It was seemingly all sunshine and rainbows in last night's dominant victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Former Hab Artturi Lehkonen was shown a tribute video and followed that up by scoring a goal on the next shift. He ended the night with two tallies and, unfortunately, a broken finger. This injury will put Lehky out "four to six weeks," according to head coach Jared Bednar who was interviewed on Altitude SR's Moser Lombardi & Kane this morning. This injury marks another colossal loss for Colorado's top 6 forward unit, which has been without its best centerman all season.
When I look at the situation, it's evident that someone will have to fill the void that is Artturi Lehkonen and all that he brings, not just in offensive production but also in defensive prowess. Who in the lineup fits that ask? In my opinion, the answer must be Alex Newhook, and here's why. The young forward already has the speed, hands, and offensive IQ to be a second-line center as he set out to be at the beginning of the season. Where he lacks is in the two-way part of fitting that role. I say throw him at a second-line winger and make him focus on the defensive side of his game, and the points will naturally roll in. Let us know what you think in the comments!
In this Mile High Hockey Lab edition, the discussion began with news regarding forward Darren Helm, who looks poised to return to the lineup. Our host, Adrian Hernandez, asked the panel of writers (Ezra Parter, Jackie Kay & Jacob Weindling) how his return might affect the lineup balance. The panel agreed that Denis Malgin and Matt Nieto are likely healthy scratch candidates if everyone is healthy come playoff time. That's a big if right now.
POLL OF THE WEEK: #GoAvsGo— Mile High Hockey Lab (@MHH_LAB) March 13, 2023
Which player performance this season has been the most surprising?
We sent out our live poll of the week, highlighting some unexpected success for a few different Avs. Despite the noise, J.T. Compher has had a career year and has settled into the second center role. Evan Rodriques has shined chiefly when playing with elite linemates, and Denis Malgin has produced more offensively than anyone could have guessed. J.T. Compher won the vote.
Jacob (@Jakeweindling) says Denis Malgin has been the biggest surprise this season, but goes on to say that JT Compher has become a legitimate second-line center in this league. #GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/qbw1o1YmHa— Mile High Hockey Lab (@MHH_LAB) March 14, 2023
The conversation then transitioned to which of those three players the Avalanche should keep following the season. Adrian seems to think the question will be Toews or Compher, as there likely isn't enough space to pay them both in a way that compares to their open market offers. All three players are on expiring contracts and have probably earned a pay increase. Malgin shouldn't be too difficult to keep around, and Rodrigues might be pricey but worth it.
EDITORS NOTE: Colorado’s contract with Devon Toews expires after next season. Thanks to blq for pointing that out in the chat!
We ended things by circling back to the conversation of an ideal playoff lineup for the Colorado Avalanche. With Artturi Lehkonen's injury, this conversation has dramatically shifted. The Avalanche have since called up Alex Galchenyuk responding accordingly to losing a top-six forward. It's time for Alex Newhook to use this opportunity to take a step forward in his career.
Don't forget to listen to this week's episode for even more Avalanche talk! Like, subscribe, and share! All episodes are broadcast live on our YouTube channel, so head over there and subscribe.