The Colorado Avalanche depth is worthy of study going into the 2019-20 season. They have made several moves over the past two months to secure more scoring across the top-nine forwards. However, injuries happen, and figuring out who might step up is just as interesting as knowing the starters. Let us review some of the options we could see if players go down for an extended time.
Evaluating the Colorado Avalanche Depth
Options at the Forward Position
Colorado is still quite deep at forward despite letting some of their previous fill-ins leave in free agency. Vladislav Kamenev remains a popular option for the fourth line despite two season-ending injuries in as many years. He has just five points in 26 career games but is a big body at 6’2″, 194 pounds that should do just fine on the penalty kill. A season of full health is key to his future in Colorado.
Sheldon Dries can be counted on in a pinch after appearing in 40 games in 2018-19. The 24-year-old had three goals and six points in his first NHL campaign. He cuts a smaller profile at 5’9″, 185 pounds, but clearly has the organization’s trust. Dries signed a one-year deal this offseason that will make him a restricted free agent next summer.
Don’t forget about A.J. Greer, either. Despite having some offseason trouble, Greer signed a one-year-deal himself after appearing in 15 games and contributing two points last season. He was one of AHL Colorado’s most productive scorers after pumping in 19 goals and 44 points in 54 games.
Injuries could also create an opportunity for several other forwards. Martin Kaut was the team’s 1st round pick in the 2018 Draft and scored 26 points in 63 games with the AHL squad. Jayson Megna and T.J. Tynan have signed this offseason to replace some departed options. Tynan had the better 2018-19 with 71 points in 71 games followed by 13 points in 22 playoff contests. Megna has over 100 NHL games under his belt that helps his case for playing time.
Options on Defence
Colorado’s defence will be young and exciting, but a source of concern if too many more players are hurt. Ian Cole will start the season late while recovering from double hip surgery this summer and Erik Johnson is still recovering from work on his shoulder. The team has just four blueliners left that appeared in 10 or more games last year. A new face or two might need to step up should a major emergency occur.
It’s highly likely that trade acquisition Calle Rosen gets called up at some point. He scored 46 points in 54 games for the Toronto Marlies last season and it will be hard to ignore as an option on the bottom defensive pair.
Ice time for 2015 Draft selection Nicholas Meloche is a definite possibility. He has size at 6’3″, 210 pounds and is somewhat unique in that he has a right-handed shot; only Johnson, stud rookie Cale Makar, and extreme depth option Mark Alt shoot from that side. Meloche will start in the AHL but could see time on the top pair at that level to prepare for a debut this year.
Some fans will wonder if Conor Timmins (also a right-handed shot) will make the NHL this season, but concussion symptoms killed his 2018-19 campaign. A full year in the AHL is probably best to see what he can really do. Don’t expect star prospect, Bowen Byram, this season unless he excels in training camp. Another year with Vancouver in the WHL is more likely.
Options at Goaltender
The team will be in a major bind should injuries occur to either Philipp Grubauer or Pavel Francouz as the depth behind them is rather lacking. Both Spencer Martin and Joe Cannata elected to leave the Avalanche for other opportunities this summer.
Adam Werner signed a deal with Colorado this spring after posting good numbers with Färjestad BK in Sweden. Werner was originally selected in the 2016 NHL Draft. He has a huge frame at 6’5″, 198 pounds, but needs plenty of education on movement and positioning before he should appear at the top level.
The team’s other “options” would be former Arizona Coyote Hunter Miska and former Calgary Flames prospect Mason McDonald, both of whom signed in July. Neither are exciting, but Colorado’s goalie depth is barren in terms of experience. Look for the Avalanche to bring in a veteran on a camp tryout as a safety net. The team does have several good goalie prospects overseas, but none are ready for North America just yet.