Colorado Avalanche Need to Strengthen Their Defense Core

DENVER, CO - APRIL 3: Chris Bigras
DENVER, CO - APRIL 3: Chris Bigras /

The Colorado Avalanche need to strengthen their defensive core. There are several ways to do this, including re-signing Zadorov, trading Duchene, or adding a UFA.

To say that the Colorado Avalanche need help on defense is not breaking any news. The team currently has only three defensemen under contract who have played over fifty games in the NHL. The team seems ready to give some of its young blue liners a chance this season, which seems like a step in the right direction. However, some outside help may still be necessary.

The three ‘veterans’ on Colorado’s blue line are Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie, and Mark Barberio, all of whom are under the age of thirty. Johnson missed 36 games with an injury last year, and never got going upon his return. Barrie put up 38 points, but was a staggering minus 34 and a liability in his own zone. Barberio was a waiver claim from Montreal who had 9 points in 34 games.

Beyond that group, the Avs have several inexperienced and completely unproven players at the NHL level.

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Chris Bigras was plagued by injury last season. Because of that, he played in only 45 games for the Rampage and never received a call-up to the Avalanche. It was a disappointing season considering he played in 31 games for Colorado the previous year, showing a great deal of promise in the process.

Anton Lindholm earned a late season call-up with the Avalanche in his first season in North America. A former fifth round pick, Lindholm tallied 13 points for San Antonio last year before appearing in 12 games for the Avs.

Duncan Siemens enters his fifth full season in the Avalanche organization. He has played well, at times, for San Antonio, but has only appeared in 4 NHL games. It remains to be seen if the organization views him as anything more than a future AHL captain.

Andrei Mironov will be entering his debut season in North America following several years in the KHL. Mironov played a mere 18 regular season games last year. While much is expected from the young Russian, very little is certain with regards to what he will bring the Avalanche blue line.

The four aforementioned d-men have combined for 47 NHL games and a massive 3 points, all of which were tallied by Bigras two seasons ago.

The Avalanche can address the lack of depth on defense in a number of ways. They can, and should, re-sign Nikita Zadorov. He would greatly stabilize the top four. In 56 games last year, Big Z put up only 10 assists, but was developing into a solid defensive defenseman before an injury ended his season prematurely.

Related Story: Colorado Avalanche: What to Do without Nikita Zadorov

Colorado can, and may, trade Matt Duchene for a young top four defenseman. If such a trade was on the table, however, Duchene would probably be gone already. With each passing day, a massive Duchene trade seems less and less likely to happen.

This brings us to the free agency market. Even if the Avalanche re-sign Zadorov, the team still should add a piece to their defense core, even if it is just a safety net should some of the prospects not immediately thrive at the NHL level.

An ideal candidate for a free agent add would be Jyrki Jokipakka. The young Finn is a 6′ 3,” left-handed shooting d-man who would bring a welcome 150 games of NHL experience to Colorado’s blue line. He should be available at a reasonable cap number, if not on a PTO. While he would not be a panacea to Colorado’s blue line woes, I believe Jokipakka would help the glaring lack of depth.

Next: Avs Made Their Own Roster Mess

While it remains to be seen what the Avalanche will do, the clock is ticking on the front office to do something to improve the glaring hole on the team’s blue line. Hopefully the organization will add some depth to improve the Avalanche for this upcoming season, as well as the future!