Colorado Avalanche: Jack Skille’s Effort Enough for a Roster Spot?


The Colorado Avalanche have their first preseason game in the books, and their first win of the season in the books as well. And, Jack Skille played a big role in getting the victory for the Avalanche.

It proved impossible to find any viewing options for this game. So, I have nothing to talk about regarding the game itself because that would just be foolish without having watched it.

However, we can still discuss Jack Skille and his contributions thus far; specifically, whether or not his efforts in camp, and during the preseason, will be enough to earn him a contract.

Skille was already impressing at training camp, and proved that it wasn’t a fluke in the annual Burgundy and White game when he scored the third goal for White.

However, last night was his first real test, and he came through it with an important short-handed goal, and an assist on the first goal, which proved pivotal after Anaheim scored in less than thirty seconds to start the game.

A few side notes about the game:

1) The Avalanche outshot the Ducks 31-28, and that 28 is a respectably low number — I like that.

2) The Avalanche outhit the ducks 32-25 — I also like that

3) The Avalanche proved resilient yet again, coming back from down 4-2 to win it in OT

Of course, this was a preseason game so the above stat-lines must be taken with a grain of salt, but it’s nice to see an apparent step in the right direction.

Right on, back to Jack, Skille that is. Well, Jack seems to have some Skille* (last one I swear), at least a serviceable amount for a third or fourth line role.

*I know it’s pronounced Skill-eee, but let’s have some fun with the name.

He was definitely meant for a top-six role at least, just based off of his draft position at #7 by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2005 NHL draft. But Skille-t never really panned out (maybe it wasn’t the last one) at the NHL level, even though his AHL numbers point to NHL success.

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Sometimes draft picks just don’t work out, or at least not for the desired role, but that doesn’t mean the player can’t serve a purpose somewhere else in the lineup, or even in the AHL.

Queue Jack Skille.

Will Jack Skille Make the Lineup?

Right now, I see no reason why he shouldn’t. There are 10 players on this roster right now that — in my humble opinion — are pretty much locks to make the roster: Alex Tanguay, Matt Duchene, and Jarome Iginla should round out the top line. Gabe Landeskog, Carl Soderberg, and Nathan MacKinnon should round out the second line. Blake Comeau, Mikhail Grigorenko, and John Mitchell should round out the third line.

My tenth player is Mikko Rantanen because if he continues playing like this there is no way that Avalanche execs could keep him out of the opening night lineup. If Rantanen does indeed make it, it will likely mean a shakeup in the above mentioned line combinations. Regardless, that leaves two spots on the 4th line seemingly.

The Avalanche have a wealth of centers in the ten players I just mentioned, so I’m not going to entertain the idea of a 4th line center, I’m just going to state which two players should make that 4th line. Jack Skille and Cody McCleod should make this line. Ok fine, centering them should be Mitchell, but only if Rantanen makes the lineup.

I personally think Dennis Everberg has more upside than McCleod, but Cody’s letter A will probably give him priority in the lineup.

Essentially, Skille is battling with Dennis Everberg to make the lineup because Joey Hishon still appears short of NHL consistency, and Patrick Roy likes size in his players.

Regardless of Rantanen making the lineup, Skille should still find a spot on the roster because if Rantanen doesn’t make the lineup it will just open a spot for another player, and that other player should unequivocally by Dennis Everberg. To this point, no other players in training camp have shown as much promise in a bottom line role as Skille and Everberg; although, Hishon certainly rounds out the No. 3 spot.

What Will Jack Skille’s Role Be?

If he does indeed make the lineup, he’ll most likely (if Rantanen makes it) be on Mitchell’s right wing, with Cody McCleod to his left. He’ll also probably play on the penalty kill as is evidenced by last night’s outing, and hey anyone who’s got the Skilles to put in shorties on the penalty kill is alright with me.

As with all the signings — or potential signings — that the Avalanche have made this offseason, Jack Skille has size at 6-foot-1, 216 pounds. Patrick Roy likes size, but he likes talent along with the size, and Jack seems to provide plenty of depth Skille.

Either way, it must be stated that the Avalanche have a wealth of depth, which is especially clear when we’re contemplating whether or not McCleod should even make the lineup. A lot of the players on this current preseason roster have tenure with the Avalanche (McCleod), but their jobs are still being threatened by new arrivals.

I’m sure McCleod feels somewhat comforted by his alternate captaincy, but he’s got to feel a little squirmy with the way players like Everberg and Skille are showcasing.

Obviously, there are still five preseason games left, and Skille could find himself without a contract in the near future, that’s the inevitability of time’s progression, it’s impossible to tell which direction it will take.

Most Likely Scenario

The most likely scenario is that Jack Skille earns a roster spot. I would say that Everberg will get the spot over Skille, and this may still happen, but I bet that the Avalanche execs will go in the way of experience, and give Everberg some more time to develop in San Antonio.

However, if Avalanche management has the sand to send Cody McCleod down to the AHL, then I think they’ll have a better roster with Everberg on it. Besides Erik Johnson is ready for the letter A, especially with his new contract extension.

The Avalanche could use an A on defense, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them go that way. Nonetheless, Roy seems to love McCleod’s grit and tenacity, and so it’s likely that he’ll stay on the team.

It must be noted though that McCleod was playing on a much smaller team these past two years, and likely earned his A because he plays big and Roy wanted that style of play to permeate his entire roster, that’s just my speculation at least.

Regardless, Skille only has competition in the way of Everberg and Hishon, and he’s got the inside track on the two of them since he has more experience at the NHL level, and has proven during camp and preseason so far that he can still play at this level.


So, there’s a few things to take away from all this. The Avalanche finally have some organizational depth, which is culminating in healthy competition for roster spots across the board. All the players battling for roster spots are playing at a high level and coming into camp with a direction and desire.

In turn, the roster seems to be filling out in the best fashion possible, allowing for the even distribution of talent across the line combinations, and affording the coaching staff — albeit difficult — a plethora of decisions for the remaining roster spots.

The Colorado Avalanche offense has always been highly-skilled, but mostly in the top six. This year the Avalanche finally have what seems to be depth in the bottom six which should create more possession of the puck. Sure, our defense was pretty bad last year, but the offensive depth was dismal at best.

This allowed other teams to focus on our top six, take little threat from our bottom six, and expose the lack of depth in our offense with well timed line changes. Maybe our top six doesn’t shake out as well as it did last year, but our bottom six is certainly more dangerous than it was last season, and hopefully Jack Skille gets to play a role in magnifying this danger.

What do you thinks Avs Nation? Will Jack Skille make the lineup? If so, where will he be slotted? And, if he is to make it, who is the likely player to be excluded from the lineup? Let us know in the comments! 

Next: Can Skille and other PTO Meszaros Make the Team?

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