Training camp is upon us and that means the annual Burgundy & White game is here. For the fourth consecutive year, DU will host the event at Magness Arena on September 17, 2017 at 10am.
At the time of writing this, the Burgundy/White rosters have not been announced. Coach Bednar did inform us that the scrimmage will mostly consist of our “younger guys.” The usual suspects will most likely sit; Landeskog, MacKinnon, Barrie, Johnson, Duchene. Especially Duchene.
Here are my 5 things I’m looking for at tomorrow’s Burgundy & White game.
5. Nail Yakupov
My guess is Yakupov skates tomorrow and am really interested in how he looks without being under pressure from the big stage. It’s easy to forget he was an #1 overall draft pick back in 2012. He certainly hasn’t lived up to those expectations. But that makes him a prime candidate to have a bounce back season with the Avs. He’s been skating with Kerfoot and Duchene in camp and Coach Bednar likes what he sees,
“That whole line, Kerfoot, Yakupov and [Duchene], they scored some nice goals. They had some chemistry. It was good watching. Obviously, three talented, offensive guys. I thought that was a real good line in the second group, so it was good to see.”
Signing Yakupov to a low-risk, prove-your-worth contract was a smart move by Sakic and the boys. Sometimes a change of scenery is all you need to get back on track.
4. Line Combinations (Although it entirely doesn’t matter)
With many of the Avalanche “veterans” primed to sit tomorrow, the line combinations for both teams will more than likely be a hodge-podge of an NHL starter paired with players looking for contracts. However, there are certain cases in which might provide some direction with how Coach Bednar plans to use specific players. Case in point, will Andrighetto and Rantanen stick together as they were at the end of last season? Those two paired with Mackinnon were by far the best line the Avalanche put together all season last year. As discussed above, will Bednar keep Yakupov and Kerfoot together? Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like Colin Wilson will dress. I was looking forward to seeing where he lined up and with who. As for the D pairings, it’s anyone’s guess. It’s starting to look like the only 4 defencemen we have under contract (Johnson, Barrie, Zadorov, and Barberio) won’t be on the ice. But we can talk about the defencemen here shortly.
3. Does Rantanen Look Bigger?
Already listed at 6-4, 211 pounds, Rantanen doesn’t look small. But after his rookie campaign, will he add weight to his big frame like Mackinnon did? After Mackinnon’s rookie year, he added 12-13 pounds and physically looked like a man among boys. Rants can certainly add a few more L-B’s and continue his fast, stop-start along the boards and tough play in front of the net. Adding 12+ pounds doesn’t come easy and there comes a point where you weigh 220 and just look slow. E.G. Joe Colborne.
2. Who Will Break Out on Defense?
As mentioned above, the big (only) 4 on the Avalanche roster will probably sit leaving the door open for many of the young defencemen looking to make the leap to NHL ice this year. The players to really keep your eye on are Chris Bigras, Anton Lindholm, Nicolas Meloche, Andrei Mironov, Duncan Siemens, Conor Timmins, and David Warsofsky. I guess you could throw in Jared Cowen for good measure just because he’s had NHL experience. These are the next guys up in the Avalanche organization. The age-old question will Siemens finally crack the Avalanche opening night roster is a strong possibility. The lack of NHL ready defencemen this year for the Avalanche has Siemens in a good position to make it. However, behind him, we have guys like Bigras, Lindholm, and Meloche who have looked good in camp and whom the Avalanche front office really like. What I’m looking for tomorrow is a guy who plays a sound defensive game but that can also move the puck out of the defensive zone in a hurry and with confidence. Something the Avalanche have really been missing for a couple of years now.
1. How Does Varly Look?
Though Semyon Varlamov is a 9-year vet, he’s also been out of action since the end of January this year. I think he’ll play tomorrow. But will he look like he’s completely recovered from the groin injury that has been a consistent problem for the past couple of years? Hopefully. Fingers-crossed the surgery has corrected the issue and Varly is back to his 2013-2014 self. I know many Avalanche fans thought it was the wrong decision to protect Varly instead of Picks, but I wholeheartedly disagree. Semyon is the better goaltender, the problem of course is his risk of injury. Shutting him down half way through the season last year was a clear indication they have complete faith in Varly going forward. This year will be his test to stay healthy after almost 8 months to recover and rehab. And if he passes, the Avs have a good shot for a successful season.
Tickets for the Burgundy & White game can still be purchased for the event here. Next on the schedule for the Avalanche is a preseason match up against the Vegas Golden Knights at the Pepsi Center on Tuesday, September 19th at 7pm.