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Colorado Avalanche Point Predictions Part One: Defense

An analysis on each player’s projected point totals

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The first thing anyone seems to look at when evaluating a player is his points. It certainly isn’t a perfect indicator of the player’s talent - but the general rule is, put simply, the best players score the most points. That is exactly the point (no pun intended) of this three-part series: How many points (and goals) is each Colorado Avalanche player on track for? Are those numbers even realistic? Do these numbers justify their spot on the team?

Over the next few days, I’ll attempt to answer these questions, starting from the bottom of the defensive pairings and working my way up to the top forward line - focusing only on the offensive part of a player’s game.

Predictions are calculated by points/goals per game, and they assume the player plays every game for the rest of the season (flawed, I know, especially with factors such as injuries and this turnstile of defensive pairings).

We’ll start with the part of the team that usually doesn’t score a lot. No, not the goaltending. The defense.

Anton Lindholm

Games Played: 26; Goals: 0; Points: 0; Shots: 14; Shooting: 0%.

On track for a whole lotta nothing.

He is a defender, so he isn’t exactly supposed to be putting up big numbers, but he should contribute at least a little bit. I suppose eventually he’ll snag a secondary assist and have one or two shots go in. Provided that he continues to get ice time (he probably will), expect Lindholm to blow those predictions out of the water with 2 goals and 3 assists. Or something of the sort.

Nikita Zadorov

Games Played: 36; Goals: 3; Points: 11; Shots: 43; Shooting: 7%.

On track for 6 goals and 24 points

His shooting percentage is fairly high for a blueliner, so my guess is that will drop. Granted, he shoots the puck ridiculously hard, but those do seem like high totals for a career 4.2% shooter. He does seem to have exited Jared Bednar’s doghouse, and has supplanted Girard for the top LD spot and actually appears to be doing quite well. He has actually displayed some decent offense as of late as well.

The verdict? I’d expect a tad less goals and a tad more assists, which would be well over his career high. Not terribly unreasonable for a player more known for blasting Mark Scheifele than for sniping pucks top shelf.

Mark Barberio

Games Played: 38; Goals: 2; Points: 10; Shots: 40; Shooting: 5%

On track for 4 goals and 21 points

I kind of doubt he’ll hit 20, as he regularly goes from being a top pair defender in the lineup to a healthy scratch (or anywhere in between). Recently he’s been relegated more to the bottom pair, but given Bednar’s carousel of defensive pairs who knows where we’ll see him play. The shooting percentage is probably a bit high, but not much. My guess is he’ll approach 20 points, but not quite get there, especially with the emergence of Girard and the eventual return of Barrie.

Patrik Nemeth

Games Played: 27; Goals: 3; Points: 10; Shots: 31; Shooting: 9.7%

On track for 8 goals and 25 points

25 points!?! Probably not. He has been getting time on the second pairing with Tyson Barrie before the injury, so that could explain the too-high numbers. Shooting at 9.7% is pretty ridiculous, and my guess is that will crater to around 5%. However, that doesn’t mean he’ll still not score goals— I noticed that since he scored his second goal he seems to be hungry for more. I think maybe 23 points should be the target for him to hit, that would be pretty good.

Samuel Girard

(only including statistics with Colorado)

Games Played: 32; Goals: 0; Points: 7; Shots: 26; Shooting %: 0%

On track for 0 goals and 16 points.

Girard was in a slump for a good long while. Then with the injury of Barrie, he was put on the top power-play unit and start putting numbers on the scoresheet. In the last five games, he has had five points. Not bad at all. His quarterbacking has been pretty dang good, and the passes he makes are not only crisp but opportune. His puck skills and skating are better than most NHL forwards, and he’s only 19.

Sixteen points is the worst case scenario and a pretty unlikely one at that. With his recent tear, he could easily hit 30 plus points, especially if he starts scoring goals. Keep in mind that he’s bound to improve as the season wears on, and we’re likely only seeing his floor as of yet. I’m excited to see him move to his ceiling.

Erik Johnson

Games Played: 39; Goals: 6; Points: 16; Shots: 115; Shooting %: 5.2%

On track for 12 goals and 33 points.

These aren’t unreasonable numbers for Johnson by any stretch of the imagination. They are fairly close to career highs, but as long as he doesn’t burn out from all the time he is on the ice he should definitely approach or surpass these totals. His career shooting percentage is .2% lower than what he’s doing now, so now real red flags there. Out of the goals he’s scored, some have been pretty lucky (e.g. that one that somehow went under Ben Bishop’s pads) but things like that happen when you’re shooting at the net all of the time. His goal against the Islanders was pretty sweet though, and I think he will continue to produce at a modest rate like he’s doing now.

Tyson Barrie

Games Played: 34; Goals: 4; Points: 27; Shots: 83; Shooting %: 4.8%

On track for ???

It all depends on how long Barrie is out. Before the injury, he was set up for a 66 point season. Sigh. Given the very unspecific injury timeline, it’s hard to speculate how long he’ll be out given the initial estimate of 4-6 weeks (two weeks is a pretty large margin). Even when he does come back, he might not be in the scoring form that he was pre-injury.

Conclusion:

It’s a bit hard to predict where the majority of Avalanche defenders will be, as a “breakout” can happen at any time, given the overall youth of the team. I think this is going to be a great offensive group in the near future though, with Girard, Barrie, and Makar leading the way. As of now, it’s not the greatest, but hopefully, a few of these guys can develop some more. All in all, the future of the Avalanche blueline is looking bright.