It’s been a short summer for the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche, but they’re going to take it every year. Despite losing a few players to free agency, there wasn’t much drama and a good deal of the business took hold earlier this week with Nathan McKinnon’s massive contract extension. The core is in place and Avalanche is hoping to start their quest on repeat starting from this bootcamp, but there are still a few unanswered questions as practices and pre-season begin to emerge.
What is the health status of the team?
The vision is always for every player to be available when the training camp starts but this is not usually the case in a normal year. Now with this offseason shortcut to recover, there may be a few surprises when the sessions on the ice begin. We know that Val Nesushkin is still working his way back from surgery on his broken foot plus there may be others missing. Keeping those who start camp on time healthy is also another major concern.
Bednar said they may have some players not ready to start the season, so others may get some time to shine.
– Ryan Boulding (@rboulding) September 21 2022
Who will be the center of the new second line?
The biggest question of the summer remains unanswered as Nazim Qadri left for Calgary Flames on a seven-year deal and left the avalanche with a hole in the middle of the squad. But the defending champions have options. Newly signed Evan Rodriguez would certainly become an option, and if head coach is to be believed, Alex Newhawk would stand a great chance of getting the job. There are other in-house options such as JT Compher and Mikko Rantanen who have each held the position of second line center in the past. This is shaping up as a real camp fight without a predetermined answer.
I asked #Avs Bednar about the competition for the position of 2C. He says Rodriguez will take a look, Newhook will get a “good and serious look” and “we have Miko too.”
– Arif El Din (@runwriteAarif) September 21 2022
What happens to power play?
With so many of the man’s core workers gone, it’s an opportunity for some new and creative thinking in the power game. Conventional wisdom suggests that teams should stick to one defender plus four forwards but no other team has the competitive advantage for the backhand that Colorado does. This roster isn’t exactly eight deep strikers with strong playing talent either, so if the team chooses to enforce this combined model, they will likely leave talent on the bench. Bowen Byram must be ready to play a permanent role in the power game, even if it’s in Unit Two.
What to do in the middle of the formation is also questionable because Kadri often played the bumper role. If Avalanche chooses to take out four attackers per unit, that’s a quest available to grab. Val Nikosken or Arturi Likonen could occupy the position as expected for the top six strikers this season, but the best option is probably Alex Newhawk with lightning hands who has been a major player in his career at every level in such a position.
Will any potential clients get a chance?
An eternal question is always left unanswered, and this season is likely no different. Depending on how many regulars are missing to start camp, there may be a chance for some potential customers to get more features in the pre-season. As fun as it is for those novice campers like Oskar Olausson or Jean-Luc Foudy to truly ride the dark horse to a spot on the night’s opening list, those who are no longer exempt from concessions in Martin Kaut, Shane Bowers and Mikhail Maltsev need something Important to happen to their path in this camp.
Will there be a fight in the net?
It seems that the idea behind trading with Alexander Georgiev was to get him started and the expectation is that he will be given the role starting with the camp. It will be interesting to see if there will be a real battle between Georgiev and Pavel Francus in the camp. Francouz has had a lot of credit and confidence with the team and fan base, but he’s always been tied down in a backup role. It would be easy for that kind of setup to last especially given their contracts with Georgiev on a new three-year deal, but it looks like this could be the year of competition at the grid.