three rather potent lines. Now, with the acquisition of Comeau along with the trade pick-up of Mikhail Grigorenko and draft-pick Mikko Rantanen, the Avalanche certainly appear to have forward depth. However, as fellow Mile High Sticking writer Janik Beichler has noted, this may not be the case.

Regardless, Grigorenko and Rantanen should be locks to make the lineup. With Comeau and Soderberg as well, the Colorado Avalanche should have plenty of options with their forwards.

Defense seems to be more a sure thing now, and that is because management signed Beauchemin, and picked up Nikita Zadorov in the O’Reilly trade. If all pans out like it should, Beauchemin will get paired with Erik Johnson, and Zadorov with Tyson Barrie, which would immediately shift the defensive pairings.

The question remains however, who will make the lineup and in what sort of role? It’s really quite impossible to know at this stage, but at least Avalanche fans have something to look forward to concerning the state of forwards on the roster.

Colorado Avalanche Roster Spots

So, who will be the surprise player to make the roster this year? And, who will they have to replace in order to do so?

Chris Bigras will make the lineup this year on a pairing with Brad Stuart.

It’s pretty obvious that defensive regulars from last year should change almost entirely up and down the lineup except for Johnson and Barrie of course. With the two pairings mentioned above, the Colorado Avalanche are left with one pairing to complete.

Which is why Chris Bigras will make the lineup this year on a pairing with Brad Stuart. Stuart is aging and cannot quite play to his once elevated potential, but he is still serviceable, especially on a third pairing. Chris Bigras had an outstanding season in the OHL, and made quick work of his short time in the AHL, recording 4 assists in 7 games. He is NHL-ready, and will make the lineup due to a great showing in training camp.

However, with Bigras, Zadorov, and Beauchemin all joining the Avalanche lineup for the first time, there must of course be those who lose their roster spot, —  three in fact. Nate Guenin, Zach Redmond, and Nick Holden will all likely not make the roster out of training camp due to higher competition now. However, that is certainly a good thing as the Avalanche blue-line appears to be in much better shape for the coming year then it has been for a few years running now.

Finally, MacKinnon may finally be ready to take on the second line center role, and if that is the case, Soderberg could get moved down to the third line. These are all questions that will be answered when training camp begins.

Potential Colorado Avalanche Lines and Pairings

Ultimately, the Avalanche look poised to perform a lot better than they did last year. Defensive depth will certainly be the catalyst, hopefully creating quicker zone exits and taking some of the pressure off of Semyon Varlamov. Forward depth may have taken a little beating this offseason, but hopefully the unproven forwards will make a showing and help complete a deep group of forwards.

I see the forward lineup next year looking something like this:

Line 1: Tanguay-Duchene-Iginla

Line 2: Landeskog-Soderberg-MacKinnon

Line 3: Comeau-Grigorenko-Mitchell

Line 4: McLeod-Winchester-Everberg/Hishon/Rantanen

I think it’s pretty obvious that Grigorenko will make the team because the Avalanche have talked about using him on the power play. Whether or not Rantenen makes the lineup is up to his performance in training camp, but he is certainly determined to make it to the NHL next year. Nonetheless, these are just projections and the Avalanche forward group seems to be the most unknown – except for the top 6 – right now.

Defense on the other hand is pretty obvious, the only question is who will partner Stuart on the third pairing.

First pairing: Beauchemin-Johnson

Second pairing: Zadorov-Barrie

Third pairing: Bigras/Siemens/Holden/Redmond-Stuart

Importance of Colorado Avalanche Training Camp

Training camp is a long way from now, but it approaches on swift wings nonetheless. If there is anything the avid Avalanche fan has to look forward to, it is certainly training camp and the bevy of talent that will be partaking in it.

It will be interesting to watch the competition for roster spots. No matter the results, the Colorado Avalanche should have a fairly decent-looking roster going into next season because there are so many options, and most of the options boast a lot of potential. The new defense is probably the most exciting to look forward to, and it will be interesting to see how well these new partners gel with one another.

All-in-all, the Colorado Avalanche have a lot of talent on their roster. With the new acquisitions they have created some healthy competition for roster spots, which will hopefully culminate in the best roster being produced for next season. There are many questions regarding this team right now, and it is difficult to predict what will happen in training camp, regardless it should be interesting to watch and see how the Avalanche roster formulates for the coming season.

Who will be most likely to round out the bottom six on the roster? Who should partner Stuart on the third pairing? Should Stuart even be on the roster? What do you think Avs fans?

Next: Are Beauchemin and Zadorov the Upgrade the Blue-Line Needed?

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