Colorado Avalanche Face a Patrik Nemeth Dilemma

The Colorado Avalanche have an abundance on the blueline, so we may see journeyman defenseman Patrik Nemeth walk in free agency.

The Colorado Avalanche are facing a dilemma on defense, and it’s a glorious one. For the first time in a very long time, the Avs are set on defense.

In fact, the blueline is getting a little crowded. Colorado has a couple vets, a couple talented newbies, a wild Mustang (Nikita Zadorov), a rover (Tyson Barrie) and a clutch of capable prospects looking to fill any holes.

So, that leaves Colorado with a dilemma — a Patrik Nemeth dilemma.

So many times throughout the year, Avs fans — at least the vocal ones on Twitter, BSN Avalanche and The Athletic — screamed at Nemeth’s playing abilities. The called him the usual, things like traffic cone, and wished for someone else to take his place.

Well, a problem with evaluating Nemeth is he’s a stay-at-home defenseman. He doesn’t have any flashy offensive skills to offset any mistakes he makes in defense. So, when he screws up, that’s all we can judge him on.

The Avalanche picked Nemeth up on waivers from the Dallas Stars at the beginning of last season. Since then Nemeth has been a solid bottom-pairing defenseman, a meat-and-potatoes kind of player.

Nemeth’s stats aren’t going to wow you in any way. Here’s how he performed this season:

  • 10 points (1 goal, 9 assists) in 74 regular-season games
  • 4 giveaways, 19 takeaways, regular season
  • 40.6 expected goals for, 41.3 expected goals against
  • 131 blocks, 137 hits given, 124 hits taken

That last statistic tells you what kind of player you should expect Patrik Nemeth to be — a physical guy who does the dirty work a lot of skill players don’t want to do.

Nemeth only played 74 regular-season games partially because he suffered an upper-body injury in October. He was a healthy scratch a few times.

In the playoffs, he became the odd man out when Cale Makar signed his professional contract. He stayed in for Game 3 against the Flames while Sam Girard was out with an injury, but he was a healthy scratch from Game 4 of that series and ultimately played on seven of 12 playoff games this year.

The Colorado Avalanche signed Nemeth to a one-year deal last summer, giving him a healthy pay raise in the process. He went from a standard contract of $945,000 the previous season to $2.5 million this last season.

That one-year status maybe tells you the Avs had in mind their future was elsewhere — and it was coming sooner rather than later.
Thanks to the excellent public relations team of the Avalanche, fans did eventually start warming up to Nemeth — or Nemo, as the team christened him:

However, teams don’t make their decisions on a player based on how popular he’s become on social media.

So, it’s an unfortunate truth in sports that role players get, well, used up and spit out. Ok, that’s a bit of a harsh way to put it. More, journeymen like Nemeth serve the team for as long as they’re useful, and then they move on.

In other words, I think Patrik Nemeth’s tenure with the Colorado Avalanche is over.

Nemeth has his skills. He’s only 27, and he’s got good size for an NHL defenseman. He’s a good bottom-pairing guy — just for a team that’s not as stacked as Colorado. So, here’s to hoping Nemo lands on another NHL team next season.