Colorado Avalanche Could Get Even Younger After Loss to the St. Louis Blues

colorado avalanche

DENVER, CO – SEPTEMBER 21: A.J. Greer

The Colorado Avalanche loss to the St. Louis Blues is overshadowed by injuries to core forwards Tyson Jost and JT Compher

The Colorado Avalanche’s 4-3 defeat at the hands of the St. Louis Blues was an interesting one, with a lot of story lines coming out of it. On the surface, the Avalanche followed their 3 game winning streak with an identical losing skid to even their record at 4-4. It was an odd affair, with one of the stranger goals in some time, a milestone for a former Avalanche player, an explosion from an Avs rookie, major injuries and ultimately another goal controversy.

More important than the game itself though are the ramifications to stem from it, both for the Avalanche and the NHL in general. The lightning rod for the past day has been the ruling on the disallowed game tying goal late in the third period. A lot of attention has gone to that call and how it was administered, but the Avalanche have a more pressing concern.

Losing top nine forwards Tyson Jost (2-3 weeks with a lower body injury) and J.T. Compher (3 weeks with a broken thumb) to injury is a bitter pill to swallow. Even worse than seeing Mikko Rantanen’s goal disallowed by a blown call that actually offset another blown call. There’s nothing the Avalanche can do about that now, though, they can only look to their next game.

When they take the ice on the other side of a 4 day break, they will have at least one new face on the roster. The injuries will open up a spot for another Avalanche prospect or two. Unfortunately, the call-up is going to come at an awkward time, thanks to a peculiar schedule for the San Antonio Rampage.

Wonky Schedules

There’s never a good time to replace injured players. But some scheduling oddities might make things worse than usual for the Colorado Avalanche.

The San Antonio Rampage have barely played any hockey. Their season started on October 7th with a 2-1 victory, and they’ve only played two games since (as of writing). They will play as many games in three consecutive nights this weekend as they had in the 13 days prior.

The lack of game time is going to make it difficult for the Colorado Avalanche’s coaching and management to pick a replacement for their injured young stars. More so since the team hasn’t played since October 14th, so whoever gets the call will likely be a little bit rusty.

Fortunately the Avalanche are on a 4 day break of their own. This hiatus will give head coach Jared Bednar some time to make his call, and hopefully get the new guy up to speed. He already said he plans to scout two Rampage games before making his decision.

Either way, the Rampage’s odd schedule adds a bit of a wrinkle to Colorado’s roster moves early in the season. In fact, the lack of games might explain why Andrei Mironov was kept up for so long. Had he been sent down earlier, he only would have been practicing anyway. May as well do that against NHLers.

Dealing with injuries is an unfortunate reality in the NHL. Having two spots open up in the top 9 creates opportunities for other young guys. The only questions are how many, which ones, and where will they play?

Who Could it Be?

Realistically, there’s only a few candidates for the Colorado Avalanche.

Matt Nieto, a healthy scratch in 5 games so far, figures to draw in more often while Jost and Compher heal. The coaching staff has a good idea of what he can bring, which frankly might make them less inclined to move him off the 4th line. Carl Soderberg and Blake Comeau could also reap the benefits of a less cluttered line-up.

They could even call up Joe Colborne. Not likely, as the Avalanche seem pretty clear on how they view his role on the team. Andrew Aggozino and Gabriel Borque are probably in the same situation.

In short, there aren’t any great veteran options.

With the youth movement in full swing however, the Avalanche might be more inclined to give the reins to another piece of their future.

AJ Greer, apparently healthy, returned to the AHL, and playing (and picking up an assist) with no announcement, would be a good bet. Then again, he’s barely played, practiced or skated since suffering a concussion in training camp. He might be ruled out simply based on Bednar’s history of keeping Rantanen and Nikita Zadorov out of the lineup until they got up to speed. Will two AHL games in two nights be enough to show Bednar he’s ready to go? Or at least ready to be the 13th forward for a few games?

Rocco Grimaldi is another option. The diminutive 24 year old was surprisingly protected in the expansion draft, then sent back to the AHL to start the year. He’s been waiting for a chance to show what he can do, and the St. Louis Blues may have just delivered it right to him.

It wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see both Greer and Grimaldi called up and slotted into the top 9. Hopefully they can pick up where Jost and Compher left off, and give the coaches some more tough choices down the road.

Conclusion

The Colorado Avalanche are hitting their first patch of adversity this season. They’ll have to overcome the frustration borne of a three game losing streak, one that might not have been save for a blown call that led to their 4th disallowed goal already this year. And now they’ll have to do it without two of their top young players.

Hopefully an(other) injection of youthful talent can help them get through this and get back on track. Even better would be if the injury bug flies away. The Avalanche are already fighting an uphill battle to have all their goals count. They don’t need their young guys watching from the injured reserve.