Colorado Avalanche Defense: 3 Possible Combinations


The Colorado Avalanche defense was a huge weakness in the 2014-15 season and played a huge part in the team’s overall struggles. Even more so when No. 1 D-man Erik Johnson injured his knee halfway through the season. That is why the club made some significant changes in the off-season.

Francois Beauchemin was signed as a free agent and Nikita Zadorov came as part of the return for Ryan O’Reilly. The two will fill big holes in the Colorado Avalanche defense and while they may not be the ultimate solution, they are definitely a good one for the next few years.

Furthermore, the Avalanche has done a good job drafting young defensemen into the system, which leaves them with a promising pool of prospects. The ones most likely to make the team first are Duncan Siemens and Chris Bigras, but Mason Geertsen and Stefan Elliott have an outside chance. So let’s take a look at possible pairings.

Possible Colorado Avalanche defense pairings #1

Beauchemin — Johnson 
Zadorov — Barrie
Stuart — Redmond

This is the most obvious possibility. Beauchemin was signed to partner Johnson and is paid like a first-pairing D-man. After the departure of Jan Hejda, who kept on regressing, Johnson finally gets a true partner. Both Johnson and Beauchemin are very good two-way defensemen who can play physically and contribute offensively.

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Behind that, we now have Zadorov and Tyson Barrie. Both are still young, but they have been in the NHL for long enough to make a very good second pairing. Zadorov brings the physicality and defensive hockey sense that Barrie seems to be missing at times. Barrie plays the more offensive part, while Zadorov can join in on the offense as well.

On the third pairing, we have Brad Stuart and a Zach Redmond. However, Nick Holden or Nate Guenin could also play for either one of them. Siemens and Bigras will likely start the season with the San Antonio Rampage. However, if one of them convinces the Avs’ management enough in training camp, Nate Guenin may have to go down to the AHL instead.

Another option would be to either have Siemens and Redmond or Bigras and Stuart on the third pairing. Even if they were both good enough to make it, it would likely be a bad idea to have two totally inexperienced guys on the same pairing, especially when they are both left-handed. Either one of them paired with a veteran could be a very good option, though.

Possible Colorado Avalanche defense pairings #2

Zadorov — Johnson
Beauchemin — Barrie
Stuart — Redmond

As mentioned above, Beauchemin was signed as Johnson’s partner, according to GM Joe Sakic. However, he would likely be a good veteran presence on the second pairing as well. He has a lot of experience that Barrie is still missing.

Zadorov and Beauchemin are similar players style-wise. So if the young Russian is ready for that much responsibility, he could very well play on the first pairing with Johnson. That would balance the top four out a little bit more and could end up being just as good as the Beauchemin-Johnson and Zadorov-Barrie version.

The third pairing doesn’t change in this scenario. But as said before, any of the six defensemen left could play on that pairing. It is likely that at least one veteran will stay in the lineup, as neither Bigras nor Siemens have any NHL experience.

Possible Colorado Avalanche defense pairings #3

Beauchemin — Johnson 
Siemens — Barrie
Zadorov — Redmond

Speaking of balance, this is something that has not been talked about a lot. Beauchemin is Johnson’s partner — everything’s good here. But Siemens as Barries partner?

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Well, Siemens’ time is now. If he wants to make it at all, he better makes it next season. Depending on how well he does in training camp and over the first few games, he could end op on the second pairing with Tyson Barrie. If he is ready, the two could be a very good fit as well.

That would leave Zadorov for the third pairing. He is better than Siemens right now — but as I said, this possibility is for balanche. Redmond is a decent puck-mover, but nothing great. Zadorov would add some quality and defensive ability to that pairing.

Stuart would be an expensive healthy scratch here, but he is paid that whether he plays or not. If the cap allows it — and it should — Guenin can be sent down to the Rampage, while Siemens stays up in Colorado. Chris Bigras could turn out to be a better player than Siemens as early as next season, but he wouldn’t be a good fit with Barrie — another offensive D-man.

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