Yeah, just had to remind you all we won the Stanley Cup with the article image, even with the injured hand of Cogliano in the picture. Which in itself is far from doom and gloom.
Otherwise, despite the injuries for the Colorado Avalanche this season, things are slowly turning back in the right direction and the season is not derailing, as it could have been earlier as stated in this opinion.
Valeri Nichushkin has returned and already made an impact, along with Mikko Rantanen and Artturi Lehkonen. All three have recorded points since their returns to the ice.
Longer term, Kurtis MacDermid looks to be returning towards the end of the month, as will Shane Bowers (although he’ll train with the Avs to get fit, he’ll be sent back to the Colorado Eagles). Gabriel Landeskog is skating on his own while still having some time on his return to game action. Both Nathan MacKinnon and Josh Manson are out until early January, both are approximately expected to return at the same time. You can find a whole list of the timelines here from our very own Adrian Hernandez whom we discussed in the most recent episode of the Mile High Hockey Lab.
The point is: the Avs are turning back in the right direction.
They’ve had some time to recover and get players back in the lineup while mixing and teaching the new kids on the team who have been filling in the gaps for the past month. It will start to look like a more normal NHL lineup and should make for an exciting second half of the season for the Avalanche.
With the returns, it begs the question: which of the AHLers stays with the big club? With a fully healthy lineup, Colorado will have plenty of familiar faces. It should look something like this:
Valeri Nicuhshkin (13) - Nathan MacKinnon (29) - Mikko Rantanen (96)
Gabriel Landeskog (92) - Alex Newhook (18) - Evan Rodrigues (9)
Artturi Lehkonen (62) - J.T. Compher (37) - Logan O’Connor (25)
Andrew Cogliano (11) - Darren Helm (43) - ???
Cale Makar (8) - Devon Toews (7)
Sam Girard (49) - Josh Manson (42)
Bowen Byram (4) - Erik Johnson (6)
There’s one gap left open on the fourth line that could be a battle between a handful of players. The easy answer could be Dryden Hunt, picked up on waivers earlier this year from the New York Rangers and has been commonplace on the fourth line since his arrival. He was crucial in replacing Lukas Sedlak, who was picked up on waivers himself by the Philadelphia Flyers.
Besides Hunt, some of the AHL-level players who were called up to deal with the injury crisis have impressed and could arguably stay put in the team. Look at players like Ben Meyers and Jean-Luc Foudy who have established themselves as competitors within the team. Jared Bednar could try the Martin Kaut experiment again if he wanted to, or throw in MacDermid if it’s looking to be a tough, hard matchup.
Regardless, the options are there and plentiful when the team is fully back to health. We’ve seen especially some of the young guns are capable of getting the job done. Who would you go with on the fourth line? Let us know in the comments below!
Who slots into the fourth line with a fully healthy Avs team?
This poll is closed