Colorado Avalanche preseason finale features roster battle for 4th line

The Colorado Avalanche are putting together their most complete “regular season ready” roster of the preseason today in their preseason finale against the Vegas Golden Knights. Only three centers are listed for tonight’s projected roster: Nathan MacKinnon, Ryan Johansen, and projected 3rd-line center Ross Colton. With Ben Meyers, the projected 4th line center, currently out day-to-day with a lower-body injury (LBI) designation, who will get this final opportunity to show the coaching staff they are worthy of staying at the NHL level?

Riley Tufte and fellow leftwinger Fredrik Olofsson are both listed for the final preseason game and expected to get a fair amount of time on the ice as the Colorado Avalanche prepare to make final decisions on their roster ahead of the October 11th matchup against the L.A. Kings on the road. The Colorado Avalanche will open at home against early Calder Cup favorite Connor Bedard and the Chicago Blackhawks on October 19th at Ball Arena on ESPN 8:30pm MST.

Riley Tufte has played in three of the Avs’ six preseason games and is scheduled for tonight’s game against the Golden Knights. He currently has three goals, one assist for a total of four points, and a plus/minus rating of zero. Fredrik Olofsson has a similar line at one goal, two assists, for three points, and a plus/minus rating of +1. Olofsson has the edge with total Time on Ice (TotTOI) at 49:55 to Tufte’s 48:42. Both players have an average TOI of 16-17 minutes per game through three preseason games.

Ben Meyers is the projected 4th line center but has only played in two preseason games and is currently dealing with a low body injury that has him out of the lineup until the start of the regular season. The opening gives Tufte and Olofsson the opportunity to find a spot on the roster and earn some valuable playing time among a team that is currently projected as co-favorites (+900) to win the Stanley Cup (according to BetMGM).

While the 4th line center position will likely go to Ben Meyers, it is important that the Avalanche identify the players who will travel with the team and be available should injuries occur, or another player enter a rut and spend some time as a healthy scratch. With veteran Kurtis MacDermid also likely playing a low-end role as both a potential defenseman and forward for the Avs once again, this is the battle to watch for ahead of final cuts. The Avalanche roster already looks much deeper than last year’s version and is looking to get off to a hot start to open the season. With a bit of puck luck and some more of that Coach Bednar lineup magic, the Colorado Avalanche could very well find themselves in a Stanley Cup chase at season’s end.