Earlier today, we took a look at the defensemen and goalies that made the opening night roster for the Colorado Avalanche. Now it’s time to talk about the strength of the team. The Avs have a very good young core of forwards that are going to be very exciting to watch.
8 Joe Colborne
9 Matt Duchene - Where do we begin? It’s surprising to many - probably the player himself - that Duchene is still on the team as the season gets underway. He is going to need to bounce back in a huge way this season - both for his own sake as well as to improve any trade value. Duchene can still be an elite scorer in this league and I think he’s going to prove it this season - even if he doesn’t spend most of it in Denver.
10 Sven Andrighetto - The 24-year old Swiss forward is going to be given every opportunity to succeed as a top-6 winger with the Avs. He will start the season back with MacKinnon and Rantanen and should be able to put up points just by being on the ice. With younger players lurking in the wings, the speedster is going to have to prove he’s a good fit because it’s easy to see a guy like Alex Kerfoot get a shot if the top line struggles.
13 Alex Kerfoot - The NCAA free agent chose the Avs because he saw an easy road to the top-6. He’s found it on a line with Matt Duchene and Nail Yakupov. After looking a little lost at the beginning of rookie camp, Kerfoot has grown a lot through training camp and looks more than ready to contribute at the NHL level. He is expected to be a big part of the team’s first powerplay unit.
14 Blake Comeau - A veteran leader that many Avs fans are hoping the team can move on from this season. He’ll play a bottom-6 role and kill some penalties but if the team can get any sort of offer for him - even as little as a 7th round pick - expect him to be gone by the trade deadline.
17 Tyson Jost - One of the best young talents in the organization, it looks as though the coaching staff wants to start Jost off slowly, putting him on the 4th line to start the season. He won’t be playing between Nieto and Comeau for long, he’s just too good. Jost has a chance to be an elite two-way player in the NHL and will be a fixture down the middle for a long time. If he’s given the opportunity this season, he could put up a better point total than Rantanen did last year and be a legitimate contender for the Calder Trophy.
22 Colin Wilson - A new face in the lineup, Colin Wilson brings a lot of versatility to the lineup. A former top-10 pick, Wilson has the ability to play all over the ice and will become very valuable if the team runs into injury concerns. The one problem with that is that Wilson himself has a hard time staying healthy.
29 Nathan MacKinnon - He is the key to the season in many ways. MacKinnon has the talent to be one of the best players in the NHL and if the Avs are going to climb the standings, he’s going to have to start proving it. He generates shots at an elite rate, now if he can improve his shooting percentage, it’s not hard to see a 25-30 goal season, which would be outstanding for a player that isn’t going to have trouble putting up big assist numbers.
34 Carl Soderberg - Like with Comeau, if the team is able to move away from Soderberg this season, many fans would be all for it. The problem is that he’s going to make almost $5m this season and is going to start the season as a healthy scratch. At this point, it seems like the Avs are stuck with Soderberg until the end of that horrendous contract the team gave him.
37 J.T. Compher - Through rookie camp and into the preseason, Compher has looked like he is completely ready for the NHL. It looks like he will be starting the season between two veterans (Landeskog and Wilson) so he’s going to get every opportunity to succeed early. Compher is a complete player that will be a complementary player to the foundation of the team for a long time.
64 Nail Yakupov - likely on his last chance in the NHL, Yakupov has been given the opportunity to resurrect his career in the Avs top-6. Talent has never been an issue for the former first overall pick - he has always just lacked the hockey intelligence to take advantage of his tools. He’s a no-risk, potentially high reward addition for the Avs and has looked like he’s ready to contribute in his few preseason games.
83 Matt Nieto - A waiver wire pickup last season, Nieto signed a 1-year ‘show me’ contract this offseason. He has the underlying numbers that suggest he has the potential to break out offensively. At the very least, he’s a defensively responsible bottom-6 winger.
92 Gabriel Landeskog - Like most others, the captain has a lot to prove this season and is going to need to bounce back in a big way. Though still young himself, Landeskog is going to have to be a leader for the rookies and show he still has the ability to be a top-flight player in the NHL. His goal total has dropped each of the past four seasons - that is going to have to change if the power forward is going to be a part of the Avs long-term future.
96 Mikko Rantanen - Coming off of a very impressive rookie season, Rantanen is going to look to take the next step in his development towards a legitimate top line forward in the NHL. He’s one of the more exciting young players in the NHL and his offensive potential is through the roof. The chemistry he shares with MacKinnon is undeniable and the two are going to be the focus of the opposition’s top defenders every night.