Evaluating the Defensive Corps
Speed and skill are important in the defensive corps, too. However, defensemen should also be able to, you know, defend. For too long the Colorado Avalanche have faced skewed shot differentials because of inadequate defense. (Also see above about the need for two-way acumen.)
Here’s what the team has so far:
- Erik Johnson: Elite skater, solid two-way play, grit, leadership
- Tyson Barrie: Dynamic skater, creative playmaking, offensive prowess
- Nikita Zadorov: All-around defense, long stride and reach, dominating physical play
- Mark Barberio: Offensive instincts, good puck movement, solid skating
The team recently bought out Francois Beauchemin’s contracts, so that’s that. I fear they may lose Barberio in the Expansion Draft.
The Colorado Avalanche also have Patrick Wiercioch as a pending restricted free agent. He didn’t contribute enough to the team last season for me to see them making a qualifying offer.
Colorado has also been building up its defensive depth. The team has the following players who could potentially line up next season:
- Andrei Mironov: Physical play, good skating and puck skills, stay-at-home defense
- Chris Bigras: Shutdown play, good puck movement, good hockey sense
- Anton Lindholm: Physical game, good hockey sense, good puck movement
- Sergei Boikov: Shutdown play, nasty streak
- Nicolas Meloche: Good size, two-way play, offensive acumen, well-rounded play
Mironov has been pretty clear that he didn’t leave the big bucks (or rubles) in the KHL to play in the AHL, so he looks pretty good to be on the roster next season. Bigras, if he conditions well this summer, and Lindholm could also make the roster next year.
The Colorado Avalanche also have nasty shutdown defenseman Duncan Siemens. He’s a pending RFA. The team made him a qualifying offer last season then left him in San Antonio the whole year. At best they’ll do the same this year — or finally cut the kid loose.