The Avalanche dropped from 33 to 28 players today, sending Jason Bacashihua, Nathan Smith, Darcy Campbell, Aaron MacKenzie and Matt Hendricks to the AHL. With 23 spots available, that means, barring an IR move, there are at least 5 more cuts to come.
Peter Budaj and Andrew Raycroft are the only two goalies left - no surprises here.
There's 8 defensemen left on the roster. I would say 6 are locks - Brett Clark, Adam Foote, John-Michael Liles, Ruslan Salei, Jordan Leopold and Scott Hannan. The two remaining players are Daniel Tjarnqvist and Kyle Cumiskey. One - and possibly both - players should make the team. For what it's worth, neither player suited up in the first preseason game. Tjarnqvist played 24 minutes and was +2 with an assist in the 2nd game and also got lots of ice time on both the PP and penalty kill, while Cumiskey played 19 minutes. The fact that Tjarnqvist has been used in all situations and must clear waivers before being sent to Lake Erie puts him ahead of Cumiskey in my mind.
The battle at the forward position is quite interesting, with 18 players now battling for 13 or 14 spots. Currently, Wojtek Wolski, Marek Svatos and David Jones are hurt and if one (or more) start the season on IR, it will open more spots for the time being.
Of the 18, there's a few who, of course, are locks to make the team: Joe Sakic, Paul Stastny, Ryan Smyth, Wolski, Svatos, Milan Hejduk, Darcy Tucker and Ian Laperriere. I'd also add Ben Guite and Tyler Arnason to the list, leaving 8 guys chasing - at most - 4 spots.
The remaining eight:
TJ Hensick, Jones, Brian Willsie, Cody McCormick, Cody McLeod, Per Ledin, Scott Parker and Chris Stewart.
Parker and Willsie are the only two players who would need to clear waivers to be sent to Cleveland, although I don't think there's a huge risk that either would be claimed (Willsie, maybe, but not the Sherrif). Hensick and Stewart have both been given top-line minutes this September. By all accounts, Stewart has had a better camp than he did last year and I think this is the year we'll see him make his regular season debut, but not to start the year. If I was a betting man (and I'm not), I'd pick Hensick, Jones, Willsie and McLeod to start the season. I'm still crossing my fingers for Ledin, though, so stay tuned.