Colorado Avalanche: Final Questions for the Preseason

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 19: Alexander Kerfoot
DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 19: Alexander Kerfoot /
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As the Colorado Avalanche conclude their preseason, they must finish answering their roster questions.

The Colorado Avalanche play their final preseason game tonight against the Vegas Golden Knights in Vegas. With the release of defenseman Jared Cowen from his PTO, the team is down to 29 players.

The roster is definitely starting to take shape. However, the team still needs to cut seven skater positions before opening night, which happens Thursday, October 5 at 5 pm MT. While it’s true there are six days in between tonight’s game and the start of the regular season, presumably most decisions will be made because of play in the game.

According to Denver Post’s Mike Chambers, the lineup for tonight is as follows:

Alexander Kerfoot-Matt DucheneNail Yakupov

Sven AndrighettoNathan MacKinnonMikko Rantanen

Gabriel LandeskogJ.T. CompherColin Wilson

Matthew NietoTyson JostBlake Comeau

Anton LindholmErik Johnson

Nikita ZadorovDavid Warsofsky

Chris BigrasTyson Barrie

Semyon Varlamov

Joe Cannata

The healthy scratches are Gabriel Bourque, Carl Soderberg, Mark Barberio, Duncan Siemens and Andrei Mironov. Injured scratches include Joe Colborne (back), A.J. Greer (concussion protocol), Sergei Boikov (shoulder) and Jonathan Bernier (groin).

For some of the players on the roster, it’s their final chance to show they deserve to make the team.

Which Forward Prospects Stand Out?

Alexander Kerfoot-Matt Duchene-Nail Yakupov

Sven Andrighetto-Nathan MacKinnon-Mikko Rantanen

Gabriel Landeskog-J.T. Compher-Colin Wilson

Matthew Nieto-Tyson Jost-Blake Comeau

The Colorado Avalanche have 10 forwards with one-way NHL contracts. Mikko Rantanen does have a two-way entry-level contract, but he’s a pretty good shoe-in to make the opening night roster.

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In reality, the prospects are fighting for two things — to even make the roster and to actually skate on opening night. There are two roster spots open, but one of them is the 13th forward, which would mean the player sits on opening night and has to fight his way into the lineup.

Right now the big surprise is Alex Kerfoot, who found great chemistry with Duchene and Yakupov. If he continues to skate well tonight with those opening night shoe-ins, that might be his ticket.

Now it looks like the question is if JT Compher and/or Tyson Jost can oust either Soderberg or Comeau for skating rights.

It’s a little weird to see captain Gabriel Landeskog on the third line. I don’t know if the rationale is to give Compher a chance with two fellow power forwards or if the coaching staff really thinks Andrighetto plays better with Rantanen and MacKinnon.

Concerning the fourth line, maybe Jost can show some chemistry with Nieto. Then it makes sense to slot Landeskog back into his top-six role and bump Andrighetto onto a line with Jost and Nieto.

My guess is, unless the Colorado Avalanche put Colborne on injured reserve, Jost is heading to the AHL, and that’s over Compher. JT Compher simply doesn’t have anything else to learn at the AHL level, while the young Jost certainly can get some seasoning out of the experience.

Which Defensive Prospects Stand Out?

Anton Lindholm-Erik Johnson

Nikita Zadorov-David Warsofsky

Chris Bigras-Tyson Barrie

The Colorado Avalanche have four defensemen on one-way NHL contracts. That means they have three roster spots open — but only two skating spots.

At this position, 27-year-old Warsofsky is the big surprise. When he was signed this summer, I pegged him as a Rampage player. However, the coaching staff must be seeing something they want to examine further.

To be honest, though, I think the real competition for a skating position is between Lindholm and Bigras. Both have been impressing the coaching staff and even GM Joe Sakic all preseason.

It’s pretty clear that Johnson’s defensive partner is going to be Zadorov. I think now it’s a question of who will be Barrie’s — Lindholm, Bigras or Barberio. The remaining two will likely comprise the bottom pairing.

Next: Avs Need More MacK Goals Like These

How to Enjoy the Game

Game Time: 8:00 pm MT
TV Coverage: Altitude TV, AT&T SportsNet
Radio Coverage: Altitude Radio

As stated above, there will be a six-day break between this final preseason game and the start of the regular season against the Rangers in New York.