Avalanche Defense: 5 Questions for the 2015-16 Season

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Mar 20, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; Anaheim Ducks defenseman

Francois Beauchemin

(23) looks on against the Colorado Avalanche during the second period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

1. Will Erik Johnson and Francois Beauchemin have chemistry?

Colorado Avalanche cornerstone defenseman Erik Johnson has never had a proper defensive partner. For the last two seasons he’s been paired with Jan Hejda. Hejda is a good stay-at-home defenseman, but he’s hardly of Johnson’s caliber.

Last summer Avalanche execs traded for Brad Stuart. Stuart had once been a gifted defenseman, one who’d gone high in the draft (third overall) back in the day. He’d had a couple 10-goal and a few 20+ point seasons — and even a couple 30+ point seasons, but nothing too special in the last couple years.

And he didn’t find any chemistry with the fast-skating, gifted Johnson, so he got relegated to the third pairing. Hejda, who did have chemistry with Johnson, was back.

So, Beauchemin is a different breed of player. He’s been more consistent in points production, but he’s also known as more of a shut down style of defense. He played big minutes on a gritty team last season, the Anaheim Ducks, as he skated with Hampus Lindholm on the first defensive pairing.

Defensive pairings often come down to chemistry, though. On paper Beauchemin looks pretty good for Johnson, being a righty to EJ’s lefty and capable of big, gritty minutes. Will the two get into their groove, though?

Next: Dynamics?