Colorado Avalanche: Guessing the Forward Lines after Preseason Game 2

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 21: Matt Duchene
DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 21: Matt Duchene /

After the Colorado Avalanche’s second preseason game — a 5-1 win over the Dallas Stars — the offensive core is coming into focus.

The Colorado Avalanche have a little wiggle room in the defensive corps, but very little in the offensive corps. At best they have four roster spots open. At worst, maybe only the 13th forward position is open.

There are a lot of decisions going on during this preseason. The Colorado Avalanche are going to be a youthful team — that’s not in question. Rather, it’s a question of which youths are going to make up the team.

Last night the Avalanche did ice more of an NHL team than they did in their first preseason game against the Vegas Golden Knights:

Nonetheless, there are plenty of forwards who are gunning for the very limited roster spots available. Let’s look at some clues what the offensive lineup might actually look like come opening night.

Matt Duchene is Necessary

Center Matt Duchene has consistently been the best player for the team. He may have come into camp and preseason looking like he’s dragging his feet, but that’s not evident in what he’s putting on the ice.

He’s shown good chemistry with fellow speedster, Nail Yakupov, who also earned an assist on Duchene’s fifth period goal. Duchene is dynamic, excellent in the faceoff circle, and all around a boon to the team. It would be criminal to undervalue his skill set.

Duchene ended the evening with six shots on goal and a ridiculous 81% in faceoffs. He also had the A on his jersey for alternate captain.

Getting Duchene a partner like Nail Yakupov makes me hope he gets to play with the Avs at least until the trade deadline. That is one exciting line with Alex Kerfoot on the other wing. J.T. Compher has looked good as a Duchene winger, too.

Top Lines

Last night captain Gabriel Landeskog played on a line with Compher and Sven Andrighetto. That’s not what we’d expect in the regular season. Come opening night, Landeskog’s center is sure to be Nathan MacKinnon  with Mikko Rantanen as the other winger.

That means the Colorado Avalanche top six can look like this:



That’s pretty respectable. By the way, Alex Kerfoot got a goal, and Yakupov recorded three assists.

With those lines comprising the Avalanche top six, we’ve got a speedy line and more of a power line. Like I said, pretty respectable.

Third Scoring Line

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Right now, I’d say last year’s acquisitions, Sven Andrighetto and Matthew Nieto, look pretty good to comprise the third scoring line. As their center… I’d love to see Tyson Jost. He’s speedy but still green. He’ll be an eventual top six, but he could learn from the veterans in the meantime.

Unfortunately, we’ve yet to see any real action from Jost in the preseason. He’s been battling a groin injury and is considered day to day.

If Jost doesn’t see any preseason action and/or isn’t healthy enough for opening night, J.T. Compher might get the center position on that line. Failing that, the third scoring line might be Colin Wilson‘s to center.

Checking Line

Winger A.J. Greer has been making a case for himself to be included on the checking line — he is one player who gets under the skin. Unfortunately, according to Avs insider Adrian Dater, he’s been fighting a bad hand all preseason and seemed to further injure himself in a third period fight. That’s exactly what you don’t want to see.

If Greer can’t distinguish himself enough in the preseason to make the team, we

ll probably see a checking line comprised of Carl Soderberg centering Joe Colborne and Blake Comeau. That’s not terrible, but it would be nice to see Greer on that line instead.

Next: All About AJ Greer

The Colorado Avalanche continue their preseason play against the (hated) Minnesota Wild all weekend long. That’s right, this weekend it’s all Minny all the time. Saturaday’s game is in Minnesota at 4 pm MT.