Gabriel Landeskog was selected second overall pick by the Colorado Avalanche and could very well slide immediately onto their second line. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Some NHL teams have so many variables and possible outcomes that it’s hard to put your finger on which players to go after. The Colorado is one of the bigger examples of this. With 17 forwards, 10 defensemen and three goaltenders all capable of playing in the NHL at some capacity, it’s extremely difficult to convince yourself to invest a roster spot on a player not named Paul Stastny or Matt Duchene.
Joey Hishon and Ryan Stoa could win roster spots, but it’s a long shot. Let’s assume that Hishon doesn’t make it and Stoa is a “first recall.” That still leaves 15 forwards, including 18-year-old Gabriel Landeskog and underrated, but hard-working Mark Olver.
Peter Mueller – Paul Stastny – Milan Hejduk
Gabriel Landeskog – Matt Duchene – Chuck Kobasew
David Jones – Ryan O’Reilly – Kevin Porter
T.J. Galiardi – Jay McClement – Daniel Winnik
Cody McLeod – Mark Olver – Brandon Yip
THE QUESTION MARKS: Kobasew has been injured so often that it has stunted his development. It’s to the point where he is a fringe NHL player who at one time could have been a great second-line winger. But he would not only need to stay healthy, but also regain some of that magic to be an effective fantasy own. I consider both unlikely.
Mueller is the big one. Assuming he returns from the concussion that kept him out for the entire season last year, he is the best left winger on this team. In fact, if he’s OK then that would probably keep Landeskog out of the NHL for this campaign. If Mueller starts the season fine, but sustains another injury relatively early, then that would still keep Landeskog off the team (once he’s sent to junior, he’s there for the year). Porter, Galiardi and Jones become much better options.
DRAFTABLE PLAYERS: Duchene, Stastny, Hejduk and Mueller. Jones in deeper leagues.
OF NOTE: Brandon Yip is a fine two-way player with some offensive upside, but his role on this team is filled and he will only be a factor if injuries strike. He has shown, in the past, that if there are enough top-sixers are on the shelf he can fill in and post fantasy-worthy points. But for now, he should not be owned in any fantasy format.
Stefan Elliott is one of the best defenseman prospects in the world and many feel that he is NHL ready right now. Since this team consists of five or six defensemen who would fill a No. 5 or No. 6 role, there is a need on the second pairing for a player of Elliott’s skill set. I think he could win a spot, regardless of the numbers game. Jonas Holos has shown he can be a decent defenseman, but hasn’t had enough opportunity. Now it looks like he won’t get any at all, with too many guys fighting for that spot.
Erik Johnson – Jan Hejda
Kyle Quincey – Kyle Cumiskey
Stefan Elliott – Ryan Wilson
Shane O’Brien – Ryan O’Byrne
Matt Hunwick – Jonas Holos
THE QUESTION MARKS: If Elliott makes this team, it would push two of Wilson, O’Brien, O’Byrne or Hunwick into the press box. Holos is probably not making this team. Quincey is another candidate to be out of the mix, since he is recovering from a serious shoulder injury.
DRAFTABLE PLAYERS: Johnson is the only draftable player in a one-year league. Elliott should be owned in all keeper formats.
OF NOTE: The Avalanche traded away John-Michael Liles for a reason and it probably wasn’t so they could make room for Hunwick. No, I think this was an Elliott deal.
THE QUESTION MARKS: Injuries. I don’t question Varlamov’s skill and I think he’ll surprise when he shows just how good he is. But he gets hurt. Often. And it’s always nagging little injuries that cause him to miss a week here and a week there.
Can the Avs turn to Giguere? They will, at first. But Giguere is just as injury prone and over the past few seasons his play has slipped as a result. What this means is that we will see Desjardins and that is where things will get interesting. You see, Desjardins is coming off of a serious shoulder injury himself, but had he not sustained that setback he would have been good enough to be a starter in the NHL. He’s that good.
I predict that at some point, perhaps January or February, he will get an opportunity to get several starts in a row and he will do so well with them that he becomes a big part of the goaltending conversation with this team.
DRAFTABLE PLAYERS: Varlamov is obviously draftable, but in deep keeper leagues I would also consider Desjardins for the bench.
Next week I get back to the tradition of reviewing the teams and grading them based on fantasy relevance. A tradition on THN.com that has spanned eight years now.
Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Get the edge in your league - check out the latest scoop every Tuesday and Saturday. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.
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