The Colorado Avalanche was predicted to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals last season but seemed to fall short after being knocked out in the second round yet again. The team has made a few acquisitions in the offseason, but most of these were in order to replace players that left in either the expansion draft or being taken as a free agent to another team. Because of this the team still looks fairly strong, but a look at these predicted lines should get fans ready for opening night.
First Line: Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen
The first forward line will come as no surprise to anyone, with the team’s captain Gabriel Landeskog and two of their most skilled players take to the top line. This line has worked well together in the past and will look to keep putting up a large number of points this season. The line is fairly diverse in terms of playstyle, with no two players on the line playing the same style of game. This could largely be a reason why this line has been so effective and looks to be a reason that head coach, Jared Bednar, will not look to break them up.
Second Line: Alex Newhook, Nazem Kadri, Andre Burakovsky
The second line features a new face of Alex Newhook, who will look to impress in the NHL this season and has really looked ready to break into the team for opening night. Andre Burakovsky also looks to make a solid impact this season, as he looks to move up the lines and play a diverse role in which he hopes to score a lot of goals, but also provide for his teammates, and widen the defensive aspect of his game. Overall this line may see some changes as the season goes on, but looks like a good mix of veterans and youth that could see some great development.
Third Line: Mikhail Maltsev, Tyson Jost, Valeri Nichushkin
This third line has yet to play together with the Avalanche, and it is largely unknown to the fans what can be expected from these players when they play together. Mikhail Maltsev was a youth with the New Jersey Devils and has most yet to really have a chance in the NHL. He doesn’t put up many points, but he is defensively sound and does well to pass the puck around and create an opportunity for his teammates. This should complement the sniper style of Valeri Nichushkin, while also assisting the two-way playing style of Tyson Jost. Overall, this line could surprise many with how well they could work together.
Fourth Line: Darren Helm, J.T. Compher, Kiefer Sherwood
The majority of this line is new to the Avalanche organization and certainly features some real veteran talent. Darren Helm has played his entire 14-year career with the Detroit Red Wings, where he won a Stanley Cup in 2007 and made a lot of big hits. Kiefer Sherwood on the other hand was with the Avalanche last season but spent most of his time playing the AHL, this season he will look to get back to his play as a two-way forward and help top points from going up against his team. Overall, this whole line is comprised of two-way forwards and could create a problem for teams looking to put up points against them.
First Line: Devon Toews, Cale Makar
The first defensive line likely comes as no surprise to anyone, as young superstar Cale Makar, and stellar talent Devon Toews take to the ice together once again. The two play a complimentary playstyle for one another, with Makar often taking the lead on any offensive pushes, and Toews tending to hold the line and be ready for the puck to come the other way. Overall, these two look to be one of the best defensive pairings in the league and make a clear statement that they are here to stay on the first line.
Second Line: Samuel Girard, Erik Johnson
This line will also largely come as no surprise as, much like with the first line, the two players complement one another playstyles. Samuel Girard is a solid young player who will look to make a clear impact with the team to stay as one of the top defensemen in the league. Erik Johnson is coming close to the end of his career, but certainly still has some top performances left in him and could really teach Girard about some of the more defensive-focused strategies he can use to close down the puck and lay the body.
Third Line: Bowen Byram, Ryan Murray
Both of these players look to make an impact with their new team, as neither has played with the Avalanche for an extended period of time as of yet. Bowen Byram is a stellar young talent who will look to take part in the race for the Calder this season, and could really move up or down these lines depending on his performance and where the team needs him to play. Ryan Murray is a generally strong player, who previously played with the New Jersey Devils, the defenseman has some experience in the league, and will look to help acclimate the young Byram into the performances necessary to make it in the big leagues.
Darcy Kuemper will likely take the starting position in the net, especially with Philip Grubauer being sent to the Seattle Kraken in free agency. Kuemper has been fairly solid in net throughout his career and although he is aging, he has a far more solid defense ahead of him in Colorado than he did with the Arizona Coyotes. The player has had a storied career, winning a multitude of personal accolades and a world championship with Team Canada this past tournament.
Backing Kuemper up is veteran goalie Pavel Francouz, who has spent his NHL career with the Avalanche. When he has been called on, Francouz has been fairly solid, maintaining a save percentage of over .92 each season. Overall, the Avalanche can feel confident in the goalie as a solid backup option.
The Colorado Avalanche looks fairly solid going into this season and can hope for another top-of-the-league finish. The team will hope to make it past the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year, as they look poised to be a top-five team going into the 2021-2022 NHL season.
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