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Colorado Avalanche Top 25 Under 25, #21: Duncan Siemens, Defensive Defenseman

Nowadays the term “defensive defenseman” carries negative connotations, but in Siemens case - look further

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Mile High Hockey writing staff. Our writers, plus a special vote from the readers, ranked players under the age of 25 as of September 1, 2017 in the Colorado Avalanche organization. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production against future projection to rank each player. Now, we’ll count down each of the 25 players ranked

Duncan Siemens selection at #11 in the 2011 draft has colored peoples expectations from day one. They saw a big, mean, physical defenseman that was a wonderful skater and had put up 43 points playing alongside fellow Avs draft pick Stefan Elliott. Here was the top pair defenseman the Avs had needed in the system forever. It didn’t turn out like that but the key now is to focus on what he is vs what he was thought to be.

Duncan is still big, mean and physical and one of the best skaters in the organization’s defensive corps. He gets buried with defensive zone starts and still manages to be one of the top Ds in relative shot metrics despite his own lack of production. The Rampage’s penalty kill was one of the few bright spots for a poor team last season and he was a big reason why.

Puck skills have always been his weak point by his own admission but over the past 4 years I’ve definitely noticed improvement. His breakout passes get the job done and while still no mean threat to score from the point or on a pinch he gets the puck to where it needs to be in the offensive zone and has consistently been the best D at holding it in. His other weak point has been staying healthy, missing around a third of possible games in his first 3 seasons in the AHL. Last season, the only games he missed were because he was playing for the Avalanche.

Stats courtesy of

Now we get to the real question, why wasn’t he on the Avs all last season? He was the final defenseman cut in training camp and clearly was behind EJ, Barrie, Big Z, Beauchemin and even Tyutin at that point. Weircioch and Gelinas didn’t look great in camp so it appeared pretty arbitrary that Duncan was the odd man out. Trading for Cody Goloubef and immediately promoting him seemed to be a RHD vs LHD thing but keeping him on the Avs was baffling given the staff was not wild about his performance. That doesn’t begin to describe what the staff must have thought about Eric Gelinas, yet he remained on the roster until Mark Barberio was claimed on waivers. All along Siemens stayed in San Antonio while hinting in interviews that management was considering bringing players, including himself, up to the Avs as early as mid-January. What Duncan has been lacking more than certain on-ice skills is an advocate in the organization, maybe he has one now. Check out the last 40 seconds of this post-game with Head Coach Bednar after Siemens final game in Colorado:

At the moment, Siemens sits 3rd on the depth chart at Left Defense. That, of course, depends on various issues like the long awaited Matt Duchene trade possibly bringing back a LD and whether the staff want either Anton Lindholm or Andrei Mironov to switch to the left side going into camp. Safe to say outside of the 3 currently signed NHLers (Johnson, Barrie, Barberio) and Nikita Zadorov it’s going to be a battle for any number of players for the 5th/6th/7th defenseman spots. Given that none of the projected players are scorers, either by design or default, the staff seem to want guys who aren’t weak in the defensive aspect of the game first and any points are a bonus. Coming off a season with a goal differential of -112, that’s solid thinking. The fact that Duncan needs to clear waivers and the others don’t could play into it since there does seem to be some interest in him from certain other NHL teams. Although he would make a fine captain/vet D in San Antonio he has little to learn there anymore, it’s time for the Avs to find out what they’ve been developing for the last 6 years.