After Brad Stuart's injury last night against the Winnipeg Jets, the Avalanche found themselves headed for game 82 with only 19 healthy players and 5 healthy defenseman. Now with one game left to play, they've announced via twitter than Duncan Siemens will make his NHL debut.
Siemens has had another injury marred, up and down season in Lake Erie this year, but has improved recently while playing alongside his former Saskatoon Blades partner, Stefan Elliott. Here's his stat line for the year:
Many around Avs nation have been clamoring to see the young blueliner in NHL action this season and, while it's only one-game, there's no doubt that this game will serve as an early tryout for Siemens' future on the Avalanche blue-line. Siemens has developed slower than many expected, and has some doubting his ability to play a significant role in the NHL. I profiled one of his games for Lake Erie this week earlier today with some similar doubts and ciriticisms. He's struggled to find consistency in the AHL and now has prospects like Chris Bigras and Mason Geertsen nipping at his heels in the Avalanche prospect depth chart.
Despite some Siemen's struggles, this is a savvy call up by the Avalanche for a number of reasons. Firstly Siemens gets to make his debut in a completely pressure free atmosphere and the coaching staff can and should give him significant playing time in his debut. Secondly, the Avalanche coaching staff has an opportunity to give Siemens a taste of the NHL spot that he is at risk of losing to Bigras or Geertsen. While I'm not doubting Siemens' drive or work ethic to this point in his career, I think a taste of the NHL now could lead to an extremely driven and focused summer of work for Siemens because it makes a NHL roster spot a realistic goal in his mind for September training camp. This on game, though it is only one game, is a great opportunity for Siemens to step up and show the Avalanche something good, and then back it up with a great performance in training camp next fall.
There has been some consternation about Patrick Roy's development strategy for young AHL players and specifically, his self imposed "100 game limit" before a player sees significant NHL time. Our MHH staff thinks that MAYBE Roy is taking the 100 games thing a bit too literally...