We’re finally here.
It’s game week. Doesn’t that sound sweet? It’s just as sweet as the Colorado Avalanche’s forward core is.
The Avs still have the likes of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog at their dispense. Those big three will continue to toe the line and tally up their point totals on a nightly basis.
However, Colorado lost some critical names including Nazem Kadri and Andre Burakovsky from their side. It’s called for some promotions from within to fill the gaps in the lineup, a couple of acquisitions, and perhaps some questioning of the depth the Avs will have left at their disposal.
Artturi Lehkonen (62) - Nathan MacKinnon (29) - Mikko Rantanen (96)
Gabriel Landeskog (92) - Alex Newhook (18) - Valeri Nichushkin (13)
Evan Rodrigues (9) - J.T. Compher (37) - Logan O’Connor (25)
Andrew Cogliano (11) - Darren Helm (43) - Ben Meyers (59)
12th Man(s): Kurtis MacDermid (56), Lukas Sedlak (22), Jacob MacDonald (26)
Whichever way you see this forward group, there are still plenty of positives. The top six is still going to be dangerous, especially with the likes of Alex Newhook finally getting his shot. Jared Bednar mentioned over the weekend that he wants to give him his shot and see him perform higher up in the lineup for a good portion of the season.
Jared Bednar said he wants to give Alex Newhook a real shot at 2C, not just a few games. He said he’ll have multiple months — perhaps even until the trade deadline — to see what he can do.— Peter Baugh (@Peter_Baugh) October 9, 2022
As for the names italicized above, their availability is either unknown or they will be out for Opening Night in a couple of days' time. The key name for sure to be out of the lineup to start the year is Captain Gabriel Landeskog, who is still recovering from the knee injury he sustained last year.
Therefore, the battle to see who would be on the Opening Night roster was intense and a good discussion point this season compared to previous years. However, it was Lukas Sedlak who won out in the end, to be at least on the team for the start of the season. Sedlak has played under Bednar before, so perhaps this was the deciding factor.
"I always remember him as a great coach and a great person. He was always talking to us and is a really nice guy."— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) October 2, 2022
Lukas Sedlak found success under Coach Bednar before and is looking forward to another season with him as they've reunited in Colorado. #GoAvsGo
The decision came as a surprise to some, as other names like Martin Kaut and Shane Bowers were noticeable in the preseason, arguably more so than Sedlak. Luckily, both made it through waivers as did Jayson Megna, and all three will be available should the option be necessary.
Perhaps the wildcard of this lineup is going to be the play of newly-recruited Evan Rodrigues, who is the “replacement” for Kadri’s departure. While he had a career year himself last year with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the question will be if he can replicate that this season on a new team and system. And if needed, can he be called upon to fill up some spots in the top six should they open up?
There’s still plenty of wondering about the Avs forwards, but ultimately they are still very good and will hardly slow down, if at all. They’re coming off winning the Stanley Cup, and have the franchise players they need to lead the way. They will still be extremely dangerous moving forward with their speed, skating ability, and preciseness to move the puck.
And boy, we can’t wait to see that in a couple of days. Welcome back, boys. Continue to do what you do best, even with some of the changes that have been made. There’s still tons of belief around them all.