Colorado Avalanche: Breaking Down the Defensive Depth Chart


The Colorado Avalanche shored up their defense in the 2015 off-season, as they signed veteran Francois Beauchemin and acquired Nikita Zadorov via trade. With those additions, the defense seems set. But is it really?

For better comprehension, let’s take a look at the current depth chart, with all additions in mind. All players are listed by handedness, not the position they may play come opening night.

[table id=23 /]

Beauchemin was signed as Erik Johnson’s partner. He will likely play on that top pairing with Johnson, the Colorado Avalanche’s top defenseman, and is also the best left-handed blue liner on the Avalanche’s roster.

Behind that, it already gets interesting. Tyson Barrie is without a doubt the team’s second-best defenseman, right behind Johnson. He isn’t as strong defensively, but can already be counted as one of the best offensive D-men in the league.

But who will he play with? Zadorov was signed with high expectations and is — if he can deliver consistently — a perfect fit for Barrie. As said, Barrie is not exactly a defensive force, but Zadorov sure is. So why wouldn’t the two be paired up?

Well, Nick Holden is still there as well. Just like everyone else, Holden wants to play. He has been a decent D-man for the Avalanche for two years and could surprise many in the 2015-16 campaign. Even though he looked like borderline NHL quality a lot of the time, he could surpass Zadorov on the depth chart — and in the lineup.

After all, Zadorov is only 20 years old and may not be ready for a second-pairing role just yet. It will be an interesting fight in training camp, but for now, Zadorov has the advantage. He has proven that he can be a reliable force in Buffalo.

On the right side, it’s a little bit easier. There is a huge gap between Barrie and the No. 3 on the depth chart — Zach Redmond. The latter is hoping to establish himself in the Avs lineup, but has competition coming from behind.

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Brad Stuart has played in over 1,000 regular-season games. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Firstly, there is Brad Stuart on the left side — an overpaid player, whose contract is the main reason for him to still be in the league. Secondly, there is Nate Guenin, who happens to be right handed, just like Redmond. Unfortunately for himself, Guenin doesn’t have that big contract to keep him in the league. Therefore, he will likely have to say goodbye to the Colorado Avalanche sooner rather than later.

And that’s a wrap for established NHL talent. Behind Stuart and Guenin, we have Duncan Siemens and Chris Bigras on the left side, and Stefan Elliott and Mat Clark on the right side. Just like the rest of the roster, the defense has a good chance of collapsing at some point during the season, but may be saved by promising prospects.

Let’s go a little bit higher up. Beauchemin, Zadorov, Johnson and Barrie are likely the only four D-men with a guaranteed spot in the lineup for opening night, when the Colorado Avalanche meet the Minnesota Wild. Behind that, a lot can happen in training camp.

Holden, Redmond, Stuart and Guenin will likely be the ones fighting for spots on the bottom pair. That’s right, having Nate Guenin on the roster on opening night cannot be ruled out right now.

More from Avalanche News

Prospects Bigras and Siemens are probably hoping for a chance as well, but they currently don’t have more than an outside shot. The acquisitions of Beauchemin and Zadorov pushed the two down the depth chart, and will likely see them start the season in San Antonio. The same goes for Elliott and Clarke, who also shouldn’t be surprised if they stay in the AHL from start to finish.

All that doesn’t sound too bad, but it kind of really is. The defense is stronger than it was last year, but Stuart and Guenin are still on the roster. Without these two, Bigras and Siemens could easily get a chance very soon, but contracts complicate things.

That said, expect Guenin to start the season in San Antonio as well. That still leaves a group of seven defensemen, and room for one of Siemens or Bigras to join as the season progresses.

The Colorado Avalanche’s defense seems all set, but it really isn’t. You saw the current depth chart, you know it’s all close. Training camp will be important for everyone in this group, as a lot can happen and change in that time. The good thing about it all: competition motivates and improves players.

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

For more Colorado Avalanche coverage, follow us on Twitter @MHSAvalanche and like us on Facebook

Next: Avs Defense: 3 Possible Combinations

Next: Erik Johnson Is Not a True No. 1

More from Mile High Sticking