Colorado Avalanche Make Mistake in Defensive Lineup

DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 12: Ryan Graves #27 of the Colorado Avalanche celebrates a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs with teammates Tyson Jost #17 and Alexander Kerfoot #13 at the Pepsi Center on February 12, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 12: Ryan Graves #27 of the Colorado Avalanche celebrates a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs with teammates Tyson Jost #17 and Alexander Kerfoot #13 at the Pepsi Center on February 12, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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The Colorado Avalanche scratch promising young defenseman Ryan Graves in favor of Ian Cole and Patrik Nemeth, which is a mistake.

The Colorado Avalanche are playing the San Jose Sharks in California tonight, and I dropped the ball on getting a preview written. However, in lieu of that, I’m going to drop a quick gripe post, which I couldn’t have done if I’d been more timely in my posting.

The Avalanche’s summer free agent signee, Ian Cole, is back. He’s been out since February 7, when he suffered a broken orbital bone in a fight with Capitals forward Tom Wilson. He had surgery the day after, and he skates into today’s game wearing a full face mask.

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I don’t necessarily mind that the 30-year-old Cole is back, although he’s been pretty awful off and on for Colorado. Also the team went 6-2-3 in his absence. Or, maybe I do mind, especially since his return comes at what I consider a high price.

The Avalanche coaching staff has decided to make a healthy scratch of one of their youngsters. Cole is replacing Ryan Graves in the lineup.

Why is a team that’s supposedly so committed to the youth movement replacing a 23-year-old with a 30-year-old? It’s not like the blueline is filled with rookies. The Avs’ captain of the blueline, Erik Johnson, is skating in his 700th NHL game tonight (I’ll have a post about that after the game), and 27-year-old Tyson Barrie has 466 NHL games under his belt.

And why are we replacing said 23-year-old with a defenseman who’s performing worse?

Here are Ian Cole’s stats:

  • 53 games
  • 1 goal, 7 assists (.15 points per game)
  • 51.9% CorsiFor
  • 49 PIM
  • 27 giveaways, 17 takeaways
  • 77 hits (1.45 per game)
  • 88 blocked shots (1.66 per game)

Here are Ryan Graves’ stats:

  • 20 games
  • 3 goals. 2 assists (.25 per game)
  • 49.7% Corsi For
  • 0 PIM
  • 11 giveaways, 5 takeaways
  • 24 hits (1.2 per game)
  • 36 blocked shots (1.8 per game)

While it’s true Cole betters Graves in a couple areas, Ryan has some damn fine stats for a rookie. I really like that zero penalty minutes because Cole sitting in the box certainly costs a team that’s struggled on the penalty kill.

Ok, fine, when you’re paying a man $4.25 million (Why are we paying Cole $4.25 million? I mean, it’s not my money, but did the Avs learn nothing from their Brad Stuart and Francois Beauchemin experiments?), I guess you got to play him.

Well, then why is Patrik Nemeth getting the game over Graves?

Here are Patrick Nemeth’s stats:

  • 56 games
  • 1 goal, 7 assists (.14 per game)
  • 46.8% CorsiFor
  • 43 PIM
  • 14 giveaways, 0 takeaways
  • 80 hits (1.42 per game)
  • 59 blocked shots (1.05)

Nemeth betters Graves in literally nothing but hits — but then, he’s got the penalty minutes to show for it, too. So frustrating that time and again Jared Bednar suits up Nemeth over a youngster like Graves.

I thought the new age Avs were supposed to be about looking at the advanced stats. At times like this, it’s clear Bednar is going with who he likes, and he seems to have an aversion for youngsters. That’s weird considering he

is

was an AHL coach.

Next. Relevance of Development for the Avalanche. dark

I just keep coming back to the idea that the Colorado Avalanche are supposed to be letting the kids grow up together. You’ve got a talented defenseman who’s just 23 years old and showing such promise in just 20 games. But rather than see what you truly have in your youth stable, you keep returning to the old horses.

No wonder the Avs are so bad at developing talent.

Anyway, hopefully Cole and Nemeth don’t mess up too badly and the Avalanche steal a win against the Sharks tonight.