It’s the most exciting time of year and the official kickoff to the Colorado Avalanche 2023-24 season. The first step in getting to that season opener in Los Angeles on October 11 is starting the grind with three days of training camp starting today, September 21. The preseason will be upon us quickly with the first game on Sunday, September 24 at 1 p.m. against the Minnesota Wild. With that here are five questions hopefully answered in the next few days.
Is everyone going to be healthy?
A bounce back to Stanley Cup front runners requires a relatively healthy squad with hopefully everyone intact to start the season at least. Attendance at the first mandatory training camp session will be of great interest to see who is, or isn’t, able to participate. Although Bednar gave a few hints on who might already be nursing something and we might not see Cale Makar skate early on. Josh Manson, Andrew Cogliano and Pavel Francouz all may not play in preseason either. Nobody has been ruled out for Opening Night yet, however.
What are the new lines?
Surely the first question on everyone’s mind will be about the new players and their chemistry with the Avalanche returnees. That is something we will be watching in camp, but those newcomers really don’t have questions to answer in camp as their roster spots are secure. The truth about the new players will be revealed during the season. Still, the lines and groupings are always an interesting observation to see the roles the coaching staff envisions for the players.
How many players' PTO get signed to contracts?
After the Tomas Tatar signing, there isn’t the same level of desperation to add another forward into the mix. However, with three players still signed and set to join Avalanche's main camp on Professional Tryout, it seems that there’s still interest in adding another bottom-six forward and the competition between them. Plus, Frederik Oloffson and Ben Meyers might be as true of a camp battle as we’ve seen in a long time.
Will any young players get an opportunity?
Last year partly due to the short summer, the groups were divided into NHL regulars and hopefuls with little crossover between them. This eliminated the chance for prospects such as Jean-Luc Foudy and Oskar Olausson to get practice reps with the NHL team in advance of their eventual NHL debuts. If any of these players are going to surprise in camp and win a job it would be nice to see them alongside the NHL stars for a true test of ability.
What will Val Nichushkin say?
After his disappearance during the Seattle Kraken series, things quieted down over the summer with Nuke showing his typical enjoyment of his offseason in Russia. Now with him back in Denver, will he answer questions about what happened this spring so the issue can be put to rest? It’s one off-ice loose end that needs to be resolved before the new season can truly begin.