Colorado Avalanche Line Combinations: Alternate Reality


The Colorado Avalanche top three line combinations and top two defensive pairings seem pretty well set:

Alex TanguayMatt DucheneJarome Iginla

Gabriel LandeskogCarl SoderbergNathan MacKinnon

Blake ComeauJohn MitchellMikhail Grigorenko

Erik JohnsonFrancois Beauchemin

Tyson BarrieNikita Zadorov

Naturally, that could change at any time — including mid-game on opening night. However, those seem to be the combinations head coach Patrick Roy and GM Joe Sakic want.

What if you could influence the Colorado Avalanche line combinations? If this were an alternate reality (or a video game) and you could make the Colorado Avalanche line combinations anything you wanted, how would they look?

After having attended training camp and examining those lines and pairings in general, I have my own ideas.

Electric Line

During one of the offensive drills at training camp, three players skated up the ice at speed to attempt to score. This is probably a pretty standard drill — I’ve certainly seen it several times.

Well, there was one line that stood out during training camp. They scored almost every time. I thought to myself, “These guys are electric.” Here’s the line:

Gabriel Landeskog-Carl Soderberg-Mikko Rantanen

I’ve always found it odd that left wing Gabriel Landeskog doesn’t play the finesse game typical of Europeans. He’s long been a power forward and a bit of a chugger. I chalked it up to his being the son of a defenseman and having spent many of his formative years playing in North America.

Now I’m wondering if it’s because he hasn’t been around fellow Europeans. This all-Scandinavia line was so fast. The finesse was there in every stride.

I’d love to see this line sent out with the Tyson Barrie pairing. This line could melt ice.

Speed Line

If Nathan MacKinnon is bumped off Soderberg’s line, that means something can happen that I’ve longed for since MacKinnon was drafted — he can skate on Matt Duchene’s line. Check out this Avalanche line combination:

Nathan MacKinnon-Matt Duchene-Mikhail Grigorenko

MacKinnon and Duchene are the speediest forwards on the team, hands down. They’re some of the speediest players in the NHL. It’s been said that MacKinnon is faster on the straightaway, but Duchene has him beat in the corners.

Now, this line is dependent on Grigorenko becoming the pure goal scorer he has been at lower levels. As far as whether he can keep up with those two — pure goal scorers find a way to get into position.

Imagine — this line would be greased lightning.

Power Forward Line

Even though Gabriel Landeskog is one of our premier power forwards, this line takes its grit from different sources:

Alex Tanguay-John Mitchell-Jarome Iginla

Iginla is certainly the quintessential power forward. However, John Mitchell is no slouch in the grit area. He’ll scrap when he has to.

Tanguay’s not exactly a power forward, but he’s certainly tough as nails when it comes down to it. Remember how he only missed a couple games after an Alex Ovechkin slap shot broke a bone in his face?

Now, Iginla and Tanguay aren’t exactly third line material. However, their role is supposed to wane as the younger players come into their own. Just think if Tanguay and Iginla being centered by Mitchell is our team’s third line!

Checking Line

Ok, you’re going to look at the line below and think, “Joey Hishon on the checking line?” Well, if the plan for a checking line is to disrupt the other team’s top six, why not a speedy puck handler?

Blake Comeau-Joey Hishon-Cody McLeod

Not only that, but both Comeau and McLeod are easily elevated by their teammates. They can keep up, and they’ve got good enough hands to chip in a goal if a laser pass happens to make it onto their stick.

That, and they’re big, mean mudders. They’ll keep Hish safe.

Juggernaut Pairing

Ever since the Colorado Avalanche picked up the gigantic Nikita Zadorov — 6-foot-5, 220 pounds — I’ve had a fantasy — he and the big Erik Johnson — 6-foot-4, 230 pounds — gliding down the ice like a fast juggernaut.

Erik Johnson-Nikita Zadorov

What I saw at camp for Zadorov — his speed and skating ability — made me want that vision even more. This is no lumbering oaf — he’s a skilled skater. And we all know Erik Johnson skates like a bird of prey. If Zadorov can up his defensive IQ, this would be a perfect pairing.

Anchor and Rover

Back in the day, teams didn’t just have forwards and defensemen — they also had a position called a rover. This player roved around, pinching in or falling back whenever needed. Doesn’t that sound like Tyson Barrie?

Back then, the rover was in addition to the two defensemen. Since that’s not the case now, Barrie needs an anchor. Last season it was Nate Guenin (insert joke). Imagine if he got an upgrade such as Francois Beauchemin?

Tyson Barrie-Francois Beauchemin

Beauchemin knows how to be in just the right position, and he could hold the blueline long enough for Barrie to get back. Not only that, but Barrie’s still young and early on in his career. He would greatly benefit from skating with a veteran like Beauchemin.

Unfortunately, the third defensive pairing eludes me. Brandon Gormley impressed at camp. Both Duncan Siemens and Mason Geertsen pressed their cases, and Chris Bigras shouldn’t be ignored. Zach Redmond still looks good, and Nick Holden learned a lot last year.

We are in a good position, Avs Nation. Our team has so many defenseman possibilities that selecting a third pairing is too tough!

What would your Avalanche line combinations be?

Next: Patrick Roy's Fresh Age

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