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Injuries Could Open Roster Spots

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The Avalanche yesterday cut their roster to 34 players yesterday and we thought it might be useful to take a look at the remaining battles for a roster spot. That was going to be a relatively easy exercise, but suddenly the Avs are dropping like flies. Peter Mueller suffered another concussion, this time without the help of Rob Blake, and will be out indefinitely. David Koci suffered a jaw injury in the above scrape with Jaws from Moonraker. And Kyle Cumiskey remains out with a groin injury; he skated briefly on the ice yesterday but did not practice with the team.

With at least two looking like they won't be around on opening night, there's some more roster spots up for grabs and suddenly we're not just going through the motions here - there are actual battles for roster spots.

Before we start, there are a couple of dates that could become important. The first is Saturday, September 25th when the NHL waiver period begins. From this point on, non-exempt players need to clear waivers when they are reassigned to waivers. You may recall that last year we expected Kyle Cumiskey to be reassigned before this point but he unexpectedly stayed beyond that point and ended up staying all year. This year, though, there are no big waiver concerns; Jason Bacashihua and Philippe Dupuis are the two biggest waiver-eligible names on the current roster bubble. The 2nd date is September 29th, which is the start of Lake Erie's training camp. While there's no rule that says a player needs to be sent down before that point, the Avalanche have just 2 games after that point and will probably be pretty close to their opening night roster by then. As a point of reference, the Avs cut down to 27 players after the 3rd preseason game last year and then made the last 3 cuts after the Frozen Fury game. Figure on several cuts to happen after Friday's game with the final fine-tuning coming after next Saturday's final preseason game.

Goalies (4)

There are 4 goalies left on the roster, but there's no battle here. Craig Anderson will start the season as the starter and Peter Budaj will be the backup. John Grahame and Jason Bacashihua are around to share the workload for a bit and then they are headed to the minors. Don't be surprised if B-Cash gets demoted Friday while Grahame sticks around - if so, it would be to avoid losing Bacashihua on waivers, although I don't think that's much of a risk.

Defensemen (11)

There are 11 defensemen in the mix for what will be either 7 or 8 spots...one more if Cumiskey starts the season on the IR. We know that Adam Foote, Scott Hannan, John-Michael Liles, Kyle Quincey are set. I think Cumiskey is as well. That leaves the following 6 players battling for between 2 and 4 positions, ordered from most- to least-likely to make the team.

  • Ryan Wilson
  • Kevin Shattenkirk
  • Jonas Holos
  • Cameron Gaunce
  • Colby Cohen
  • Stefan Elliot

It's been speculated previously that Wilson's spot wasn't locked up, but it doesn't look like anyone has played him off the roster. All 6 of these players are exempt from waivers (Wilson becomes eligible after 19 more NHL games), so waiver risk won't come into play here. As it stands now, if Cumiskey is healthy on opening night, Wilson, Shattenkirk and maybe Holos are in. If Cumiskey's gimpy groin keeps him on the shelf, Cameron Gaunce might sneak in there as well.

Forwards (19)

This is still a large bunch, with 19 players vying for 13 or 14 spots. Many of those spots are already locked up, though. Paul Stastny, Chris Stewart, T.J. Galiardi, Matt Duchene, Milan Hejduk, Ryan O'Reilly, David Jones, Brandon Yip, Dan Winnik and Cody McLeod are all in. With Mueller and Koci injured, that leaves 7 forwards battling for 3 or 4 spots

  • Kevin Porter
  • Ryan Stoa
  • Philippe Dupuis
  • Mark Olver
  • Michael Carmen
  • Luke Walker
  • Patrick Bordeleau (who is in camp on an AHL contract)

On paper, the injury to Mueller would be a big opportunity for Ryan Stoa, who could end up moving from getting cut to landing some quality ice time. But opportunities are never a guarantee and it's hard to evaluate Stoa's readiness on a couple of days on camp and one untelevised preseason game. For now, though, it looks like Kevin Porter, Ryan Stoa and Philippe Dupuis are in line to grab an opening night spot, but one of these other forwards could still grab a spot. It does make you wonder if guys like Greg Mauldin were let go a little too early, but I still think it's doubtful that anyone cut so far would have made the team. Dupuis, by the way, is the only one on the list of possibles who is waiver eligible. Porter won't become waiver eligible until next year. Stoa could be exempt for two more seasons, but that exemption goes away once he hits 70 career NHL games.

Injuries are never a good thing and it's especially disheartening to see Mueller suffer another concussion (and no, this is not the end of his career). In this case, though, it looks like a couple of players have a chance today that they didn't have yesterday. Thanks Moonraker guy!