Colorado Avalanche: 2016-17 Roster Beginning to Form

Apr 3, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie (4) looks to pass the puck in the second period against the St. Louis Blues at the Pepsi Center. The Blues defeated the Avalanche 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 3, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie (4) looks to pass the puck in the second period against the St. Louis Blues at the Pepsi Center. The Blues defeated the Avalanche 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

The Colorado Avalanche have signed their free agents, Tyson Barrie is likely heading to arbitration, and trades might not happen until the season starts, so here’s a projected look at the 2016-17 lineup.

This is the time of year that I like to start speculating about how the Colorado Avalanche are going set up their lines for the coming season.

I know it’s early, and the dog days of August are still looming in the distance, and perhaps there is still some earth-shattering trade that could take place, but for now things seem to have quieted.

So, I’m going to attempt a shot at forward lines, and defensive-pairings, and shake out some lineups that the Avs might play with next season.

No need for goalies at the NHL level because that seems to be rather clear at this point with Semyon Varlamov and Calvin Pickard almost guaranteed to be the two netminders.

First, let’s just take a look at personnel, and who the Avalanche have under contract (or are going to have under contract by the time the season starts), and then I’ll get into lines and pairings.

Finally, I will identify some weaknesses, and where we might struggle next season, but for once it doesn’t look like it’s going to be on defense (depending on the systems put in place).

Colorado Avalanche Forwards

With the signing of Joe Colborne, the Avalanche added some more depth, which is necessary considering their call-ups last season in the face of injury, but he likely doesn’t have any consistent top-six upside to provide.

Still, he could factor into the top-six in the event of injury. Perhaps the most intriguing facet of Colborne’s game is the fact that he is versatile, in that he can play any of the forward positions.

Here’s what he had to say to the Denver Post:

"I asked Joe if he saw me on the wing or center, and he said “We don’t really care. We see you doing both.”"

So, Colborne figures to be a nice addition to the Avalanche, but unless his game grows a ton over the summer, then he probably won’t factor into a top-six role.

Nonetheless, training camp could provide an opportunity for him to find chemistry with some of the top line guys, and he could end finding a home near the top of the lineup.

Anyway, let’s hash out the forwards now that I’ve given my spiel on the new Avalanche C/LW/RW.

These are the forwards that I think will be with the big club next season, just for clarification. Patrick Roy likes to carry 13 forwards, 8 defensemen, and two goalies, so it’s likely that these are next year’s forwards:

If you’ll notice, the Avs have three top-six fowards in that list, but a lot of depth after that, which means that their lineup is a bit bottom heavy, hence why I said the struggle this year shouldn’t be defense.

Long gone are the days when the top-six consisted of Matt Duchene, Paul Stastny, Ryan O’Reilly, Gabe Landeskog, and Nathan MacKinnon.

Anyway, let’s take a look at defense and then I’ll try my hand at the lines and pairings.

Colorado Avalanche Defense

The Avs picked up two defensemen in free agency, and I honestly believe that both will crack the lineup to start the year, yet Fedor Tyutin might get relegated to popcorn sooner rather than later.

The other defenseman that the Avalanche picked up was Patrick Wiercioch, and he’s a more promising acquisition.

He’s had two down years in Ottawa since a breakout campaign in the 2013-14 season saw him put up 23 points in 53 games, and it was time for both sides to move on.

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Hopefully a fresh start will help him get back on track, especially since he’s returning to a city he knows (he went to school at Denver University), and he’ll be playing with an ex-teammate from the Pioneers in Joe Colborne.

Fedor Tyutin on the other hand doesn’t really seem to be more than a bottom-pairing d-man at best, and more likely he figures to be the Avs 7th defenseman.

Still, he brings a veteran presence to the roster, and will certainly help bolster a defensive group that figures to be rather young next season.

Anyway, let’s hash out the defense that will most likely be on the NHL roster next season.

Duncan Siemens is also going to be given a shot, but I imagine that is confined to training camp.

If he’s able to prove his worth in training camp and during the preseason, then he’s sure to find a spot on the roster, but that’s yet to happen.

Still, I didn’t see enough out of Eric Gelinas in the limited time he was with the Avs before injury to suggest that he belongs on the team either, so it’s going to be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

Now, it’s roster time.

Projected Roster for 2016-17

This is more for my own edification rather than for the fans because it’s a great time of year to start going into the roster for next season; the roster is so unknown and I like to speculate.

But, I imagine that you guys have your own rosters forming in your heads, so if you want to add those below in the comment section, then by all means.

Forward Lineup:

Line 1: Landeskog — Duchene — Iginla

Line 2: Grigorenko — MacKinnon — Rantanen

Line 3: Colborne — Soderberg — Comeau

Line 4: Martinsen — Mitchell — Compher

I know that the top line looks troubling with Iginla featured on it again, but I figure he’s ready for a bounce back year after his performance last season.

Plus, Landy should help dig out pucks in the corner for both Iggy and Dutchy, and provide some good grit on that line.

Grigs has great hands, and will be able to feed MacK who’s going to need to take on a big responsibility next season as the second line center between two largely unproven NHL talents.

However, if Rantanen can transition to the NHL like he did to the AHL, then he’ll be a great addition on the second line with his size and skating.

The third line is something I feel like I can almost guarantee because the Avs lost Shawn Matthias in free agency, and they needed another big body to fill in where he left off.

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The third line will be a constant threat night in and night out to add offense.

Finally, the fourth line is also almost a no brainer for me.

Compher is ready for the NHL, and he’ll start on the fourth line in order to get used to the game, but will probably move up the lineup as the season continues.

I see Marty taking McLeod’s spot on the left wing too, but they’ll probably alternate scratches when either one proves to be dragging a bit.

Still Marty hits and that’s good for the fourth line, plus with Compher Mitchell and Marty on the fourth line, the Avs have a lot more threat in their bottom six, which is nice.

Defensive Pairings:

Top Pair: Zadorov — Johnson

Second Pair: Wiercioch — Barrie

Third Pair: Bigras — Beauchemin

The more I look at the defense, the more I see Barrie heading elsewhere, and especially if they want to give Gelinas, Siemens, and Tyutin a shot.

There’s a logjam at defense right now, and eventually someone is going to have to go.

To be honest folks, I’m not too certain on the defense right now.

However, I still don’t think it will be a problem for the Avs next season because they have eight NHL caliber defensemen right now at the least.

And there’s a possible nine NHL defensemen if Siemens is able to find a way to figure himself into the equation.

If the Avs don’t want to use either Bigras or Zadorov next season, and they want to give them more time to develop, then the problem is solved, but there was no indication from Sakic that he is considering that.

Without Bigras or Zadorov, the lineup figures to look as such:

Top Pair: Beauchemin — Johnson

Second Pair: Wiercioch — Barrie

Third Pair: Gelinas — Tyutin

In retrospect, maybe Barrie isn’t heading to arbitration, and maybe the Avs are still working on a deal with the Oilers to bring in a top-six forward, because that brings me to my final point.

Identifying Weakness in the Roster

The Colorado Avalanche are short at least one top-six forward right now, and especially a speedy winger for either Duchene or MacKinnon.

They have a ton of NHL ready defensemen on their roster, and could look to move one of them in an attempt to land a top-tier forward.

That obviously means Barrie’s name because he wants arbitration, and EJ is locked up for the next seven years.

For once, the Avalanche are not weak at the defensive position, and if they traded Barrie now, he wouldn’t leave a huge hole, although the right side would look pretty grim.

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Nonetheless, if they can land Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Jordan Eberle via trade, then they should definitely consider the deal.

But you say: “Didn’t the Oilers just trade Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson (a defenseman), so it’s likely they’re done dealing forwards?”

And I say: “Yes, but they still have Conner McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Jesse Puljujarvi, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov, Milan Lucic, and Benoit Pouliot who are all capable of top-six minutes.”

Talk about a logjam. The more I think about it, the more I see a trade happening between the Avs and the Oilers involving Barrie, especially now that it seems likely he’s going to arbitration.

If I’m the Avs, I’m asking for Draisaitl, and I’m sure that’s who they have been asking for.


Anyway, the Avs are still likely to make a trade, there’s just no telling what that trade is going to look like at this point, but I’m starting to lean more and more toward Barrie finding a new home, because arbitration just rubs GMs the wrong way.

There’s also no telling when that trade will take place either, but with the expansion draft happening next year, it’s likely that a lot of trades are going to happen in the coming season.

Next: Growth and Rebuilding Are Still Priorities for the Avalanche

Regardless, it’s obvious that Joe Sakic stacked his cupboards at defense, and it’s also obvious where the Avalanche need help, and that’s in their top-six.

They have great depth now, but if they want to get above 20th in goals scored next season then they’ll need to add some skill to the top part of their lineup.

Here’s to hoping the Avs are able to figure out the logjam at defense, and solidify a good forward lineup for next season. Feel free to add your lineups in the comment section, and your opinion at the defensive position.