Curtis Glencross’ PTO; Roster Spot? Winchester Speculations


The Colorado Avalanche announced on Monday that they had signed forward Curtis Glencross to a PTO. At first speculation, Avs Nation were forced to conclude that Jack Skille’s injury in Sunday’s game must have been pretty bad. However, it quickly became clear that forward Jesse Winchester’s concussion from last year’s preseason is affecting him in a bad way, and his days as a pro hockey player are dwindling.

It really is sad because concussions have been a recent target of discussion in all sports (Will Smith’s new movie), and certainly with hockey as well, especially when considering the amount of deaths associated with former enforcers in the NHL.

Here’s what DenverPost writer Mike Chambers had to say about Jesse Winchester on Monday after the PTO signing of Glencross:

However, as disappointing as a career’s end is — especially when attributed to extenuating circumstances — there is certainly hope to be found. Just like wildfires, new life can spring from the ashes of a once mighty tree. I’m not saying that Winchester was a “mighty tree,” or that Glencross is “new life” (because he’s a veteran), but hope can be found for the Avalanche, at least from a personnel perspective.

More from Avalanche News

I wish Jesse Winchester all the best, and let’s all hope that he is able to find the existence of a normal life beyond the rink. Because even with retirement seemingly the only option, we still have to hope for a life without post-concussion symptoms for Winchester, even if he is never to play professional hockey again.

Let’s move on to Glencross and the rest of the team, shall we?

As the off season continued to roll on and reach its final days, there were a  good amount of veterans left on the market coming into training camp. As a result, the NHL saw a high amount of PTOs this season. The salary cap era has changed the game of course, and the slight increase it took this season resulted in more teams being cap conscious, creating — for many veterans — some of the last opportunities that they’ll have to make an NHL team.

With all that in mind — in my opinion — the cream of the crop for these tryouts were Brad Boyes and Curtis Glencross. Both were picked up by the Maple Leafs on PTOs, and Brad Boyes has already been signed to a contract by them. However, Curtis Glencross was released and subsequently signed a PTO with the Avs.

So, what does all this mean for the Avalanche?

Will Curtis Glencross Make the Team?

Since the Avalanche didn’t sign Glencross to a PTO from the outset of camp, the sample size for his play in an Avalanche sweater is pretty slim, with Calgary’s game on Tuesday being his debut. However, it must be taken into account that Mike Babcock — a highly skilled head coach — didn’t want him on his team.

Nonetheless Eric Francis  — a resident of Calgary, where Glencross spent his past seven seasons — expressed surprise concerning Glencross’ early cut from the leafs, and that he was even cut at all.

So, does Glencross sport the ability necessary to make the Avalanche organization?

He’s better than Cody McLeod, and may even be better than Jack Skille. However Cody McLeod sports the letter A, and Skille has proven he deserves a spot on the roster this year. Skille should also be back on the ice for tonight’s game, and have another chance to earn a contract for this year’s roster.

So, if Mikko Rantanen makes the lineup — which is still a big IF — then, where would Glencross fit in the lineup? Here’s my ideal forward lines at this point:

Alex Tanguay – Matt Duchene – Nathan MacKinnon

Gabe Landeskog – Carl Soderberg – Mikko Rantanen

Blake Comeau – Mikhail Grigorenko – Jarome Iginla

Cody McLeod/Curtis Glencross – John Mitchell – Jack Skille

If Glencross wants to make the lineup he’ll have to unseat McLeod because at this point I don’t see Rantanen not making the lineup. Rantanen played on the Avalanche top line in Tuesday’s game, and he played well once again. There were certainly a few mistakes, but nothing unlike some that MacKinnon made in his first year, and that some players are still making in their young careers.

More From Mile High Sticking: Nathan MacKinnon is Sick of Losing

If Rantanen does not make the lineup then Glencross certainly stands a better chance of finding a contract before the season starts.

Regardless of Rantanen’s outcome, I’d still rather see Glencross in the lineup than Cody McLeod. But, it just doesn’t seem likely that McLeod will be held out of the lineup, owing to his A. There’s also the fact that Patrick Roy has given him time off during the preseason, from which I can only infer that he’s essentially penciled McLeod into his opening night roster.

However, stranger things have happened, and it’s very likely that the Avs will give Rantanen more time to develop, in which case it would be mind-bending to me if Glencross didn’t make the lineup. For now, I have no exact answer as to the outcome of Glencross’ future, but he could certainly offer necessary contributions to the lineup.

What Would Curtis Glencross Bring to the Lineup?

Curtis Glencross is only a few seasons removed from a more than .5 points per game pace, and he even put up 35 points last season, which saw him play for two different teams (Calgary and Washington) in a total of 71 games.

That — to me — screams of potential, and certainly a spot on the roster, even if he is playing 4th line minutes. Now, in that article I referenced earlier about the surprise of Glencross not making the Leafs lineup, Francis admits that the play of Glencross has dipped over the past few seasons, citing a lack of drive as the culprit.

"“Somewhere along the way, the work ethic that got him into the NHL as an undrafted player, it just kind of dropped off,” said Francis. “Injuries were a part of that, too.”"

Avalanche fans know that Patrick Roy praises a strong work ethic and tenacity, which is clearly evidenced by McLeod’s A, and his ever consistent spot on the roster. So, the question remains: Does Curtis Glencross have a chance of making the opening night roster?

Most Likely Scenario

As I said earlier, I don’t really have a clear answer for this as it depends a lot on who else makes the roster. However, it would certainly boggle me if he does not make the roster because he has shown a consistent point production over the past few seasons, and even if he is incapable of producing at this level anymore, he still shows more promise than some of the other veterans the Avalanche have at the bottom of their roster.

So — on that note — I see Glencross making the roster this year, and his PTO signing may have actually spelled the end of Rantanen’s chances at making the roster. Or, if it comes down to Skille and Glencross, I am more inclined to go the way of Glencross even though Skille has shown a high level of commitment in camp and the preseason so far.

Now, where he would actually fit in on the roster depends on whether or not Rantanen makes it. Either way, he’ll most likely be relegated to third or fourth line minutes, with the ability to jump the lineup in the case of injuries.

As is always noted, the depth of the Avalanche this year is making for some very difficult roster decisions, and the PTO signing of Glencross only adds to the difficult nature of these decisions, even with Jesse Winchester’s likely departure from the fold.

Hopefully over the next two games Glencross will show an ability to produce in a similar fashion this season as he has in recent past seasons.

Only time will tell.

What do you think Avs Nation? Is Winchester’s career coming to a close? Will Glencross make the lineup? Who will he unseat if he is to do so? Let us know in the comments!

Next: Jack Skille's Effort Enough for A Roster Spot?

More from Mile High Sticking