Colorado Avalanche Roster Faces First Cuts

Colorado Avalanche Roster Cuts
DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 18: Colorado Avalanche center Brandon Saigeon (80) during warmups before playing the Vegas Golden Knights at Pepsi Center September 18, 2018. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

After their first preseason game last night, the Colorado Avalanche roster faced its first round of cuts. Their training camp roster, initially at 55 players, is down to 45.

Colorado Avalanche Roster Reduced

For the Avs, this first round of cuts consists of seven forwards and three defensemen. The vast majority of the players left off the reduced roster will report to the Avs’ AHL affiliate, the Colorado Eagles. A couple of players were returned straight to their junior teams due to their age and the NHL-CHL transfer agreement.

Now, most of the moves thus far were to be expected, as much of the final roster can likely be guessed even now. These first guys faced quite the uphill battle and were there largely for exposure and to gain experience.

Who Got Cut and Where are they Heading?

The following players were released or re-assigned by Colorado this morning:

Forwards

J.C. Beaudin, C
Matthew Boucher, LW
Josh Dickinson, C
Grayson Downing, C
Nick Henry, RW
Julien Nantel, C
Brandon Saigeon, C

Defensemen

Kevin Davis, D
Nolan De Jong, D
Turner Ottenbreit, D

All but two of these players head to the Colorado Eagles next. Forwards Nick Henry (Regina Pats, WHL) and Brandon Saigeon (Hamilton Bulldogs, OHL) must return to their junior teams.

Again, there aren’t any surprises on this list; none of these ten were pegged to play for the Avs full-time. However, Saigeon comes as at least a slight surprise to be returned this early. He dominated the Vegas Rookie Faceoff last weekend and earned a spot at camp. Unfortunately, his journey ends here for now, but keep an eye out for that prospect in years to come.

Ten Down, 22 to Go

To reach the maximum final roster size of 23, the team must still release at least 22 total players. They’ll likely want 14 forwards, seven defensemen and two goalies. With 24 forwards left to choose from, nine or ten of them won’t be with the team on opening night. The same can be said for eight or nine of the 16 remaining defensemen, and two or three (probably three) of the five goalies.

While much of that final roster can easily be predicted, not all spots are locked. Some battles definitely deserve a closer eye than others, as a few scrape after an opportunity with the big club.

Camp Battles to Watch

On defence, rookie Conor Timmins fights for his first chance at NHL experience and might be ready. Although a long shot, Colorado has given its fair share of young defensemen ice time as of late.

Offensively, Logan O’Connor is still in the mix. He signed a contract this summer as a free agent out of Denver University (NCAA, Div I) where he served as captain. A gritty two way forward, O’Connor is a dark horse for a fourth line spot with the Avs.

Lastly, Pavel Francouz wants to make as much of an impression as he can. He’s the third goalie in line for the Avs right now, but things move fast in that position when you play well. The situation with Semyon Varlamov and Philipp Grubauer is complex and interesting to say the least, and if Francouz proves his KHL success can immediately transition to the Avs, it may speed up change for the team’s crease.

Between all of this, these next pre-season games have a lot riding on them. With so many guys fighting for a career opportunity, Colorado has gotten the level of competition they were looking for entering training camp. Expect that to continue, and fast improvement on their 5-1 drumming from the Vegas Golden Knights last night.

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Former goaltender for St. Olaf College (Div 3 NCAA), Western Washington University (Div 2 ACHA) and Bellingham Blazers (NPHL). Die-hard Panthers & Avs fan, cover those two teams plus various news, fantasy hockey, and goaltenders around the league. Follow me on Twitter (@robertmac1994)! Regional goaltending coach in Washington, working with Jr. Thunderbirds organization, summer hockey programs, and state development camps within USA Hockey and their youth programs.

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