Upon returning from Sweden, the Colorado Avalanche have another extended break before their schedule kicks back in on Thursday. They’re going to need every off day. Not just to adapt back to the Mountain time zone, but to figure out where everyone fits now that there are extra bodies around.
On the trip to Sweden, J.T. Compher returned to the lineup after suffering a broken thumb a few weeks ago. Now it appears that Tyson Jost is also healthy and ready to go for the Avs. Add that to Carl Soderberg re-joining the team and the report that Vladislav Kamanev will be recalled and there appears to be a bit of a logjam for the coaching staff to deal with.
The most likely scenario is that we will see Rocco Grimaldi and Gabriel Bourque sent back to the San Antonio Rampage. At 36.7% and 35%, Grimaldi and Bourque have two of the three worst CF%s on the team. Both forwards have been a liability defensively and are contributing to the team being badly outshot recently.
The demotion of Grimaldi and Bourque would create space in the lineup for Jost and Soderberg - so what about Kamenev. Though he can play both wing and center, the young Russian has been lining up as the 1C in San Antonio, making it appear that the Avalanche front office view him as a center going forward. Kamenev has the size and defensive awareness to play down the middle in the NHL. Playing him on the third line while shifting Alex Kerfoot back to the wing might be the best solution right now.
My ideal lineup:
Line 1: Andrighetto - MacKinnon - Rantanenro
This is a combination that we know works. Though he’s been moved off of MacKinnon’s left side for large chunks of the season, we saw last year that Sven Andrighetto can thrive in that role. He is a good compliment to the speed of the other two and while he’s not a prototypical top line player, he fits in well for the sake of spreading out the lineup.
Line 2: Landeskog - Jost - Compher
The captain has looked great on the MacKinnon/Rantanen line since being moved there a few games ago. Moving him back in the lineup to play with the rookies provides a little bit of comfort for the coaching staff. Jost and Compher looked great together all summer and have the ability to create a lot of offense when given the time and space - Landeskog can give that to them.
Both Jost and Compher are still becoming comfortable with the NHL game and putting a responsible power forward on their line is the type of thing that can bring confidence to both the players and coaches.
Line 3: Kerfoot - Kamenev - Yakupov
This has the potential to be a very exciting line. Both Kamenev and Kerfoot are wizards with the puck on their stick, while Yak is at his best when he’s riding shotgun and doesn’t have to drive the play. There is a lot of potential here to run a very strong cycle down low in the opponent's end.
The upside to this line is that both Kerfoot and Kamenev are very defensively responsible - something that is necessary when you’re playing with Yakupov
Line 4: Wilson - Soderberg - Comeau
This line is what it is. It’s the penalty killers that can play a lot of tough minutes and handle a lot of the defensive zone starts. Any offense from these three would be a bonus.
Depth - especially at the center - position is a necessity for a team to be successful in the NHL. The above lineup gives the team three dynamic lines that have the ability to create offense while not being a liability defensively.
Now that everyone seems to be healthy and the team is finally able to move on from Matt Duchene, it’s time the coaching staff tries to build some consistency into the lineup.