Finally, it's that time of year again. The Colorado Avalanche officially begin training camp tomorrow (players are reporting today for their physicals...and yes, that still reminds me of how much I miss Steve Konowalchuk. Training camp runs on Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 9am to 12 at the South Suburban Family Sports Center in Centennial, Colorado. These sessions are open to the public. Hopefully, we will have some reports available to keep everyone who can't make it in the loop.
On Tuesday at 6:30 MT, the Avalanche will play their annual Burgundy & White intrasquad game at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. This will be the first time to see your Avalanche in game situations this year. For some players, it will be the last time; the Avalanche generally make their first cuts after this game (last year it was 15 players)
The Avalanche have six preseason games (see below), usually making a few cuts after each game. Don’t expect a ton of big names in that first game in Dallas, as they usually don’t take many veterans on the preseason road games. One important date is Saturday the 24th of September (right after the 2nd preseason game). That’s when the NHL waiver period starts and certain veterans will need to clear waivers before being reassigned to the minors. This year, that includes potential bubble players like Kyle Cumiskey, Matt Hunwick, Brandon Yip and Ryan Wilson. Although the Avs theoretically could move one of these players down before the waiver period starts, it is highly unlikely that they would do so.
The Avalanche will need to be down to 23 active players by October 6th.
2011 AVALANCHE PRESEASON SCHEDULE
(home games in bold; all times Mountain and subject to change)
Date Opponent Time (MT)
Thu, Sept. 22 at Dallas 6:30 p.m.
Fri, Sept. 23 St. Louis 7:00 p.m.
Sun, Sept. 25 Dallas 6:00 p.m.
Wed, Sept. 28 Los Angeles 7:00 p.m.
Thu, Sept. 29 at St. Louis 6:00 p.m.
Sat, Oct. 1 Los Angeles (in Las Vegas) 7:00 p.m.
Obviously, there are a number of interesting battles for that 23-man roster. Let's break it down by position groups, shall we?
The Avalanche have six goalies in camp. Only two of the six attended camp with the Avs last year, underscoring the transformation this position has undergone.
|#||Age||Ht||Wt||NHL Exp||AHL Exp||2011?||Waivers?||1-way?|
|1||Semyon Varlamov||23||6'2||209||59||33||NHL / AHL||Yes|
|35||J.S. Giguere||34||6'1||202||525||134||NHL / AHL||Yes||Yes|
|30||Cedrick Desjardins||26||6'0||192||2||116||NHL / AHL||Yes|
|31||Trevor Cann||22||5'11||199||0||20||NHL / AHL|
New Arrivals: Varlamov, Giguere and Desjardins were all acquired this summer. Aittokallio is a prospect under contract with the Temporo Ilves in the Finnish SM-Liiga and is attending his first camp.
Familiar Faces: Pickard and Cann are the only two of the six to attend camp last year. Both were early cuts.
New Digits: Cann wore #30 last year.
Roster Locks: There are no battles here. Barring injury, Varlamov and Giguere will be on the Avs' opening night roster.
In the Mix: If something happens to Varly or Giggy, Desjardins would slide in to a roster spot.
Key Battles: None
Those Who Don't Make It Will...: Desjardins and Cann will be in Lake Erie. Pickard and Aittokallio are ineligible to play in the AHL this year; Pickard will return to Seattle of the WHL (coached by Steve Konowalchuk) while Aittokallio will head back to Finland to back up Vesa Toskala.
With Kyle Cumiskey recently re-signed, the Avalanche will have 20 defensemen in camp, 10 of them being players who attended camp last year. I broke them up into two groups - lefties (13) and righties (7). And garsh, check out the size on these guys!
|#||Age||Ht||Wt||NHL Exp||AHL Exp||2011?||Waivers?||1-way?|
|8||Jan Hejda||33||6'4||237||L||341||5||NHL / AHL||Yes||Yes|
|27||Kyle Quincey||26||6'2||207||L||185||201||NHL / AHL||Yes||Yes|
|5||Shane O'Brien||28||6'3||230||L||379||214||NHL / AHL||Yes||Yes|
|44||Ryan Wilson||24||6'1||207||L||128||71||NHL / AHL||Yes||Yes|
|22||Matt Hunwick||26||5'11||190||L||215||58||NHL / AHL||Yes||Yes|
|10||Kyle Cumiskey||26||5'10||185||L||132||96||NHL / AHL||Yes|
|24||Cameron Gaunce||21||6'1||203||L||11||61||NHL / AHL|
|2||Joel Chouinard||21||6'1||186||L||0||35||NHL / AHL|
|4||David Liffiton||27||6'2||210||L||7||266||NHL / AHL||Yes|
|#||Age||Ht||Wt||NHL Exp||AHL Exp||2011?||Waivers?||1-way?|
|6||Erik Johnson||23||6'4||232||R||225||1||NHL / AHL||Yes||Yes|
|3||Ryan O'Byrne||27||6'5||234||R||192||118||NHL / AHL||Yes||Yes|
|46||Stefan Elliott||20||6'1||190||R||0||0||NHL / AHL|
|36||Jonas Holos||24||5'11||196||R||39||17||NHL / AHL|
|41||Tyson Barrie||20||5'10||190||R||0||0||NHL / AHL|
New Faces: Jan Hejda and Shane O'Brien were both acquired this summer and become the two most experienced players on the blueline. Duncan Siemens, Gabriel Beaupre and Dillon Donnelly were drafted this summer and Mike Brennan was signed to an AHL (only) contract this summer. Meanwhile, it's the first Avalanche camp for Tyson Barrie, Erik Johnson, Ryan O'Byrne and Matt Hunwick.
Familiar Faces: The 10 players who were in camp last year are Joel Chouinard, Cameron Gaunce, David Liffiton, Jonas Holos, Kyle Cumiskey, Kyle Quincey, Ryan Wilson, Stefan Elliott, Troy Rukowski and Stephen Silas. Of those, Holos, Quincey, Cumiskey and Wilson made the team out of camp. The other three D to make the team out of camp were Scott Hannan, John-Michael Liles and Adam Foote.
New Digits: Gaunce wore #3 in camp last year and #43 during his call-up. He'll wear #24 this year. Jonas Holos wore #6 last fall, but change it to #36 after the Erik Johnson trade. Stefan Elliott is moving from #50 to #46. David Liffiton wore #5 last year. With Shane O'Brien taking that, Liffiton is grabbing Liles' still-warm #4. Matt Hunwick wasn't in camp last year, but he is changing from #48 to #22.
Roster Locks: The Avalanche will keep either 7 or 8 defensemen. Figure at least 5 of those to be locked up by Hejda, Quincey, O'Brien, Johnson and O'Byrne.
In the Mix: Ryan Wilson, Matt Hunwick, Kyle Cumiskey, Cameron Gaunce, Stefan Elliott, Jonas Holos and Tyson Barrie could all be considered in the mix for the final 2 or 3 roster spots. Wilson and Hunwick would seem to be the favorites going in, but their spots are far from certain (although being on 1-way deals might help their cause a bit).
Key Battles: Because of their similar skillsets, Hunwick and Cumiskey could be battling for the same spot. Ditto for Wilson and Gaunce and Elliott and Barrie.
Players to Watch: Elliott, Barrie and Siemens.
Those Who Don’t Make It Will…: All of the "In the Mix" players would land in Lake Erie, although Hunwick, Cumiskey and Wilson would need to clear waivers. David Liffiton and Mike Brennan would both be considered super longshots to make the team; expect them in Lake Erie. Siemens, Silas, Beaupre, Donnelly and Rutkowski are all too young for the AHL and will go back to their junior teams.
There have been less turnover here than the other two positions. The Avalanche have 29 forwards in camp, 21 of whom were in camp with the Avs last year. They are loosely broken down into their 3 positions.
|#||Left Wing||Age||Ht||Wt||NHL Exp||AHL Exp||2011?||Waivers?||1-way?|
|88||Peter Mueller||23||6'2||204||R||222||0||NHL / AHL||Yes||Yes|
|39||T.J. Galiardi||23||6'2||190||L||116||67||NHL / AHL||Yes||Yes|
|92||Gabriel Landeskog||18||6'1||204||L||0||0||NHL / OHL|
|28||Joakim Lindstrom||28||6'0||187||L||81||200||NHL / AHL||Yes||Yes|
|55||Cody McLeod||27||6'2||210||L||273||133||NHL / AHL||Yes||Yes|
|29||Ryan Stoa||24||6'3||200||L||37||102||NHL / AHL|
|40||Mark Olver||23||5'10||170||L||18||64||NHL / AHL|
|58||Patrick Bordeleau||25||6'6||225||L||0||147||NHL / AHL||Yes|
|43||Justin Mercier||24||5'11||190||L||9||144||NHL / AHL|
|42||Brad Malone||22||6'2||207||L||0||0||NHL / AHL|
|11||Patrick Rissmiller||33||6'4||225||L||192||474||NHL / AHL||Yes|
|15||Zach Cohen||24||6'3||208||L||0||73||NHL / AHL|
|#||Center||Age||Ht||Wt||NHL Exp||AHL Exp||2011?||Waivers?||1-way?|
|26||Paul Stastny||25||6'0||205||348||0||NHL / AHL||Yes||Yes|
|9||Matt Duchene||20||5'11||200||L||161||0||NHL / AHL||Yes|
|37||Ryan O'Reilly||20||6'0||200||L||155||0||NHL / AHL||Yes|
|16||Jay McClement||28||6'1||205||L||473||159||NHL / AHL||Yes||Yes|
|38||Joey Hishon||20||5'10||170||L||0||0||NHL / AHL|
|14||Mike Carman||23||6'0||180||L||0||79||NHL / AHL|
|47||Evan Brophey||25||6'2||199||L||1||299||NHL / AHL||Yes|
|#||Right Wing||Age||Ht||Wt||NHL Exp||AHL Exp||2011?||Waivers?||1-way?|
|23||Milan Hejduk||35||6'0||190||R||910||0||NHL / AHL||Yes||Yes|
|54||David Jones||27||6'2||210||R||167||45||NHL / AHL||Yes||Yes|
|34||Dan Winnik||26||6'2||210||L||282||78||NHL / AHL||Yes||Yes|
|17||Chuck Kobasew||29||6'0||190||R||473||127||NHL / AHL||Yes||Yes|
|12||Kevin Porter||25||6'0||190||L||128||98||NHL / AHL||Yes||Yes|
|18||Brandon Yip||26||6'1||195||R||109||6||NHL / AHL||Yes||Yes|
|20||Greg Mauldin||29||5'11||195||R||36||406||NHL / AHL||Yes|
|7||David van der Gulik||28||5'10||173||L||12||345||NHL / AHL||Yes|
|45||Luke Walker||21||6'1||174||R||0||75||NHL / AHL|
New Faces: The big new addition here is #2 overall pick Gabriel Landeskog. The Avs have also added a a couple of free agents in Joakim Lindstrom and Chuck Kobasew as well as some minor leaguers in Evan Brophey and Patrick Rismiller. Garret Meurs was drafted this summer as well. It's the first Avalanche camp for Brad Malone and Jay McClement.
Familiar Faces: As mentioned above, 21 forwards this year are returning campers: Bordeleau, Carman, Cohen, Duchene, Galiardi, Hejduk, Hishon *, Jones, Mauldin, McLeod, Mercier, Mueller, O'Reilly, Olver, Porter, Stastny, Stoa, van der Gulik, Walker, Winnik and Yip. Hishon gets the asterisk as he did not attend rookie camp due to ongoing concussion issues. *sadface*
New Digits: Only one change here. Justin Mercier is wearing #43 last year, as Jay McClement has since taken #16.
Roster Locks: The Avalanche will have room for 13 or 14 healthy fowards on their opening night roster. It's a fairly safe bet to call the following players locks: Peter Mueller, T.J. Galiardi, Gabriel Landeskog, Paul Stastny, Matt Duchene, Ryan O'Reilly, Jay McClement, Milan Hejduk, David Jones, Dan Winnik and Chuck Kobasew. That's 11 players right there.
In the Mix: That means there will be a fierce battle for for the final 2 or 3 spots (again, assuming everyone is healthy). The list of of "bubble" players is long and includes some regulars from last year: Joakim Lindstrom, Cody McLeod, Ryan Stoa, Patrick Bordeleau, Mark Olver, Brad Malone, Kevin Porter, Brandon Yip and Greg Mauldin. Several of those players would be exposed to waivers if they don't make the team and four - McLeod, Lindstrom, Yip and Porter - are on 1-way deals (which means they make the same salary whether they play in the AHL or NHL). If I had to handicap right now, McLeod, Lindstrom and Porter would have a spot...but you never know how things will shake out.
Key Battles: Both Patrick "Bordello of Blood" and Brad Malone could push Cody McLeod for the tough guy role. Olver and Yip both made the team out of camp last year and might push someone out with a strong camp. Ditto for Ryan Stoa who was a late cut the last two years and could be facing a make-or-break year
Players to Watch: Malone, Bordeleau, Stoa, Yip, Olver
Those Who Don’t Make It Will…: While the Avalanche have a ton of defensemen going back to junior, Garret Muers will likely be the only forward to do so. Gabriel Landeskog is a heavy favorite to make the team but if he falters he too would be OHL bound; he is too young to play in the AHL. Everyone else - including Joey Hishon - is either NHL or AHL with several risking a waiver exposure if they don't make the Avs' roster.
Overall, this is shaping up to be a very interesting camp. It's our first chance to see a number of new additions in action as well as an opportunity to see a few players returning from significant injuries (Mueller, Quincey, Cumiskey). Every year there are roster battles, but it seems like this year we have some especially interesting battles. By my count, there are about 18 roster locks with at least 16 players having a legitimate shot to challenge for the final 5 spots (and, honestly, that's a conservative number). Although this is still a very young team (just 4 players over 30 in camp), there could be some fairly big names to miss the cut. Stay tuned, because it's going to be a wild ride.